Know about Breed: Akita
- Lifespan: 10 – 15 years
- Height: Male: 64 – 70 cm (Adult, At the withers, Japanese Akita), Female: 58 – 64 cm (Adult, At the withers, Japanese Akita)
- Mass: Male: 32 – 39 kg (Adult, Japanese Akita), Female: 23 – 29 kg (Adult, Japanese Akita)
- The world’s best-known Akita was a Japanese dog called Hachiko who is revered in Japan for his display of loyalty. After his owner died, Hachiko kept vigil for the rest of his life at the railway station where they always met at the end of the day.
- Weighing 65 to 115 pounds (and sometimes more), the Akita is a large verging on giant breed. He has the typical spitz appearance: wedge-shaped head, prick ears, rectangular body with a dense double coat in any color or combination of colors and plumed tail curled over his back.
- The Akita needs a 20- or 30-minute walk or run daily, always on leash. He performs well in dog sports such as agility, obedience and rally, but they aren’t his favorite activities. He prefers the more one-on-one experience of being a therapy dog.
- A people-loving dog like the Akita needs to live in the house. It’s an unhappy Akita who is relegated to the backyard with little or no human companionship.
- The Akita is a powerful and independent dog with a bold nature. He is devoted to and protective of his family, especially children, but aloof toward strangers and potentially aggressive toward dogs he doesn’t know. He can mistake the high-pitched screams and rough play between children as actual fighting and step in to protect them if he is not supervised. Early and frequent socialization are essential to help him develop the confidence and discrimination he needs to recognize what is a threat and what is normal.
- Unlike many spitz breeds, the Akita is not known for barking, which makes him attractive to apartment dwellers, but that does not detract from his abilities as a watchdog. He is highly protective, and when he does bark, you should pay attention.
- The Akita is not the type of dog to follow his people around, but he likes knowing where they are and spending time with them. Other people? He’s just not that into them.
- This intelligent but independent dog can be a challenge to train. The Akita is not going to do something just because you want him to. You have to earn his respect. He responds well to clicker training and positive reinforcement techniques such as play, praise and food rewards, but he also likes to do things his own way. To be successful, you must be patient and willing to try many different methods to see what works. Find an experienced trainer who has an extensive bag of tricks. Keep training sessions short and fun so the Akita doesn’t get bored. Gradual training works best with this breed. Don’t try to cram too many concepts into his head at once. On the plus side, Akitas are a fastidious breed, making them easy to house train.
- Akitas can get along with other animals when they are raised with them, but they do best when other dogs in the home are of the opposite sex. They will go after unknown animals who come onto their property and they won’t back down from a fight if another dog initiates a throwdown.
- The ideal Akita doesn’t come ready-made from the breeder. Any dog, no matter how nice, can develop obnoxious levels of barking, digging, countersurfing and other undesirable behaviors if he is bored, untrained or unsupervised. And any dog can be a trial to live with during adolescence. In the case of the Akita, the “teen” years can start at nine months and continue until the dog is about two years old.
- Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at eight weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Don’t wait until he is 6 months old to begin training or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed.
- All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.
- In Akitas, the health problems you are most likely to encounter are hip dysplasia; an eye disease called progressive retinal atrophy that causes blindness; an immune disorder called acquired myasthenia gravis; von Willebrand disease, a bleeding disorder; and immune system disorders that affect the skin such as pemphigus foliaceous, uveodermatologic syndrome and sebaceous adenitis, a disease that ends in total hair loss.
- Brush the Akita’s double coat weekly to keep it clean and remove dead hair. During spring and fall shedding seasons, daily brushing will help to keep excess hair under control. In addition, trim his nails as needed, brush his teeth, and keep the ears clean to prevent infections.