American Akita Temperament & Personality
The American Akita is a big and muscular dog breed known for its intelligence, loyalty, and nobility. They were originally trained as royal guard and hunting dogs in their home country of Japan. The breed was introduced in America during the 1950s after World War II. From then, they evolved into the robust dogs that enthusiasts adore today.
Nowadays, the American Akita’s remarkable intelligence and bravery make them excellent pets, guards, service dogs, and therapy aides.
American Akita Characteristics
The American Akita has a stocky, muscular, big-boned physique ideal for hunting. Its large head and small, triangular, brown eyes resemble those of a bear. The burly American Akita has scissor-like jaws similar to a Pitbull. This trait once put the breed on the list of dangerous dogs for their ability to attack and do harm. However, Akitas mostly attack prey or other animals.
Reports of attacks on humans are very rare. American Akitas are respectful and faithful to their humans, and they become deeply attached to their owners. They are loyal and protective. However, this same trait also makes the Akita somewhat aloof to strangers. Early socialization is essential for this breed to mingle well with unfamiliar humans and animals.
American Akita Size (Male and Female)
The American Akita is a big-boned, hefty breed. The male grows significantly larger than the female both in height and in weight. Quick fact: You can tell the difference between Akitas by their size and appearance. The American Akita grows relatively bigger than its parent breed, the Japanese Akita Inu.
American Akita Height (Male and Female)
The American Akita has an imposing, powerful appearance. It can grow to a height of 24-28 inches (60-71 cm) when fully grown as an adult. The males grow bigger at around 26-28 inches (66-71cm) while the female Akita stands about 24-26 inches (60-66 cm).
American Akita weight (male and female)
A fully grown American Akita can weigh around 80-145 lbs. (36-66 kg). If you’re curious about the vast weight variance, the answer is in the gender. The male’s weight can range from 100-145 lbs. (45-66 kg). Females weigh around 80-120 lbs. (36-54 kg). Since the Akita is a large breed, it’s prone to obesity due to hypothyroidism. Exercise and proper nutrition are essential for giant breeds like this one.
American Akita Life Span (Male and Female)
The average life expectancy of the American Akita is between 10-15 years. Factoring in health conditions, if well cared for, this breed will only usually show signs of sickness when they reach senior age. Akitas generally stay healthy as long as their owners provide them with the exercise and nutrition their body needs.
American Akita Personality
The personality and temperament of an American Akita can be described as reserved, though they tend to be loyal and affectionate to their owners. They can be very suspicious of strangers, making them great watchdogs. When properly socialized and trained from a young age, American Akitas make great pets and service dogs.
Akitas are incredible trackers and consequently make superb hunting dogs. In the olden times, they were trained by hunters to find bears, deer, wild boars, and other big animals in the wild. They do not easily back down from challenges and confrontations. American Akitas are very independent, and this makes them a bit stubborn and challenging to train. This is why they are not recommended for inexperienced dog owners.
If you live in a tight space, you might want to rethink owning an Akita because they have a loud bark and howl, especially when strangers are nearby. Their voice might pose a problem for neighbors who are sensitive to noise (and yourself, who needs quiet at least sometimes). However, Akitas only bark and howl when necessary. There’s no need to worry about nuisance barking when it comes to this breed.
Akitas can live with other pet animals only when they are trained. However, it is not advisable to put an Akita with smaller animals because their natural instincts will cause them to see the other animal as prey. No matter how well-trained they are, any incident that might trigger their hunting instincts and result in an accident.
Generally, Akitas do well living with a fellow Akita of the opposite sex. They cannot tolerate being with another of the same sex or a fellow alpha.
American Akita Exercise
The American Akita breed needs loads of exercise, so they are most suitable for outdoors-y and energetic owners. At least two hours of walking daily is the minimum requirement for this breed to burn off their energy. Akitas need to be fenced in. Otherwise, they will surely run around and chase a squirrel or any small creature when they see one.
