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The Akita is a hefty, powerful dog breed easily identified by thick, fluffy coats and heavyset features. They will stand between 24-28 inches tall and can weigh up to 150lbs. These hardy dogs will usually live 10-12 years with proper love and care. Their dense, double-layer coats come in a wide variety of colors, ranging from solid colors to mixed patterns. Akitas also display distinct facial mask markings that are usually in contrast with the rest of their fur color. They carry their fluffy tails high over the top of their backs in a moderate or double curve. Akita dogs have large, bear-like facial features with heavy bone structures, large heads, and erect, triangular shaped ears. Their dark, deeply set eyes glimmer with intelligence and they harbor profound affection for their family members. Their intimidating size, regal appearance, and courageous guarding instincts make them great home sentries.
One of the most fastidious breeds about their personal hygiene, Akitas will groom themselves frequently, with cat-like behavior. It is not uncommon to see an Akita washing their face following a meal or messy adventure outside. Their beautiful double coats also help protect their skin from the elements; the soft undercoat keeps them warm while the thicker, protective top layer prevents moisture from reaching their skin. This great combination means that the Akita is usually a very fresh, clean dog and hardly ever generates odors. The thick, lush coat does severely shed about twice a year but regular brushing can help minimize the amount of daily shedding. It is important to use the right kinds of brushes in order to groom down deep to the undercoat. Attentive brushing can even help speed up the semi-annual shedding, which can take anywhere from 3 weeks to 2 months to reveal the new, glossy coat. Regular bathing is also recommended to help keep their lustrous coat clean and healthy, but it is important to avoid irritating their skin and stripping their natural oils. Over-bathing can dry out the Akita’s skin, so aim to wash them just 2-4 times a year.
Akitas are usually very territorial over their property and are not initially warm with strangers. They will, however, typically be tolerant of strangers as long as they don’t feel their family is being threatened. They develop strong bonds of affection and loyalty to their family members and are generally great with children. Akitas have moderate exercise needs, usually requiring a daily walk or romp around the park. The Akita has an independent and dominant nature with strong hunting instincts and don’t get along with other dogs or smaller animals without training. These powerful animals are very playful, silly, and love companionship. Akitas commonly display a trait referred to as “mouthing,” in which they take their owner by the wrist in order to show affection or lead them to something the Akita wants, such as their leash. It isn’t an act of aggression, but can easily be discouraged by giving them a newspaper or toy to carry instead. They are also quite vocal animals and will mumble and grunt throughout their daily activities, only barking when on high alert and feeling threatened.
Since Akitas have such dominant and assertive temperaments, it is important to establish a good training relationship with them. They need to be trained by their owner and not sent out to an obedience school in order for the Akita to accept the owner’s authority. Outsourcing their training will result in them respecting their trainer and ignoring most of their owner’s commands. Training can seem difficult due to their stubborn nature, but persistence and consistence are crucial in earning the Akita’s respect and persuading them to cooperate. Once a strong bond has been established, sessions should run smoothly. Akitas are very intelligent and will learn commands quickly, but can soon become bored with repetitive tasks. Brief training sessions with plenty of encouragement and respectful, positive techniques will yield the best results. Akita dogs respond best to motivational methods and will thrive on earning praise and treats.
The present-day Akita descends from the Japanese island of Honshu with records of their known existence dating as far back as the 1600s. There is even archeological evidence that suggests dogs in similar size and build to the Akita existed thousands of years ago. The Akita was originally utilized as a hunting dog and their massive size coupled with their domineering nature made them great at keeping prey at bay until hunters arrived. The Akita breed actually splits off into two branches: the Japanese Akita (Akita Inu) and the American Akita. The biggest difference between the strains is in their appearances, which diverged as the result of different breeding focuses. Japanese breeders focused on restoring the integrity of the original appearance while American breeding techniques resulted in larger, heavy-boned dogs for a more intimidating presence. Akita Inus are typically smaller in stature and lighter than their American counterparts.
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