The Japanese Akita

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Japanese Akita
Weight: 65 — 115 lbs
Height: 23” — 28”
AKC Rank 2008 #50
Lifespan: 10—12 yrs
Group Working
Origin Japan

Dog Breed Info - The Japanese Akita

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Breed Overview

Original function: Hunting large game, dog fighting, guarding. Today, Police work, Security.They tend to be somewhat messy drinkers.

The modern Japanese Akite is the result of a nineteenth century effort to restore 7 Japanese dog breeds.

The Akite, largest of Japanese breeds, was restored using many breeds and mixed breeds used for fighting. The most honored dog of all time was Hachiko, who greeted his master every evening at the train station to accompany him home. His master died at work one day and Hachiko continued to return and wait for his master everyday until he died 9 years later in 1935.

The first of the breed arrived in America in 1937 when Helen Keller returned from Japan with several. Following WWII, servicemen came home from Japan with these dogs. The popularity of the breed grew slowly until the AKC registered it in 1972.


These dogs are trainable but it should be done by a professional who has a lot of experience. The breed is very dominant and needs a firm approach. If you want to train the dog yourself, the best way is with clicker training and positive reinforcement. Proper handling as a puppy helps too. Either way, this dog must be properly trained! After training, the new owner and family must maintain a firm upper hand and dominate the dog at all times.

Crate Training

Want to crate train your Japanese Akita puppy? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

Potty Training

The Akite puppy can be difficult to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.

Akita at the waters edge
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As befitting it’s spitz-like heritage, the Japanese Akita is bold, independent, stubborn and tenacious. It MUSTY be heavily socialized starting very young (3 - 4 weeks) and continued on through life. The breed needs a dominant owner who understands the alpha dog "pack leader" approach to managing aggressive dogs. Demonstrative to it’s family, it is extremely devoted and will protect family members. It is reserved toward strangers and can be aggressive toward other dogs. This dog can be domineering. This is not the breed for everyone, and not for the first time dog owner!

In the right hands, the Akita is an excellent companion.

If you happen to get an Akita with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."

Friendly Toward Other Dogs?

Maybe. Guard dogs are wary and may be aggressive around strange dogs.

Friendly Toward Other Pets

Not always. Depends on the individual dog and his unique temperament.

Friendly Toward Strangers?

He does not always trust people he doesn't know. This makes the Japanese Akita a good guard dog but can make it tricky if you invite friends over to visit. Use caution.


Moderately playful with family members.

An Akita out jogging on leash.
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Reasonably affectionate for a big guard dog. The Akita is mostly business and would rather be hunting but he does love his family more than anything.

Good with children?

Older children who are family members.

Good with Seniors over 65?

No. Too big and needs too much exercise.

Living environment

House with large fenced yard where you can throw a ball or Frisbee and the dog can run and explore. Needs to live indoors with his family as he craves companionship with the people he has bonded with.

Energy level


Exercise needs, daily

Moderate, but the Akita MUST have adequate mental and physical; exercise. He needs a large, fenced yard and lots of fetch or other play time with running, jogging and long walks to tire him daily.

Given enough exercise, the Japanese Akita can be a quiet and well-mannered house dog.


Excellent. He was made for the job.

Guard dog

Excellent. Excels.


Yes, twice a year.


A stiff bristle brush is needed weekly to remove dead hair. Brush more often while shedding.


Suggested Reading For The Japanese Akita
Click on the cover photos for more book information and reviews.

The book on the right is by the American National Red Cross and deals with dog emergencies, illnesses and injuries. It's a valuable reference manual for all dog owners to keep handy foir those events you never see coming.


Akita Breeders

In the event you decide to go looking for Akita puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that REALLY know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been VERY well socialized and started in obedience training. It's not often that Akita puppies turn up in dog pounds and shelters but you might check anyway.
Japanese Akita Breeders with puppies for sale.

Akita Rescue

In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of an Akita and are looking for a Akita Rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
Petfinder - Akita Rescue - (Nationwide)At this time, Petfinder has around 800 dogs listed for the USA so you might find what you need. If you adopt one, try to locate the dog health papers for possible future reference.
Adopt A Pet This is an interesting site but you still might want to go online and search for Akita Rescue groups, kennels or foster homes.

