The Akita an ancient breed from Japan used by royalty for their hunting and killing skills.
Today there are two recognized breeds – the Japanese Akita Inu and the American Akita. The first Akita was brought to America by Hellen Keller after her tour of Japan in 1937.
The Akita stem from the Matagiinu landrace dogs, prized for their fearlessness in tracking and taking on bear and wild boar coupled with devout loyalty to their owners.
If you are new to Akita ownership, it might be helpful to consult the Akita size chart below so you can have an idea how large your dog will eventually be.
The dogs still possess these traits and are often misunderstood as stubborn and difficult to train. Actually, they are just very strong-willed, fearless and persistent like their ancestors.
Because of these traits, the Akita is not recommended for first-time dog owners.
If you decide to have an Akita as a companion, you have to be strong-willed yourself and prepared to always take the lead. Your Akita must know that you are the boss.
When Do Akitas Stop Growing?
An Akita will appear fully grown by the time it is ten months old. However, it has quite a bit of growing to do at this stage.
This dog breed continues to grow, gradually putting on more weight and filling out until it is about two years old. Some dogs may even grow slightly more until they reach three years.
By the time this dog is four years old, it is fully mature and is already entering middle age. Larges dogs like the Akita don’t live very long, on average they reach twelve years.
Akita Size Chart: An Overview
As you can see, there is quite a difference in weight between the male and female dogs with the male dogs being quite a bit heavier.
You will also note that the weights are presented on a scale ranging between a few pounds for every age. That is because, like humans, dogs differ, and not all will weigh the same at a given age.
So, when comparing your dog’s weight to the numbers on the Akita size chart, don’t be too concerned if there is a slight deviation.
However, if your dog weighs considerably less than suggested by the chart, you should take your dog to the vet for a check-up.
Akita Weight Chart
|Weight in lbs
|32 - 42 lbs
|36 - 52 lbs
|45 - 62 lbs
|56 - 72 lbs
|60 - 80 lbs
|65 - 86 lbs
|77 - 95 lbs
|85 - 105 lbs
|90 - 120 lbs
|100 - 130 lbs
Telling the Difference Between The American Akita And He Akita Inu
The American Akita and the Akita Inu are two distinct breeds even though they have the same ancestry.
The word ‘Inu’ means dog in Japanese. It is not difficult to tell the two breeds apart. The easiest difference to spot is the coat color.
Akita Inu Vs. American Akita Differences
The Akita Inu has a more limited color range compared to the American Akita.
Japanese Akitas only have coats white, red fawn, sesame, and brindle, whereas the American Akita comes in a full range of dog breed colors, including pinto, brindle, and solid white. Some even sport some black.
Built And Body Shape
The American Akita is mixed with some European breeds, so it carries some of those traits, but looks mostly like the Akita Inu.
As a result of the added European blood, their heads have become wider and they don’t look quite so fox-like anymore.
Their look is starting to resemble the German Shepherd, but they still have pointy ears.
Additionally, American Akitas look a bit like bears with small, deep-set eyes, while Japanese Akitas look almost fox-like with almond-shaped eyes. American Akitas have a more muscular appearance.
Both breeds have a thick, double coat that sheds a lot in the shedding season. Both have a very attractive tail that curls over the back of the dog.
Akita Weight And Size
The Akita Inu is a slightly lighter and smaller dog.
According to the Japanese Akita Inu Club of America (JACA), the average height of male Japanese Akitas is 25 to 27.5 inches at the withers, and the average weight is approximately 65 to 75 pounds, while the average height of the Japanese female Akita is 22.5 to 25 inches at the withers and the dog weighs between 55 to 65 pounds.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) gives the average height of male American Akitas as 26 to 28 inches at the withers, and the average weight ranges between 100 and 130 pounds, with the female Akitas being a little bit smaller, an average height of 24 to 26 inches at the withers, and an average weight of 70 to 100 pounds.
Interesting Facts About The Akita Inu
- The Akita Inu is a living monument, probably the online one in the world. In 1931, the Akita was officially declared a Japanese natural monument by the Japanese government.
- When a child is born its first present is a small statuette of an Akita dog. For the Japanese, the statue symbolizes health, happiness, and a long life.
- The most famous Akita is Hachikō, who continued waiting for his master nine years after his death.
- Helen Keller is credited with introducing the Akita to the United States. She received two pups, named Kamikaze-go and his brother, Kenzan-go from the Japanese government. Kamikaze died very young, but Kenzan remained with her throughout her life.
