American Akita vs Japanese Akita – which one is right for you? Both the American and Japanese Akita have their roots in Japan, starting out as hunting dogs.
Both types of Akita are large dogs. They are very loyal, territorial, and can be aggressive. So, both Japanese and American Akitas must be well socialized as a puppy.
Some argue these lines are two separate breeds. But the AKC groups both types under the same breed.
American Akita vs Japanese Akita Contents
You can click the links below to jump straight to the part that interests you.
- American Akita vs Japanese Akita history
- American Akita vs Japanese Akita appearance
- Japanese Akita vs American Akita temperament
- American Akita vs Japanese Akita exercise needs
- American Akita vs Japanese Akita training
- Japanese Akita vs American Akita health
- American Akita vs Japanese Akita puppies
- Which Akita is right for me?
American Akita vs Japanese Akita History
Many people believe the American Akita and Japanese Akita are unofficial strains of the same breed. In fact, the American variety didn’t actually exist until after the Second World War.
Before this, Akitas were a popular breed in Japan. They descended from the ancient Matagi hunting dogs.
Helen Keller was the first to bring the breed to America. She was gifted an Akita in 1938 whilst visiting Japan and brought it home with her.
After World War Two, American service members brought more Akitas home. This helped to boost the breed’s popularity in the states.
So, over time, differences began to emerge. In America, people bred Akitas to be big and bear-like. But, in Japan, breeders tried to keep to the original breed stats.
American Akita vs Japanese Akita Appearance
Both the American and Japanese Akita dogs are large breeds. But, the American version is slightly larger.
Generally, both types will weigh upwards of 100 pounds, growing somewhere between 24 and 28 inches tall at the shoulder. Females are often smaller than males for both types.
Both types have thick, heavy coats and triangular ears. But, there is some variety in their features.
Many people will notice the similarities between the Japanese Akita and another popular Japanese breed – the Shiba Inu.
There are also differences when it comes to coat colors.
The fox-like Japanese Akita comes in four different colors: red fawn, sesame, brindle, and white.
On the other hand, the American Akita has a much wider spectrum of shades. As well as the colors above, the American Akita can be:
American Akita vs Japanese Akita Temperament
Both types of Akita are very loyal and devoted to their owners.
In fact, an Akita known as Hachiko was honored with a statue after he travelled to Shibuya station every day to greet his owner. He continued the habit for 10 years after his owner’s death, until his own.
But, this loyalty comes with its downsides. One of which is aggression.
Both American and Japanese Akitas are known to be aggressive breeds, particularly towards other dogs.
They form very strong bonds with their families. So, they may show guarding behaviors, including aggression, towards anything unfamiliar.
A Closer Look
The tendency towards aggression in this breed is backed up with scientific research.
Plenty of studies have looked into aggression in dogs, trying to find out if some breeds are more aggressive than others. In many of these, Akitas are some of the most aggressive.
For example, one questionnaire asked veterinarians in New Zealand to rank dog breeds in terms of aggression. Akitas were seen as “very aggressive”.
Another study looked at dog aggression towards strangers, owners, and other dogs.
This study found that Akitas scored highly for dog-directed aggression, with over 20% of Akitas studied displaying serious aggression towards unfamiliar dogs.
As Akitas are such large dogs, any physical aggression towards other dogs or even people can have dire and fatal consequences.
What to Do
This doesn’t mean that you should never get an Akita. In fact, with proper training and socialization, both American and Japanese Akitas can make great companions.
But, socialization from a young age is vital to minimise the risk of aggression.
It will reduce the chance of guarding and territorial behaviors, but may not erase them altogether.
So, make sure you always keep a close eye on your Akita with unfamiliar dogs, children, and people.
These dogs come from hunting lines. This means they will likely have strong chase and kill instincts. They may react aggressively towards other household pets, like cats.
American Akita vs Japanese Akita Exercise Needs
Both types of Akita need a moderate amount of daily exercise to stay happy and healthy.
There isn’t a huge difference between the two types in this category.
But, as both varieties are large breeds, you should be wary of over-exercising them as puppies.
