Akitas have large, sturdy frames covered in thick, water-resistant coats. They have broad heads with short muzzles, black noses and pointed ears that carry forward. Their triangular eyes are dark and deeply set. They have thick, muscular necks that widen a bit at the shoulders. Slightly longer than tall, Akitas have strong backs that end with curly tails, and their thick, double coats come in almost any color. Overall, Akitas carry themselves with a commanding power and self-assurance.
Thumbnail: Photography by Kayla Bertagnolli, as captured at the 2018 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
Akitas have a reputation for being fierce hunters, but around the house they can be tame and gentle pals, easily adapting to quiet family occasions. Not the types to cuddle on the couch for hours on end—their instincts tend to keep them in an “alert and responsive” mode—but they are sweet, loving and dependable companions.
Akitas get along very well with children, especially the ones they know. They may be a tad standoffish with new people (or rambunctious kids), but they eventually warm up to new people and situations. Akitas don’t bark too much, but they do “talk” occasionally. They are very intelligent and responsive, making excellent guard dogs.
They love the outdoors, whether hiking, hunting, playing games or splashing in rivers and lakes. And their weatherproof coat keeps them going in cold temperatures. Overall, Akitas are tough, smart and loyal companions.
In addition to having great physical strength, Akitas also have powerful personalities. They are an ancient, strong-willed breed, and they need an owner who can devote the time, patience and training for proper socialization.
Akitas can easily adjust to apartment living, but they need plenty of daily exercise to maintain a healthy state of mind and body. City-dwellers should walk their Akita vigorously every day, while country folk (or people with big, fenced back yards) should let their Akitas have big daily sprints outside. Remember to keep your Akita on a leash at all times in public.
A healthy Akita can live as long as 12 years. Common health issues include hip dysplasia, immune deficiencies, eye problems and thyroid problems. Their thick coat sheds heavily in the spring and fall. Daily brushing is a must.
Bred to be courageous hunters, Akitas originated in the northern mountains of Japan (the Akita region). As their popularity spread throughout the world, they proved to be equally resourceful as police dogs, sledding dogs and guard dogs. In the United States, Helen Keller helped popularize Akitas by traveling and lecturing with her faithful Akita named Kami, and after World War II many American soldiers brought Akitas back home with them. In Japan, they are still considered a national treasure and a symbol of good health and prosperity.
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