Akita Inu is a famous and well loved Japanese dog breed. Hachi Ko – the loyal loving dog from Japan whose story touched millions of people around the world has made this dog breed even more popular. Often, people make a comparison between the Akita vs Shiba Inu. Both breeds are similar but there are subtle differences. So in this guide, I will discuss these differences as well as the temperament, height, weight, training and grooming needs of the Akita Inu.
Facts and characteristics of the Akita Inu dog breed
- Akita is a strong, powerful breed having variable temperament. They can be dominant pets and hence are not considered suitable for first time dog owners. The average life span of Akita is 11-12 years.
- Akita was originally bred for the first time in the Akita Prefecture of Honshu, Japan to hunt deer, bear and wild boars. Today, they are mostly companion dogs.
- Helen Keller brought the first Akita Inu to America in the late 1930s.
- They are strikingly handsome dogs having two different coat varieties-long and short.
- The Japanese Akita weighs about 34-45 kilos while the American counterparts weigh about 29-52 kilos. Height is approximately in range of 58-72 cm for both breeds with the American Akita being slightly taller. Note that American and Japanese Akita are considered to be separate breeds; the American dogs are much larger than their Japanese counterparts.
- The faithful Hachi Ko is a famous Akita who would accompany his owner, a Japanese professor, everyday to the Shibuya station. He would wait all day until his return to walk back home with him. One day, the professor died at work and Hachi Ko waited for almost 9 years at the station, every day, for his return. His loyalty earned him the nation’s respect and his statue was erected at the station. Every year, a ceremony is held to honor him.
Akita vs Shiba
If you are confused as to which breed to adopt or buy between the Shiba and Akita, please check out my guide on the Shiba Inu. Both Shiba and Akita belong to the Japanese Spitz dog variety and can be considered as close cousins. Many Japanese dog breeds in the same category are available in Japan such as the Kai, Kishu, Hokkaido, and Ainu. However, only the Shiba Inu and Akita have a following outside of the country, and especially in the USA. In Japan, Shiba is considered the more popular Spitz breed followed by the Chin and Akita breeds.
Where to find an Akita dog
A good place to find your Akita dog includes searching for reputable ethical breeders of this beautiful breed. You can easily get information about good Akita breeders from the official website of the Akita Inu-the JACA. A good breeder will ask you several questions about your household and also your experience in handling a strong dog like the Akita. Please note that this is not a breed for first time dog owners. Never buy a puppy less than 3 months of age and always ask to see at least one parent of the pup. Carefully look at the puppy’s mother to ensure there are no skin and coat problems. The puppy you select should be alert, active and look healthy and well cared for. Price can be a good indicator about the health and quality of your puppy’s bloodline. Pet quality pups are cheaper than show quality dogs. Akita prices vary greatly from state to state but pet quality pups can sell between $200 and $500 whereas show quality pups can go for $700 up to $2000. You might even see advertisements for Akita puppies for as less as $50 but these are probably bred by puppy mills or irresponsible dog owners who have not given any consideration or thought to the genetic factors or health concerns.
Every dog is different and no two Akitas will have the same temperament. Having said so, ideal temperament in this breed includes traits like loyalty, alertness, responsiveness and dignified mannerism. They are a courageous breed and guard their family protectively. Akitas are known to be aggressive towards other dogs. Many of these traits can be changed and bad behaviors can be overcome through proper training and obedience. Akita with the right temperament should be dominant yet non aggressive and courageous while guarding its family.
Crate training is very important when you own an Akita and it should ideally begin the day you bring home your puppy. You must also take steps to control food aggression and leash aggression. Once your pet is old enough, enroll her/him in basic obedience training school. You also need to attend the classes so that you can continue the training at home. Teach basic commands like No, Come, Sit, etc. Here are some training commandments that will come in handy when disciplining your Akita:
- In all training, teach single word commands. Too many words will overwhelm your pet.
- Keep training sessions short-up to 15 minutes at a time. While you are training, make sure there are no distractions like the phone, TV etc.
- As training progresses, you can take the classes to the dog park and not just limit them to your yard.
- Always end each training session with plenty of praise, treats and play time. This will help your pet to look forward to the next training session.
With hundreds of brands of dog food ranging from wet, dry to moist; selecting the healthiest food can be a difficult chore. Do not be misled by labels reading ‘balanced formula’, ‘complete nutrition’ and scientifically designed. These are words designed for you and they do not mean a thing to your pet. Learn to read food labels, and select digestible protein sources. Select food with human grade ingredients. Avoid foods with too much wheat and corn. Carefully formulated and balanced homemade meals and BARF diet is also good for Akitas.
Akitas are a pleasure to groom. Their resilient, odorless coats need no trimming. Occasional brushing is all it takes to keep the coat healthy. Long coated Akitas must be brushed at least 2 times a week to prevent matting. During summer months, you can trim the coat in some areas to keep it short. Bathe your pet at least once a month to eliminate parasites. Walk your pet on concrete to keep its nails trimmed.
Common inherited diseases in this breed are hip dysplasia, patella luxation and hypothyroidism. Regular checkups, healthy diet and plenty of fun and exercise will help keep your pet mentally and physically fit.