The Mighty Akita: A Breed Guide
Akitas are a large working breed of dog, easily distinguishable due to their upwardly curled tails and fluffy coats. Their burly bodies and perky ears make them look like living teddy bears, and they have the personalities to match. Akitas are loyal and loving. While they love a good cuddle with their owners, they are energetic dogs that need time to run and play. Learn more about the history of this noble breed and what it is like to own an Akita as a pet.
Hailing from Japan
The Akita originated in Japan and continues to be closely associated with its home country. In 1931, the Japanese government named the Akita breed a “natural monument.” Born in 1947, Hachikō is the most famous of its breed. This Akita continues to emblematic of the breed’s devotion to its owners. When Hachikō’s owner died, he traveled each day to the train station waiting for his master to come home, until his own death, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC).
Hachikō came from a long line of Akitas; the breed’s history dates back at least 1,000 years, according to the Midwest Akita Rescue Society. Bred in the mountains of Japan, these dogs were adept at navigating snowy landscapes and hunting large game.
Coming to the U.S.
While the diaspora of some dog breed is shrouded in mystery, the Akita’s arrival in the United States is well-documented. Helen Keller, American author and disability rights advocate, brought the first Akita puppies to the country in 1937, according to the AKC. From then on, the breed’s popularity in the U.S. grew. Today, the breed has two separate lines: the American Akita and the Japanese Akita.
Akitas are large dogs. Males can weigh as much as 130 pounds, while females are only slightly smaller, reaching 100 pounds on the upper end, according to The Spruce Pets. They have a life expectancy of approximately 10 to 13 years.
The Akita’s coat is one of its distinctive features. Despite their size and working drive, the breed tends to be a fairly clean one. They do have two major shedding events per year, and their double coats should be brushed on a weekly basis, according to the AKC.
Akitas as Pets
Akitas were bred to withstand cold temperatures and work alongside their human companions. While plenty of energy remains in the breed today, these dogs are happy to adapt to a cushy life at home. Owners do need to regularly exercise these dogs, but Akitas do not need constant physical activity to be happy. A walk and playtime every day should be enough to keep your Akita from bouncing off the walls.
Akitas are loving companions, but they are not necessarily the best breed for households with small children or other animals. These dogs tend to be territorial, and they do have the size to back up that tendency.
The Midwest Akita Rescue Society (MARS) has placed hundreds of Akitas with loving homes. If you are looking to adopt, MARS could be a good place to start. There are also active Akita breeders in the United States if you are looking to buy a puppy.