Types of Akita Dog Breeds
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The Akita is a Spitz-type dog breed that originated in the Akita region of Japan. Over time, two distinct lines of Akita dog breed became prominent and were then standardized by breeders. These became two separate breeds, the Akita Inu and the American Akita. The Akita Inu kept the traits of the earlier breed, while the American Akita adopted some characteristics of other breeds with which they were crossed. Although both types of Akita are very similar, there are some differences that allow us to distinguish them more easily.
If you want to know the different types of Akita dog breeds that exist, their main characteristics and their differences, do not miss the following AnimalWised article.
General characteristics of Akita dogs
The International Canine Federation (FCI) categorizes the Akita Inu and the American Akita in the Sptiz-type or primitive-type group of dog breeds. Specifically, they are part of the section known as Asian Spitz and similar breeds.
In general, they are calm, faithful and very protective dogs with their family. However, they tend to have a dominant and territorial character. This means they require rigorous education from an early age to avoid unwanted behaviors when they reach their adult stage.
In terms of their general appearance, Akita dogs are large in size and strong in build, with the American Akita being slightly larger than their Japanese counterpart. Their eyes are relatively small and dark in color. In the Akita Inu, it is typical for the eyes to be slanted upwards. In both types of Akita dog breeds, the ears are relatively small, thick and triangular, always erect and slightly inclined forward. The neck is thick and muscular, the back is straight, and the loin is broad and strong. The tail is thick, set high and is usually curled slightly over the back.
Like all Spitz dogs, the coat is double-layered . The first layer is short and woolly, protecting them against inclement weather. The second layer is made up of long, straight guard hair. The color of the coat will vary depending on the specific type of Akita.
The Akita Inu is a dog breed native to to the Akita region, located in northern Japan. It is considered the national dog of Japan. They popularity in their homeland is so great, they were designated a Japanese Natural Monument of in 1931.
Initially, this Japanese dog breed was a medium-sized canine used for bear hunting. Throughout their history, they were was crossed with various breeds, such as the Tosa Inu, Mastiff and German Shepherd. As a result of these crosses, larger specimens resulted, but the characteristics of Spitz-type dogs were lost. In order to recover these breed characteristics, breeders carried out crosses with the Matagi Akita line. In doing so, they succeeded in restoring primitive traits and creating the large, purebred Akita Inu we know today.
This type of Akita dog has a calm temperament and tends to show a reserved demeanor even in stressful situations. In general, they are a faithful and docile dog, characterized by being loyal and protective of their family. They can be somewhat distrustful of strangers.
Although they are a dog that does not usually seek confrontation or attack for no reason, it must be taken into account the Akita Inu is a breed with a very marked and, occasionally, dominant character. This attitude can extend to both other dogs and people. For this reason, they are animals that require an experienced caregiver who knows how to provide them with the appropriate education, always based on positive reinforcement. In some areas they are considered potentially dangerous dogs.
Socialization with other dogs from the time they are puppies is also very important. While they can be trained to get along with other dogs, it is an uphill battle if they don't know how to socialize with others from a young age. Proper socialization of puppies and adult dogs will help avoid behavioral problems later in life.
The Akita Inu is a large dog breed, but has a well-balanced build and a strong constitution. Males weigh between 27–42 kg (60–92 lb) and reach a height 69 cm (27") at the withers. Females weigh between 25–36 kg (55–80 lb) and reach a height of up to 64 cm (25"). The female Akita's body is slightly longer than that of males.
The official breed standard of the Akita Inu provides the following characteristics:
- Head: they have a defined stop (fronto-nasal depression), but it is not very marked. The muzzle is moderately long, with a broad base that tapers towards the tip. The nose (nose) is large and black in color. In white-haired specimens, the nose may lack pigmentation. The eyes are relatively small, almost triangular in shape, and the external angle is slightly slanted upwards. The color of the eyes is dark brown. The ears are relatively small, thick and triangular, standing upright and leaning forward.
- Body: the neck is thick, muscular and does not have dewlap (flap of skin under neck region). It ends in a deep and well developed chest. The back is straight and the loin is broad and muscular.
- Tail: the tail is thick and set high. They usually carry it curled over their back .