Dog Health Issues For the Japanese Akita
Below: The dog illness / illnesses or medical problems as listed for the Japanese Akita by various vets.

This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are dog illness and medical Problems this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

  • Hip dysplasia - Hind end limping, back leg acts lame. Wear and time causes the femur to fit poorly into the pelvic socket with improper rotation causing great pain, lameness and difficulty walking for the Japanese Akita. You may notice the dog “hopping”” like a rabbit when running plus hesitating to climb stairs, all due to pain in the hind quarters. The problem actually starts as a very young puppy with an abnormal formation of the hip joint and grows progressively. A vet can locate this with a diagnostics test.

  • Ventricular septal defect — A hole, or defect in the muscular wall of the heart (the septum) that separates the right and left ventricles. Occurs at birth and not a great idea.

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy—An inherited, untreatable disease of the retina affecting both eyes causing blindness. It’s in the genes of the dog and is not painful. Starts with night blindness and progresses as the retina gradually deteriorates

  • Elbow Dysplasia—This, as with hip dysplasia, is something the dog is born with. Wear and time in the front legs (elbow joints) cause lameness by the time the dog is roughly a year old. If you have a dog prone to this disease, have an early x-ray to see if surgery to the joints will stave off further damage to the joints. Typically, there has been no cure, but recently doctors have come up with some ideas. 1) Keep the weight of your dog down. 2) Use anti-inflammatory medication. 3) Look into injections of stem-cells to help regenerate bone-covering cartilage to cause the bones to line up properly again. (This is new research and some vets may not know about it so ask around.) This is found in large dogs like the Japanese Akita.

  • Glaucoma - Painful pressure builds in the eyes and eventually leads to blindness.

  • Retinal dysplasia—Caused by trauma, hereditary or damage from an infection.. Abnormal development of the retina with folds in the outer layers.. The folds are small and may not bother the dog, however, larger obstructions can lead to blindness. Retinal dysplasia is a congenital problem that does not necessarily worsen with age.

  • Pemphigus foliaceus - Found in dogs such as the Japanese Akita and Collie. A severe skin disease characterized by ulcers and crusting around the eyes, ears, bridge of the nose, footpads and groin. Diagnosed by skin biopsy. Treatment is by medication and special bathing of the infected areas.

  • Sebaceous adenitis—Mostly a cosmetic disorder, affecting appearance and not the Japanese Akita’s health. Sebaceous glands help prevent dry skin and they become inflamed and die off. Some breeds have dry, scaly skin and patches of hair loss on top of the head, neck and back of the Samoyed, Std. Poodle and Japanese Akita. Severely affected dogs have areas of thick skin and extensive hair loss with a musty or rancid odor plus secondary skin infections. In short-coated breeds like the Vizsla, there is a moth-eaten look about the dog’s coat with some scaling to the trunk, head and ears. Treatments include an anti-seborrheic shampoo and fatty-acid dietetic supplements as well as a special topical spray and certain oral supplements. Recovery is very slow. See your vet.

  • Gastric Torsion—Sometimes called Dog Bloat or “Twisted stomach.” Mainly in larger, deep-cheated dogs. Here's a brief description of the problem:
    Symptoms include excessive drooling, nervous pacing, agitation, weakness, attempt to vomit, bulging stomach area, heavy breathing, retching and gagging, shock or total collapse.

  • Cruciate Ligament Rupture—A ruptured Cranial Cruciate ligament affects the hind leg and is very very painful. It will prevent the dog from walking or placing any weight on his rear end. At Best, the dog will limp severely. Lameness will happen immediately after the injury but might subside in several weeks, only to return later on. A FEW symptoms include sound of bones rubbing together, decreased range of leg motion, rear leg extended when sitting, resists exercise, movement or mobility. Knee surgery with total restriction of activity is usually the only answer.

  • Osteosarcoma—A leg bone cancer in large breed dogs of any age but usually in large, older dogs such as the Akita. Osteosarcoma in the limbs is “appendicular osteosarcoma” if talking to a vet. The dog will be in great pain as the disease destroys the bone from the inside out. The dog’s inability to walk will progress over only about 3 months time as the bone is destroyed by the tumor. Unfortunately, surgery to remove the leg is the only way to give your dog the only total relief needed.

