Written by Alexis Spalding of Morrow Akitas
The Akita is a very regal and attention commanding breed. Strangers to the breed often express interest in owning these gorgeous dogs when they first come into contact with one, but there is a lot to consider about the breed and its requirements before committing to bringing one into your home. This breed is listed on the Dangerous Dog Breed list, and many homeowner’s insurance companies and leasing agencies have restrictions on ownership of the breed with their policy holders. They can be challenging, and the following article breaks down the expectations for any potential owners.
Considering adding an Akita to your family?
Anyone considering owning this breed needs to know the hardships and difficulties that can come with owning them.
Akitas, per the standard, can be wary with strangers and aggressive with other dogs, particularly those of the same sex.
While there are Akitas who love everyone and get along with other dogs, they are the exception and not the rule. Knowing and understanding the standard temperament for the Akita breed is important when going into ownership of them. Many still mature with this temperament, despite extensive training and socialization. Despite the popular phrase “It is all in how you raise them” … It is NOT all in how you raise them. Genetics play a massive role into the behavior of your dog and different breeds carry different genetically predisposed traits and behaviors. Go into ownership of this breed expecting it to behave as the standard depicts.
Proper raising, training and socializing is imperative to a well-rounded and balanced dog. That said, understand that genetically predisposed behaviors cannot be “trained” out. You never train away genetics. You manage them. So while you may raise an Akita that grows intolerant to other animals, you can manage those behaviors and train the dog in a way that they don’t become reactive, aggressive and dangerous.
Training is a MUST. From day 1. This is a very head strong breed and they are challenging. You will often hear owners state that “This is not the breed for everyone” or “This is not the breed for a beginner dog owner.”
There is a reason this is said about the Akita.
Many people who don’t do the proper research prior to purchasing one go into ownership of the breed blind. They purchased a cute and fluffy puppy, one that grows into a beautiful and regal dog, but they weren’t prepared for the temperament and challenges that came along with it.
This is why we see so many Akitas find themselves in the shelters or rescues. Very seldom are Akitas owned by breed savvy and breed educated people turned into the shelters. Most Akitas find their way into shelters by simply being what they are – Akitas. They were just unfortunate to find themselves in the hands of someone who didn’t know what to do with them.
Same sex aggression is common in the breed. Even dogs raised with another dog of the same sex may mature to not get along with them. Many owners find themselves at wits end when their two boys or two girls who were once best friends have begun violently fighting. For this reason, ethical breeders and rescues rarely place their dogs into same sex homes.
This is something to be prepared for when considering an Akita.
Akitas are a hunting breed. Because of this, they can have a very high prey drive. We are brought the bodies of many woodland critters that were unfortunate enough to find their way into the yard. This is not a temperament issue, this is again genetics. It is something to make note of and prepare for, especially if you have cats or other small animals. The Akita must be introduced to and trained to properly interact with them early on.
These dogs are very smart and typically very clean. For this reason, they are usually very easy to housebreak. They do shed like crazy. A good vacuum is an important part of owning an Akita! The “they only shed twice a year” comment that you may have heard along the way is a major myth. These dogs shed, and shed, and shed some more. You must NEVER shave an Akita’s coat unless absolutely medically necessary. Shedding can be managed through regular grooming, but you will eat, sleep and breathe dog hair. Be prepared for this.
Akitas are brilliant dogs, and can learn commands and tricks quickly – but they are also independent thinking and quite stubborn, so they tend to get bored fast. Finding a way to keep them engaged during training can be tricky.
They are very in tune to their owners and families. This isn’t the breed to leave out in a cage or on a chain. They like to be with their people and form very strong bonds. They can be wonderful with children in the family, but it is also important to note that children must be taught respect for the dog. They are not an overly tolerant breed. So a child pulling at, jumping on, hitting or kicking the dog can end very badly. All interactions between children and dogs should be monitored.
The breed has a commanding presence and respect is needed in all outlets of its life.
Boundaries and rules should be set early on and upheld. They do best in a structured and consistent environment.
The idea that they are constantly trying to dominate you or be the alpha is false; however, if you don’t take in-charge approach, they will. It’s important that they know their place and what is expected of them.
They are a fantastic breed, but these are things to consider when questioning bringing one into your home.
For an owner that is understanding of what they are and prepared to have that for the duration of their life, which very well may be 14+ years, there is no better breed. But it is certainly not something to jump into and proper research and choosing an ethical breeder is crucial.