The Akita Inu is a dog originating from Japan. Large in size, it is robust and well-proportioned. Very calm in nature, the Akita is sensitive and affectionate towards members of its social group, but is very wary of strangers. An Akita can adapt to a number of different lifestyles, being happy to sleep all day or equally to accompany its master in a variety of activities. Being stubborn and not very sociable with other dogs, only experienced owners who are aware of this dog’s characteristics should consider getting one.
Key facts about the Akita Inu
Life expectancy :
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Origins and history
The Akita Inu is an ancient dog, originally from the mountainous regions of the Akita prefecture in Japan. First a hunter of wild boar, this breed then became a fighting and guard dog. Nowadays in Japan, it is considered a ‘national treasure’, part of the list of Japanese traditions to defend and preserve. There were two bloodlines originally: Dewa and Ichinoseki. The first, which showed clear Molossoid and cross-breeding signs, was bred in America to create the “American Akita”; the second, which resembled the original breed much more closely, was chosen by the Japanese as the ideal variety and is now the Akita Inu that we all know today.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 5 - Spitz and primitive types
Section 5 : Asian Spitz and related breeds
Physical characteristics of the Akita Inu
Female : Between 23 and 25 in
Male : Between 25 and 28 in
Female : Between 62 and 75 lb
Male : Between 71 and 88 lb
Any colour is accepted except merle. Fawn, sesame, pinto, brindle and white are all accepted coat colours for this breed. All the colours, except for white, should be "urajiro", which defines the presence of white-ish hair on the sides of the muzzle and cheeks, under the jaw, on the neck, on the chest, on the stomach, as well as on the lower part of the tail and on the inside of the limbs.
Type of coat
The coat is short to mid-length.
This dog has a double coat: its outer coat is hard and straight, while the undercoat is soft and dense. The coat is slightly longer at the withers, buttocks and tail.
The Akita Inu has brown eyes; the darker they are, the closer they are to the breed’s official standards.
The Akita Inu is a large Asian Spitz with a strong, well-proportioned and robust build. It has a large forehead and pronounced stop. The eyes are relatively small, almost triangular in shape, just like the thick, slightly rounded ears that bend forward to align with the tilt of the neck. The tail stands tall and large, curling round to touch the back. This dog emits the image of great nobility and dignity, combined with an air of simplicity.
Good to know
We’re sure you’ve heard of Hachiko, the most famous Akita Inu in the world: it all started in the 1920s in Tokyo, where Hachi would accompany his master to the Shibuya railroad station everyday, and faithfully wait all day, in the same spot, for his return.
After 5 years of this, his master sadly died at work and thus never returned. But the story doesn’t end there: the most extraordinary part is that Hachi continued to wait for his master, over the course of 10 long years. In 1935, Hachiko passed away and a bronze statue was erected in his memory, in front of the train station where he had waited for his owner to return for so many years.
This dog can be distant, but nevertheless affectionate towards members of its social group. Contrary to most primitive dogs, the Akita is relatively affectionate.
With people outside of its social group, however, the Akita is usually quite cold and indifferent.
Playtime is not a source of motivation for this dog. Akitas adopt an almost humorous superior air when their master tries to play with them.
That said, the Akita Inu puppy is very expressive and loves to play, just like any normal puppy. However, once it reaches adulthood, the Akita will no longer need people to keep itself occupied.
This Japanese dog is definitely one of the most calm from its category. Its placid nature is quite typical of this breed.
Its easy-going, balanced temperament is what characterises this dog the best. The Akita is gentle, calm and charming.
The Akita’s calmness and serenity is such that it’s sometimes even easy to forget that there’s a dog in the house.
The Akita Inu is an intelligent dog. It understands quickly and can even surprise its masters. However, its intelligence is often disguised by its stubborn temperament - the Akita is very hard-headed and it can be difficult to maintain its attention.
Nevertheless, its intelligence is marvellously reflected by its ability to adapt to a wide range of lifestyles.
This breed was initially bred to be a hunter. However, the Akita quickly changed uses, since it was more frequently employed as a guard and fighting dog. Today, the breed retains some instincts from its predatory past, but this is far from being the main feature of this dog.
Nowadays, it is most frequently adopted as a pet or show dog.
