Are Akitas dangerous? It’s a fair question considering that Akitas definitely have a “bad” reputation. Much like like Pitbulls and German Sheppards, some home owners insurances won’t insure you if you have an Akita, and some landlords won’t rent to you either if you own an Akita. Given that Akitas were originally bred to hunt bears in the mountains of Japan, and Akitas are known for their distrust of strangers, it’s no surprise that Akitas are thought to be aggressive. So what’s the truth?
The answer is…it depends. Although dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years, they were originally wild animals, and there are still some breeds of wild dog living out in mother nature. This means that dogs have evolved to be impressive hunters, with powerful bites and sharp teeth. While some dogs are more commonly easy going, like the picturesque family Golden Retriever, the truth is any dog can be dangerous if it’s been inhumanely treated, hasn’t been socialized, or has been bred specifically for an aggressive temperament.
With that in mind, the opposite is also true. Although Akitas may be considered dangerous, it really comes down to three factors:
- How they were bred
- How they were trained
- How they were socialized
Let’s get into it.
Akita BreedingYou may remember in high school biology class learning about recessive and dominant genes. Genes are what control thousands of different traits and characteristics in both humans and animals. Although breeding can be a complex and complicated process to try to tease out certain genes, generally puppies are a lot like their parents, both in terms of physical characteristics as well as temperament and personality. We got our American Akita, Haga from Paradise Akitas in Idaho. Haga was the product of two very sweet and gentle Akitas, and as a result, Haga is a lot like his dad! Not only does Haga have very similar coloring, and shorter, less “floofy” tail like his father, Buster, he also has the same goofy and gentle personality that his dad is known for.
Akita TrainingTraining is an important part of any dog’s life. Proper training is all about building trust and communication between a dog and its owners. We started training with Haga at a very young age, and as a result, we have a great relationship with him. Although he still has his “puppy moments,” Haga understands that using his mouth when it comes to people is a big “no no.” He also knows when to wait for his food, to go through a doorway, etc…Without this training, I would be a lot less trustful of Haga in situations with strangers or other animals. It’s important to remember however, that a dog’s training is never done. You must continuously work on the skills you’ve built with your dog, and Akitas are absolutely no exception. Some people believe that Akitas cannot be trained, or are more difficult to train. While Akitas can certainly be stubborn, they can be trained, just like any other breed. Currently there is a trend of “positive only training” in the dog training world. It’s our opinion that positive only training is not a proper method for Akita training. Instead, we recommend a more balanced approach, but be warned: Akitas do NOT respond well to violence or aggression.
Socializing Your AkitaRecently a friend of a friend posted a picture with their new Akita puppy, and I commented welcoming them to the Akita family. They said that this was actually their fifth Akita, and we began talking about life as Akita owners, and then they dropped a bomb on me: They had never socialized any of their prior Akitas!Their reasoning was that they had been told that Akitas were not friendly dogs, so they must keep their Akitas away from other pets. Big mistake. That’s exactly HOW you end up with a dog that can’t be around other animals. Socializing your Akita at an early age is extremely important. As soon as we were able, we began socializing Haga with both people and other dogs. Please remember, socializing your Akita doesn’t simply mean bringing other dogs into the house or bringing your Akita to the dog park. Socializing should always be done in a controlled environment under your watchful eye. We strongly recommend puppy daycares that are run by actual dog trainers. It’s also important to keep an eye out for when your Akita has had enough for one day. If your Akita starts to exhibit aggressive or anti-social behavior, it’s time to go home and let your Akita have their space. Our dog trainer Barbara Jean Crehan of Really Special Animals says that the window of socialization closes after 16 weeks of age, so you need to start socializing your Akita as soon as possible, but remember, do not bring them around any dogs you don’t know until your Akita puppy is fully vaccinated.
So, are Akitas Dangerous? We’d say no more or no less than any other large dog breed. We can’t stress enough how important proper training and socialization are for a happy, healthy Akita, so make sure you are budgeting those things in when you’re looking into getting an Akita puppy or any other dog. And always remember, when it comes to OTHER people’s dogs, be sure to ASK them if you can approach and pet their dog before you do it.