The American Akita – known for a while in some countries as the “Great Japanese Dog”), and the Japanese Akita (Akita Inu) were considered by most people before as a single breed.

Although not totally, the majority of all international dog organizations today have already confirmed that the two are separate breeds. (Note: see our Akita Inu article on this site)

American Akita with snow

However, there is still an ongoing debate among Akita fanciers whether there should be a split up. For the record, only the AKC (American Kennel Club) and the CKC (Canadian Kennel Club) believed that the two Akitas are just varieties that belong to a single breed, thus allowing free breeding between the Japanese and American varieties.

On the other hand, the FCI (Federation Cynologique Internationale), The Kennel Club, and other clubs from Australia, New Zealand and Japan, inferred the separation of the 2 Akitas.

The famous American author, Helen Keller, introduced Akita to the USA. The said author was extremely fascinated with these dogs during her visit to Japan’s Akita Prefecture in 1937. Mr Ogasawara then gave her 2 Akitas as an official gift from Japan’s government.

The first dog was named Kamikaze-go but unfortunately, the 5 months old dog died due to canine distemper. In July 1938 another Akita named Kenzan-go, who was the older brother of her first Akita, was sent to Helen Keller.

During World War II, the Akitas were endangered animals. Several efforts were done to save them.

Examples of these were to turn them loose in remote mountain areas (where they bred back with their ancestor dogs – the Matagi) or conceal them from authorities using the crossing with German Shepherd dogs.

American soldiers were far more impressed with the larger more bear-like fighting Akita than with the smaller framed and fox-like Akita-Inu. Because of that, they brought many of those larger dogs back to the US. Nowadays, American Akitas are more common throughout the world compared to Japanese Akitas.

Traits and Behavior

American Akita close up

American Akitas have powerful guarding instincts and will ring the alarm once an intruder breaks into their territory.

Their temperament can range from calm to bouncy and hostile, so the breed must always be supervised when near young children and other animals.

Akitas like to be the leader of its pack. They are extremely loyal, very affectionate with the whole family members and thrive well on firm leadership from their handlers. 

Because of this, obedience training is also necessary for a harmonious household setting.

The breed is very much particular with hygiene and grooming as evidenced by their habit of licking their fur especially after eating.

Pet Care and Diseases

Listed below are a few of its common health concerns:

  • hip dysplasia
  • both hypothyroid and autoimmune thyroiditis
  • immune diseases like VKH and Pemphigus
  • skin problems
  • eye problems

Knowing that this breed sheds heavily twice a year, the coarse, stiff, short-haired coat needs significant grooming. Brush with a firm bristle brush, and bathe only when necessary as bathing removes the natural waterproofing of the coat.

American Akita tongue out

The Akita will do okay in an apartment as long as it has an active and healthy way of living. It is moderately active indoors and will do best with a large yard. The Akita needs moderate but regular exercise to stay in shape. It should be taken for long daily walks and be provided with series of mental training to sharpen the mind.

Noted to be well-adapted with the harsh living conditions endured by their ancestors,  the former fighting dog American Akita is a tough breed that has a strong immune system. But just like other animals, they are prone to some health problems.


Although both breeds of Akita originated from common ancestry, the American Akita are generally much larger compared to their Japanese counterparts, albeit they differ in weights and sizes.

American Akita in the mountain

Marked differences include: first, while American Akitas are lenient as colors of the coat is concerned, Japanese Akitas only permit the colors red, fawn, sesame, white, or brindle.

Second, American Akitas have larger bone structures, with a more bear-like head; whereas Japanese Akitas tend to be lighter and more finely featured more of a fox-like head.

Lastly, American Akitas may be pinto and/or have black masks, unlike Japanese Akitas in which it is not recognized based on the set standards.

Adult male American Akitas measure around 26–28 inches (66–71 cm) and weigh between 100–130 lb (45–59 kg). Adult female American Akitas, on the other hand, typically measure 24–26 inches (61–66 cm) and weigh between 70–100 lb (32–45 kg).

General Information

Life Expectancy is about 10-12 years. One litter may have 3-12 puppies (with an average of 7 or 8 puppies). Other names include Akita or Great Japanese Dog.



Both types of Akita (Japanese and American) gained worldwide stardom thanks to the heartwarming true-to-life story of Hachiko, a loyal Akita dog who lived in Japan before World War II.

Hachiko, before it became the national dog of Japan, was born on November 10, 1923.

He was owned by Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor in Tokyo. Every day, Hachiko accompanied his master on the way to the Shibuya Train Station and waited there until the arrival of the professor in the afternoon.

On May 25, 1925, the 18 months old dog patiently waited for his master’s arrival on a four o’clock train, but unfortunately, Professor Ueno had suffered a fatal stroke at the University.

Clueless and fully determined, Hachiko continued travelling to and from the station each day for the next nine years, patiently hoping that his master would return someday.

The professor’s relatives, including the locals, took care of him and offered food every time the dog is around. His vigil became world-renowned shortly before his death on March 8, 1935.

Breed Club

Visit this dog club website dedicated to American Akita. Click this link: http://www.akitaclub.org/

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