Are you looking for a loyal dog that absolutely LOVES outdoor activities all year round? If you don't have a major aversion to some pretty intense shedding, the Akita could be the breed for you!
The Akita is a Japanese breed that originated about 300 years ago. In Japan, the breed is highly respected and considered lucky, healthy, and guarded. The Akita was developed to fight, hunt large game, and protect their homes, and this breed still has these strong traits.
Hachiko is the true story of an Akita that would travel to greet his pet-parent (a professor at the University of Tokyo) at the end of every day at Shibuya train station. The professor passed away unexpectedly and never returned to the train station where Hachiko stood waiting. Hachiko returned to the station every evening waiting for his pet-parent for nine years before passing away himself. A statue was built in honor of Hachiko's faithfulness.
Can Do It All
The Akita is a hard-working breed that is often employed in several different service areas: military, police, guard dog, search and rescue, hunting, and sled dog. They do best in an environment that provides them with a job.
They are fearless and have no issue standing their ground. An assertive, yet calm owner is best for this breed. An individual capable of establishing rules and sticking to them will help the Akita understand their place within the human pack.
Smart, Spontaneous, Courageous
The Akita takes protecting its family very seriously and does not tolerate strangers especially well. They love kids too! Because of this strong guardianship trait, it is important to socialize Akita's at a very young age with different people and animals, especially cats. Akita's are known to terrorize their kitty counterparts, and should be properly and slowly introduced to the household feline.
This is a highly intelligent breed, but they can quickly get out-of-control if rules and training aren't stressed. To prevent future behavioral problems such as counter-surfing, jumping, excessive barking, nipping, digging, and much more, early training and socialization is a must.
The Akita can have dog-to-dog aggression issues.This type of aggression can be very serious and should not be taken lightly. Doggy Daycare, starting at a young age, may help the Akita around other dogs. It's is a great way to socialize dogs with one another, as well as tiring them out with a long-day of play. However, because the Akita was bred to fight, no matter how much socialization is provided, some Akita's may not be able to tolerate being around other dogs very well.
Exercise a Must
The Akita will enjoy running, hiking, and daily walks and is also the perfect size and temperament to carry a dog backpack. However, no dog should wear a backpack until they are 1-year old to prevent injuries to developing joints. The backpack provides a dog with a job, and helps drain energy much quicker. Consider using one every time you take your dog for a hike or walk.
Akitas also make great running partners! However, because they are a Northern Breed, do not run them in warmer climates. If you live in a cold climate, this breed will enjoy skijoring, pulling a sled, or just playing outside in the snow with the kids!
They don't make great apartment dogs and would much prefer a large fenced-in yard to romp around with their family members.
The Akita is well known for their distinct look. Their ears are naturally erect (no ear cropping here!), the tail curves over their back, and their coat is thick and heavy. They can be any color with or without a black mask, while the white Akita's do not have a mask.
They shed heavily twice a year and will require daily brushing to help maintain their gorgeous coat. This breed should absolutely not be shaved, as their coat helps protect their skin from heat. Bathing should be done only when needed as their coat has a natural waterproofing system, and frequent bathing will strip its natural oils.
Akita's are prone to hip dysplasia, hypothyroid, autoimmune thyroiditis, immune diseases like VKH and pemphigus, skin issues, progressive retinal atrophy eye disorder, and luxating patellas. Their average life span roughly is 10 - 12 years.
As you begin looking for an Akita, please check with rescue organizations first. Every year there are millions of dogs being euthanized - not because they are bad dogs, but because there is no home for them and insufficient resources to care for them at rescue agencies. By adopting a dog, you are truly saving a life!
At the very least, NEVER purchase any dog from a pet store. Unfortunately, those puppies almost always come from puppy mills. Instead, look for a reputable breeder to work with.
And on a final note, it is important to spay and neuter your puppy by 6 months old to have a healthy and happy pet for many years to come!
Original Dog Bible, 2nd Edition by Kristin Mehus-Roe