Akita, a Japanese dog breed dates back nearly 400 years and derives its name from the prefecture of Akita in Northern Japan. In 1931, this dog breed was proclaimed a natural monument by the Japanese Ministry of Education. The government more recently took steps to preserve the Akita breed which is now regarded as a National Treasure. Primarily, the Akita is a working dog. It was used for hunting bear, wild boar, and sled work; a companion and protector of children and home.

Shinzo Abe Akita
Photo: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took part in a ceremony to present a Japanese Akita dog to Russia’s Olympic figure skating champion Alina Zagitova during a visit to Moscow.


Japanese Akita Dog

Akita image
Japanese Akita ideal specimen

Akita FAQ Frequently Asked Questions:

Let us seek some answers related to the Akita breed. Are they hypoallergenic or do they shed a lot? Do they bark a lot? Are they good guard dogs? Are they good family dogs? Good with children? and many more questions that a potential dog owner may be concerned about.

Russian President Vladimir Putin plays with an Akita in this lovely photo

What is the difference between the American Akita and the Japanese Akita?

American Akita is larger and more imposing than Japanese Akita. When compared to American Akita, Japanese Akita is more fine-boned. Another difference between American Akita and Japanese Akita is the size of the ears – Japanese Akitas have very small ears. There are many different colors and color combinations in the American Akita, including black, white, chocolate, a combination of color and white, or brindle.

Photo: An American Akita (looks bigger)

Where did the American Akita come from?

The origins of the American Akita follow that of the Akita Inu, in the region of the Akita prefecture in northern Japan. They originally were medium-sized dogs used for hunting bears and guarding homes. This was around the early part of the sixteen hundreds, this type of Akita was known as a Matagi Akita.

Then as the years progressed some Japanese owners began to use their Akitas to fight other dogs, as a result of this the Akita was cross-bred with the Tosa and Mastiff resulting in an increase in overall size.

Akita with Japanese hunter
Matagi Akita with Japanese hunter

In 1908 dog fighting was prohibited, and this changed the outlook for the Akita as the Japanese breeders wanted to bring back the original characteristics lost by crossbreeding the Matagi Akita. As a result superior examples of the breed were designated as natural monuments in 1931.

Another significant factor in the history of the Akita was the second world war. During this period  Japanese Akita breeders were ordered to hand over all their dogs to be used as a source of military garments. Some Akita breeders then started to crossbreed with German Shepherds in order to save the Akita from certain extinction.  So by the end of the war, there were at least three different types of Akita in Japan. 

In 1937, Helen Keller imported the first Akita into the United States and after the war. American servicemen of the occupying forces admired the Akita and adopted them. The Akita dog breeds popularity soon increased in the United States.  Most of these Akitas were of the larger type (Dewa line). As the Akita breed grew in popularity the Akita Club of American was established in 1956 and the American Kennel Club accepted the breed in October 1972.

Do Akitas shed a lot?

Akitas don’t shed year-round, although it might seem that way. They’re a double-coated breed, blowing out their undercoats twice a year. You’ll have large clumps of Akita’s hair all over the place. Regular brushing and vacuuming helps reduce the volume of hair in the house.

What is Moku Akita?

Moku Akita
Photo: Moku – Akita with a longer coat (about 2 or 3 inches long)

Moku is an Akita with a long coat. There are two coat types in the Akita, the standard coat length and the long coat. The long coat Moku is considered a fault in the show ring. The long coat, also known as Moku is the result of an autosomal recessive gene and may only occur if both parents are carriers. They have longer and softer coats and are known to have sweeter temperaments. It is believed that this gene comes from the now-extinct Karafuto-Ken Samurai dog. Unlike their short coat cousins, the long coats are less highly prized and thus more affordable.

Are Akitas friendly?

No! The Akita is a bold and willful dog, naturally wary of strangers but extremely loyal to their family. They tend to be aggressive toward other dogs, especially those of the same sex. They are best suited to a one-dog household. With family, the Akita is affectionate and playful.

Are Akitas good family dogs?

Akita is a great dog for the family if you are going to have just one dog as a pet. Akitas consider themselves a responsible family member. An Akita will wait for its master to be back home from work, will wait for the kids to return safely from school and protect them once they are back. Also, an Akita is affectionate and playful with all family members. Akita will be a serious, responsible member of your family (not the joker).

Are Akitas good with children?

As a general rule, all dogs brought up with kids are good with them. Akitas brought up in a family with children are usually extremely good with them. They are also protective. However, Akitas brought up without any contact with children, does not always readily accept them. It is not advisable to allow kids to annoy an Akita.

Can Akita breed be left alone at home?

