In this article, we'll cover Akita information on behavior from the angle of Akita Breed history. These dogs can be wonderful pets as long as you have the right approach when raising them.
The Akita breed history is a long and winding tale full of twists and turns. According to the Akita information available, the breed started as a bear hunting animal in historic times. This was a very dangerous job and it is largely responsible for the temperament we see today. If you look all over the world at dogs that hunt bears, you will find certain characteristics reappearing constantly. The breeds are generally tough, and very tenacious. They’re also large and powerful enough to handle themselves in a scrap, and independent minded.
Dog Fighting Period
The characteristics that made the Akita an excellent bear hunter eventually led to its unfortunate use in the sport of dog fighting. Many spitz breeds are aggressive and they have a tendency to fight quite frequently. Some experts believe that the historic Akitas possessed these characteristics even during the time when they hunted bear. There is evidence to show that hunters only used two Akitas at a time, one male and one female, in order to avoid terrible fights that would lead to injured dogs.
Once dog fighting became popular, the Japanese started mixing the Akita with large European mastiff breeds in an attempt to make them more competitive. This unfortunate moment in Akita breed history led to major changes to the overall size and structure of the dogs. In fact, this has caused some controversy in recent years about what kind of dog exactly represents an Akita.
Confusion and Controversy
When Americans brought Akitas home during the aftermath of WWII, the dogs they brought were very large and bearlike. These dogs weren’t a pure example of the Akitas used for dog fighting, but they still had characteristics from that era.
During the years that followed, Japanese and American breeders took very different paths. The Americans tried to preserve the breed they found in Japan during the 1940s. Most of the Japanese breeders attempted to return the Akita to the bear hunting animal that existed prior to the dog fighting era. The Japanese had no living specimens to use in this effort, so they relied on old paintings and documentation. Eventually they also bred the Akita with certain Eskimo breeds to make it look more similar to the most primitive spitz dogs that still exist.
This has led to a situation where we now have two breeds. On the one hand, there is the modern Japanese version of the Akita, and on the other hand, you have the American Version, which is now called the “great Japanese dog” by certain breed organizations. Many American breeders still refuse to accept this classification, and continue to call their dogs Akitas. The current Japanese Akita is still fairly large, but it's significantly smaller than many American dogs. They also have a more classic “spitz” look.
Regardless of the different classifications and slightly different appearance, their temperament is generally identical. The Japanese dogs can be a little more “catlike” according to some people, but they still have the Akita temperament and they can still be a handful in some situations.
What is the Akita Temperament
Akitas and other spitz breeds like Pomeranians and Siberian Huskies are all generally somewhat primitive. That’s not to say that they're not tame, because they are, but they have a tendency to be very self reliant. They see themselves as part of a pack, and they see you as the pack leader, but they don’t see themselves as totally subservient. Many Akita owners will tell you that these dogs are incredibly loyal, but the relationship is not exactly like a master/pet type of thing. It’s more like there’s an imaginary football team, and you’re the coach, while the Akita sees himself as a star player.These dogs want to make you happy, but they also have their own mind, and they tend to be stubborn if you try to push them around. It's possible to train akitas and make them very obedient, but it can be tough to rely on that training in sticky situations.
Dogs, Small Animals, and Prowlers Are All on the Akita Menu
If you don’t get any other piece of Akita information from this article, you need to remember that this breed is terribly aggressive towards other dogs. Many Akitas will immediately start a fight with any dog they don’t know and some will fight any dog of the same sex, regardless of whether they know it or not. When they fight it can be very bad, and prospective Akita owners need to realize this. Most dog fights between other breeds are minor events where two dogs compete for dominance, and quickly settle their differences without anybody getting hurt. When Akitas fight, it’s more like the Akita is basically trying to kill the other dog or die trying. It can happen very suddenly and Akitas will often attack other dogs without giving any kind of warning growl or bark.
This is probably the most difficult part of owning an Akita. You have to learn to feed your Akita separate from your other pets, and you will have great difficulty having an Akita around any dogs of the same sex. You’ll also have to watch your Akita like a hawk while taking it on walks in public or taking it to the vet. If you don’t socialize your dog very well, you could end up in big trouble if it attacks and injures or kills someone else’s pet. Akitas also like to hunt, and they will hunt your cats or any other animals they encounter.
All that aggression has one major advantage. Akitas are fearless guard dogs and they’re actually very smart about it. Most Akitas are extremly discerning and clever about being protective. They can usually tell the difference between a harmless situation and something that seems dangerous or worrisome. They don’t bark often, but when they do, if you go check, you’ll almost always find something unusual is going on. It may not always be something dangerous, but it will always be some behavior or occurrence that the Akita isn’t familiar with.
Dealing With the Akita Temperament
In order to deal with the Akita, you need a firm hand. You have to make it clear that you’re the boss. At the same time, it’s important to show the dogs some basic respect. You don’t want to make the dog hate you or anything, and they don’t respond well to bullying.
You’ll also want a fenced in yard, because Akitas are very big and they need room to exercise. Because of their size, and the difficulty involved in controlling them, It’s important to start leash training them at a very early age. Socializing your Akita will help make him more manageable when going to the vet or dealing with other similar situations, so it’s important to start that process early.
Finally, remember that Akitas love to be close with their owners. It’s not good to just put your Akita outside and forget about it. These dogs want to be a part of the family, and they’re actually great indoor dogs most of the time. They’re very easy to housetrain, and they don’t rip your furniture once they get beyond their puppy years. They can be playful, and they’re fun dogs to be around, but they're never hyperactive. Treat your Akita right, and he’ll make an amazing family dog.
Photos by: Living in Monrovia, Andariel and Ali San