Utility dogs

Akita – One Of Japans National Treasures

Akita – One Of Japans National Treasures

The Akita: One of Japan’s Best Exports

Akita The Utility dog with a heart bigger than the Mountains they came from.

Akita Japanese Dog Breed

Image: Nikoleta Vukovic/Shutterstock.com

If you like your dogs fluffy and a bit on the larger side, with lots of character (thing stubborn but loving & loyal) then a Japanese (or even American) Akita may be one for your shortlist. They are lovely dogs but not one for the casual dog owner, needing plenty of exercising and a fair bit of grooming too. They also need to be trained from an early age otherwise they will assume they are the boss and ignore everything you want them to do - unless it suits them of course.

If this is going to be your first dog or you have other pets or young children then look elsewhere.  Similarly, if you have a job entailing long hours and you live in a city apartment or even a flat in the countryside again probably not your first choice.

However for an experienced owner with the time to devote to them then they are a challenge well worth taking and you will be rewarded with a loyal guardian angel of a dog who will want to be with you pretty much 24/7. If that sound like something you can handle then read on...

Quick Review

Name:                                  Akita - 秋田犬 in Japanese

Size:                                     Medium - Large Typically 28 inches tall (71 cm) fully grown

Weight:                               Robust - 100-130 lb (45-59 kg)

Grooming:                          Twice a day at least. Remember to do their teeth too!

Training:                             Essential – training needs to start from puppyhood.

Exercise:                             Moderate to lots. Think a walk twice a day as being the minimum.

Temperament:                   Can be food possessive, energetic, sometimes stubborn, but incredibly loyal.

Origins:                               Japan

Lifespan:                             10-13 years

History of the Akita… the Great Working Dog

Akita-inu (in Japanese) come from Feudal Japan. Back in the 17th century, it was known as the Great Japanese Dog and it was derived from the Spitz breeds. These are usually long-haired companion dogs in the northern hemisphere. There are two ‘strains’ of the breed. The Japanese original and the American Akita, which had been bred in the states since WWII and consumed some German shepherd genetics to pad it out a little.

The dogs were initially bred for dogfighting. There is a lovely story about a feudal lord being sent to a far-away province to live out his life in exile, and this guy coming up with the Akita breed, which might be true. More likely, they were bred for strength. What we do know is that they were companions to Samurai, so that ought to give you a glimpse into their status. If you were given an Akita by someone in Japanese culture, they revered you. That’s pretty impressive.

The Akita is part status symbol, part guard dog, part playful fluff ball. It’s a weird mix. Their history goes back so far that they have become an intrinsic part of Japanese culture. They were warrior dogs that needed a firm hand and a quick wit… and not that much has changed.

Not For The Novice

The Akita breed is not for first-time dog owners. They are for an experienced owner with plenty of time to devote to training them. They’re beautiful, and they will love you eternally, but they are massive, scary-looking dogs that not all your friends will like (especially as they can be a bit aloof with strangers). Buying an Akita will lead to fewer visitors to your home but, on the other hand, you won’t get burgled.

You can find out more about the Akita via the breed information that the Kennel Clubs hold. You will find the UK Kennel Club here, and the American Kennel Club, here. The breed standard was finally set in 1934 just after they were declared to be national treasures.

Fun Facts About the Akita!

This giant softy has a giant list of facts. Some of the Five Minute Spare Akita favourites include:

  • The Inspirational Helen Keller Author of the Frost King and good cause activist had 2 Akita’s in 1937. She is the first person to bring the breed to the states, even though there would be others after the war.
  • There is an Akita Dog Museum in the city of Ōdate in Japan which is well worth a visit should you ever be in the area. You can check out their website here
  • The Breed was designated National Monument status in 1931
  • During WW2, Akitas were used to send messages across the lines.
  • This one isn’t fun at all… There is a bronze statue at Shibuya train station in Japan of an Akita called Hachikō who would wait daily at the same place at the town's station for his master to return from work, however, sadly in 1925 his master died at work. Hachikō unperturbed spent the remaining nine years, nine months and fifteen days of his life waiting patiently at the station hoping for his return arriving at the precise time he normally arrived back. Heartbreaking but shows the level of loyalty you can expect from a well-treated Akita!

We can’t list any more fun things, we’re still in bits from the thought of a wee (or not so wee) dog waiting forever on his master to come home.  Anyway on to more cheery things


Akita Personality and Temperament

The Akita is big and strong and stubborn as an ox. It is loyal and friendly, and they can be especially playful, but they are aware of how strong and tough they are. This makes them the kind of dog that listens to what you have to say, then decides how to proceed on its own.

When your dog is more than a hundred pounds and a bit stubborn this gets scary. An Akita will be the best dog you have ever had if you train it well. If you don’t want to, or don’t have the time to, train the puppy – don’t get it. You will end up checking it into a shelter before it is two years old. Worse, because you waited so long, it will be five times harder for anyone else to train them because those early years were missed.

Training and Grooming your Akita

They have an underfloof coat (that’s the official term) which means there are two layers in there. The top layer keeps them dry while this downy underneath layer keeps them warm. While it is perfect for the mountains, it’s not great for your living room. Twice a year you will be up to your eyeballs in fur but fortunately, regular grooming will help manage this.

Common Akita Health Concerns

Before buying your Akita, check with the breeder who should be able to tell you about familial health defects. Common health concerns with this breed include:

  1. Hip Dysplasia – where the hip-socket becomes fragile or deformed
  2. Patellar Luxation – also called ‘floating kneecap’
  3. Eye problems – sight is an issue with this breed, it is recommended they have an eye test every two years.

Where Can I Buy An Akita?

You should always buy a new puppy from a reputable source and avoid puppy farms. You can find registered breeders on the Kennel Club UK or US websites, where you can purchase a pet whose lineage can be traced back the way. This helps you figure out if they have inherent health conditions and keeps puppies across the globe safe.

Signs that your dog dealer is a puppy farmer include a lack of paperwork, dogs given away prior to 6/8 weeks of age, and being unable to meet at least one of the puppy’s parents. Report any suspected farmers to your local RSPCA, SSPCA, or relevant authority office to do your part in preventing cruelty to animals.

Always check local shelters before buying pups, especially if you have had Akita dogs before.

You also might want to check on local restrictions as the breed is either banned or has limitations placed on ownership in a number of the US States and other countries; Ukraine, for instance, has over 80 dogs on its restricted list!

Five Minutes Spare

If you enjoyed our small foray into the world of this giant Japanese pup, then you may enjoy some of our other dog-themed articles. Swing by the headquarters to check out some of our best work whenever you have a spare five minutes… That’s literally what we are here for!


Quick Facts

Name Akita
Size Medium
Grooming 2 to 3 times a week
Training Easier if started early
Exercise Ideally twice a day +
Origins Japan

Akita Puppy

Akita Puppy

Image: New Africa/Shutterstock.com

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