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Adopt an Akita

Akita Dog Breed

Picture: Kent and Donna Dannen


spitz, Northern (hunting)

Area of origin:


Original function:

large game hunting, dog fighting

Average size of male:

Ht: 25-28, Wt: 85-130

Average size of female:

Ht: 23-26, Wt: 65-110

Other names:

Akita Inu, Japanese Akita

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    Friendliness towards dogs

  • Friendliness towards other pets

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    Friendliness towards strangers

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    Ease of training

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    Watchdog ability

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    Protection ability

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    Cold tolerance

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    Heat tolerance

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Akita Dog Temperament

As befitting his spitz-like heritage, the Akita is bold, independent, stubborn and tenacious. Demonstrative to his family, he is utterly devoted and will protect family members. Though not the breed for everyone, in the right hands the Akita is an excellent companion.

Akita Dog Care

The Akita appreciates mental and physical exercise every day. He needs the chance to run in a safe area or on leash for a long jog. Given ample exercise and training, he can be a quiet and well-mannered house dog. The Akita is happiest if he can spend most of his time with his family. The coat needs brushing about once a week to remove dead hair, more often when shedding. Akitas tend to be somewhat messy drinkers!

Akita Dog Health

Major concerns: CHD, PRA
Minor concerns: elbow dysplasia, pemphigus, sebaceous adenitis, gastric torsion
Occasionally seen: PRA, patellar luxation, VKH-like syndrome, entropion, epilepsy, cataracts, polyneuropathy, renal cortical hypoplasia
Suggested tests: hip, elbow, eye
Life span: 10-12 years
Note: Onions have been documented to cause changes in the red-blood cells of Akitas.

Interested in the history of the Akita dog breed?

The Akita is perhaps the most renowned and venerated of the native Japanese breeds. Although he bears a likeness to dogs from ancient Japanese tombs, the modern Akita traces back to the 17th century, when a nobleman with a keen interest in dogs was exiled to the Akita Prefecture of the island of Honshu, a rugged area with intensely cold winters. He challenged the landowners there to compete in breeding a race of powerful hunting dogs. These dogs distinguished themselves in the hunting of bear, deer and wild boar, holding the game at bay for the hunter. These Akita forebears were called matagi-inu, or "hunting dog." The breed's numbers and quality varied over the next 300 years. In the late 1800s, he underwent a period when he was used as a fighting dog, and some were even crossed with other breeds in an attempt to enhance his fighting prowess. In 1927, the Akita-inu Hozankai Society of Japan was formed to preserve the original Akita, and in 1931 the Akita was designated as one of Japan's natural treasures. The most honored Akita of all time was Haichiko, who greeted his master every evening at the train station to accompany him home. When his master died at work one day, Haichiko waited for him and continued to return and wait for his master every day until he died nine years later on March 8, 1935. Today, a statue and annual ceremony pay homage to Haichiko's loyalty. The first Akita arrived in America in 1937, when Helen Keller returned from Japan with one. Following World War II, servicemen returned home with Akitas from Japan. The breed's popularity grew slowly until he received AKC recognition in 1972. Since then, he has steadily gained admirers and continues to grow in popularity. The Akita is now used as a guard and police dog in Japan.

Copyright © 1998, 2005 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc. based on

Shelters with Akita Dogs

Some animal welfare organizations with Akitas ready for adoption:

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