All dogs need to maintain an optimal weight to avoid joint and other health problems later in life. Part of optimal weight management involves diet while the other part is exercise. With a Japanese Akita or any larger breed, age-appropriate exercise is key. A puppy or very young dog should not be overly exercised as it is still growing, nor should a senior dog be expected to go on long hikes or lengthy runs.
Exercise is a must for a Japanese Akita, so if you are not an active person, it would be better for you to bring a lap dog into your family.
This one is tough to answer because there are so many types of food and diets out there. Japanese Akitas tend to do well on limited-ingredient diet due to skin issues or potential allergies. But be prepared to switch things up when necessary as dogs may tolerate one brand of food/protein source during one stage of life and become intolerant of the same food/protein source as they mature and age.
Many in our members incorporate raw or homemade foods with a high end commercial kibble or canned food for variety. Furthermore, some of our members supplement their dogs’ diet with supplements such as probiotics, prebiotic/probiotic powder, coconut oil, or fish oil, etc. The key is to find healthy and good quality food, treats and supplements that your dog likes (some JAs can be picky) so that your dog thrives at all stages of life.
For more details, please refer to our article on food, treats and supplements.
It depends on what motivates the individual dog. We have a few members who enter obedience, rally, agility, lure course, nose work or barn hunt classes and competitions. Early training and socialization are encouraged for all Japanese Akitas. It is important to note that the breed does not respond well to negative training tactics and cruel corrections. Furthermore, owners and trainers should keep in mind that Akitas are likely to become bored easily by repetitive training sessions. Therefore, using positive reinforcement and firm corrections is the preferred method for training an Akita.
JAs are known to be stubborn which should never be confused with this breed being too stupid to train. We like to think they’re too smart to do something if they don’t see anything in it for them, but sometimes they’re just really lazy. For the most part, the Japanese Akita isn’t a breed that lives to please its master. In fact, we suspect our dogs believe it should be the other way around.
The breed is well known for its loyalty and protectiveness as well as its stubbornness and dominant personality. The Japanese Akita can be aloof but it is important to note that each Japanese Akita has its own individual personality. Some of our members report that their JAs are needy attention seekers, while others report that their dogs don’t like cuddling and are content just being in the same room as their owners. From past experience, we have seen that some dogs definitely do not like other dogs, while others are extremely friendly and want to make friends with other dogs. Given their hunting background, Japanese Akitas can be animal aggressive with a strong prey drive. They are also commonly aggressive towards dogs of the same gender and tend to be reticent towards strangers.
Japanese Akita owners should be committed to working with their dogs according to their unique characteristics. Our members stress the importance of knowing your dog well, diligence in training and lots of love and patience.
Like all dogs, Japanese Akitas require socialization and interaction with other dogs and attention from their human family, proper training, a healthy diet, exercise, fresh water and their own space to sleep or rest away from others. The breed is often described as aloof, but there are always exceptions to the rule and some of our members report that their dogs are affectionate to the point of being almost needy. Individual Japanese Akitas have individual personalities.
The majority of JACA members keep their dogs inside the house and utilize a dog bed, an x-pen and/or crate, etc. A few members keep their dogs in outdoor kennel runs with a cooling system since they reside in regions where it becomes hot during the summer months. But even these dogs who mostly live outside are given indoor time with the family on a daily basis. Believe it or not, some dogs prefer staying outdoors.
It is important to keep in mind Akitas do not do well in the heat, so if you do not plan on keeping your Akita indoors, a well-shaded area with access to fresh water is necessary and humane. What we don’t ever recommend is for any dog to be neglected, left in the yard or garage, chained or tied to a post, exposed to the elements for long periods of time. If that’s what you would do to your dog, then yes, Japanese Akitas are high maintenance. For more in-depth suggestions, please refer to our New JA Owner Check List.
This breed sheds guard hair year round and blows the undercoat seasonally. Profusely. Some dogs blow coat more than twice a year although that is believed to be the norm. During this time, it is critical to brush or comb the dog daily in order to facilitate, as well as expedite, the process. If you bath and groom your dog every 4-6 weeks, the seasonal blow might not be as dramatic and minimal brushing is required.
Generally, your broom and/or vacuum cleaner will serve as an extension of your arm if your dog lives indoors. Just be prepared for errant tufts of hair moving along on the floor when you or your dog walks by. If you have a brindle, perhaps you will want to invest in darker colored clothing and upholstery. If you have a red or white dog, your best bet is to go with white or light colored clothing and upholstery. Invest in a Dyson Animal or Miele. Also, stock up on lint removers.
You’ve been warned.
Japanese Akitas require regular bathing and grooming, and your dog’s activities and coat condition should help you decide how often is necessary. Most of our members advise that after bathing, your dog’s coat should be dried thoroughly or hot spots may develop. If that happens, you will need to visit a vet. Grooming is not just about coat; it also involves ears, nails and teeth as well.
If you happen to have a moku (long coat) Japanese Akita, your dog’s grooming needs may vary.
Never ever shave an Akita for cosmetic purposes. That triple coat is there for a reason.
Hobby breeders run available tests to ensure that their breeding stock are not carriers of genetic problems but despite their best efforts, sometimes health problems do arise. The main health issue that the breed faces tends to be auto-immune deficiency illnesses such as pemphigus, VKH, sebaceous adenitis, hemolytic anemia, etc. As far as structural problems, hip dysplasia or other joint issues may occur. Other problems may include PRA, gastric torsion or bloat, etc. Like all dogs, Japanese Akitas may suffer from seasonal, food or environmental allergies which present with symptoms such as skin issues, watery eyes, etc. Ask to see proof of any health testing a breeder claims to have done on the sire and dam. OFA, CERF, Penn-Hip and others all make results available to the person who ordered the test.