The Akita is one of the most sought after dog breeds, and for good reason.
There are two different kinds that you should be aware of. The more you learn about these dogs, the easier it will be to choose the right one. Both of these dogs make for great pets, but they are not the same animal in many ways.
The American Akita comes in a wide variety of color combinations. Most of these dogs have at least some white on their coat. They can also have red, light brown, dark brown, or even black fur. Males can grow up to 28 inches tall and weigh as much as 130 pounds. Females can stand up to 26 inches with a maximum weight of about 100 pounds.
The Japanese or “Inu” Akita is typically white with brindle, red, or orange fur. Females can grow to 24 to 26 inches tall, and males from 26 to 28 inches. Males weigh anywhere from 71 to 86 pounds, whereas females weigh 51 to 64 pounds.
American Akitas have a much broader overall head with deep set eyes. The Japanese Akita has a narrower head that resembles a fox quite a bit. The former type usually has a bulky, muscular build, while the latter is much slimmer.
The Akita has a pretty fascinating origin story. Heller Keller was the first person to bring this dog to America. She was given two Akita Inus by the Japanese government. Dog fanciers made a point to breed this dog in a way that resulted in a much stockier and bigger overall animal.
These dogs can be traced back 1,000 years. They were once used in dog fights, which many people in Japan participated in. While their popularity as a breed took a significant dip in the early 1900s due to poor cross breeding choices, it ended up bouncing back in a big way.
While both types of Akitas have the same general temperament, there are still quite a few differences in terms of various personality traits.
Japanese Akitas were specifically bred as a canine companion, which means that they are incredibly loyal. These dogs have a protective nature that makes them an excellent long term pet to have. These dogs also tend to be a bit less demonstrative in their affection for their owners. If you are looking for a pet that will show you lots of love, the American variety is probably the way to go.
The American Akita was bred to be a guard dog, which means that will keep a watchful eye over your home at all times. With one of these dogs, you don’t have to worry about getting an alarm system installed. Their size alone makes them a bit intimidating for any would-be burglars.
The Akita Inu is a lot more stubborn than its American canine counterpart though. This can make them difficult to train and control. You’ll probably want to get help from a professional trainer, and it’s always better to start while they are young.
How are they with Strangers?
Japanese Akitas don’t do well around people they are not familiar with due to their protective nature. This means that if you bring someone new into the house, you can expect it to cast a critical eye until they get to know them better.
American Akitas warm up to strangers a lot faster, as they have a bit of a warmer overall nature.
How About with Other Dogs?
Akita Inus do not get along with other dogs or pets very well, so you’ll need to keep that in mind. If you have any small children, you should not leave them alone with this dog. While they are not inherently vicious, they can become aggressive if provoked by a careless child.
American Akitas tend to do well living with just about any other type of dog. They have a naturally easy going personality in this way.
Common Health Problems
Each of these dogs is prone to various medical conditions that can become a serious problem, especially as they get older.
Some of the health problems associated with Japanese Akitas include:
- Autoimmune diseases: These dogs sometimes develop autoimmune diseases such as lupus, which can be serious. This is essentially the body attacking itself.
- Cancer: Japanese Akitas have a tendency to get cancer, more specifically lymphosarcoma. This is a type of cancer that affects the lymph nodes.
- Gastric torsion: This condition causes bloating of the stomach, which leads to it twisting and limiting their blood supply. If your dog has this condition, it will need surgery right away.
American Akitas sometimes have problems with:
- Cataracts: It is fairly common for American Akitas to develop problems with their eyes, including cataracts. This can significantly impair the dog’s vision if it isn’t caught fairly early on by an experienced veterinarian.
- Hip dysplasia: The general high-energy nature of these dogs makes them prone to hip dysplasia. This occurs as a result of wear on the hip joint, usually after years of running and bouncing around.
- Thyroid issues: American Akitas can develop hyperthyroidism, which can lead to excess weight gain and other health problems.
- American Akitas come in many more colors than Japanese Akitas, and they are also much larger overall.
- The Japanese Akita makes for a great guard dog, but they are a lot more standoffish than the American variety.
- Certain aspects of training a Japanese Akita can be difficult due to their stubborn nature, while American Akitas are a bit easier to handle.
- You should think twice about getting a Japanese Akita if you have small children. American Akitas do well with kids and other dogs.
- Japanese Akitas are prone to a number of health issues, including autoimmune diseases, cancer, and gastrointestinal problems.