Being large dogs, Akitas take many months to grow to their full adult size.
First Two Weeks Of Life
Like humans, baby Akitas are completely helpless. They depend entirely on their mother for warmth, comfort, and nourishment.
They are not able to regulate their own body temperature, so they need physical closeness to survive.
They survive on drinking milk that the mother produces. New-born puppies need closeness with their mothers to flourish and grow.
In the first two weeks, they can’t walk around because their muscles are still underdeveloped. Their eyes are also still closed so they can’t see.
Two To Four Weeks
After two weeks, puppies’ eyes will start opening, but they a still dependent on their mother for milk and warmth.
They may start making an effort to move about, but they can’t really walk properly. They have started to put on weight.
By four weeks, puppies are more active and start playing with each other. They will also start exploring their immediate environment.
Four To Twelve Weeks
Around four weeks, puppies start showing teeth and mothers will start weaning their pups. By the seventh week, puppies are usually fully weaned.
At this stage, the owner should start introducing high-quality puppy food and drinking water.
In the meantime, puppies are getting stronger; they are developing a full mouth of sharp teeth and are ready to be moved to their new family at around eight weeks.
Four To Six Months
This is the so-called juvenile stage during which time you will notice the following changes.
- Akita pups will chew everything in sight.
- They will start challenging their owner’s authority.
- They will start displaying an alpha-dominant personality.
Six Months To One Year
This is the so-called adolescent stage when the Akita will become emotionally and sexually mature and display their Alpha and dominant personality toward other dogs.
During this phase, Akitas start paying attention to everything around them, which is your signal that it’s a good time to start obedience classes.
Most Akitas will have their first heat between six and twelve months of age. You can expect the heat cycle will last for about 21 days, during which time a female dog will be fertile and can become pregnant.
However, it is not advisable for dogs this young to give birth. Such young dogs are not emotionally and physically ready to give birth because they are not fully mature yet.
A pregnancy can be life-threatening and there can be birth complications.
Akitas go into heat once every six to twelve months, although that is not necessarily the case with every dog.
Some owners spay their Akita before her first heat in the belief that it prevents health problems later in life.
One To Two Years
Being a large dog breed, Akitas take longer to reach their full adult size than smaller dogs.
By the time they reach ten months, they are almost their adult size, but it will take another sixteen months to put on more weight and reach their full adult weight. They will then stop growing.
By this stage, the Akita male weighs between 100 to 130 pounds, and females between 70 and 100 pounds. Your dog will be compact and muscular with a beautifully balanced stance.
How Big Do Akitas Get?
When you buy your Akita puppy you will probably wonder how big it will get. You can determine the adult size of your puppy by investigating the following factors.
Look at the parents. If your puppy’s parents are large dogs, the chances are good that your dog will also be large. Conversely, if they are small for the breed, your dog will most probably also be on the small side.
Follow the Akita weight chart. You can determine your dog’s approximate adult size by comparing its age and weight to the corresponding figures on the weight chart.
If your dog at six months weighs the same as a six-month dog according to the Akita growth chart, you can be pretty sure that your dog will eventually reach the right weight and size for the breed.
Look at the paw. Large paws are usually an indication that the puppy will grow into a large dog.
Consider DNA testing. DNA testing is the most accurate prediction of a dog’s eventual size. These tests are now possible because scientists have validated the genes that are associated with body size in dogs.
Factors That Can Affect The Growth Of An Akita
Several factors will influence the eventual size of an Akita.
Genetic factors have a substantial influence on the growth rate, size, temperament, and general health of dogs.
To have an inkling of how these influences might manifest, take a good look at the parents of your pup. If they tend to be large for the breed, their offspring will likely also be large.
Your dog will be a combination of its father and mother. Find out as much as you can about them to determine what you can expect from your Akita.
Keep in mind that male dogs tend to be larger than female dogs, since male dogs have a heavier bone structure.
If you want a smaller dog, consider getting a female dog. If you don’t want to be bothered with the possibility of a pregnancy, you can look out for a smallish male dog.
While the previous two factors are predetermined, you can have a direct influence on your dog’s health and development through the food you give it.
Make sure you give your dog nutritious food from a reputable dog food brand and it should grow up big, healthy, and strong.
