Akita - Dog Breed: Ultimate Guide
Akita - Dog Breed: Ultimate Guide
The Akita, also known as the Akita Inu (Inu meaning 'dog' in Japanese), is a large and powerful dog breed with a noble and intimidating presence. They were originally used for guarding royalty and nobility in feudal Japan. This breed was also used for hunting feral boar, deer, and bears. This breed originated from the mountainous northern regions of Japan, specifically from the Akita prefecture, which is how the breed got its name. The Akita's appearance is characterized by a large, bear-like head with erect, triangular ears set at a slight angle following the arch of the neck. Furthermore, the breed has a significant, curled tail that loops over its back, thick double coat, which can come in a variety of colors including white, brindle, and pinto. Their eyes are small, dark, and deeply set, providing a gaze of alertness and intelligence.
There are two distinct types of Akitas: the original Japanese Akita breed, commonly known as 'Akita Inu', and the American standard, often known simply as the 'Akita'. The American Akita typically can be larger and bear more colors, while the Japanese Akita Inu is usually more slender and limited to fewer color variations. No matter the type, the Akita is known for its dignity, loyalty, and courage. They are not excessively barkers but will alert their families to visitors and out of the ordinary sounds. It's important to note that this breed requires a confident owner who can provide consistent training and socialization. The breed's temperament can range from calm to bouncy and aggressive, making early and consistent training essential. They thrive on human companionship and are intensely loyal, often forming strong bonds with a single person.
Size and Appearance
The Akita is a large and powerful dog breed with a noble and intimidating presence. They are muscular, double-coated dogs of ancient Japanese lineage famous for their dignity, courage, and loyalty. In their country of origin, they are revered as symbols of good health, happiness, and longevity. Akitas typically exhibit a bear-like head with a broad skull, small, deep-set eyes, and a strong, firm neck. Males stand 26 to 28 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 100 to 130 pounds. Females are slightly smaller, typically standing 24 to 26 inches at the shoulder and weighing 70 to 130 pounds, showing a significant overlap in weight ranges between the sexes. The breed’s hallmark is the plush tail that curls over the back; it is a well-balanced dog with proportions that translate into great strength without bulkiness.
The Akita's appearance is characterized by a robust build, reflecting its history as a versatile hunter capable of facing large game like wild boar, deer, and the formidable Yezo bear. They possess a thick double coat that can be any color including white, brindle, or pinto. The coat also has a dense undercoat which helps to insulate the dog against cold weather, reflecting the breed's adaptation to the harsh winters of the Japanese mountains from where it originated. Each of these colors can come with a mask or without, but all Akitas have white hair on the muzzle, cheeks, inside the legs, belly, and on parts of the tail and chest. It's essential that an Akita's coat is cared for properly, involving regular grooming to maintain its insulating properties and to manage shedding, for which the breed is well-known especially during the twice-yearly 'blow-out' when they shed their undercoat.
Health and Lifespan
Akitas have a relatively healthy constitution, with a lifespan typically ranging from 10 to 15 years. However, the breed is predisposed to certain hereditary conditions that potential owners should be aware of. A well-known issue in Akitas is hip dysplasia, a malformation of the hip joint that can lead to arthritis and lameness. Responsible breeding practices, including screening for hip dysplasia, are critical to minimize this risk. Alongside hip dysplasia, Akitas may also be at risk of progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), which can lead to blindness, and autoimmune thyroiditis, which can disrupt normal thyroid function and metabolism.
The breed can also be prone to immune-mediated diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus and immune-mediated hemolytic anemia. These conditions require early diagnosis and lifelong management. Gastric dilatation-volvulus (bloat), a rapidly progressing life-threatening condition, is another concern for Akitas. This condition, where the stomach fills with gas and possibly twists, can be managed with preventative measures and emergency veterinary intervention. Responsible ownership involves being vigilant to these health issues, and working with a veterinarian to manage them effectively.
Akitas may also be affected by von Willebrand’s disease, a blood clotting disorder, which can cause bleeding issues during surgery or after injuries. Regular health screenings for this and other conditions can be an essential part of an Akita’s healthcare regime. Skin issues, particularly sebaceous adenitis, can cause hair loss and skin infections in the breed. Such conditions necessitate a skincare routine that may include special shampoos or medications prescribed by a veterinarian. Genetics, diet, environment, and the level of care an Akita receives are all contributing factors to their overall health and longevity.
