The Akita is a large-sized, athletic, protective breed that has some specific maintenance needs. Akita care consists primarily of frequent exercise and a rather unusual diet, and you can find plenty of details below. This page includes sections on raising an Akita puppy, some great exercise ideas, info on these dogs' special dietary needs, and more. If it's Akita tips you're looking for, read on!
Exercise needs for dogs of this breed are fairly high. Though they don't possess great stamina, Akitas are still active and athletic, and will need several exercise sessions each day. So just how much exercise does an Akita need? You can begin exercising an Akita puppy at about three months of age by taking it on several short (10-15 minute) walks throughout the day, in addition to other "play" periods; adults need two or three longer walks (30-40 minutes) daily, and at least one prolonged play period.
It should be noted that Akitas are very loyal and protective, which can lead to instinctive aggression towards strangers and other animals (particularly other dogs). This means an Akita will need constant supervision when outdoors; these dogs absolutely must be leashed when in public! These dogs also crave constant human companionship, so try to choose activities both you and the dog can participate in. And though they're fine in cold temperatures, Akitas overheat easily in hot weather, so when temps rise keep the exercise sessions short and make sure the dog has access to plenty of water.
Again, an Akita will be better behaved if it has several exercise periods each day. An under-exercised Akita will become bored--and as expected, a bored Akita can be a dangerous one. They'll dig, chew, and worst of all, become aggressive. To keep your Akita happy, try some of these exercise ideas:
- Walking: Three moderate-length walks per day is a good target
- Fetch: Especially good for older puppies (6+ months), as it teaches obedience
- Obedience/agility trials: Helps an Akita learn discipline
- Tug-of-War: Great indoors or out
- Hiking: Excellent bonding experience
When not exercising, it's highly recommended that owners give their Akitas access to multiple chew toys, balls, etc., for the dog to release extra pent-up energy. It's also a good idea to have a consistent daily exercise schedule for an Akita, such as 30-minute walks after breakfast, lunch, and dinner, combined with a prolonged exercise or play session in the afternoon.
Maintenance for these dogs in terms of drooling and shedding is moderate to frequent overall. Akitas drool some, but not nearly as much as similar large breeds with more pendulous lips (the Saint Bernard, for example). Depending on the climate, Akita dog shedding is moderate to heavy for most of the year, and very heavy during the twice-yearly shedding seasons.
Drooling in dogs of this breed is only moderate, and happens most frequently in anticipation of food. Two ways to minimize Akita drooling: instead of preparing your Akita's food in the dog's presence (during which it may drip saliva all over the floor), put the dog outside while you fill its bowl, then let it in to eat. It's also recommended that you don't cook or eat "loud"-smelling foods like bacon around an Akita--it's guaranteed the dog will be licking its slobbery chops the whole time!
In regards to shedding: new Akita owners will need to make sure they own a good vacuum cleaner. There are two breed varieties, the Japanese Akita and the American Akita; shedding for both is similar. And just how much does an Akita shed? For most of the year, it's pretty regular--but during the spring and fall, when they "blow" their winter and summer coats, these dogs are shedding machines. And just how hard that shedding machinery works, actually depends on the weather. Akitas living in areas that "get all four seasons" (where there's greater temperature change between seasons, in other words) will shed more heavily when they blow their coats than dogs in areas with less dramatic temperature changes.
Regardless of where it lives, an Akita is going to shed. Owners say that brushing frequently (3-4 times per week, using both a slicker brush and a shedding rake) will help; during shedding season, brushing daily is recommended.
According to Akita breeders and enthusiasts, the recommended Akita diet is rather unusual. The breed originated centuries ago in Japan, and there these dogs ate only natural foods like fish, rice, and aquatic plants, so an Akita's digestive system has developed somewhat differently than most other breeds. Experts contend, therefore, that the best Akita dog food is dry kibble--but it should be mixed with small portions of fresh foods like rice, root vegetables, raw fish, and hard-boiled eggs. (For more info on Akita foods, see the Recommended Food section.)
Adult Akita feeding should consist of 4-6 cups of the dry/fresh food mixture per day, divided into two meals; Akita puppies should receive roughly half that (and be fed dry puppy food), divided into three meals until the age of about six months.
As with many breeds, the Japanese or American Akita diet has certain restrictions. The most glaring issue for these dogs is gastric torsion (or bloat), a life-threatening condition caused by a dog gulping its food, which makes the stomach fill with excess air. Bloat can be avoided by wetting the food with a little water or beef broth; some owners also purchase a "slow dog-feeding bowl," which has one or more raised surfaces on its bottom that prevent the dog from gulping the food in only a few bites.
Unfortunately, too, the sight of a chunky or fat Akita is not uncommon. These dogs have a fairly high tendency to become obese if they're overfed and/or under-exercised; the general rule of thumb is that if you can't easily feel an Akita's ribs when you run your hands along its side, it's diet time. And the same weight loss rule applies to dogs as to humans: eat less, move more. To help your Akita shed pounds, decrease its daily food intake by one-fourth, and add an extra exercise session to its daily routine.
Experts believe the best dog food for an Akita (puppies and adults alike) is dry food mixed with a few ounces of fresh food. Dry kibble that's high in protein is best; some recommended fresh foods:
- Cooked rice
- Raw fish
- Plain yogurt (especially for puppies)
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Cooked potatoes
Overall, Akitas need to be both indoor and outdoor dogs. They crave human attention, and will be happiest if allowed to spend plenty of time inside with their owners; an Akita in an apartment is not the ideal situation, due to its large size and limited space. Rather, these dogs need a medium to large, securely fenced yard in which they have room to roam.
Akitas also handle cold climates easily, but suffer in extreme heat.
Read the grooming requirements for Akitas including coat care and other maintenance.Go to the Next Page