Nutritious food will ensure your dog gets all the nutrients it needs to reach its full potential. You may even give it some supplements to keep it in top condition.
You should adapt your dog’s diet according to its developmental stage and age. In particular, you should feed your Akita puppy special puppy food.
Once it becomes an adult, it should receive adult dog food, and when it becomes a senior you should give it special senior dog food.
Akitas were bred to chase after wild boar and bears in the mountains of Japan. They are energetic dogs that need a lot of physical exercise.
They become very frustrated if they don’t get enough opportunities to spend their energy.
Besides, they need to be physically active to reach their developmental milestones.
Lack of exercise will prevent their bones and muscles from developing properly. Puppies need around 60 minutes of daily activity for optimum health.
Dogs that don’t get enough exercise are at risk of becoming overweight. However, be careful not to over-exercise your Akita puppy.
Dogs that are over-exercised at a young age may end up damaging their growth palates, which can lead to growth problems.
When fully grown your Akita will need two hours of exercise every day.
Spaying And Neutering
While spaying and neutering don’t stunt a puppy’s growth, it might affect the joints of large breed dogs like the Akita.
Studies show that early spaying and neutering can delay the closure of the growth plate, causing dogs to grow taller than they should have.
A taller and larger dog is more predisposed to joint problems later in life.
In the case of female Akitas, the effect doesn’t seem to be so drastic, especially if you hold off until she has completed her first full heat cycle, which will give the growth plates time to mature.
Spaying or neutering also decreases the likelihood of certain types of cancers.
Infection with hookworms or roundworms is the most common reason for stunted puppy growth.
In cases of extreme infestation, the worms can usurp enough calories from the food that the puppy’s growth starts to suffer.
It’s easy enough to know if your dog has worms. It will
- Look sickly
- Have a poor coat
- Suffer from diarrhea
- Have a bloated stomach
- Remain small and thin in spite of eating very well
Once you have seen to the problem and obtained proper treatment, your puppy will quickly recover and resume growing.
Common Akita Health Issues
As a purebred dog, the Akita has the potential to develop several genetic health problems, including hip and elbow dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, bloat, Sebaceous Adenitis, and autoimmune hypothyroidism.
It is very important to buy your Akita puppy from a reputable breeder who knows the breed very well, knows how to take care of them, and has a reputation for honesty.
A reputable breeder will be able to provide you with written documentation that confirms the parents were healthy dogs, and didn’t suffer from the health problems that typically affect the breed.
Treating Akitas for the various conditions that might befall them is problematic as this breed is sensitive to vaccines, drugs, tranquilizers, anesthetics, and even worm pills.
Having been influenced by the genetics of other breeds, the American Akita is more resilient than the pure Akita Inu.
Is My Akita The Right Weight?
You can use the Akita Body Condition Score (BCS) to determine if your dog is the right weight. Actually, the score has nothing to do with weighing your dog.
Instead, it is determined by the look and feel of the dog – how it appears from above, and whether you can feel its ribs.
For this scoring, you evaluate your dog’s silhouette from above and from the side, focusing on the appearance and feel of the ribs, spine, hip bones, waist, abdomen, muscle mass, and overall fat covering.
The scale is scored from 1 to 9 with 1 being emaciated and 9 being severely obese.
With scores of 1/9, 2/9, and 3/9, you can clearly feel the dog’s ribs, spine, and hip bones. With a 4/9 score, you can feel the ribs and there is minimal covering.
The ideal score is 5/9. A 6/9 score indicates an overweight dog and every subsequent score is indicative of progressive weight problems.
Is The Akita A Good Guard Dog?
The Akita has everything needed to be a good guard dog. It is physically intimidating and also possesses an intimidating personality.
It is naturally suspicious of strangers and obsessively loyal to its human family. And it certainly has the strength to take down an intruder.
However, this is a breed with a mind of its own. You can’t give it guarding duties without having it properly trained and socialized from an early age.
All Akitas need proper socialization to tone down unnecessary hostility.
The Akita is a special dog with a unique heritage. To live happily with this breed, you need to be prepared to take the lead and accept that your dog will not be very welcoming to your friends and other pets, unless you make a special effort to have it properly socialized from an early age.
Also, this is a lively dog that needs a lot of exercise. So, if you don’t have the time or the inclination to take your dog out every day, an Akita might not be the right dog for you.
However, if you can take on everything that taking care of this dog requires, you will have the most wonderful, loyal companion for life.