Fearful / wary of strangers
You don’t have to worry about this dog jumping up at strangers. In the presence of people it considers strangers, or even threats, the Akita will maintain a lot of distance and take its time to observe and analyse the situation before anything else.
After analysis, in most cases, this Japanese dog will decide to turn its back on the stranger and resume business as usual. It takes a long time for the Akita to trust people.
This breed will generally react badly to strokes or other physical approaches from unknown people, even if they are well-intentioned.
Like many Spitzes, the Akita Inu is very independent. Akitas are very confident and naturally authoritative. However, thanks to selective breeding, these pets remain very attached to their social group.
Behaviour of the Akita Inu
Being alone isn’t this dog’s preference, but it equally doesn’t shy away from it. Akitas know how to occupy themselves in the absence of their masters.
However, be aware that an Akita will only demonstrate its natural calmness if it is properly exercised before and after these periods of solitude.
Easy to train / obedience
Don’t trust blindly in its appearance; the Akita’s placid personality can sometimes hide its fiery and stubborn side. Akitas quickly understand and assimilate what is being asked of them, but can come up with strategies to avoid obedience if they perceive the commands as incoherent or unfair.
Neither playful or particularly greedy, a good relationship is most likely what will encourage this dog to cooperate with its master. If there’s a lack of trust, then the training will suffer.
Training should be soft and gentle so as to not perturb this sensitive dog, but should equally be firm to keep the animal in check. The Akita puppy should start training from a very young age to avoid picking up bad habits.
You will need to keep engaging the Akita puppy with its training during the first few months of its life, despite the many distractions that will undoubtedly be much more interesting to a puppy than training sessions.
This Spitz rarely barks, which is aligned with its calm and discrete temperament that is very well-adapted to living in a flat.
Tendency to run away
Very attached and loyal to its social group, this dog doesn’t like going off on its own. Akitas do not master recall, but will never venture too far away from their owners during a walk.
Generally very calm and balanced, this dog isn’t destructive. Little incidents may occur with the Akita Inu puppy, but this is completely normal, especially during initial separation periods.
Greedy / Gluttony
This dog will never turn down a bowl of food or a treat following good behaviours, however, the Akita favours quality over quantity.
Distrustful of strangers and initially bred as a fighting dog, the Akita Inu is a natural protector with a very territorial instinct. This dog creates an invisible bubble around itself, its environment and those it loves.
Due to its wary nature, the Akita can show very explicit signs of distrust.
The Akita Inu isn’t a dog for novice owners. Its training and socialisation requires rigor, patience, coherence and diligence. Only experienced owners will know how to best handle this dog.
A relaxed approach to training and socialisation will have severe consequences for the emotional wellbeing of this dog.
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Akita Inu in a flat
This primitive dog is capable of adapting very well to life in a flat for two main reasons: it is very calm, prefering to take naps over running around the garden, and it also very rarely barks.
Moreover, the Akita’s independence means that it would happily sleep in a corner for hours without asking anything of anyone. This breed doesn’t necessarily need a garden or regular outdoor access to be content.
Whatever the environment it lives in, it is essential that this dog is walked on a daily basis for at least an hour.
Need for exercise / Sporty
This Japanese dog undoubtedly needs exercise, but doesn’t need to be particularly active if its owners aren’t. The Akita can therefore adapt to a number of different lifestyles without any hiccups.
In any case, this dog will still need to be taken out for daily walks to fulfil its moderate - but nonetheless present - exercise needs.
For the more active owners, the Akita Inu will enjoy running alongside its owner during a jog or bike ride. If trained, the Akita is capable of greatly excelling in this area thanks to its impressive endurance.
Travelling / easy to transport
Firstly, its large size can make traveling with an Akita quite complicated. Secondly, its sensitivity and wariness can make this breed very anxious when it comes to leaving its familiar environment.
Even if it has been well socialised, this Japanese dog still won’t be the ideal travel companion.
Akita Inu and cats
A harmonious cohabitation between an Akita Inu and a cat is definitely possible, especially when the two animals have grown up together.
Early socialisation will be necessary for success, but nonetheless, this still won’t guarantee that the two animals will get along.
