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13 Interesting Akita Facts That You’ll Love to Know

Written by: Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Last Updated on April 11, 2024 by Dogster Team

Akita Inu puppy outdoors

13 Interesting Akita Facts That You’ll Love to Know


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Dr. Lauren Demos

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Akitas originated in Japan, where they were bred to hunt bears and other sources of meat for their owners. As time went on, they were also used for unsavory sports like dog fighting. By the time that World War II was over, this breed was dangerously close to extinction. Fortunately, a group of Akita enthusiasts banded together to ensure that extinction didn’t take place.

Are you interested in learning more about this interesting dog breed? Here are 13 surprising facts that should give you more insight.

The 13 Akita Facts

1. Helen Keller Is Said to Have Brought the First Akita to America

An advocate for disabled people who was bestowed a Presidential Medal of Freedom by Lyndon B. Johnson, Helen Keller is an American icon. However, many people don’t know that she is thought to be responsible for bringing the first Akita from Japan to the United States. She was gifted with an Akita puppy by the Japanese government during a visit to the country, where she met Akitas for the first time and expressed her interest in the breed.

Helen named her puppy Kamikaze-Go and brought the puppy back to America with her. Sadly, the dog succumbed to distemper at the age of 8 months. The Japanese government sent her another dog that she named Kenzan-Go, and this dog enjoyed a much longer life. With all the media attention that Keller received for bringing the first two Akitas to America, a demand for the breed quickly arose, and military members brought more Akitas back to the States, which were bred for prospective owners.

akita dog standing at the park
Image By: Nikoleta Vukovic, Shutterstock

2. Akitas Have a Trademark

The Akita is known for their fluffy tail that curves over onto their back, and it seems to have become their trademark. Every Akita has a unique tail, so no two look exactly alike. That said, there is no mistaking an Akita tail when you see one.

3. Akitas Tend to Clean Themselves As Cats Do

This dog breed is extremely clean and tends to groom themselves throughout the day, much like a feline would. They lick their coats whenever they feel the need to, and they tend to rub their backs on the ground to help get rid of loose hair between brushings. There is rarely a need to bathe an Akita unless they get muddy or extra dirty in some way.

American Akita dog standing outside
Image By: Rita_Kochmarjova, Shutterstock

4. This Breed Is a Member of the AKC Working Group

The Akita is a member of the American Kennel Club (AKC) Working Group. The AKC deems these dog breeds as highly intelligent, watchful, and strong working dogs. They are quick learners and are taught to do jobs like property guarding, victim rescues, and sled pulling. Akitas share membership with other breeds, such as Siberian Huskies, Great Danes, and Doberman Pinschers.

5. These Dogs Are Known to Be Super Affectionate With Family Members

One trait that makes the Akita breed so popular among canine enthusiasts is their tendency to be extremely affectionate with their human companions. They will stick by their companion’s side whenever in public settings and do what they feel is necessary to protect them from perceived dangers. They enjoy cuddling with their companions during downtime and are always eager to please.

young girl petting an akita inu puppy at home
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

6. Akitas Are Typically Wary of Strangers

While the typical Akita is loyal to and affectionate with their family members, they tend to be aloof and wary of strangers whether in public or in their own household. They want to make sure a stranger poses no threats before they even think about getting to know them. Therefore, these dogs must be well-socialized and properly trained as puppies and throughout their lives.

7. This Breed Can Be a Good Guard Dog

When trained properly for the job, the Akita can make an excellent guard dog that protects property and family from threats and dangers. They are usually the first to investigate every strange noise that they hear. They will check every corner and nook for an intruder if necessary. They will warn anyone who comes near your home before they even get close to the door. They will even keep an eye on the kids while they’re playing outdoors.

dog owner and akita dog outdoors
Image Credit: MVolodymyr, Shutterstock

8. They Were Originally Bred as Hunters

The Akita breed was originally bred to help their owners hunt animals for food. They were smaller in size and stature than the average Akita is today, which made it easier for them to navigate the harsh environments that they hunted in. The modern Akita still has the instinct to hunt and will happily do so in the right conditions. They’re known for hunting rabbits, squirrels, and other small animals nowadays.

9. The Akita Has Been Established as Japan’s National Treasure

After becoming famous and loved in Japan due to a dog named Hachiko, the country designated the Akita as a national treasure in 1931. There is a visitor center and museum in Japan that has an exhibition room, a stuffed animal tower, and impressive photos and statues, all dedicated to the Akita.

akita inu
Image Credit: uadrienn, Pixabay

10. One Particular Akita Named Hachiko Has Become a Famous Movie Star

An Akita named Hachiko, born in 1923, was adopted by a man named Hidesaburo Ueno. This man asked a student to find him an Akita puppy, and the student obliged. The puppy had to take a brutal train ride to reach Mr. Ueno and was in bad shape when he arrived. Mr. Ueno and his wife nursed the puppy back to health and named him Hachi (“-ko” is an honorific that was added later).

Mr. Ueno got to work on a train throughout the week, and Hachi and his two dog siblings would follow him to the train station. Once at the train station, Mr. Ueno would get on his train, and the dogs would wait until he returned from work. Sadly, Mr. Ueno died of a cerebral hemorrhage while away at work in 1925, at the age of 53.

Hachi had only been by the man’s side for about 16 months. However, they had created an unbreakable bond, as Hachi would end up going back to the train station almost daily to wait for his owner. This loyal dog became famous after a writer for the Japanese Daily did a story about him in 1932. Hachi died in 1935, but he lives on as a bonified “movie star” due to the features like “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale.”

11. There Are Two Types of Akitas

Today, there are two types of Akitas: the Japanese and American versions. The biggest differences between the two are their size and coat. The American version came about after years of breeding Japanese Akitas that were brought to the United States due to different breeding practices. American Akitas tend to be larger and have different coat colors than Japanese Akitas. There are subtle physical differences too. However, they all come from the same lineage.

white akita inu
Image Credit: Happy Monkey, Shutterstock

12. These Dogs Are Sadly Still Used in Dog-Fighting Events

Although dog fighting has been outlawed in Japan, many rural areas in the country still host these events. Sadly, the Akita is a popular breed option. Many are bred with other breeds, like Mastiffs and Great Danes, to increase their strength and size just for fighting purposes.

13. Akitas Are Great Agility Competitors

Akitas were bred for hunting, so they are extremely athletic and agile. When well trained, they can be big competitors on the agility courses. In fact, they thrive on agility courses because it gives them the exercise that they need, the mental stimulation that they require, and the opportunity to solve problems, which helps improve their self-confidence.

owner training akita dog at the park
Imag Credit: Jannissimo, Shutterstock


The Akita is a fascinating dog breed that first became a popular household pet choice in Japan and the United States, but they are now bred and beloved all over the world. If you’re considering adopting this breed, these interesting facts should provide you with extra insight that will help you decide.

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Featured Image Credit: Kristina Chizhmar, Shutterstock

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