They also love to wander and expand their territory, so they need to be contained properly (but not too tightly). This breed likes grabbing objects with their mouth, often to get the owner’s attention to show them something. This behavior is part of their innate retriever personality. It is best to give them plenty of dog toys to fill their mouths so they won’t start biting things.
American Akita Training
American Akitas are hard to train. It takes time and dedication, and a professional trainer can come in handy if it comes down to it. The first thing to teach an Akita is basic obedience training. Take them outdoors for long walks and practice obedience commands like “heel” and “stay.” This will burn off their energy and make them more submissive.
American Akitas are intelligent canines, so it won’t be a problem teaching commands. The challenge will be in their stubborn nature. They may have already developed behaviors growing up that they just cannot forget. They also have natural instincts like hunting for prey that won’t be easy to tame. It is advisable to seek the help of a professional trainer when dealing with an American Akita.
American Akita History
The term ‘Akita’ is actually the name of a province in Northern Japan, where the breed is said to have originated. It is believed that the Akitas were one of the first breeds to be domesticated. Royals used Akitas for hunting fowl, deer, boars, and even bears. Because of their strength, size, and innate bravery, they were the ideal dog to hunt large game.
When American author and political activist Helen Keller first heard the story of Hachiko, the loyal dog, and saw his statue at Shibuya, she expressed a desire to have an Akita. She was gifted a puppy named Kamikaze-go, which she brought to America. Sadly, the puppy died of distemper. Upon hearing of the tragedy, Japanese officials gave her another puppy—Kamikaze’s sibling.
This is believed to be the first record of an Akita coming to the United States. When World War II concluded, many American soldiers brought more Akitas from Japan. A man named Thomas Boyd produced the first Akita stud in America, and since then, the breed grew to become bigger, stronger, and more robust. Many Akita enthusiasts preferred these traits.
However, due to a preference for the original Japanese Akita, it took a long time for the American Akita to be officially accepted by breed organizations. To date, there are still debates on the validity of the American Akita as a real breed.
American Akita Health Problems
The American Akita is a healthy breed, but they are prone to illnesses that affect large dog breeds. Some common health issues that affect this breed include hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, bloat, progressive renal atrophy, and sebaceous adenitis.
Bloat occurs when gas becomes trapped in a twisted stomach with no means of escape. This condition can become severe quickly, so you must promptly take your dog to the vet if you notice signs like a distended belly, retching, and pacing. Gastrointestinal problems affect large breeds much more than the rest.
If your Akita shows signs of vomiting, excessive salivation, whining, and discomfort, it may be some gastrointestinal issue. Only a veterinary checkup can diagnose the underlying problem. Before owning an Akita, it’s crucial to learn the dog’s medical history through its breeder. They can educate you on any diseases that may run in the bloodline.
How to Care for American Akita
It takes dedication to keep an Akita in tip-top shape. They are high maintenance—daily exercises, regular grooming, consistent dental care, and high-quality food are essential. On the bright side, this breed is happy and content to be the only dog under your care. It does not need the company of other animals. So despite their high maintenance, keeping just one dog can be manageable.
Training is necessary for Akitas. Whether you train the dog yourself or seek the help of a professional, doing so will make life easier for both you and the dog. Exercise is a must for this large breed. If not given enough time to burn their pent up energy, the bored Akita will turn destructive and aggressive.
Nutrition and Feeding for American Akita
One might think the American Akita would always be hungry and easy to feed because of their large size. However, they are notorious for being fussy when it comes to their food. Owners will have to find the right type of food their dog likes. When they do figure it out, food can be a great motivational tool for their training.
Traditionally, Akita dogs eat fish, rice, and sea plants. These foods are considered their premium diet. A good quality dog food high in protein will provide a nutritious diet for them. Akitas are prone to obesity, so it is vital not to overfeed them or give them too many treats in a day. They are also prone to allergies, so choosing highly digestible food with few additives is recommended.
