Choosing the right dog breed is essential when you love dogs and are selecting a family pet. There is a natural requirement for cute dogs to be good with children. Of course, being properly trained from an early age will assist with this development.
Dogs are more than pets, they become family members. When you choose an American Kennel Club approved breed or a crossbreed from the local rescue center. You will gain comfort and reassurance that the chosen specimen is the right choice.
Fortunately, the American Akita is just such a dog. If you are in any doubt it is time to discover the truth about these powerful dogs. They are similar to the German Shepherd, and literally look like giant teddy bears.
The American Akita Lineage
An American Akita is large, weighing in at approximately 65-115 pounds and standing between 24-28 inches tall at the shoulder. They have a broad head, powerful muscles, deep-set small eyes, erect ears, and a deep muzzle. You’ll find them in a wide variety of colors, including white, brown, and even pinto with a black mask.
It originates from Japan and is believed to be thousands of years old. While the exact origins are mysterious, the contemporary Akita comes from the Odate area of Japan. They are double-coated, ensuring they can withstand extreme temperatures, that is the reason they were originally referred to as Snow Country Dogs.
The Japanese Akita was officially an Odate, it was only in the 1930s the name was changed to Akita. Of particular interest is the cultural significance of these dogs in Japan. Originally only nobility was allowed to own them and many dogs had a dedicated caretaker. they were hired specifically to care and cater for the dogs every whim!
These dogs had specialized leashes to denote the standing of their owner and feeding rituals that would make any commoner jealous.
The Second World War introduced the split between the Japanese Akita and the American Akita as separate breeds. The entrance of many of these dogs into the United States after the war allowed American breeders to focus on breeding the largest of the dogs. They centered on heavier bones, muscle, and the bear-like head.
Japanese breeders continued with the smaller Japanese Akita which is lighter and the head is more akin to a fox.
By 1955 the American Kennel Club recognized this stunning dog. Although it did not join the working dog class until 1972. In 1992 the Japan Kennel Club was recognized and the differences in the two Akita breeds were solidified.
Looking After An American Akita
It is best to visit a reputable breeder to ensure you get a high-quality dog and the breed qualities and temperament can be confirmed.
This dog is best described as an independent dog, you will need to set the ground rules and ensure they are applied consistently. Once you have earned their respect they will become extremely loyal and protective of you and your family members. You should note this can result in aggression toward dogs, and other animals, they are not familiar with.
In other words, they make fantastic guard dogs and that is not just because they are big enough to put most attackers off. Of course, you will want to minimize this aggressive streak, it can be done by ensuring they have intensive socialization and good training when they are children.
What may surprise you is that these dogs rarely bark, although when they do you will be certain to know about it and hear them!
Of course, being a big, almost giant, dog, they will need plenty of dog food. You will need a large dog bowl and a travel bowl for feeding/drinking will be beneficial. American Akitas are working dogs and will benefit from at least two thirty-minute exercise sessions per day.
That means a good walk and separate opportunities for exercise through play. A squeaky ball is a great way to keep them busy.
Thanks to their intelligence you will find they naturally excel in dog sports and competition, allowing you to be the proud owner. Finding a reputable breeder is essential if you want to get one of these dogs. You will be certain that you are getting the dog you think you are getting! The Akita Club of America can provide assistance when searching.
Known American Akita Health Issues
To ensure health happiness you need to understand and be prepared for known health issues suffered by the American Akita. Fortunately, there are few conditions specific to this dog breed, although they can be vulnerable to a wide array of auto-immune conditions.
One of the most common issues is hip dysplasia, unfortunately, a common occurrence in many larger dogs. Hip dysplasia refers to a condition when the thigh bone does not fit perfectly into the hip socket, this is likely to cause rubbing and friction.
When young it is possible your dog will show stiff legs. However, many dogs show no symptoms until they are middle-aged. Stiffness and limping are then common as the damage to the joint becomes painful. Over time this can develop into lameness as the pain becomes too significant for normal leg use.
Surgery is an option in extreme cases, however, it is likely your vet will try medications first to manage the pain and ensure high quality of life.
Immune system disorders are the other main issues that face the American Akita inu. There are several of these to be aware of and get help with, if necessary.
