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How Smart Is an Akita? Breed Intelligence & Facts

Written by: Misty Layne

Last Updated on April 30, 2024 by Dogster Team

Akita dog

How Smart Is an Akita? Breed Intelligence & Facts


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Dr. Amanda Charles

BVSc MRCVS (Veterinarian)

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

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Thinking about adopting an Akita? This beautiful Japanese breed is known for being powerful, as well as loyal to its people; it’s also so beloved in Japan that it was proclaimed a “national monument” in 1930! But how intelligent are these canines? That’s something you’ll want to know before adopting one, as how smart a dog is helps to determine how well they do with training.

Because Akitas are known for working as police, hunting and guard dogs, you’d think they’d be pretty intelligent. It turns out, though, that according to a famous canine intelligence study done by Stanley Coren (which we’ll look at further below), Akitas only rank 54th among intelligent dogs1. This puts the breed in the tier of working dogs that show average intelligence. But what does that mean?


Coren’s Canine Intelligence Study Explained

If you haven’t heard of Stanley Coren and his study, Coren 2 is a researcher that has studied and written tons about the intelligence and mental abilities of canines. One of his more famous studies was the one he did on the intelligence of dogs. In this study, he surveyed 199 judges of dog obedience and asked them to rank how well different dog breeds met these criteria:

  • If a dog would obey commands they already knew and how quickly these commands were obeyed.
  • How many times a new command needed to be given to a canine before it is learned.

What exactly do these criteria measure, and how do they determine a dog’s intelligence? The answers to these criteria measure a dog’s working and obedience intelligence, which tells us how smart the breed is. Breeds that respond more quickly to commands they know have more smarts than breeds that are slower to respond. And breeds that can learn new commands with less repetition are smarter than those breeds that need a command repeated several times.

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

How Does the Akita Stack Up to Other Dog Breeds?

As previously mentioned, the Akita ended up at #54 in Coren’s study (tying with the Boston Terrier!) and landed in the fourth tier, which puts it pretty squarely in the “average intelligence” range. What does it mean that the Akita ended up in the fourth tier of dog breeds? Being in this tier means it took 25 to 40 times for the Akita to learn a new command and that they obeyed known commands 50% of the time or more.

But the smartest of the working dogs—the breeds in the first tier—were able to pick up new commands within five or fewer tries and obey commands they knew at least 95% of the time, if not more. There are also two more tiers that come after the one in which the Akita is placed. The sixth and final tier contained breeds that required at least 100 repetitions to learn new commands and only obeyed the commands they already knew 30% of the time.

As you can see, the Akita is right in the middle when it comes to canine intelligence! However, it should be noted that individual dogs are different, so some Akitas may be smarter than others.


Other Aspects of Canine Intelligence

The two above aspects of intelligence aren’t all the aspects of intelligence available to help figure out how smart a dog is. Coren explained that there are several more aspects of canine intelligence, including spatial, adaptive, interpersonal, and instinctive intelligence.

However, of those, the other two that can help determine a pup’s smarts are adaptive and instinctive intelligence.

happy akita inu dog resting at the park
Image By: Kristina Chizhmar, Shutterstock

1. Adaptive Intelligence

This part of intelligence deals with how capable a canine is of learning on its own. Have you ever seen a dog presented with a challenge, such as getting treats out of a box or getting around a barrier? Well, how quickly that dog figured out how to solve the problem is adaptive intelligence.

2. Instinctive Intelligence

This area of intelligence relates to a dog’s instinctive abilities, or how well a dog breed does at the job it was designed to do. For the Akita, this would be how well they naturally are at being guard dogs.

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

3. Want to Learn Your Dog’s Intelligence?

Of course, you do! And, good news, you can with a doggie IQ test! It’s pretty easy to give your pup one of these tests to figure out its intelligence, and it involves activities your pet will probably enjoy. You’ll simply follow the directions to set up a variety of tasks for your dog to do.

These tasks are designed to test a host of your Akita’s skills, such as problem-solving, cognition, reasoning, and learning. Time your pet to see how quickly it accomplishes them, and that will allow you to figure out exactly how smart your Akita is!



If you own or are considering adopting an Akita, you have a reasonably intelligent pup. While Akitas aren’t the smartest of dog breeds, they aren’t unintelligent either. Instead, this breed is right there among many other breeds in the average intelligence department. All that means is you might need to spend a little more time training your Akita than you would with a different breed.

And if you want to figure out just how smart your Akita is, it’s simple enough to do with a doggie IQ test. This activity will be fun for your pup and lead to a wonderful bonding experience for the two of you!

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Featured Image Credit: Anaite, Shutterstock

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