This much loved Japanese breed. The Akita dates back some three hundred years and today resembles the Japanese dog found carved in early Japanese tombs. Its ears, carriage and distinctive tail are unmistakable.


The Akita is the largest dog of any breed surviving in Japan today. Used in its homeland as a guard dog, and as a hunter of bear, deer and wild boar, the Akita was also put to work as a retriever of waterfowl from land and water. The Akita was used as a fighting dog until that unfortunate sport was outlawed. It was not unusual for the Akita to be revered as a pet in Japanese households and when they died very often their pelts were hung in the house in memory of the departed dog.

In type, the Akita mirrors its northern heritage, seen in the so-called spitz breeds. Its head, erect ears, heavy curled tail, wonderfully thick and luxurious double coat make it a recognizable part of this family. In October 1973 they were classified as Working Dogs at American Kennel Club Shows.


The Akita is apt to be very aggressive toward other dogs. The answer to this is early obedience training which should then be maintained through its entire life. The breed tends to be obstinate, but is very cooperative once the message is firmly made clear.

If the Akita is going to be in a household with children, it should be brought up with them from puppy hood. It must have exercise for both its well-being and training — this will stretch both mind and intelligence. The breed as such does not have a bad temper — but it can display the temperament that it was bred to have. Care must be taken with discipline and it should be firm. However, severity will be reacted against by these dogs.


The Akita is large, slightly longer from breast to rear than from top of its shoulders to the ground. Males usually top off at 26-28 inches/66-71 cm tall, with females 1-2 inches/2.5-5 cm smaller. The Akita has moderate angles in fore and hindquarters, a large wedge-shaped head, erect and expressive ears carried slightly forward (when folded forward the ear tip just reaches the eye), small deep-set eyes that appear triangular, heavy bones, a thick double coat of various colors. This is finished off with a well-placed and carried thick, heavy curled tail.

The white Akita used to be the most well thought of, with its black pigmented nose, mouth and toe pads. This color is not the most favored in the American dog scene today, with solid reds, brindles and all manner of colors with white in pleasing patterns now more often shown in competition. The Federation Cynologique Internationale’s Standard varies dramatically from the American and British versions and the Japanese-inspired FCI Standard does not allow the particolor that is accepted in the States and Britain. All over the world, however, the Akita has a majesty and bearing that is unmistakable.


Adequate space is essential because the Akita is such a large dog. In its homeland, Japan, where space is not always available, a single Akita may be kept as a pet in a very small house; however, it has humans at its beck and call to grant its every wish, be it a walk or a romp.

Health Matters

The Akita is a type of northern dog that it is considered a very natural breed — as such it tends to be quite healthy. As a precaution, the hips should be X-rayed on breeding stock after the age of two since hip dysplasia is well known in the breed. In fact, almost all dogs of this size (irrespective of breed) are subject to varying degrees of hip laxity. Hypothyroidism is known in the breed as well as some forms of inherited eye problems. Always buy from reputable breeders since they should have kept health records for several generations. Dealing with reliable breeders reduces the chances of buying a puppy susceptible to hip displasia, hypothyroidism or other problems.

Skin problems may be kept to a minimum by caring for the Akita’s coat and skin meticulously. Since the Akita has a very thick double coat, keeping it in a warm environment, either indoors or out, is not in the best interest of the animal. The Akita should become accustomed to having its teeth examined as a puppy so that it can be checked that the baby teeth are being shed according to schedule. This will teach it to have manners in relation to its mouth when the time comes to begin brushing its new teeth to keep them clean and prevent mouth odors.

Likewise the Akita’s nails should be trimmed just a little every week with a dog nail cutter so that it will allow this to be done all its life with little or no fuss. If the nails are always kept short, there will never be a time when nail cutting will hurt the dog and it will become used to the procedure. The ears of this erect-eared breed are rarely a problem. If there is a noticeable odor coming from the ear opening or if the dog shakes or paws at its ears, you should consult a veterinarian.

Special Care and Training

The Akita has a thick double coat typical of its northern dog heritage. In warm weather the coat will shed and should be encouraged to do so by mild shampooing in warm baths, followed by careful drying and brushing. Obedience training is essential – the dog must know to obey its owners. The Akita is widely known for its loyalty.

Gallery of Akita