Akita Inu and dogs
The demeanor of the Akita Inu (proud and slow gait, pointy ears and raised tail) gives it the appearance of wanting to pick a fight with every dog that crosses its path.
Therefore, canine encounters can be delicate as other dogs often perceive the Akita Inu’s demeanour as threatening.
To add to this, the fact that this dog was initially bred as a fighting dog means that it has retained a certain dominant character. However, this can be moderated with early and high-quality socialisation.
However, don’t expect any miracles when it comes to two dogs of the same sex, especially between two males. Even getting along is very hard for them, let alone living together.
Akita Inu and children
This dog will get along very well with children - it greatly enjoys their company. However, this is restricted to those that are part of its social group, with whom it has been raised.
Naturally sensitive and discrete, the Akita should never be handled roughly by children, to make sure that they don’t elicit an unwanted response.
Akita Inu and the elderly
The Akita’s calm and discrete nature is often pleasing to the elderly. That said, an Akita still needs an active and strong owner who is capable of controlling it, especially during encounters with members of the same sex, notably between two males.
The price of an Akita Inu varies depending on its origins, age and sex. You should budget around £920 for a dog registered with the KC.
As for your monthly budget, you should set aside around £40 to £60 to cover all of its grooming and nutrition needs.
Like a cat, the Akita Inu takes care of most of its grooming needs by itself - this dog is very clean. Maintaining its appearance and hygiene is therefore not difficult, but should still be tended to frequently.
The eyes and ears should be monitored and cleaned on a regular basis.
The Akita Inu moults an impressive amount during the annual shedding periods - it loses fur in tufts. It will therefore need long, and sometimes tedious, brushes on a daily basis during these times of the year.
Nutrition of the Akita Inu
A traditional diet (raw or homemade) is well adapted to primitive dogs. Even if food is shop-bought (dry food, for example), this will also do - as long as it is of premium quality.
This big dog should get two meals a day: a light meal in the morning, and a more substantial portion in the evening. It is advised to put the dog’s bowl on a raised surface due to its size, in order to facilitate digestion.
The daily ration should be adapted to the dog’s age, health and level of physical activity.
Health of the Akita Inu
The lifespan is around 13 years.
Strong / robust
The Akita’s primitive nature could translate into robustness, but in reality, it remains fragile in a number of ways.
This dog can deal with the heat, but will always prefer a cool space to relax in.
The Akita Inu’s thick coat protects it well from the cold and humidity. This breed can be quite content outdoors, whatever the weather.
Tendency to put on weight
Food is not this dog’s weakness, so the Akita is not predisposed to obesity. Just make sure you’re not overfeeding your dog, especially if it isn’t too active.
- Sebaceous adenitis (hereditary skin disease)
- Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada syndrome, or VKH (hereditary disease: inflammation of the brain or iris, depigmentation of the skin and nose, etc.)
- Progressive retinal atrophy
- Von Willebrand Disease (hereditary bleeding disorder)
Frequently asked questions
What is the difference between an American Akita and an Akita Inu?
There is a clear physical difference between the two types of Akitas. The American Akita is much larger and heftier than the Japanese Akita (or Akita Inu). The American Akita has looser skin, particularly noticable in the face. Its eyes are larger and more almond-shaped than the small eyes of the Japanese Akita. American Akitas also come in a much larger variety of coat colours - every colour is acceptable. In terms of character, the breeds are quite similar, though the Akita Inu tends to be more independent and stand-offish than the confident American Akita.
Learn more about the American Akita!
Is the Akita Inu dangerous?
Akita Inus are territorial and extremely protective of their "pack". That, coupled with the fact that they are large and powerful, gives them a reputation for being dangerous. Akitas do need a lot of socialisation and proper training from an early age. However, for an experienced and responsible handler, these dogs can become wonderful companions for the whole family.
Find out how to socialise your puppy!
Is the Akita Inu a good family dog?
Akitas are generally not recommended for families with young children, due to their sometimes dominant and aloof character, which requires expert handling to avoid it leading to agression. However, if they are raised with children, Akita Inus will consider them as members of their "pack", and bond very closely with them as a result. The main thing to consider is whether or not you are prepared to put in the time and effort it will take to properly train and socialise this beautiful breed.
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