Also known as Addison’s disease It is a condition when the adrenal glands fail to produce enough hormones to satisfy the demands of the body. A specific issue is the lack of cortisol in the dog’s body.
The result is an imbalance in the metabolic system, preventing the control of sodium, water, and potassium in their body. If left untreated it can lead to death. Suspect your dog has issues if it is lethargic, vomiting, and losing weight with no discernible reason.
This condition is similar to what humans develop when the thyroid gland fails to produce enough thyroid hormone, or it can produce too much. Your dog will appear lethargic, be unable to tolerate the cold, may start gaining weight, and is likely to have a slow heart rate, potentially feeling depressed. Medications exist to assist your dog in producing enough thyroid hormones and maintaining their health.
Diabetes Mellitus is effectively the same as diabetes Type 1 in humans. This is where an inability to control blood sugar levels develops. It can cause massive complications to daily life.
If left untreated it will lead to death for your dog. Fortunately, treatment is as simple as providing the missing insulin for your beloved dog, ensuring they continue to have a high-quality life. It should not affect the 10-15 year lifespan of this breed.
Choosing The Right American Akita
First discover the common characteristics of this fabulous breed and gain an understanding of the known health issues. You should then be ready to locate the perfect pet for your family. Should you be wary about choosing a puppy and making assumptions regarding personality it is possible to find American Akitas at rescue centers. This will provide you with an opportunity to assess the dog, its size, temperament, and suitability, you are sure to be pleasantly surprised.
However, if you need a puppy then you must use a reputable breeder. Verify their reputation with others who have used their services, and make sure you look on social media and online forums. This is the simplest way of finding positive comments about the breeder, identifying negative points, and assessing the response of the breeder to potential issues. Not all comments will be positive but how the negative ones are dealt with will help you to understand what type of breeder you are dealing with.
Choosing a puppy also means the opportunity to meet the parents. This shows the condition they are in and their temperament. The cleanliness of their home will tell you a lot about the breeder. That is why you should always visit the breeder at their home instead of having them bring the dog to you.
Amazing Facts About This Breed
Helen Keller is credited with bringing an Akita dog into the United States, being the first person to do so. Although many were brought home by servicemen in World War II as the dogs, common in Japan, were so loyal, intelligent, and adaptable. Of course, these servicemen chose the larger versions of the Akita, the ones that looked capable of bringing down a bear.
The first American Akita dogs to make their way to the United Kingdom was actually a Canadian import. Its owner Mrs. Jensen took it with her and her descendants still breed American Akita today!
In 1982 it arrived in Australia, followed 4 years later by its first sighting in New Zealand, making it a truly global dog.
The original Japanese dog (shiba inu), lived in an area of Japan surrounded by mountains. The result is cold, extremely harsh winters, rough ground, and difficulty for many animals in completing the most basic of tasks. The Akita thrives in this hostile environment and has a heavy double coat to protect them from wind, rain, and cold temperatures.
They also have webbed paws, ensuring they can easily walk on snow and even swim if necessary. It does mean they can face overheating issues if you live in a hot climate. You will need to supply plenty of water to prevent dehydration and try to keep them cool during the hottest part of the day.
Insurance companies are generally not inspired by ownership of an American Akita. Due to their size, strength, and protective nature they are considered dangerous. Your insurance company may charge you more just because of the breed of your dog!
It may help to have their training certified. This will display the socialization of your pet which is essential to reducing aggressiveness in these dogs.
The American Akita will actually spend a large proportion of its day grooming itself. In effect they self groom, making them more catlike than dog in this respect.
But, as their coat is shed twice a year, you will want to visit the groomers occasionally. This will allow it to be done properly.
There are many different dogs available. But, few that offer the same level of loyalty and protectiveness as the American Akita puppy. These are charming loyal dogs with a big personality that will take care of you and your family forever.
Remember, these are not small dogs and do need exercise. They can also knock small children over when playing, meaning they must be supervised. However, their loving nature and the fact that they look like giant stuffed teddy bears will help to ensure they are adored by all who meet them.
Want to read more about a dog breed that is loyal and family friendly? Please find the link to our blog about English Golden Retrievers here.