Regular veterinary check-ups, a healthy diet tailored to the breed, adequate exercise, and genetic screening where appropriate, are fundamental to maintaining good health in Akitas. An Akita's diet should be rich in quality protein and balanced nutrients to support their robust muscular stature. Obesity can exacerbate joint issues and should be scrupulously avoided through portion control and regular exercise. Mental health is also important for the breed, which is known for its intelligence and independent nature, so mental stimulation through training, play, and human interaction is equally crucial in fostering a well-rounded, healthy individual.
Akitas are known for their loyalty and can be loving members of the family when socialized and trained properly from a young age. They typically form strong bonds with their owners and can become quite protective. This breed can be wonderful with children if they are raised together; however, due to their size and strength, interactions should always be supervised to ensure safety for both the dog and the child. A well-socialized Akita will usually be more tolerant of a child's behavior, such as unexpected hugs or pats, as they have learned to trust their family members.
Despite their protective nature, Akitas are not inexhaustible social butterflies. Their temperament leans more towards dignified and reserved, particularly with strangers, making early socialization crucial to ensure they do not become overly suspicious or fearful, which could lead to aggressive tendencies. In a family setting, Akitas appreciate routine and calm environments. Sudden changes or a highly chaotic household can be stressful for them, so families with a stable routine are often a better fit for an Akita's temperament.
While Akitas can coexist with other pets, especially if raised together, they do have a high prey drive and can be intolerant of other animals. Great care must be taken when introducing a new pet into the home with an Akita. They are not the ideal choice for homes with multiple pets, particularly smaller animals. Additionally, prospective Akita owners should be prepared to invest time into obedience training and exercise, as Akitas have a dominant personality and need to be guided with a firm yet gentle hand to understand their place within the family hierarchy.
Lastly, Akitas shed heavily and require regular grooming, which can be a bonding activity for the family, but also may not suit some family lifestyles. Also, they require a fair amount of exercise to keep them healthy and well-behaved. A family with an active lifestyle would be beneficial for an Akita to ensure it gets the exercise it needs. A home with a large, securely fenced yard is ideal for this large and active breed, as it provides room for play and exercise while keeping the dog safe.
Akitas are a large and powerful breed with a robust build, which requires a substantial amount of exercise to maintain their physical and mental well-being. As dogs with a working heritage, they possess high levels of energy and stamina, making them ideally suited for active individuals or families. An adult Akita generally requires at least one to two hours of physical activity per day. This can include brisk walks, jogs, or time spent running in a securely fenced area. It is crucial for their exercise to be on a leash or within a confined space, as Akitas have a strong prey drive and may pursue smaller animals if given the chance. Exercise for these dogs is not just about physical exertion; it is also about providing mental stimulation. They benefit from interactive games, training exercises, and even canine sports such as obedience or agility trials, which challenge their minds as well as their bodies.
Given their size and energy levels, Akitas are not ideally suited for apartment living where space for exercise may be limited. They thrive best in homes with ample yard space where they can move freely. Exercise is also a crucial component in managing possible behavioral issues, such as aggression or destructive tendencies that can develop in Akitas when they are under-stimulated or bored. Adequate exercise helps to curb such behaviors by expending the dog's excess energy and reducing the likelihood of frustration. It is important, however, to moderate exercise intensity for puppies and young Akitas, as their bones and joints are still developing. Prolonged or strenuous exercise should be avoided until they are fully grown to prevent potential orthopedic problems, a concern in large breeds. Lastly, Akitas are prone to hip dysplasia, so low-impact exercises are often recommended for this breed as they age, to help maintain joint health.
Diet and Feeding
The Akita's diet should reflect its large size and its energetic lifestyle, supporting its physical well-being and energy requirements. A balanced diet for an Akita will generally consist of high-quality, age-appropriate commercial dog food or well-planned home-cooked meals, under the guidance of a veterinarian. Akitas tend to do well on diets with adequate protein to support muscle maintenance and development. The protein source should be primarily from animal-based ingredients, such as chicken, beef, fish, or lamb, as these provide the essential amino acids necessary for a thriving Akita.
