The Akita

By BarkUptoday

Image Credit: Pixabay

The Akita originated from Japan and is part of the AKC Working Dog Group. It is the tallest of Japan’s dog breeds and is believed to be around 300 years old. This breed was first bred as a fighting dog and a hunting dog breed for big game. The Akita ranks 47 out of 197 in AKC’s breed popularity ranking.

Brief History

The Akita is a spitz-type dog breed that was bred in the early 17th century. The Japanese spent generations breeding the Akita, a powerful hunter with a strong work ethic. In Japan, the only families that could own an Akita were the Imperial family and heir court. That said, today, the Akita lives around the world and is a beautiful guardian and companion dog.

The Akita has nearly faced extinction many times in Japan, but the Japanese emphasized keeping this breed alive and well. It is now one of the seven breeds that Japan has selected as national monuments. The Akita represents good health in Japan. There is still a spiritual significance associated with the Akita. When a child is born in Japan, the family will usually get gifted with a small Akita statue to signify health and happiness.

Physical Description

The courageous and dignified Akita is a powerful and large dog breed. It is large-boned and alert. It is a well-balanced dog that is longer than it is tall. The neck is thick and muscular, and the head is large but in balance with the rest of the body. Black noses are most preferred on white Akitas. With a deep chest and triangular-shaped head, the Akita has powerful jaws. The eyes are dark, small, and intelligent. The ears are small and naturally erect. The tail is long and curled over the back in a single or double curl.

The Akita has a dense double coat with a soft undercoat that may be of a different color. The coat is short, straight, and slightly rough. The hair on the head, legs, and ears are short. The Akita does not have a mask. The coat can be of any color, including white, brindle, or pinto. The markings on the Akita are also well-balanced and precise. Pinto Akita’s have a white background with patches of color on both the head and body. The undercoat may be a different color than the outer coat.

Height

Dogs        26- 28 inches

Females   24 -26 inches

Weight     70 – 130 pounds

Life Expectancy 10-13 years

Temperament

The AKC describes these incredible dog breeds as ” Alert and responsive, dignified and courageous. Akitas may be intolerant of other dogs, particularly of the same sex.”

The Akita is affectionate, loyal, and courageous. This breed is relaxed and calm with family yet is wary of strangers. The Akita makes for a brave guard dog. That said, it is an even-tempered dog breed that is happy and quiet. Although the Akita can be stubborn, positive dog training and early socialization will help this dog breed. They also may be intolerant of other dog breeds and pets. Prolonged eye contact is considered an act of aggression by this breed, with this breed possibly acting out aggressively.

The Akita may tend towards aggression if not properly socialized and trained. It can also be territorial and aggressive toward other dogs of the same sex and other small animals. It is alert and dignified and very responsive toward handlers and pet parents. This breed is very easy to train and makes for an excellent companion dog. They are incredibly independent yet thrive on human companionship.

Activity Level

Moderate

Special Needs

The Akita first and foremost needs socialization and positive dog training.  With regular exercise, the Akita is a calmer dog and more enjoyable to have inside the home. Puppy Akita’s tend to have lots of energy and do well with off-leash runs at the dog park. Positive puppy training classes need to begin early so that the Akita learns how to socialize from a young age. 

The Akita is one of the dog breeds that most needs to be around other dogs, children, and people, throughout puppyhood. This enables the dog to trust strangers and to be relaxed around other dogs later on in life. It’s essential to start this during the first few months of puppyhood, continue with trips to the dog park, and take part in obedience classes where there will always be other dogs and people to meet.

An untrained Akita can be hyperactive, unruly, or possibly have aggressive tendencies. This breed needs to be socialized from an early age to get used to strangers and other pets. The Akita has a high prey drive, and one needs to be careful with canine interactions.

Possible Health Concerns

The Akita is a moderately active dog breed that may be susceptible to the following:

.Bloat: The Akita is deep-chested and is prone to bloat. Bloat is a life-threatening emergency. It is caused by the stomach’s twisting, together with the accumulation of gas, with or without fluid. It is best never to elevate your Akita’s water and food bowls. Stress is also a significant factor in causing bloat. Never feed your Akita a large meal, followed by exercise. At the first signs of dry vomiting, restlessness, and discomfort, contact your emergency veterinarian. This is a true life-threatening emergency!

 .Autoimmune Disease: Thyroid and Hypothyroidism are both common conditions in the Akita. This occurs when there are decreased levels of thyroid hormones. Symptoms include hair loss, a dull coat, flaky skin with weight gain, and muscle loss. Consult with your veterinarian for advice if your Akita shows any of these symptoms. Keep your Akita away from pesticides, toxins, and contaminated food and water.

