We’ve all seen them, those fluffy little faces of Akita puppies on Instagram, or maybe you watched a YouTube video about how the loyalty, bravery and regality of the Akita is like no other. You see these amazing dogs and you think “that’s the dog for me, that’s what I want.” It’s true that Akitas are an amazing breed, and most people once they have an Akita rarely get another type of dog for the rest of their life, but just like any other breed, Akitas have their peculiarities, and they aren’t for everyone, which is why, unfortunately there is a necessity for Akita Rescues.
In this article we are going to help you answer the question: Should I get an Akita? Let’s dig in.
Many trainers, breeders and vets alike do not recommend an Akita as your first dog. Would be first time dog owners love to seek out those who had an Akita as their first dog as evidence that it can be done. Of course there are exceptions to every rule. While it’s not impossible to have an Akita as your first dog, the recommendation is for both your benefit, and the benefit of your dog.
So why do experts recommend you not get an Akita as your first dog? There are several reasons:
- Akitas can be extremely stubborn. Training your dog can be frustrating and time consuming, even with an “easy to train” breed like a Golden Retriever or Labrador. When training any dog, getting fed up or impatient is the last thing you want to do, and that can easily happen with a stubborn breed like an Akita. What happens when you get frustrated in training your dog? You avoid doing it, and an untrained Akita (or any dog for that matter) is a danger to themselves and to others.
- Akitas have a high prey drive, this means they are easily enticed by animals like squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, cats, deer, and other dogs. This high prey drive requires additional training to overcome so you can take your Akita on walks or hikes without having to worry about your dog attacking another dog or bolting off into the woods. Again having some experience with dogs will be a big benefit here.
- Akitas are big! With male Akitas weighing upwards of 130lbs in some instances, Akitas are big and cumbersome dogs. Our American Akita, Haga, is currently only 85lbs and is still a handful, even when he’s not trying to be. Understanding how to loose-leash walk a dog, the importance of body language, tone, etc…all goes a long way in being able have a successful relationship with your Akita.
As we previously mentioned, you can absolutely find people who had an Akita as their first dog, but there are typically special circumstances that allowed for that to happen. For example, my first dog was technically an Akita, but an Akita mix. Furthermore we had a family dog when I was growing up, and my uncle is a veterinarian who owned an animal hospital where I would spend a lot of time helping out in the summers, and my sister is a vet-tech. In other words, not only did I have a good amount of experience around dogs, I also had a lot of support.
Shelter and Space
Akitas are known to be quite “cat-like,” not just in terms of their grooming, but also in terms of their behavior and personality. While it’s true that Akitas don’t need an extremely large house to live in, they are still big dogs, and having a space that can accommodate an Akita is a must.
Do you have space in your home for an extra large dog crate? Can you fit an extra large dog crate in your vehicle? Does your home have enough space for your Akita to be away from you if they’re feeling aloof? Do you have a safe or enclosed area where your Akita can play, especially outside?
Do you have air conditioning in your home if you live in a hot or humid climate? Here in New Hampshire, one of the most northern states in the US, our summers often have 100% humidity and temps over 100 degrees. Our American Akita, Haga, would not survive a summer here without air conditioning in our home. Akitas hail from the snowy mountains of Japan, and relish the cold. The heat and humidity is like torture for them. Having air conditioning is a literal life saver for them, but only hammers home the necessity for a good amount of space for your Akita to exist in: In the summer our walks with Haga have to become shorter because he simply cannot tolerate the heat, so he’s often more playful in the summer time because he isn’t exercised outside as much.
The last thing to consider is if your property owner or your home owners insurance will even allow you to have an Akita. While many renters can’t have any pets, even some facilities that allow pets have a limit on size, and restrict certain breeds.
If you own a home, you may think you’re in the clear and can have any kind of pet that you want, but unfortunately certain home owners insurance will now allow you to carry a policy if you own certain breeds, so make sure to check with your insurance before getting an Akita.
These are all things you must consider before getting an Akita.
We’ll have a whole article coming soon about how much it costs to buy and own an Akita, but for now let’s just say owning any dog is a big financial commitment. If you are purchasing an Akita puppy from a breeder, you’ll obviously have to pay for the dog itself, but with any dog, there is a long list of expenses to consider:
- Training and Handling Tools
- Wet food
- Veterinary expenses
- Regular health check-ups
- Potential neutering or spaying
- Unexpected trips to the vet: Trust me, whether your dog is coughing strangely, or they hurt their paw on something, unexpected trips to the vet will happen.
- Professional Dog Training
- Pet Insurance
- Property Damage: No matter how careful you keep an eye on your Akita, they are feisty, and will destroy at least a pillow or couch eventually!
- Boarding: If you plan to take any vacations or even long weekends, there will likely be situations where you cannot take your Akita with you. In this case you’ll have to pay someone to board your Akita or watch them while you’re away. Because Akitas can be challenging breeds, some boarding houses won’t accept them, and we recommend boarding your Akita with a trusted professional dog trainer anyway, so expect to pay top dollar for the service.
Technology is supposed to make all of our lives easier, yet people seem busier than ever. We have seen far too many posts of people asking if they should get a dog when they are full time college students or work two jobs, or have a long work commute. The truth is, unless you have a lot of time to dedicate to not just training your dog, but spending time with your dog…why have one?
We typically take our American Akita, Haga, on 3 walks per day, each a mile or more. This typically about 2 hours worth of walking (you can’t walk fast when you are stopping to sniff everything!). We also try to work in play time inside the house every day for another 30-60 minutes total.
On the weekend we try to get out for longer adventures, going to parks or on hikes or even taking our Akita with us when going out to eat, which means we have to find a restaurant with out door dining and that allows dogs. Let’s not forget time for working on training.
And all of that is just for adult Akitas. Puppies will require even more time and attention because they need to be let out more frequently, need more training, they need more socialization, and they cannot be left alone unless crated.
If you don’t have adequate time to dedicate to your Akita, you shouldn’t get one.
Other Dogs and Kids
Children and other dogs are also something to consider before getting an Akita. Good breeders will inquire about both of these things before selling you a dog, and for good reason. While many Akitas are extremely loving and gentle with their own family, young children don’t understand the boundaries that dogs and other animals have. Some Akitas may be extremely protective of their food or space, which can end up in disaster when you throw a young child in the mix. So if you’ have or are planning to have children, you may want to hold off on getting an Akita.
If you already have other dogs in the house, getting an Akita also may not be a great choice, as Akitas can be very aggressive towards other dogs, especially if they are same-sex. Furthermore, if you have lots of friends with dogs, and they often bring their dogs to your home, an Akita probably will not be a great option.
It may seem like we are working very hard to dissuade you from getting an Akita. We’re not. Much like many people only post the highlights of their lives on social media, you typically only see the happy moments and fun times of Akita ownership, online. It’s extremely important for people to know what they are getting into when getting an amazing breed like an Akita. This isn’t just for you as a dog owner, but for the health and well being of the Akitas as well.
It would be great if Akita rescues didn’t need to exist, but sadly dozens if not hundreds of Akitas are surrendered to shelters in the US every year, because people buy a puppy without knowing what it will take to have one in their home. The last thing we want to see is an Akita without a home and a family to call their own.
If you found this article helpful, drop us a comment or consider sharing it with those who are interested in Akitas!