Meet the Breed: The Akita

Akita (Rosie)This Akita is a powerful dog with a striking appearance. It’s also one with a fascinating history.

Learn if the Akita is the dog breed for you.


  • Height: 26”-28” (Male), 24”-26” (Female)
  • Weight: 75-120 pounds (Male), 75-110 pounds (Female)
  • Historical function: Hunting, sled dog
  • Modern function: Companion, working, and guarding.
  • AKC classification: Working

Physical Characteristics:

The Akita is a large, strong spitz-type dog originating in the cold, mountainous regions of Northern Japan. They are sturdy with a heavy double coat. Their ears are upright triangles. The tail is one of its defining characteristics, curling over the back. The American strain of Akita is bigger and sturdier than the one bred in Japan, and the two strains are sometimes differentiated. In America, all colors are recognized, but in Japan, only red, fawn, sesame, brindle, pure white, all with whitish coat on the sides of the muzzle, on the cheeks, on the underside of jaw, neck, chest, body and tail and on the inside of the legs are accepted.

History of Breed: The Akita is revered in Japan as a national treasure and symbol of health and blessings. Originally only royalty were allowed to own them, with only figurines of the beloved animals being given as gifts and good wishes. The first Akitas imported to the U.S. were given to Helen Keller in 1939 as a tribute to her character in overcoming being both blind and deaf during a visit to Japan. More were brought back to the U.S. with soldiers after World War II. Because the soldiers tended to favor the larger specimens, the strains developed in the U.S. began to diverge genetically towards a more muscular tough dog with more color variations, including those with a black mask, which are not accepted in Japan. The AKC, Canada, and Australians recognize the differences as being two types within the same breed, but some make a delineation with one being the American Akita, and the Akita Inu as being the traditional style Japanese favor.

Temperament: The Akita is a large, strong, independent and dominant dog. A well-trained, well-socialized Akita should be accepting of non-threatening strangers, yet protective of their family when faced with a threatening situation. They should be docile, aloof and calm in new situations. Though they are documented to have an affinity for children, caution should be taken with all children and any large dog.

  •     Best suited for: Experienced dog owners as the Akita requires firm training. Does not do well with other dogs, particularly of the same sex. Only suitable in families with children when socialized well and early.
  •     Preferred living conditions: Not suitable for apartments. Not enough space there and too many incidents waiting to happen with other dogs and strangers.

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: The double coat sheds constantly and heavier seasonally.
  • Exercise needs: This is an active dog that needs a daily walk or run.
  • Life expectancy: 10-12 years.
  • Health concerns: As with all large dogs, joint problems may develop. Also prone to bloat, which is life threatening.

Breed Club Links:  Akita Club of America

Rosie the Akita featured photo by Alden Chadwick.

Do you have any stories about an Akita?

One thought on “Meet the Breed: The Akita

  1. Thank you for including them in your meet the breed blog as so many people have so many misconceptions about the breed. A wonderful breed – my son has a 4 1/2 year old female who is an adored member of the family (got her when she was about 8 weeks old) – wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world. She has adapted to apartment life well while they’re in graduate school – but does love her time at doggie daycare and at the dog park.

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