Other names: Akita
The American Akita is an extraordinary dog with its own character and is definitely not for everyone! Independent, proud, stubborn and often considered “disobedient”, they need constant, firm but gentle training at a young age. Often confused with Huskies, these dogs aren’t very athletic. They like peace and quiet and spending time with their family, to whom they can be both close and distant. American Akita are known to be difficult to handle. Therefore they are most suited to experienced owners who are ready to take the dog as it is.
Key facts about the American Akita
Origins and history
Originally, their history coincides with that of the Japanese Akita. From the 17th century, in the region of Akita, Akitas Matagis (or bear hunting dogs) were used as fighting dogs. From 1968, they were crossed with Tosa and Mastiff, which increased their size at the expense of other characteristics specific to Spitz-type dogs. During the Second World War, the police were ordered to capture all dogs (except German Shepherds) to make military clothing. Thus, many breeders tried to circumvent this law by simply breeding their dogs with German Shepherds. In fact, at the end of the war, three types of Akitas were distinguished, despite their numbers being significantly reduced: Matagis Akitas, Combat Akitas and Akitas/German Shepherds. It was then that many dogs were taken to the United States to further develop this breed. The first American Akita was born in 1956 and was first registered in 1972. Since then, Japan and the USA have never managed to agree on the origins of the paternity of the breed. Thus, nowadays, the American Akita and the Japanese Akita are very different, as no new Japanese blood has been integrated into that of the American Akita.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 5 - Spitz and primitive types
Section 5 : Asian Spitz and related breeds
Physical characteristics of the American Akita
Female : Between 24 and 26 in
Male : Between 26 and 28 in
Female : Between 99 and 132 lb
Male : Between 99 and 132 lb
All colours are accepted except merle. The Akita's colours include white,brindle or pinto, etc., this includes spotted / striped patterns. Totally white American Akitas have dark/black masks . Spotted dogs have white base coats and evenly distributed patches that cover more than a third of their body. Their undercoats can be a different colour to that of their main coat hair.
Type of coat
The hair is short to mid-length, up to 2 inches at their withers (ridge between their shoulder blades) and their hindquarters.
Their coats are double layered: a thick, soft and dense undercoat and then a straight top coat, which has a hard/stiff texture.
Their eyes are dark brown.
The American Akita (formerly known as the Large Japanese Dog) is a large, well-balanced dog with a solid build and heavy frame. Their eyes are relatively small and quite triangular. Their ears are upright and are quite small compared to the rest of their head. These ears are mostly triangular and are slightly rounded at their ends. Their tails are large and covered in thick hair, and often arch onto their backs, or dangling underneath their back.
Good to know
Until the 2000s, the Akita Inu and the American Akita were not considered two different breeds and cross breeding between the two was common.
The American Akita is a family dog, who pays attention to more than one member of a group. They are the type of dog who greatly distinguish their family from the rest of the world.
They know how to be tender and are sometimes clingy but they are still independent and certain individuals can be quite distant with their owners.
For example, in public, do not expect them to show affection as they tend to save this for their family in private when they are out of sight.
The American Akita can be a very good playmate, especially for older children, but only when they want to play. You cannot force this dog to cooperate, even in fun activities. Their behaviour changes greatly depending on their mood.
The American Akita is very calm and likes to nap for hours. However, they can be easily riled, particularly if they feel danger approaching. They are very alert and vigilant dogs, despite their calm appearance.
Even though the American Akita is not a working dog, they are still very intelligent. They can be quite cunning because they ignore their owners’ commands and make them think that they haven’t understood!
Despite never being used as hunting dogs; these dogs have a strong predatory instinct. For example, it can be difficult to let them loose in a forest or to play chasing game, even if you call them back, their predatory instinct will take the lead.
You should be aware that the Akita never completely acknowledges anything. You cannot train an instinct out of them, but you can educate them to fight against it. Most importantly, you must respect the nature of these dogs.
Fearful / wary of strangers
When they are puppies, they love everyone and enjoy interacting. However, when they hit puberty and adulthood, they become more reserved.
They do not appreciate being stroked by strangers and will make this clear by dodging them or moving away.
The American Akita is not usually aggressive towards humans; however, they can show annoyance if people insist on physical contact.
The American Akita, named by the Anglo Saxons, is a proud and independent dog who likes peace and quiet, and can sometimes seem very distant. However, this does not prevent them from being very close to their own social group.
Behaviour of the American Akita
The American Akita is independent, proud and above all, appreciates peace and quiet. They keep an eye on their family and are calm in their presence. In fact, long periods alone do not bother them at all.
They should be taught independence from when they are first brought home as a puppy by being left alone, but not for prolonged periods of time.
Easy to train / obedience
The American Akita is not a ‘working’ dog, so it doesn’t have the same ability to learn as a Sheepdog for example. They are sometimes stubborn, or rather very opportunistic, and do not appreciate constraints or obligations. Therefore it is important to take their personality into account when choosing training methods.
As a trainer, perseverance, self-confidence, patience and consistency are needed to achieve the desired results. Training sessions should be kept short, playful and regular as they quickly tire of repetition.
Mutual trust between the dog and their master is essential in order to achieve cooperation. If there is a lack of trust, then it will be very difficult to get the desired results.
Brutal methods of training are to be avoided because they will hinder the relationship between the dog and their master. A positive approach to training must be taken, whilst remaining firm and consistent.
However, do not expect the American Akita to be obedient. If they sense a lack of consistency, they will not obey commands. When they do decide to obey a command, it will be as and when they want and in their own time.
The American Akita is famous for not barking. There are of course exceptions, but in general, they are not very talkative and know how to be discreet.
The dogs who bark tend to be those who are left locked in the garden without ever leaving it.