Portion control is exceptionally crucial for Akitas. Given their propensity for rapid weight gain, owners must monitor their Akita's calorie intake to avoid obesity. Akitas typically require a lesser amount of food for their size compared to other breeds, due to their slower metabolism. This translates to roughly 3 to 5 cups of dry dog food per day, divided into two meals. However, this can vary based on the dog's age, size, activity level, and metabolism. Consulting with a veterinarian can help determine the correct portion for the individual dog.
Akitas can have certain food sensitivities and are prone to allergies. Common allergens include corn, wheat, and soy, which are often found in lower-quality dog foods. Therefore, it's important to choose a diet with simple ingredients and to introduce new foods slowly. Also, some Akitas may require special diets due to health conditions such as kidney or liver diseases. Dietary supplements, such as fish oil for a healthy coat and glucosamine for joint health, can be beneficial but should be used after consulting with a veterinarian to tailor to the dog's specific needs.
Treats should be given sparingly to Akitas, considering their dietary restrictions and propensities for weight gain. The treats chosen should be healthy and low in calories. Foods such as raw vegetables or fruit slices (excluding those that are toxic to dogs, such as grapes and raisins) are good options. It is also important to ensure that the Akita has constant access to fresh water, particularly because their thick coat can cause them to overheat, and proper hydration is key in preventing heat-related issues.
The living environment for an Akita is an important consideration due to their size, temperament, and exercise requirements. As a larger breed, Akitas need sufficient space to move around comfortably. While they can adapt to living in an apartment setting, it's not the ideal situation for them. Akitas thrive in environments where they have a securely fenced yard to play and exercise. This not only helps to channel their energy in a positive way but also satisfies their instinctual need to roam and patrol their territory. However, it's essential that the fence is of adequate height and depth, as Akitas can be quite skilled at escaping when motivated.
Akitas are sensitive to heat due to their thick double coats, which were originally developed to withstand the cold Japanese winters. Their living environment should take this into account with ample shade, water, and access to a cool indoor area during hot weather. Conversely, they are well-equipped for colder climates and often enjoy playing in the snow. Air conditioning and proper ventilation are therefore crucial during warmer months. As with any dog, but especially with a strong and independent breed like the Akita, indoor living should include crate training from puppyhood for safety and to establish a secure, personal space for the dog.
Akitas have a strong pack mentality and consider their human family their pack. This means they are most content when they can be a part of daily household activities. While they are known for being somewhat aloof and dignified, isolation or extensive periods of time spent alone can lead to anxiety and destructive behaviors. They require a living environment where they are included and can maintain a close bond with their owners. This breed tends to be suspicious of strangers and other animals, so socialization at an early age and continuous, controlled exposure to various people, pets, and situations is vital to help them develop well-rounded personalities within their living space.
Grooming an Akita is essential, as this breed is known for its thick double coat that can shed heavily, particularly during the shedding seasons in spring and fall. Regular grooming practices keep the coat and skin healthy. The Akita's coat should be brushed at least once a week with a slicker brush or a pin brush to remove dirt, dead hair, and prevent matting. During shedding seasons, more frequent brushing up to three times a week may be necessary to cope with the increased volume of loose fur. Using an undercoat rake can assist in effectively removing the loose undercoat.
Bathing an Akita should not be a frequent ritual because it can strip the coat of its natural oils, which are necessary for insulation and skin health. Generally, Akitas only need a bath every three months or when they are particularly dirty. It's important to use a dog-formulated shampoo to maintain the coat’s quality and avoid any skin irritations. After bathing, thoroughly drying the coat, particularly the dense undercoat, is crucial to prevent any dampness that could result in hot spots or skin infections.
As part of the grooming routine, Akitas also require regular care of their nails, ears, and teeth. Their nails should be checked and trimmed monthly to prevent overgrowth and splitting, which can cause pain and difficulty walking. Ear care involves checking for signs of infection, wax build-up, or debris, and cleaning them as needed with a vet-approved solution. Dental hygiene is maintained through regular brushing with canine toothpaste, and an annual dental check-up with a veterinarian is recommended to prevent periodontal disease.