- Coat: this breed is characterized by having a double coat of two distinguished layers. The outer layer is made up of smooth and hard guard hair, while the undercoat is made up of dense fine hair. The area of the withers and the hips is covered with slightly longer hair. The hair on the tail is longer than that on the rest of the body.
- Color: the coat 4 possible colors; red-fawn, sesame (red-fawn with black tips), brindle or white. All colors, except white, must have urajiro. This refers to the pattern of white hair present on the sides of the muzzle, on the cheeks, under the jaw, on the neck, chest, abdomen, under the tail and on the inside of the limbs.
If you want to see another breed comparison between two dogs which are often confused with each other, take a look at our article on the differences between the Akita Inu and Shiba Inu.
At the end of World War II, some American soldiers took specimens of Akita that had been crossed with other breeds. Specifically, they introduced into their country Akita dogs that had characteristic features of Mastiff breeds or German Shepherds. Their growing popularity led Americans to develop their own breeding line to create a new breed distinct from the Japanese dog. This is the breed which became the American Akita.
Like the Akita Inu, this is a loyal and protective dog with their family, but somewhat reserved with strangers. Unlike their Japanese relative, they are more affectionate with family and are more obedient and trainable dogs.
The American Akita can maintain their dominant character, are very territorial and can be aggressive with other dogs if they have not been properly socialized. In summary, they are large dogs with a strong character that require an experienced caretaker who provides the necessary discipline from an early age to avoid behavior problems in their adulthood.
The American Akita is a large-sized dog with a strong, well-balanced build. It is slightly larger than the Akita Inu. The males have a height at the withers of 66–71 cm (26–28") and females are between 61–66 cm (24–26"). The weight can range between 39-59 kg (85-130 lb).
The official breed standard of the American Akita provides the following characteristics:
- Head: the stop is well defined, but not too abrupt. The muzzle is wide and deep. The nose is wide and black. In white specimens the nose may be depigmented. The lips are black. The eyes are relatively small, almost triangular in shape and dark brown in color. The edges of the eyelids are black. The ears are triangular, erect and angled slightly forward.
- Body: the neck is relatively short, thick, and muscular and, unlike the Akita Inu, they have a slight dewlap. The chest is wide and deep. The back is straight and the loin is muscular and firm.
- Tail: the tail is strong and the hair is long, hard, smooth and abundant. However, it does not form fringes. It is set high and curled over the back or leaning against the flank.
- Coat: like all Akita dog breeds, they have a double-layered coat. The outer coat consists of straight and hard hair, and the undercoat with abundant, soft, dense and short hair. The hair on the head, distal part of the extremities and ears must be short, while the hair on the withers and rump measures approximately 5 cm in length. On the tail, the hair is longer and more abundant than on the rest of the body.
- Color: coat of American Akita dogs can be any color, including red, fawn, white, brindle or pinto. They may have a black mask on their face, except for solid white dogs that should never have it. The hair on the undercoat may be a different color from the guard hair.
To learn more about this type of Akita dog breed, take a look at our articles on caring for an American Akita and common health problems of the American Akita.
Differences between the Akita Inu and the American Akita
After reviewing the characteristics of both types of Akita dog breed, we can see they have a lot in common, both physically and in terms of temperament. However, they have distinctive features that allow us to differentiate between them. In summary, these features are the following:
- The American Akita is slightly larger and more robust than the Akita Inu.
- The American Akita can be of any color, unlike the Akita Inu that is only accepted in 4 colors and must always present the characteristic urajiro pattern.
- The Akita Inu does not have a dewlap, while the American Akita does.
- The ears of the Akita Inu are smaller and more rounded than those of the American Akita, which are more pointed.
- In general, the Akita Inu has a more rounded and fluffy appearance.
- The American Akita tends to be more affectionate than the Akita Inu, although this will also depend on their experiences and education received.
- The American Akita is also usually easier to train due to its character. However, both require a caretaker with knowledge of dog training.
If you are thinking of adopting one of these breeds, we insist on the importance of socialization and education. Therefore, if you do not have the appropriate knowledge, do not hesitate to go to a professional canine educator. Ensure to always use techniques based on positive reinforcement.
If you want to read similar articles to Types of Akita Dog Breeds, we recommend you visit our Comparisons category.
- FCI. (2001). Akita Inu, # 255. Federation Cynologique Internationale.
- FCI. (2015). American Akita, # 344. Federation Cynologique Internationale.