 .Pemphigus foliaceus. This is another type of autoimmune skin problem often found in the Akita, where the antibodies attack the skin. Symptoms are crusting of the skin, depression, and lethargy. Consult with your veterinarian..Degenerative Myelopathy(D.M.) This is a new disease for the Akita and is similar to Multiple Sclerosis in humans. (M.S.) This is an inherited autoimmune disease in Akitas and usually occurs in dogs between 5-14 years. Symptoms include weakness of the hindquarters.

.Epilepsy. Akitas affected with epilepsy will have seizures and collapse for a few minutes. Seizures may be an early sign of autoimmune disease. Dogs will have uncontrollable shaking after collapsing. Epilepsy can be controlled with medication.

 

Exercise

 The wonderful Akita dog breed needs regular exercise and plenty of off-leash runs. Numerous outdoor activities make for a fun time with your Akita. Dog sports should be carried out after a complete physical from your veterinarian, especially with older Akitas. Daily fitness regimes with Akitas should include:

Long hikes.

  • Jogging and biking exercise programs.
  • Canine sporting activities like obedience and agility. 

Akitas should never be exercised outdoors during the hot summer months, and exercise should occur indoors or during the early morning and evening hours. Flyball and agility are also popular dog sports for the Akita. Many Akitas also enjoy low-stress sledding and skijoring.

Nutrition

You may not realize that your Akita’s physical well-being depends on what you feed him. Feeding your Akitas balanced, high-quality dog food will help him or her overcome certain diseases and live a longer and happier life. High-quality nutrition prevents many behavioral problems and skin conditions that may be linked to improper nutrition. 

While dehydrated dog food is an excellent option for Akitas, canned and dry dog foods also provide high-quality nutrition. Akitas also enjoy variety when it comes to what they eat. With the massive selection of high-quality dog foods containing duck, salmon, venison, and chicken as a first ingredient, try different varieties in the same way that we try new foods. And as always, consult with your veterinarian for expert dietary advice. 

5 Bonus features to look for when choosing the best dog food for your Akita

  • Flaxseed – This is one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-fatty fatty acids. Flaxseed is rich in soluble fiber when it’s been grounded into a meal.
  • Chelated minerals – When minerals have been chemically attached to a protein that occurs during the chelation process, they become easier to digest.
  • Oatmeal – Oatmeal is a whole-grain product that is made from ground oats. It contains plenty of B-vitamins and dietary fiber.
  • Chicken fat – This is a high-quality ingredient that offers plenty of linoleic acids, which are omega – 6 fatty acids, and is necessary for life.
  • Kelp– Kelp provides extra minerals and vitamins that our furry best friends need to complete their nutritional needs. This nutritious sea vegetable is also rich in calcium and helps to maintain a shiny coat and healthy skin.

Grooming

Grooming is essential and keeps dogs clean and healthy. The Akita’s thick coat is straightforward to groom. This dog breed has a minimal dog smell and tends to be “clean” dogs. During heavy Akita shedding that occurs twice yearly, extra grooming is very much needed. That said, the Akita loses lots of hair when shedding. This dog breed enjoys frequent baths and having his teeth done daily. 

Twice yearly visits the veterinarian for dental hygiene maintenance is a must. Ears need to be regularly wiped out and nails trimmed regularly. If your Akita does not enjoy having his nails trimmed, try out a nail grinder or visit your veterinarian or groomer. If you decide to use a professional groomer, your dog’s safety is always a priority. Word of mouth is the best way of finding a groomer that is both professional and kind. Consult with your veterinarian if needing advice.

Adopting an Akita

The Akita is sensitive, gentle, loyal, and energetic. That said, this breed is lovely and kind but requires an experienced pet parent. When adopting your new furry best friend, it’s best to understand ahead of time what is needed and to prepare your family and home for your new Akita. 

The transition may not be immediately smooth. Additionally, for large-sized dogs like the Akita, a yard or garden is most appropriate so that large breeds can exercise and use up their energy. If you’re a busy parent or college student, you must consider how much time you have available to take care of your new family addition. 

The Akita is a brilliant and strong-willed dog breed that needs firm yet gentle leadership. It is a good breed around children, yet will need to be supervised. Family members need to be on the same page with positive dog training their Akita not to confuse him. Daily exercise combined with mental stimulation is necessary for this very bright dog breed. This is not a dog breed to leave alone at home all day because this breed enjoys being around its family. Consider your activity level and that of your potential Akita! That said, the Akita makes for a beautiful adoption!

Akita Clubs

The Akita Club of America (ACA)adds that like people, every Akita is different, with some being hyperactive, others laid-back, some silly and shy. The ACA recommends obedience training beginning from puppyhood and trying out agility classes, Canine Good Citizen (CGC) programs, rallies, barn hunts for rats, and therapy. This club was founded in 1960 and is a non-profit organization. Here’s the breeder by location list if you’re looking for an Akita pup.

Petfinder Adoption List: This is an excellent place to start your search for an Akita pup looking for a forever home.

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