Yes! Akita is a serious, independent, courageous, mentally strong dog breed. They can be left alone without issues. When left alone, they will consider it their responsibility to protect their home.

Can two Akitas live together?

Male Akitas like to be the dominant force within the pets of a home, they always want to be the alpha dog. Avoid keeping two Akitas of the same sex together.

Can Akita survive in hot weather?

Akitas can survive in hot weather. However, they are better suited to colder climates where their insulating coats can help them rather than make them susceptible to heat stress. A climate-controlled environment, plenty of water, and cool shade are necessary to keep these dogs in good form when it’s super-hot.

Do Akitas need grooming? Hair-cuts? Are they clean?

Akitas are clean dogs and easy to keep groomed by brushing. Akitas are a relatively low-maintenance breed when it comes to grooming needs. They do not need haircuts. They typically blow their coat or shed out the undercoat, twice a year. Brushing them during the shedding season helps to keep hair out of the house.

Do Akitas bark a lot?

Akitas do not bark unless there is a good reason. When an Akita is barking, pay attention. They are silent hunters who hunt low to the ground without growls or noise, similar to cats. Akitas may consider small animals as prey and hunt them.

Do Akitas like to swim?

Akitas can swim, but may or may not like to swim. It depends on the individual and the circumstances. Fact: Akitas have webbed feet which do help them in swimming. However, the webbed feet in an Akita are thought to have developed to improve their ability to walk on snow more than for swimming. 

Do Akitas have a high prey drive?

Akitas are born hunters with a high prey drive and unless raised with small animals may deem them as prey.

Is the Akita a good guard dog?

Akitas do have a very well developed protective instinct. When there is a reason to protect family and property, the Akita will surely do so. They are very quiet dogs and do not bark unless there is a good reason. If you are looking for a guard dog, here is a list of guard dog breeds. The Akita is also a part of this list of amazing guard dog breeds.

Ok, so let’s assume you have chosen the Akita as the best dog breed suitable for yourself. You have decided to find yourself an Akita puppy as your next family member. How will you choose the best pup? Let us look at some standard characteristics of the Akita dog breed which will help you select the right puppy, keep reading.

Choosing a good Akita puppy

 The definition of the best Akita puppy depends on your requirements. Your expectations from an adult Akita can be broadly categorized as follows: Confirmation for show or breeding; obedience; smart guard dog; companion; homely pet.

Although it is tempting to look for all these qualities in one Akita puppy you are planning to buy, it is almost never possible to find all qualities in a single pup.

If you want your Akita puppy to grow up to be a champion in the show ring, you should look for confirmation to the Akita dog breed standards. We have put together a general guideline for selecting an all-around good puppy for you. Our guideline not just includes breed standards, but also gives importance to temperament, appearance, physical details, gait, health issues, grooming needs, and maintenance.

Look for the following characteristics while choosing an Akita puppy.

Akita’s General Appearance

Large, powerful, alert, and much substance and heavy bone. The broad head, forming a blunt triangle with the deep muzzle. Small eyes and small erect ears carried forward in line with the neck are characteristic of the breed. The large curled tail, balancing the broad head, is also characteristic of the Akita breed.

Akita Temperament

Alert, responsive, dignified, reserved with strangers. An Akita’s nature is to be intensely loyal to its master. The Akita barks infrequently and then only as a warning signal. Fearless when challenged, often dominant over other dogs. Akita’s demeanor suggests activity and agility.

Akita Size

Height at shoulders: 26 to 28 inches (66-71 cm) for dogs; 24 inches to 26 inches (61-66 cm) for bitches. The male dogs’ length to height is approximately 10:9; females 11:9.

Akita’s Coat and Color 

Akita is double-coated: undercoat is soft and dense – shorter than outer coat. The outer coat is straight, harsh, slightly standing off the body. The hair on head, legs, and ears is short. Length of hair at withers and rump, approximately two inches; except tail, where the coat is longest and most profuse. Any color, white, brindle or pinto. Colors well defined. Markings are well balanced. Whites have no mask. Pintos have a white background with large evenly placed patches covering the head and more than one-third of the body. Brindles with or without a mask. If the face has stripes rather than a black mask, they should be uniform. The undercoat may be a different color from the outer coat.

Akita Inu

Akita Inu

Akita photo

Akita’s Head

Skull is massive but in balance with body, tending to be flat on top with the rest of the head forming a blunt triangle when viewed from the top. Free from wrinkles when at ease. Median fissure clearly visible and stop well defined. Cheeks moderately developed.

Muzzle – broad, full. Distance from nose to stop is the distance from stop to occiput as two is to three.

Nose – Broad and black. Liver nose permitted on white Akitas only, but black preferred.

