American Akitas Pros and Cons
The Spalding Pack of American Akitas (Photo: @thespaldingpack / Instagram)
helloBARK! staff
By helloBARK! staff
Updated on September 05, 2019

American Akitas are one of two varieties of Akita.

These Japanese dogs are famed for their striking appearance, that is either bear-like or fox-like depending on whether you’re looking at an American Akita or Akita Inu.

The first Akitas arrived in the United States after an American lady called Helen Keller was gifted two of these dogs by the Japanese government before World War II.

Their popularity soared in the USA when US servicemen returned with Akitas after being impressed by their powerful appearance and strong physiques, making them perfect guard dogs.

The American Akita can come in a variety of different colors, including red, brindle, black, gold and more.

Members of the American Kennel Club, American Akitas can grow to a size range between 24 and 28 inches and can weigh between 70 and 130 pounds.

This article will take a look at the pros and cons of the American Akita, while we’ll hear from The Spalding Pack (@thespaldingpack) to provide their insight into the breed based upon their experience.

Pros

The Spalding Pack of American Akitas (Photo: @thespaldingpack / Instagram)
The Spalding Pack of American Akitas (Photo: @thespaldingpack / Instagram)

Loyal

You can expect an American Akita to be extremely loyal to their owners. Indeed, these Japanese dogs are often described as profoundly loyal. They’ll develop a deep bond with their pet parents. The American Kennel Club write that American Akitas thrive on human companionship. They’ve developed a reputation over the past century or so for being tenacious protectors of the family.

The Spalding Pack (@thespaldingpack) told hellobark.com:

This is a breed who would lay its life down for you. From the famous Hachi, loyalty is ingrained into this breed. They are often called “one owner dogs” and form very close bonds to their person or immediate families, but have little regard for those outside of their circle. I personally enjoy that in a dog.

Natural guardians

If you’ve previously researched American Akitas (or Akitas in general), you’ll almost certainly have encountered the phrase “natural guardians”. Akitas were treasured members of households in Japan due to their natural-born instincts to protect their family. The American Kennel Club say that American Akitas are “hardwired” to protect those they love, so no training is even required. These alert dogs are born ready to lay down their lives for their fellow family members.

Here’s The Spalding Pack (@thespaldingpack) to give us a better idea about this pro:

These dogs should NOT be trained for guarding/bite sport. There are countless articles explaining why independent thinkers have no place on a bitesport field, but this is a breed that is not always the best at determining threat from non-threat. They are naturally aloof and wary and will defend their home and people with a tenacity that is unmatched. That’s something they are born with and not trained for.

Intelligent

Although American Akitas are instinctive protectors, they’re smart dogs. Their alertness means these large canines are always learning. They’re quick to pick up new tricks. They’ve got an eagerness to please their owners, which is a trait that can help with the training process. However, they’ve also got a reputation for being independent thinkers, so consistent and regular training is required from a young age in order to get the best out of these dogs.

Here’s The Spalding Pack (@thespaldingpack) to explain more:

They are brilliant. They are always watching you and learning from the environment around them. They can be smarter than you, so they keep you on your toes!

Clean

Like a lot of other Spitz-type dogs such as the Alaskan Klee Kai, the American Akita are considered a fastidious breed. They’ll usually self groom. According to the American Kennel Club, the American Akita have little doggy odor, especially compared to some other breeds. Of course, while many American Akitas are fastidious, that isn’t going to be the case for every single member of the breed.

Affectionate

They’re teddy bear-like appearance means American Akitas usually get a lot of attention. However, you shouldn’t take adopting an American Akita lightly – they’re a lot of work. If you’ve done proper research and you’re experienced with dogs, they can be great canine companions. Akita are affectionate with members of their family, displaying a colorful and goofy side that isn’t alway on show outside the home when they’re alert and cautious.

Cons

The Spalding Pack of American Akitas (Photo: @thespaldingpack / Instagram)
The Spalding Pack of American Akitas (Photo: @thespaldingpack / Instagram)

Not suitable for first-time owners

As we mentioned above, an American Akita probably isn’t a good fit for a first-time owner. They’ve got some traits that make them a challenging dog breed, especially for those with limited experience around canines. They’re not a tolerant breed so they require a lot of socialisation to get them to the point where they’re accepting of new people and new situations. American Akitas require respect and boundaries. Their sheer size alone means they can be difficult to control for the uninitiated.

Here’s the advice of The Spalding Pack (@thespaldingpack):

Simply because new owners don’t often know what to expect with dogs period and an Akita is a whole different ball game. They are not an easy breed and I know many breeders who don’t even place into first time homes.

Dog aggression

The American Kennel Club actually make a point of remarking on American Akitas and their aggression towards other dogs. The breed standard says: “Akitas may be intolerant of other dogs, particularly of the same sex”. So this is an issue that’s going to need constant work from a young age. American Akitas will require socialisation with other dogs from puppyhood, although you shouldn’t force any dog into social situations if the dog is uncomfortable or you’re unsure about the temperament of the other dog. The AKC stress that “extreme caution should be used in canine interactions”. You may prefer to avoid dog parks and walking an Akita off leash where there are other dogs.

Here’s what The Spalding Pack (@thespaldingpack) had to say on dog aggression:

It’s in the breed and anyone who tries to tell you it’s not has their head in the sand. It’s in our written breed standard and many owners go into this breed blind, only to find themselves dealing with aggression they aren’t equipped to handle. Our standard calls for aloof with strangers and often intolerant of other animals, particularly those of the same sex. That can be very challenging for a new dog owner, especially one who went in to ownership of this breed thinking proper raising was all they needed to do.

Intolerant of strangers

Again, the American Kennel Club make a point of highlighting their potential intolerance around strangers. American Akitas are natural born guardians that want to protect those that they love. This can sometimes result in them being aloof, aggressive or unsure around people they don’t know. Therefore, an American Akita owner needs to help their dog to become accepting of a wide variety of strangers and not perceive them as a threat.

Let’s hear more from The Spalding Pack (@thespaldingpack):

Akitas are, by their standard, often intolerant of other dogs and strangers. This is hundreds and hundreds of years of genetically predisposed behaviors that can’t be trained out – only managed.

Prey drive

Akitas were initially breed in Japan to hunt large game such as deer, wild boar and bears. Therefore, a hunting instinct remains within these working dogs. They’ve got a high prey drive so they’re a potential flight risk if they see something they deem worthy of chasing or hunting. American Akita owners may be best served keeping their dog on a leash if they’re walking in an unsecured area.

Stubborn

While American Akitas are intelligent and loyal, they often display an independent nature. Their headstrong mentality can be challenging for some owners. It’s not an uncommon for an Akita to be stubborn, which is a trait that it shares with a number of Spitz-type dogs.

Big shedders

Like we mentioned above, the American Akita is considered a relatively clean dog. However, they’re big shedders. Their thick double coat will blow out twice a year, usually at the changing of the seasons. During this time, American Akita owners should brush their canine more regularly to remove dead hair in the coat. You’ll find clumps of hair all around your home, so you’ll want to invest in a good vacuum cleaner that can help you tackle the problem. American Akitas aren’t a hypoallergenic dog breed.