Training and Intelligence
Akitas are intelligent and loyal dogs which makes them both rewarding and challenging to train. Their intelligence means they are quick learners; however, they also possess an independent streak that may affect their responsiveness to commands. Consistent, positive reinforcement training methods work best with Akitas as they can become bored with repetitive tasks. They respond well to trainers who establish themselves as calm, assertive, and clear leaders of the pack. This hierarchy is important for training as Akitas were originally bred to work alone or in pairs and as such, they may not immediately adhere to a group dynamic or the concept of pleasing their owners for rewards. Consequently, establishing a training routine early on is essential for Akitas, ideally starting in puppyhood when they are most impressionable.
Socialization is an integral part of an Akita's training regime to ensure they grow to be well-adjusted dogs. Introducing them to various people, animals, environments, and situations when they are young helps mitigate their natural wariness and propensity to be reserved with strangers. This early socialization will also curb potential aggressive tendencies towards other animals. Once basic commands and socialization are in place, Akitas can excel in advanced training and activities that play to their strengths, such as obedience competitions, tracking, and agility. It's important to note that while Akitas can be house-trained relatively easily, proper training requires patience, assertiveness, and understanding of their personality traits. Overall, a well-trained Akita is a reliable companion capable of following complex commands and exhibiting good behavior in a variety of settings.
Exercise and Activity Requirements
The Akita is a breed with a robust build and an active mind requiring regular exercise to maintain physical and mental health. Originally bred for hunting, they possess high energy levels and thrive on vigorous activities. Adequate daily exercise for an Akita should ideally include at least 30 minutes to an hour of physical activity. This can be in the form of brisk walks, jogs, or play sessions in a securely fenced yard. Due to their intelligence and working heritage, Akitas also benefit from mental stimulation such as obedience training, problem-solving games, and interactive play that challenges their minds.
Owners of Akitas should be mindful of the breed's predisposition to certain joint issues like hip dysplasia; thus, exercise routines should not be overly strenuous or high-impact, especially for young dogs with developing bones and joints. Activities like swimming can be an excellent low-impact exercise that benefits their musculature without putting undue stress on their joints. It's critical to balance exercise with rest periods to prevent over-exertion. As they age, exercise routines may need adjustment to accommodate their decreasing energy levels and physical capabilities while still ensuring they remain active to prevent obesity.
In addition to physical exercise, Akitas thrive when given tasks that fulfill their need for a purpose. They were bred to work alongside humans, and many Akitas enjoy participating in canine sports such as agility, tracking, or weight pulling. These activities not only provide them with physical outlets but also deepen the bond with their owner through training and cooperation. Without sufficient exercise, Akitas can become bored, which may lead to destructive behaviors. Thus, it is essential for an owner to be committed to providing consistent and diverse forms of exercise to keep their Akita content and well-behaved.
However, when exercising an Akita, it is important to keep the dog on a leash or in a secure area due to their strong prey drive and sometimes aloofness with other animals and strangers. Socialization should be part of their routine from a young age, but always in controlled environments to prevent aggression or fighting. Seasonal weather conditions must be considered as well; with their thick double coat, Akitas are more susceptible to overheating in hot climates, so exercise should be scheduled during cooler parts of the day and proper hydration should be provided at all times.
Proper socialization is crucial for an Akita, as it helps to build confidence and curtail potential aggression or shyness issues that may arise without such training. This breed is known for being reserved and protective, traits that can lead to problematic behavior if not managed from a young age. Socialization for an Akita should begin early—ideally from the age of 7 to 16 weeks. During this period, puppies are most receptive to new experiences. Socialization involves gently exposing the Akita puppy to a wide variety of people, animals, environments, and situations. It's important to keep these experiences positive and to avoid overwhelming the pup, as negative encounters can have lasting effects on their temperament.
Socializing an Akita also includes acclimatization to different sounds, surfaces, handling by humans, and exposure to other pets. Consistent and controlled interactions with children and strangers are valuable, as Akitas can be aloof and protective. These interactions help the Akita understand appropriate behavior and diminish their inherent watchfulness and suspicion towards unfamiliar individuals. Training classes can provide controlled environments for socialization, where an Akita puppy can learn to interact with other dogs and individuals constructively. Professional trainers often offer puppy socialization classes, which are specifically designed to introduce young dogs to new situations in a structured manner, ensuring the puppy's encounters are supervised and safe.