Studies have shown that large breed dogs are more likely to be at risk of health problems like hip dysplasia. Overexercising puppies whilst they are growing can worsen this problem.
American Akita vs Japanese Akita Training
Training is vital for both types of Akita, but this is no easy feat. Despite their immense loyalty, both the American and Japanese Akita can be hard to train.
Neither of these dogs are a good choice for first-time owners.
They need consistency in their training, and owners may benefit from professional dog training help.
You can use the Akita’s loyalty and devotion to your advantage when training them. Use positive reward methods to build on this bond when training.
You may want to look at online dog training courses for help with a structured training plan.
American Akita vs Japanese Akita Health
Both varieties share the same potential health risks. Responsible breeders will health test dogs for any problems, but some of these issues cannot be tested for.
Here are some health issues you should learn about if you’re considering either the American or Japanese Akita.
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy
- Myasthenia gravis
- von Willebrand’s disease
- Autoimmune thyroiditis
In terms of their general care, both types of Akita will need regular grooming, particularly during heavy shedding periods.
American Akita vs Japanese Akita Puppies
If you’re living in America, you may find it easier to get an American Akita. But, it’s still possible to find Japanese Akita puppies for sale.
Both types tend to cost upwards of $1000 as puppies. But remember to only buy from reputable breeders.
Show quality puppies will often cost more than those intended as family pets.
When you bring a puppy home, socialize them as soon as possible.
Which Akita is Right for Me?
Choosing between an American Akita and a Japanese Akita can be tough for a lot of people! But, there aren’t a huge amount of distinguishing features.
Generally, the American Akita is a lot bigger, with more bear-like features, and a much wider variety of colors.
But, both types have very similar temperaments, exercise needs, trainability levels, and health risks.
No matter which type you decide on, make sure that you train and socialize them very well from a young age to reduce any risk of aggression.
Neither type is best for novice owners, or for homes with other dogs and other small pets. Never leave them unsupervised with other small animals or other dogs because of strong hunting instincts.
American Akita vs Japanese Akita – A Summary
Whether you choose the American or Japanese version of this breed, you will have a loyal companion with a rich history.
Both types need plenty of exercise, grooming, and will form a strong bond with their immediate family.
Which one do you think is right for you? We would love to hear your experiences with both types of Akita in the comments!
Readers Also Liked
- Alaskan Husky vs Siberian Husky
- American Staffordshire Terrier vs American Pitbull Terrier
- Australian Shepherd vs German Shepherd
- Standard Schnauzer vs Miniature Schnauzer
- German Pinscher vs Doberman
References and Resources
- ‘Hachiko Statue’, Lonely Planet
- Stafford, K. ‘Opinions of Veterinarians Regarding Aggression in Different Breeds of Dogs’, New Zealand Veterinary Journal (1996)
- Duffy, D. (et al), ‘Breed Differences in Canine Aggression’, Applied Animal Behavior Science (2008)
- Howell, T. (et al), ‘Puppy Parties and Beyond: The Role of Early Age Socialization Practices on Adult Dog Behavior’, Veterinary Medicine: Research and Reports (2015)
- Vaterlaws-Whiteside, H. & Hartmann, A. ‘Improving Puppy Behavior Using a New Standardised Socialization Program’, Applied Animal Behavior Science (2017)
- Cutler, J. (et al), ‘Puppy Socialization Practices of a Sample of Dog Owners from Across Canada and the United States’, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (2017)
- Krontveit, R. (et al), ‘Housing- and Exercise-Related Risk Factors Associated with the Development of Hip Dysplasia as Determined by Radiographic Evaluation in a Prospective Cohort of Newfoundlands, Labrador Retrievers, Leonbergers, and Irish Wolfhounds in Norway’, American Journal of Veterinary Research (2012)
- Witsberger, T. (et al), ‘Prevalence of and Risk Factors for Hip Dysplasia and Cranial Cruciate Ligament Deficiency in Dogs’, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (2008)
- Hedhammar, A. ‘Canine Hip Dysplasia as Influenced by Genetic and Environmental Factors’, Orthopaedics (2007)
Free Training Tips
Get Pippa's free dog training tips delivered to your inbox