Getting to Know Your Akita

This week in our series on Getting to Know Your Dog Breed we are featuring the Akita. A well-known Japanese breed of dog, the Akita is known for their strength and fearlessness as well as their beautiful full coat and long curled tail.

Life expectancy:  10 – 12 years

Size:  Akita’s are a large dog, with males reaching 85-130 lbs, females 65-100 lbs and typically standing 25 to 27 inches tall.

Color:  The Akita comes in a variety of colors, white, beige, brindle or pinto. They possess a thick undercoat that sheds in the summer months.

Origins:  The Akita originates from the Japanese island of Honshu in the rugged, cold, mountainous Akita prefecture (district) – from which they take their name. They were bred to hunt wild boar, black bears and elk and guard their families.

The Akita was recognized by the AKC in 1973 and is a member of the Working Group.

Personality: While  loyal and faithful companions to their humans, they are notably intolerant and at times aggressive towards other animals and they do best as a single pet in the home.  They tend to be quiet and reserved but do have a silly side that they might share with trusted family. They are strong-willed and while trainable, they need a firm hand and experienced owner. Early and frequent socialization is critical to mitigate their aggressive tendencies.

Health Issues: Like many large breed dogs, the Akita’ is susceptible to hip and elbow dysplasia. They also have shown a tendency to develop an eye disease called progressive retinal atrophy that causes blindness and a skin condition called sebaceous adenitis, a disease that ends in total hair loss.

Fitness/energy level: The Akita is a strong sturdy dog that needs a high level of exercise each day to maintain their fitness level. A 30-40 minute walk at least three times a day at a minimum. As a working dog, they also like to have a job, so they enjoy outdoor activities like cart-pulling. They also make great hiking and biking companions when properly trained.

Native foods for the Akita:  Native foods for Akitas are foods found in Japan and would include boar, deer, duck, perch, herring, cherries and cabbage.

Good foods to feed your Akita: Based on the Akita’s origin, here are a few foods that contain some of the key ingredients that the original Akita’s would have likely eaten. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather provide ‘food for thought’.

Fun facts about the Akita:

The 2009 film “Hachi,” starring Richard Gere, is based on the true story of a Japanese Akita named Hachiko. After his owner’s death while away at work one day, Hachiko waited every day at the train station for the man to return, as he did prior to his death. He waited there every day until his own death many years later.

Helen Keller received an Akita puppy on a visit to Japan. That pup died from distemper, but she obtained another that lived with her over a decade.

In Japan the Akita symbolizes good health and the Japanese will often make a gift of an Akita trinket as a get well soon token.Sources:

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