To maintain socialization throughout an Akita's life, owners should continue to introduce their pet to new experiences regularly but cautiously. Repeated positive encounters with other dogs and people help reinforce the social skills learned during puppyhood. Socialization should not stop once the Akita has reached adulthood; it's an ongoing process. Taking the Akita to dog parks, pet-friendly stores, and on neighborhood walks can provide ongoing social encounters that enrich their temperament. Additionally, inviting guests to the home and allowing the Akita to greet them can further their sociability, provided the dog feels safe and the owner remains attentive to the dog's comfort levels. Advanced training or dog sports can also be a part of an adult Akita's socialization, providing mental stimulation as well as opportunities to meet and learn to trust new people and fellow canines.
The Akita breed is known to have a lifespan that typically ranges between 10 to 15 years, with an average expectancy around 12 years. This is a robust range for a large breed dog, but like all breeds, an Akita's lifespan can be influenced by a variety of factors including genetics, diet, and healthcare. Responsible breeding practices play a crucial role in mitigating hereditary health issues that could affect lifespan. Breeders who prioritize health screenings for conditions commonly associated with Akitas, such as hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, and thyroid disorders, help to ensure longer and healthier lives for these dogs.
The quality of care an Akita receives is pivotal in determining its longevity. A balanced diet appropriate for the breed's size and energy level, regular exercise to maintain healthy weight, and routine veterinary checkups to catch and treat any health issues early are all essential components of proper care. Obesity can be a significant health issue in the breed and can contribute to a shorter lifespan by leading to joint problems, diabetes, and heart disease. Thus, maintaining an adequate exercise regime and diet is vital for their longevity.
Environmental factors and the individual dog's stress levels can also affect its lifespan. Akitas thrive in an environment where they are both physically and mentally stimulated. They are intelligent dogs that require engagement and purpose, which means that they need consistent training and socialization from a young age. A stimulating environment, combined with a strong bond with their owner, can contribute to a stress-free and healthy life, potentially increasing their lifespan. Akitas that lack mental stimulation or live in stressful conditions may be prone to health and behavioral issues that can adversely affect their longevity.
Genetic diversity is another influencer of lifespan in Akitas. The Akita Inu and American Akita, while originally from the same stock, have diverged in some traits due to differences in breeding practices between Japan and the United States. It's important for prospective owners to research and understand the lineage of their Akita to prepare for any potential health issues. Regardless of type, Akitas benefit greatly from preventive care, which includes vaccinations, deworming, and parasite control, to avoid diseases that can shorten their lifespan.
Common Behavioral Issues
Akitas are known for their strong-willed and dominant nature, which can manifest as stubbornness and an inclination to act independently. This can make training and managing their behavior quite challenging for inexperienced owners. Without consistent, positive training methods from a young age, Akitas may develop an unwillingness to follow commands, potentially leading to a lack of control in various situations. The breed's intelligence is a double-edged sword; they can learn quickly, but also get bored easily, so repetitive training must be avoided to keep them engaged and cooperative.
Moreover, Akitas can exhibit aggression toward other animals, particularly of the same sex, due to their high prey drive and territorial instincts. This behavioral issue is deeply rooted in the breed's history, as they were originally bred for hunting large game. Consequently, socialization must begin early and continue throughout the dog's life to mitigate potential aggression. It's imperative for Akitas to learn how to interact with other dogs and animals peacefully, which requires patient, persistent training and social exposure.
Separation anxiety is another common behavioral issue found in Akitas. They are known to form strong bonds with their families and can struggle with being left alone for longer periods, which may lead to destructive behaviors such as chewing, digging, and excessive vocalization. Providing mental and physical stimulation is crucial to prevent such behaviors. Training them to be comfortable with solitude through gradual conditioning and offering activities that stimulate their minds, such as food puzzles and scent work, can help alleviate symptoms of separation anxiety.
Finally, resource guarding is a behavior that some Akitas may display. They can become possessive over their food, toys, or even people, displaying growling, snapping, or biting if they feel their resources are threatened. This can stem from an instinctive drive to protect what they perceive as theirs but can be dangerous if not managed properly. Owners need to establish leadership and work on obedience training to ensure safety for all household members and visitors. Teaching the 'leave it' command and practicing controlled feeding times can help reduce resource guarding behaviors.