  • Lymphosarcoma—Cancer of the lymph glands which amounts to “cancer everywhere in the body.” Middle age and older dogs are the likely candidates. No appetite, weight loss, no energy and increased thirst and urination are signs of the disease. When a lymph node become cancerous, you can begin to feel the hardness of the node at the angle of the jaws and in front of the shoulder blades, for example because the nodes become enlarged. There are many other nodes you can’t feel. With chemotherapy, the dog may have a year to live. Without chemotherapy, she has up to 6 weeks to live. About 45% of all dogs in the USA will die of cancer by age 10 and only a third will die of old age. (Current statistics) Common to the Flat-Coated Retriever, Golden Retriever, Akita and Rottweiler.

  • Hypothyroidism—An underactive thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone which reduces the dog's metabolism level. Hypothyroidism stems from the Japanese Akita's immune system attacking the tissues of the thyroid gland. Bottom line is the dog becomes symptomatic. The cause can be a predisposition for thyroid problems, air pollution and allergies. A FEW symptoms of the disorder include lethargy, weight gain, skin infections, dry skin, hair loss, slow heart rate, ear infections, depression. See your set right away.

  • Patellar luxation—Limping, lame leg, Hind Leg Held Up, Can’t straighten back leg. Caused by an unusually shallow spot on the femur, weak ligaments and misalignment of tendons and muscles that align the knee joint and allow the knee cap (patella) to float sideways in and out of position. This can be caused by injury or be present at birth and can affect either rear leg of the Japanese Akita. If your dog has trouble straightening the leg, is limping, or is walking on three legs and holding one hind leg up, look for patellar luxation. Several of my dogs have had the problem and all I’ve done is reach down, massage the knee a little until they drop their leg, and we’re good to go for another 3 or 4 months. Severe cases require surgery for a fully lame leg.

  • Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada-like syndrome—This is a serious auto-immune disease where the body attacks the color-forming melanocytes in the body. The first and most obvious thing to observe in your dog are the eyes. A disease called Uveitis is a leading cause of blindness and it also occurs in humans. The eyes will become painful, cloudy, constricted and bloodshot or may change color. In 3 to 6 months, the coat will start to whiten in most dogs affected with Uveodermatologic syndrome Finally the nose, pads, lips, and eyelids will turn white and the dog will be blind. of course. Male dogs are more affected than females. Japanese Akita's are especially prone.

  • Entropion—Eye irrational caused by the eyelids and lashes rolling inwards. The problem is usually inherited and found in young, adult dogs. It can come from an eyelid spasm. Affected eyes will be held partially shut and tear excessively. Both eyes will usually be affected the same. Treatment for the condition requires eye surgery.

  • Epilepsy—A serious seizure disorder that usually shows up at around 2 to 4 or 5 years of age in the dog.

  • Cataract—A hazy or cloudy vision similar to humans and will lead to blindness if not treated.

  • Polyneuropathy—A hereditary neuromuscular disorder that is breed related in the Akita. It’s a collection of peripheral motor nerves that become dysfunctional. Symptoms include reduced reflexes, poor muscle tone, weakness, paralysis and normally occurs in the rear legs. This is generally a chronic problem and come on gradually. See your vet.

  • Renal cortical hypoplasia—Kidney failure coming from a number of causes ranging from hereditary to ingesting automotive antifreeze and also bacterial infections. Once the kidneys become affected, there is no cure. There remains a shortage of functioning tissue in the kidneys to cleanse the body. Waste builds in the blood and the toxins cause vomiting, depression, lack of appetite and death. Same happens if the dog eats a little rat poison, as one of mine did.

  • Microphthalmia—A rare eye disease.

  • Deafness—Hereditary or caused by: Excessive loud noise, Intolerance to anesthesia, drug toxicity, and Otitis (middle ear infection), In some cases, one ear can have no hearing from birth and the other ear can be losing the ability to hear over time, undetected, then suddenly one morning the hearing is totally gone. There is no reversing once that happens.

Other problems could occur with your Japanese Akita. If you notice any problems with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.


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