Mouth – Clean, powerful jaws.

The tongue should be pink.

Teeth strong with scissors bite – but level bites acceptable. No black spots on the tongue. Lips black and heavy, but not pendulous.

Eyes – Dark brown: Small, deep-set, and triangular in shape. Eye rims black and tight.

Ears – of the Akita are characteristic of the breed. They are strongly erect and small in relation to the size of the head. Ears are triangular, slightly rounded at tip, wide at the base, set wide on the head, but not too low and carried slightly forward over eyes in line with the back of the neck.

Akita puppy
Akita puppy

Akita’s Neck

The neck is thick and muscular; comparatively short, widening gradually towards shoulders. A pronounced crest blends in with the base of the skull.

Akita’s Forequarters

Shoulders – Strong and powerful with moderate layback.

Upper Arm – Heavy-boned and straight as viewed from the front. Elbows turning neither in nor out.

Lower Arm – Heavy-boned and straight as viewed from the front. Dewclaws are optional.

Pasterns – Angle of pastern 15 degrees from vertical.

Feet – Thick, round, and very tight with arched toes (cat feet) straight ahead, pads thick.

Akita puppies

Akita puppies

japanese akita pups

Akita’s Body

Topline – Level back.

Chest – It is wide and deep. Depth of chest is half-height of the dog at the shoulder. Ribs well-sprung, brisket will-developed.

Loin – Firmly muscled and moderate tuck-up.

Abdomen – Is drawn up and tucked up.

Croup – Is slightly rounded.

Akita’s Hindquarters

Hip bone – Width, muscular development, and bone comparable to front.

Upper thigh – Well developed and powerful, stifle moderately angled.

Lower thigh – Should be comparable to forequarters, dewclaws optional.

Hocks – strong hocks, less angular than many breeds (145-160 degrees) turning neither in nor out. (e) Feet – Same as the front.

Akita’s Tail

Large and full, set high and carried over back or against flank in a three quarter, full or double curl, always dipping to or below the level of back. On a three-quarter curl, tip drops well down flank. Root thick and strong. The tail reaches hock when let down. Hair coarse, straight and full, with no appearance of a plume.

Akita dog breed

American Akita

Akita’s Gait

Brisk and powerful. Vigorous. Back remains firm and level. Rear legs move in line with the front legs.

Faults observed in Akita dog breed standard

1. Over-refinement in males; 2. coarseness in bitches; 3. lack of chest; 4. elbows in or out; 5. light bone, the rangy body; 6. straight hocks; 7. excessive dewlap; 8. indication of ruff or feathering; 9. round or light eye.

The foregoing description is that of the ideal Akita. Any deviation from the above-described dog must be penalized to the extent of the deviation, keeping in mind the original purpose of the Akita dog breed.

Disqualifications: 1. Monorchids or cryptorchids; 2. Viciousness, instability; 3. Excessively over/undershot; 4. Uncurled or sickle tail; 5. Albinos: 6. Butterfly nose; 7. Drop or broken ears; 8. Entropion or ectropion; 9. Long coats; 10. Males under twenty-five (25) inches (64 cm); bitches under twenty-three (23) inches (58 cm); 11. Altering of a coat or general appearance by scissoring or clipping.


Image: Russian President Vladimir Putin poses for the camera as he plays with his dogs Yume, an Akita Inu, front, and Buffy, a Bulgarian shepherd.

Akita Videos

Hachiko, one of the world’s most loyal dogs, was an Akita. Story of Hachiko.

Rare photo of Hachiko, an Akita.

2 thoughts on “Akita”

  1. Unfortunately, Akitas have a bad reputation in some countries. Any dog that isn’t correctly reared can become aggressive or badly behaved, but large, athletic, confident dogs like Akitas are more capable of hurting people when out of control. Due to their hunting instincts, leaving an Akita to roam free in a park or area where other animals are present is a bad idea.

  2. Akita is such an amazing breed!! Yet it is banned in some cities.. banned or restricted by cities in: Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Tennessee, and Washington.

    The Akita faces bans in many cities across the United States. These dogs have a reputation for being aggressive. So, in any encounter with other dogs or uninformed people, whether your dog was the aggressor or not, expect the Akita to be blamed.

    Whether you own an Akita or another restricted breed, some cities don’t ban breeds outright, but they require you to handle the animal like he’s a dangerous dog.

    In areas with such rules, you may have to muzzle your dog when he’s in public. You may also need to carry liability insurance, or display a dangerous dog sign at your home. Some cities require your pet to wear a tag that reads dangerous dog! They may even mandate that you micro-chip and fix or neuter the dog.

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