Akita dogs are large, powerful animals with a strong prey drive, which requires consideration if they are to live with other pets, especially smaller ones. They can be socialized to get along with other animals, but interactions should be supervised, especially in the presence of unfamiliar animals. Akitas have a dominant personality and can be willful, emphasizing the need for consistent, firm, yet positive training methods from an early age. Early socialization is crucial to ensure they become well-adjusted adults. Their thick double coat will blow out or shed heavily twice a year; during this time, more frequent grooming is necessary to manage the shedding. Regular maintenance outside of these periods is also needed to keep their coat in good condition and reduce the amount of loose hair in the environment.
Owners must be conscious of the Akita's sensitivity to certain medications, including sedatives and anesthetics; veterinarians should be informed that they are dealing with an Akita so they can adjust dosages accordingly. They can be prone to certain genetic health issues, such as hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and progressive retinal atrophy, necessitating responsible breeding practices to reduce the incidence of these conditions. Prospective Akita owners should be prepared for potential vet bills associated with these conditions. It's also important to consider that Akitas are large dogs and require adequate space for exercise and movement. Small living quarters can be restrictive and may lead to behavioral issues stemming from frustration or pent-up energy. Appropriate, frequent, and structured exercise is essential to ensure a healthy and well-behaved companion.
Special consideration must be given to the Akita's temperament and natural instincts. They are inherently protective and territorial, making early and ongoing socialization paramount to prevent aggression. Due to their strong protective nature, Akitas may not be the best choice for first-time dog owners; they require an owner who understands canine hierarchies and is experienced in handling assertive breeds. A well-trained and socialized Akita is loyal and affectionate with its family but can be aloof and reserved with strangers. The breed is known for its quiet dignity and tends to be less barky compared to other dogs, but they will bark to alert owners of something unusual. Because of this trait, Akitas can be good watchdogs. However, this also means they may require training to recognize what are considered normal and non-threatening stimuli in their environment to avoid undue alertness or stress.
The Akita's guardian instincts are deeply rooted in the breed's history and genetics, dating back to its origins in Japan where they were often used to protect royalty and nobility. This purpose has sculpted the Akita into a breed with a pronounced protective streak. These dogs are known for their unwavering loyalty to their family, which comes with a natural inclination to guard their homes and loved ones. The Akita does this with a reserved and dignified manner, often observing from a distance before deciding to intervene. They aren't prone to unnecessary noise, instead preferring to assert their presence through calm vigilance. This makes them excellent watchdogs, as they will alert their owners to unfamiliar or potentially threatening situations with a deep, significant bark that underscores the seriousness with which they take their protective duties.
However, the Akita's guardian instincts do not make them aggressive by default. Instead, their nuanced approach to protection involves assessing each situation and person carefully before reacting. A well-socialized Akita recognizes the difference between a benign visitor and a genuine threat, demonstrating discernment in their guard work. This intelligence, combined with their innate strength and courage, means an Akita will stand its ground and, if necessary, physically protect its family from harm. They exhibit a certain level of independence and will often take charge in what they perceive as a protective scenario. Owners must provide strong leadership and training to ensure that the Akita's guardian instincts are channeled appropriately and do not lead to overprotectiveness or misinterpretation of benign situations as threatening.
Allergies and Shedding
Allergies in Akita dogs can manifest in various forms, including food allergies, contact allergies, and inhalant allergies. Food allergies in Akitas may arise from common ingredients such as beef, chicken, corn, wheat, soy, and dairy. Symptoms can include gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea and vomiting, as well as skin problems such as itchiness, redness, or ear infections. To identify food allergies, a process of elimination via dietary trials is often recommended, involving the feeding of hypoallergenic or limited ingredient diets. Contact allergies can result from exposure to certain shampoos, flea control products, or environmental substances like grass or pesticides, causing localized skin reactions. Inhalant allergies, or atopy, stem from airborne allergens such as pollen, dust, or mold, leading to itchy skin, sneezing, or eye discharge. Treatment for allergies may include antihistamines, special diets, immunotherapy, or avoiding the allergen once identified.