Coat Color and Grooming
The American Akita comes in many shades of white, brown, and black. They can have different markings, particularly on the head, like a black mask covering the nose and mouth.
The AKC has identified nine types of colors/markings for the American Akita breed:
- Red – black overlay
- Brown brindle
- Brown – black overlay
- Fawn – black overlay
- Silver – black overlay
When it comes to grooming, Akitas are prone to heavy shedding. They also drool a ton, so owners should have a mop or some paper towels on hand. The American Akita has thick, short fur that can grow up to 2 inches long on their hindquarters and withers. Their coat has a double layer, which helps them tolerate cold weather. Dogs with double coats need brushing daily to minimize the shedding.
Children and Other Pets
Those who are considering having an American Akita as a family pet are advised to do plenty of initial research because this breed has a unique personality. They are not very compatible with first-time owners or those unfamiliar with handling large dogs. Akitas can tolerate an environment that is a bit noisy.
Still, they are not recommended for households with small children because their large size makes them prone to accidentally injuring little ones. There have been a few reports of Akita attacks, and mostly children were involved. Akitas view smaller animals as prey. They can be trained, but it’s still not advisable to keep them near hamsters, birds, or other pets.
However, they can get along well with other dogs if socialized with them from an early age. This breed does not do well in a chaotic household with a lot of hustle and bustle. Although they can tolerate noise, they also love calm because they like taking naps throughout the day. They are more suitable for active families living in the country, on a farm, or those with large backyards.
The American Akita experiences societal and ownership problems, just like any other dog breed. Luckily, some dedicated rescue groups help rehabilitate and nurse them back to health before finding them new homes. Here are some notable organizations that support American Akitas:
- Big East Akita Rescue (B.E.A.R.) – A rescue group in the United States that operates in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. They are a group composed of owners and volunteers that rescue Akitas from shelters and abusive situations. They rehabilitate and find permanent homes for the dogs.
- Akita Rescue and Welfare – A rescue group based in the United Kingdom that rescues and rehomes both American and Japanese Akitas. They also have programs that provide information on proper ownership of Akitas, teaching people about the dog’s behavior, handling, and nutrition.
- Midwest Akita Rescue Society (MARS) – A rescue group dedicated to serving the Midwest part of the United States including Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, and Minnesota. The organization consists purely of volunteers who assess, rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome rescued Akitas.
There are many Akita enthusiasts, and they usually gather together through breed organizations. Their main mission is preserving the breed and educating people and future owners on how to properly care for Akitas.
- Akita Club of America – an organization that is legitimately sanctioned by the American Kennel Club. Their work is to protect and preserve the breed and improve lineage according to breed standards.
- Japanese Akita Club of America – JACA was born to distinguish the American Akita and the Japanese Akita as two completely separate breeds. Likewise, their mission is to improve and preserve the Japanese Akita.
More About This Breed
The American Akita is a relatively silent dog. When they’re not chasing small animals around, they simply love to nap for hours throughout the day. Their bark sounds more like moans, mumbles, howls, and grunts. Some owners say that their vocalizations sound more like they are muttering under their breath.
You won’t find an Akita entertaining house guests as some other dogs do. They will bark at new visitors within the premises or remain aloof with guests when their owners are around. Did you know that the ‘black mask’ on the American Akita’s face is an indication that it has been bred to American standards? The American Kennel Club recognizes this, and the marking allows it to enter into competitions.
The Akitas are great hunting companions. They can track wild game and retrieve from water. They have catlike movements, similar to like a tiger stalking its prey. Akitas won’t bark or show signs of aggression when they spot a target—they will lower their body quietly before springing forward.
The American Akita is a unique breed. Not many people in the world have the privilege of owning one. Those who do need to equip themselves with knowledge on handling. It is truly a commitment to own an American Akita. But the rewards of love and loyalty are unmatched. Truly, the American Akita breed is a man’s best friend.
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