Are you thinking about bringing a fabulous, loyal Akita into your home?
If so, get to know the breed first to make sure it is the right pet for you!
1. Akitas are a respected and much-loved Japanese breed, well over 3,000 years old. The Akita is a breed that has captured the hearts of the citizens of Japan for centuries, and was even declared a National Monument in 1931. The breed was brought to North America by servicemen returning home afer World War II, and also from Helen Keller, who was given an Akita as a gift from a Mr. Ichiro Ogasawara, a local police chief in Odate City, Japan in 1937.
2. Akitas are very large, powerful dogs. Males can reach up to 28 inches high, and weigh up to 135 pounds, and females between 23 to 25 inches in height, and 80 to 95 pounds. They DO require some regular exercise to maintain their physic and muscle tone, as well as to keep them becoming over weight, which is bad for their heart and hips.
3. Akitas are quite gentle and tolerant by nature, but they ARE very protective of their home and pack (you, the family!) If they feel that the home or their pack is being threatened, they can become aggressive. A responsible Akita owner must be aware of this at all times.
4. While it IS true that Akitas don't always do well when new pets are introduced AFTER they've established their position in the family, if introduced to other pets during their formative years, they will simply think of them as other members of their pack and treat them with respect and affection. Akitas are a dominant breed, and can act aggressively to other adult animals that they are not familiar with. With this in mind, socialize your Akita early and often, so that they become used to interaction with other animals.
5. Akitas are very loyal to their masters. The Akita's bearing is regal in nature, quiet and competitive, and loyal to a fault! One thing a prospective Akita owner must keep in mind, is that they must be the Alpha pack leader in the home, and establish this at and early stage, otherwise the Akita may assume the role. This can create discipline problems, so it is advised to establish your dominance early, and your Akita will become a loyal and loving companion.
6. Akitas are quiet by nature, and will only bark if they feel there is a good reason, like an intruder or other issue they feel you, as the alpha pack leader, need to be aware of. They also rarely growl, and owners must be in tune with their dog's expressions and body language to tell if their dog is stressed, frightened or feeling threatened, the three leading reasons why their dog might be inclined to bite or act aggressively.
7. Akitas are VERY intelligent! Anyone who has worked with or owned an Akita is forever in awe of their human-like intelligence and capacity for learning. They will patiently observe a person at a task they find interesting for hours on end! They are an easily trainable dog if you engage them regularly and demand obedience. They are eager to please, and will respond to an owner's wishes if trained properly.
8. Akitas on the whole, are a well-maintained and monitored breed, but there are exceptions. Make sure to purchase your dog from a reputable kennel, one that preferably has an excellent record of quality pups. Some even offer health guarantees, such as Canine Hip Dysplasia, a common defect in large breed dogs. There has been a rise of Hypothyroidism in Akitas and some skin disorders that are treatable with medication and in some cases, diet.
9. Akitas, while not a supremely active dog, do require regular exercise and room to move, and would not be an ideal choice for someone in a small home or apartment, UNLESS the owner is resigned to walking the dog several times a week.
10. Akitas need to be engaged by their owners regularly. Akitas LOVE their pack, and need to feel a part of it on a continual basis. Ignoring your Akita will only cause heartache for both dog and owner. Engage your Akita daily, but playing, training or some other sort of healthy interaction. This is NOT a breed that will allow you to ignore it!
Choosing to provide a home to this breed is a big responsibility, but one that can provide an owner with many rewards, including: devotion, home protection, companionship, personality and tons of love!