Group: Working Group

Origin: Japan


    – Males: 26 to 28 inches at the withers
    – Females: 24 to 26 inches


    – Males: 100 to 130 lbs
    – Females: 70 to 100 lbs

Also known as: American Akita; Japanese Akita; Japanese Akita Inu; Great Japanese Dog

Am/Can Ch Beardusk’s United We Stand (Manhattan)
Photo credit: Beardusk Akitas

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Breed Profile

The Akita is the largest of the Japanese breeds. In July 1931, the Government of Japan designated the Akita as a national monument and one of Japan’s national treasures. He has been used to hunt ducks, birds, small and large game, including deer, elk, antelope, monkeys, boar and bear.

Today the Akita is most often seen as a loyal companion but, as a versatile breed, they can also be seen working as police dogs, therapy dogs, hearing and guide dogs, sled dogs, guardians, and hunting dogs. In addition, some are involved in herding, obedience, and tracking. In Japan, the breed is regarded as a loyal companion and pet, protector of the home and a symbol of good health.

The Akita’s personality is very complex. He is very intelligent, extremely loyal yet independent, and has well developed guarding and protective instincts, making him an excellent guard dog. He can be headstrong and dominant in nature and requires early socialization and training. The Akita is well known for his loyalty and devotion to his family and, typically, is very gentle, protective and patient with children. However, as with any dog, supervision around small children is a must.

The Akita is a large, powerful dog with a thick double coat and a tail that is curled and carried over the back. One of the most distinguishing feature of the Akita is his large head. That combined with the small triangular shaped eyes and small erect ears give the Akita a dignified and intimidating expression. Generally, the male Akita is substantially larger than the female. The double coat gives the Akita the typical northern breed appearance. The coat is short to moderate in length and very dense. The undercoat is very soft while the outer coat is slightly longer and coarser.

Today, there are two distinct types of Akitas:

  • The American Akita tends to be larger and stockier than the Japanese Akita; any coat colour is acceptable including white, brindle or pinto; markings are well balanced and he may or may not have a mask or blaze (except for the white Akita who has no mask).
  • The Japanese Akita is more refined than the American Akita and the only colours allowed are brindle, white, and red with white markings.


Health Issues

Akitas, as with other breeds, are susceptible to some health problems, some of a genetic nature, others viral. The Akita Health Issues document includes information on some of the known health concerns found in the breed.

If you are considering the adoption of a Akita puppy, or any breed, it is very important to be selective in choosing a responsible and reputable breeder. Ensure that the prospective puppy’s parents have all health clearances. This should include, among others, hip x-rays to exclude hip dysplasia and eyes should be checked to see that they are normal and PRA clear. (For more information on selecting a breeder, see the articles on the General Information page.)

Recommended Health Screening:

For the Akita breed, the CHICNote 1 database includes health screening for the following:

  • Hip Dysplasia;
  • Eye Examination by a board Ophthalmologist each year until age 6 and thereafter every 2 years; and
  • Autoimmune Thyroiditis;
  • Optional screening includes Elbow Dysplasia and Patellar Luxation.

Additional Health Resources:

NOTE – The American Akita and the Japanese Akita: It should be noted that the breed has been officially split into two distinct and separate breeds in Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) member countries as well as in the United Kingdom. FCI member countries recognize the breeds as the “Akita” and the “American Akita” (previously known as the Great Japanese Dog). In the United Kingdom, the breeds are known as the “Japanese Akita Inu” and the “Akita”. In Canada and the United States, however, the breed is not separated and is recognized as the “Akita” by the Canadian Kennel Club, the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club. For further details, please see the Breed Standards as well as the following:

Grooming Information

  • Grooming — This section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website includes tips, articles and information covering all aspects of dog grooming along with a listing of Groomers from across Canada.


Training Resources

  • Training — For training information, see this section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website for tips, articles, as well as listings of training centres across Canada.


Additional Information

  • The Akita Club of America — Excellent resource for detailed information about the breed.
  • Akita Headquarters — Pedigree Database
  • Clubs, Sports & Activities — For information on the many sports and activities you can get involved in with your dog.
  • Working Dogs — The Working Dogs section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website provides information and listings of organizations that are involved in various dog jobs, such as Guide Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Police Dogs, Protection Dogs, and much more.


*NOTE 1: CHIC – The Canine Health Information Center “is a database of consolidated health screening results from multiple sources. Co-sponsored by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Health Foundation, CHIC works with parent clubs to identify health screening protocols appropriate for individual breeds. Dogs tested in accordance with the parent club established requirements, that have their results registered and made available in the public domain are issued CHIC numbers.” To learn more, visit: www.caninehealthinfo.org

*NOTE 2: The Fédération Cynologique International (FCI) is the World Canine Organization, which includes 91 members and contract partners (one member per country) that each issue their own pedigrees and train their own judges. The FCI recognizes 344 breeds, with each being the “property” of a specific country. The “owner” countries write the standards of these breeds in co-operation with the Standards and Scientific Commissions of the FCI, and the translation and updating are carried out by the FCI. The FCI is not a breed registry nor does it issue pedigrees.

Breed Listing

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