Breed Organization Akita Club of America Website: http://www.akitaclub.org Native Country Japan Other Names Akita, Akita-Ken, Akita Inu, Great Japanese Dog Life Expectancy Approximately 11-15 Years Litter Size Average 7-8 Puppies Breed Group AKC Working Group
Breed Appearance The breed stands 24 to 28 inches at the withers (60 to 71 cm).
Females weigh anywhere from 70-100 pounds (30-45kg). Males are
75-120 pounds (35-55 kg). In Japan, Akitas come in only four colors:
Red Fawn, Sesame (red fawn hairs with black tips), Brindle, and
White. All except white must have whitish hair on the sides of the
muzzle, on the cheeks, the neck, chest, body and tail.
All colors are accepted in the American Akita. The Pinto color is
not accepted as a Akita-Ken color, but only as an American
Akita color. In the U.S., however, some breeders still interbreed
the original Japanese type with the heavier American type, which is
larger, and allows more colors. It is felt by a few that combining
the two types leads to improved appearance and genetic health by
increasing genetic diversity. In the United States, there is only a
single Akita breed, whereas they are separated into two breeds in
every other country in the world except Canada. Akitas from Japan
and Akitas from the U.S. and other countries are all registered with
the American Kennel Club as "Akitas". In other countries the breed
has been separated into two breeds: the Akita and the American
Akita. However, the American Akita is acknowledged by many
knowledgeable American breeders as being a different breed than the
Japanese and these breeders advocate a splitting of the one breed
Breed Description Head: Strong. Broad forehead. Marked stop with distinctly
visible furrow extends up the forehead. Straight nose bridge. Fairly
long, strong muzzle. Tight lips. Ears: Small, thick, triangular, with slightly rounded tips.
Held erect and forward. Eyes: Small, almost triangular. Dark brown color. Body: Elongated. Thick, muscular neck without dewlap. Deep
chest. Ribs are moderately well sprung. Belly well tucked up. Tail: Set high. Thick. Carried curled tightly over the back. Hair: Short, hard, straight. Longer on the withers and
croup. Even longer on the tail. Dense, soft undercoat. Coat: Red, sesame, brindle, and white. All except whites
must be urajiro (whitish hair on the sides of the muzzle, on the
cheeks, under the jaw, on the throat, forechest, underbody, bottom
of the tail, and inside of the legs). Size: Dog: 67 cm (64 to 70 cm) Bitch: 61 cm (58 to 64 cm) Weight: 30 to 50 kg
History The Akita was developed in Akita Province on Honshu Island.
Originally called the Akita Matagi (dog that hunts bears), this
breed is a medium size hunting dog. The ancestors of the Akita may
have been Chinese breeds which were later crossed with a mastiff and
the Tosa. The Akita was long used as a large game hunting dog and
for dog fighting. The breed began to decline, but made an
astonishing comeback when it was designated as part of Japan's
natural heritage. The Akita, the largest Japanese spitz type, is now
kept almost exclusively as a pet. This large spitz is also prized in
Europe and the United States where a larger variety has been
developed that weighs approximately 50 kg.
Behavior This robust, vigorous, very courageous dog is independent and proud
but calm. He is docile making him an excellent pet that is easy to
live with. This exceptional guard dog is wary of strangers and
always on the alert, but he rarely barks. The Akita has an alpha
personality, and therefore has difficulty living with other dogs.
Firm though gentle training is required.
Health Akitas in UK and USA/Canada surveys had a median lifespan of about
10 years, which is similar to other breeds of their size. In a 2004
UK Kennel Club survey, the most common causes of death were cancer
(32%), cardiac (14%), and gastrointestinal, including bloat/torsion
(14%). In a 2000-2001 USA/Canada Health Survey, the most common
causes of death were cancer (21%), GDV (=bloat/torsion, 21%),
musculoskeletal (15.5%), and autoimmune (7%).
Some of the health conditions known to affect this breed include:
- Canine herpesvirus, a strain of the Herpes virus that happens to
- Gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV), a condition associated with
- Pemphigus, which causes the autoimmune system to attack the dog's
skin (leading to pustules)
- Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), an adult-onset condition which
gradual degeneration in the eye cells (i.e. rods & cones)
- UveoDermatological Syndrome (UDS), known as Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada
(VKH) disease in humans
- Sebaceous adenitis, an autoimmune condition which attacks and
destroys the dog's sebaceous glands
- Canine Hip Dysplasia
- Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV = "Bloat" or "Torsion") Akita
owners should take special note of the high incidence of GDV
(Gastric dilatation volvulus) in this breed. Excess gas trapped in
the dog's stomach causes "bloat". Twisting of the stomach (volvulus
or "torsion") causes or is caused by excess gas. GDV is an emergency
condition requiring immediate veterinary treatment. Akita owners
should be alert to the symptoms of GDV and know the location of the
nearest emergency veterinary facility.
Advice Although the American Kennel Club has put the Akita in the Working
Group, several different breeds contributed to the modern Akita,
some hunting dogs and some dogs used as competitive fighting dogs;
however, it must be made clear that the common 'Japanese Fighting
Dog' moniker is inaccurate. While the Akita's ancestry may lie with
dogs used for fighting the modern day Akita is a long way from this
and indeed most good breeders will not breed from dogs that are
known to have aggressive natures. In general the Akita is very laid
back, and has an easy-going temperament which makes it a very good
family environment pet.
Akitas are a large breed, not a
giant breed. They are excellent house dogs. They require only a
moderate amount of exercise. Akitas are known to be very quiet dogs,
only barking "when there is something to bark about". The two most
outstanding characteristics of the Akita as a house pet are that
they are very clean and that they are very easy to house break.
Akitas have been described as almost "cat-like," as they are clean
and odorless. This may also be one of the reasons why they
housebreak so easily. Most Akitas respond so well to housebreaking
that they are trained in a matter of weeks, although it may take
longer if other "slower learning" dogs are present.
far as the family children are concerned, there are few worries.
Akitas are devoted, patient friends and protectors of children.
Akitas are typically very gentle with children, and it is said that
Japanese mothers often left their children with only the Akitas to
watch over and protect them. Remember, however, that young children
should never be left unattended with a pet. And while an Akita may
love "his" children, he will not necessarily love their friends,
especially when they run around the yard and scream. When raised
indoors with children, they can be excellent companions. Left
unattended in the backyard or in a kennel, they tend to develop
"personality" problems and become very destructive to the yard,
which is due to boredom. They are highly pack oriented, thus,
isolating them from the pack (i.e., the owner) causes them great
stress. Akitas tend to be stubborn and require a firm but loving
education where "no" always means "no"
and never "whatever".
The Akita is a dominant dog who may expect other dogs to be
submissive. If they fail to live up to the Akita's expectations,
incidents can happen. Akitas have a high and well-developed prey
drive, particularly to small animals, including cats. An Akita is
not likely to shower affection on someone that is not a member of
his family or a close friend that he sees frequently, and can be
extremely aloof. Akitas properly socialized and raised with other
animals usually accept them as members of the family. The loyalty
and devotion displayed by an Akita is phenomenal. The typical pet
Akita will follow you from room to room, yet has the uncanny ability
not to be underfoot. Your Akita lives his life as if his only
purpose is to protect you and spend time with you. Akitas may,
however, have a tendency to be very aggressive to other dogs and
small animals and have a strong prey drive. It is not uncommon for
an Akita to catch and kill small (or even large) animals (including
cats, guinea pigs, rabbits and small dogs) if it is allowed to
wander and should therefore never be allowed to run off its lead
around other animals.