AKC Working Group


Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

The Akita is considered the national dog of Japan and is designated as a natural monument there. The breed has had many uses: first as an Imperial guard dog; and then as a fighting dog; a hunter of deer and bear; for sledding; and for police, army, and guard work. The Akita has keen hunting abilities and can even hunt in deep snow. He has a soft mouth, so he is suitable for waterfowl retrieval. In Japan, small statues of the Akita are often sent to ill people to express a wish for their speedy recovery, and to parents of a newborn child to symbolize health. The first Akita was brought to the United States by Helen Keller. American servicemen also brought Akitas to the U.S. after World War II.


The Akita is a powerful and solid dog—strong and muscular with a flat, heavy head and a strong, slightly short muzzle. The Akita is slightly longer than he is tall with a broad, deep chest and level back. The head is broad and shaped like a blunt triangle. The stop is well defined with a shallow groove going up the center of the forehead. The small, erect ears are carried forward and in line with the neck. The small, triangular eyes are dark brown. The nose is generally black (brown is permitted on white Akitas, but black is preferred), and the lips are black though the tongue is pink. The teeth should meet in a scissors bite, though a level bite is accepted. The tail is carried high and curled over the back. The Akita has webbed, catlike feet and is a fine swimmer. The double coat is composed of a harsh, stand-off outer coat insulated with a thick, soft undercoat. All coat colors, including brindle and pinto, are allowed. Bright, clear colors are preferred.

Key Facts

  • Height: 26 to 28 in. (male); 24 to 26 in. (female)
  • Size: Large
  • Weight: 85 to 100 lbs. (male); 75 to 85 lbs. (female)
  • Availability: Widely available
  • Talents: Hunting, tracking, watchdog, guarding, police work, military work, and sledding


Docile, but sometimes impetuous. Careful, very affectionate with family, intelligent, and courageous. Fearless. Very willful—needs firm training as a puppy. First-class guard: Japanese mothers would often leave their children in the family Akita’s care. Extremely faithful. Thrives on companionship.

Vocalizes with many interesting sounds, but not an excessive barker. Beware of hip dysplasia. Buy only from stock with OFA, PennHIP, or another national hip-dysplasia clearance.


Very aggressive to other dogs and animals and should therefore never be allowed to run off lead around other animals. Should definitely be supervised with other household pets and children. Although the breed may tolerate children from his own family, he might not accept other children. If teased, Akitas might bite. Children must be trained to treat these dogs with kindness. Can be very possessive of food and willful. Capable of ferocity, but with firm training, can make a fine pet. Obedience training requires patience, as these dogs tend to get bored quickly. Should not be kept apart from the family.


  • Children: Good only when raised with children from puppyhood. Might not be good with visiting children.
  • Friendliness: Reserved with strangers
  • Trainability: Slightly difficult to train
  • Independence: Moderately independent
  • Dominance: High
  • Other Pets: Not generally trustworthy with other pets
  • Combativeness: Very dog-aggressive
  • Noise: Not a barker
  • Indoors: Moderately active indoors
  • Owner: Not recommended for novice owners


  • Grooming: Regular grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping: No trimming or stripping needed
  • Coat: Double stand-off (“puffy”) coat
  • Shedding: Seasonally heavy shedder
  • Exercise: Needs lots of exercise
  • Jogging: A good jogging companion
  • Apartments: Will be OK in an apartment if sufficiently exercised
  • Outdoor Space: Best with a large yard
  • Climate: Best in cooler climates
  • Longevity: Average 10 to 12 years

Useful Links

AKC® Akita Breed Standard


Akita Breed Club


Search for a Breeder


Rescue Organizations


Books about the Akita


Akita Gifts