Shedding in Akitas is a significant consideration given their thick double coat that consists of a dense undercoat and a longer outercoat. The undercoat serves as insulation against both cold and hot weather, while the outercoat is waterproof and protects them from dirt and debris. Akitas experience a seasonally heavy 'blow coat' shedding event twice a year, during which their undercoat falls out in clumps, requiring more intensive grooming. Even outside of these heavy shedding periods, Akitas still shed moderately, and it is essential to maintain a consistent grooming routine. Regular brushing several times a week helps remove dead hair and reduce the amount of fur found around the house. During shedding season, owners may need to brush their Akita daily. Using tools such as undercoat rakes, deshedding tools, or slicker brushes can greatly aid in managing the shedding of an Akita's thick coat.
Cost of Ownership
The initial cost of owning an Akita can be quite significant, primarily driven by the price of acquiring a purebred puppy. Prices can vary widely based on lineage, breeder reputation, location, and whether the dog is intended for show or companionship. Typically, you can expect to pay anywhere from $800 to $2,000 for an Akita puppy, although specimens from top breeding lines can command prices well beyond this range. Initial costs also include spaying or neutering, initial vaccinations, and microchipping which could add several hundred dollars to the upfront investment.
Beyond the initial purchase, the cost of upkeep for an Akita is substantial. This breed requires high-quality food to maintain its health and vigor, and due to its size, the feeding cost is considerable. Owners should budget around $60 to $90 a month for a premium dog food. Health care is another major financial consideration. Akitas, like all large breeds, are prone to certain genetic health issues, such as hip dysplasia, and treatment for these conditions can be costly. Pet insurance can mitigate some of these expenses, at a typical cost of $30 to $50 per month.
Routine costs for grooming and maintenance are also factors in the cost of ownership. Although Akitas have a self-cleaning coat that needs minimal grooming, they shed heavily twice a year. During these periods, professional grooming services may be sought, which can range from $60 to $100 per session. Additionally, regular expenses for items like flea, tick, and heartworm prevention, which can average between $20 to $40 per month, should be taken into account. Finally, miscellaneous costs such as toys, bedding, and training aids will affect the overall budget for an Akita owner.
Availability and Adoption
The availability of Akita dogs varies depending on where you are in the world. In their native Japan, Akitas are quite prevalent and held in high regard, often associated with good health, happiness, and a long life. Elsewhere, such as in the United States, they are less common but can still be found in respectable numbers. Reputable breeders are likely to have waiting lists due to the breed's popularity and the careful attention to breeding practices they adhere to. These breeders prioritize the health, temperament, and conformity to breed standards, which can make the waiting period for a puppy longer but ensures the continuation of quality bloodlines.
Adoption of Akitas can be more challenging than with other breeds, primarily due to their specific needs and temperament. Akitas are known for their strong personalities and require an owner familiar with the breed's traits. Rescues and shelters sometimes have Akitas available for adoption, although less frequently than more common breeds. It's essential to approach such adoptions with knowledge and preparation, as some of these dogs may come with behavioral challenges or past traumas. Nevertheless, adopting from rescues or shelters is a noble and rewarding way to provide a home for an Akita in need, but potential owners should be ready for a rigorous adoption process designed to ensure the breed's specific needs are met.
One of the most famous Akitas is Hachiko, a dog remembered for his remarkable loyalty. Born in 1923, Hachiko belonged to Professor Hidesaburo Ueno of Tokyo University. The dog is celebrated for waiting for his owner each day at Shibuya Station, continuing his faithful vigil for over nine years after the professor's untimely death in 1925. Hachiko's story has touched the hearts of many worldwide and became a symbol of loyalty and fidelity. A bronze statue in his honor stands at Shibuya Station, and he's been the subject of numerous books, movies, including the American film 'Hachi: A Dog's Tale', and annual remembrance ceremonies in Japan. Hachiko perfectly epitomizes the Akita's devotion, a hallmark of the breed.
Another significant Akita was Taro and Jiro, who became famous from the Japanese research expedition to Antarctica in the 1950s. After a series of unfortunate events, the expedition team had to leave the dogs behind, assuming a quick return was possible. When the team could not return as planned, the dogs were left alone. Miraculously, after one year, when the team finally could come back, Taro and Jiro were found alive. Their incredible survival story was made into the 1983 Japanese film 'Nankyoku Monogatari', and later the Disney film 'Eight Below'. Discovering the resilience and determined spirit of the Akita breed, which enabled these dogs to survive the harsh Antarctic conditions, brought them worldwide acclaim and elevated their status as a robust and indomitable breed.