Any Akita owners who can answer a question or two?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by Rusty Hills Farm, Jan 16, 2011.

  1. Rusty Hills Farm

    Rusty Hills Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 3, 2008
    Up at the barn
    I've been thinking about this breed for awhile and my brief research seems to say that Akitas are prone to cancer. How big a problem is this really? I've lost 2 Dobies to heart issues and may be about to lose a 3rd to the same thing. It's heartbreaking, so I don't want to set myself up for more heartbreak if Akitas as a breed have some serious health issues as well.

    Can anyone tell me about their temperament and trainability? We don't have kids at home anymore and had been heavily involved in schutzhund, tho these days we no longer compete in anything. Any new dog will likely be mine, so I am trying to decide if I want another GSD to add to the nearly-blind girl I already have, or if it is time to look at a new breed with fewer issues, like the Akita perhaps.

    Anyhow, if anybody who has hands-on experience with this breed would care to offer a few insights, I would indeed be grateful. Or if there are other working breeds out there that I should be taking a second look at, please post away!

    Thanks for your help!

    Last edited: Jan 16, 2011
  2. Illia

    Illia Crazy for Colors

    Oct 19, 2009
    Forks, WA
    My family bred, raised, and showed Akitas for over 10 years and we never experienced Cancer issues with our dogs. We had one, who technically wasn't ours, but we raised her, who had a tumor, but it wasn't exactly Cancer.

    Really, the main thing I always say about Akitas to new owners is that they require an experienced person who knows how to be an alpha, kids who know manners, and if you have other dogs, make sure they are well trained. Akitas aren't very dog-friendly and are a pretty stubborn, dominant breed.

    Some strains may be different though. If well trained, Akitas make exceptional family dogs and family guardians. If there's any health issues to watch out for, it's Thyroid problems.
  3. Rusty Hills Farm

    Rusty Hills Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 3, 2008
    Up at the barn
    Thank you for the insights. I will have to research for thyroid information. I appreciate the direction!


  4. Akane

    Akane Overrun With Chickens

    Jun 15, 2008
    In my experience akitas are pretty healthy particularly when comparing to other large breeds. They are also very durable dogs. The breeder I got mine from was in a car accident where the dogs' kennels were thrown from the truck as the entire frame twisted. Her older male had his jaw shoved back and up against his brain stem. He arrived at the vet having seizures and they really weren't sure what to do because they never imagined a dog could survive something like that. He's still alive years later but has to be on medication and has gone blind.

    Akitas are extremely intelligent but hard to motivate. 90% of time when you tell an akita to do something they will look at you and go "why?". You better have a good answer and it better not be something like "because I said so" or at best they'll just give you the akita stare. They look off a certain direction and act like a kid with it's fingers in it's ears going "I can't hear you". Occasionally they'll just lay down and refuse to move. If you get aggressive with an akita you will get aggression back. Now if you can motivate them like I said they are extremely intelligent. Mine will open any door in the house and half the time acts like she can read your mind. She knows about 50 words of which I purposely taught her maybe 20. One of her brothers is a service dog for a blind guy who is partially paralyzed and in a wheelchair. The dog has been a wonderful protector (he lives in a bad neighborhood), helps get the chair unstuck including pulling the heavy power chair, and like mine can open any door. Generally they are not used for police work or schutzhund because they are too opinionated and will follow their own decisions on what the next step should be. Being very intelligent they are usually right but those few times they aren't could be a disaster. I've had those jaws close around my arm on accident during play and in that split second before the dog realized and let go I could feel the bones of my arm compressing together making this sick feeling and I came out with grooves cut in my skin despite moving my arm with the direction of pull. Akitas don't need to be taught to guard. It's very deeply ingrained in them and I would only suggest teaching them anything but what not to do and not to react if you are impressively experienced with training dogs for protection work.
  5. arabianequine

    arabianequine Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 4, 2010
    I have never owned an Akita but know people that have them. They seemed pretty high strung but can learn. Kinda like an ADHD child. Good luck!
  6. Rusty Hills Farm

    Rusty Hills Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 3, 2008
    Up at the barn
    Generally they are not used for police work or schutzhund because they are too opinionated and will follow their own decisions on what the next step should be. Being very intelligent they are usually right but those few times they aren't could be a disaster.

    Hmmm. Food for some serious thought.

    I am so glad I asked on here. It is so much better to hear from owners/handlers than just reading about the breed. Gives a much better feel for what they are like day-to-day. And you must be right about the schutzhund work--now that I think about it, I don't think I've seen them competing and I've been to a lot of meets over the years. So this means they have a very different temperament than anybody I have dealt with up to now.

    Lots of things to think about. And lots of time to think about them.


  7. NellaBean

    NellaBean Graceland Farms

    Mar 4, 2009
    Broodyland, TN
    My Coop
    Akitas are like crossing a chow and a pit together and giving them steroids. They have the reserved attitude of the chow with the tenacity of the pit and they are not trusting of strangers. They are often "one family" dogs and I would not trust my child (if I had one) with someone else's akita.

    When I worked for animal control one of the most severe unprovoked attacks we ever had was an akita on a lady. Dogs were loose and she was jogging.....once her back was turned the dog took her down from behind and almost killed her. Scary.

    My neighbor had an Akita when I lived in California. Big unaltered older male. He got loose one day and attacked my outside cat (a stray tom who had adopted us).....that cat was mean as a snake towards dogs and gave the Akita a run for the money but would have been killed if he had not gotten away and up a tree at the last minute. He was missing all of his front claws....they were lodged in the dogs face....even dripping blood from the wounds that dog wouldn't have blinked if he could have kept ahold of the cat. The wife of the family that owned the dog came out and "caught" him and struggled to get him home. He just sat down in the middle of the street and refused to move and she was obviously a bit afraid of him.

    They are an absolute disaster of a dog in the wrong hands. In the right hands, they are still a "difficult" dog.
  8. Akane

    Akane Overrun With Chickens

    Jun 15, 2008
    I haven't found them to be anywhere near as violent as a lot of people make them out to be. I would trust a child with most akitas. Of the ones I know only 1 is too touchy without the handling in the background to deal with the situation correctly. My female hates kids but was taught she is allowed to protect her space and discipline anyone below me provided she does not actually harm them so she'll scare kids, cats, puppies with a loud yip in their face or send a puppy jumping on her rolling away under a paw but she would never cause injury. I've seen her in plenty of such situations and pushed beyond her limits to know that with confidence. All of her relatives are extremely friendly and their biggest danger is accidentally running a kid over since her brothers are 100-180lbs. We also take them to the dog park, family gatherings, around livestock... I'll trust my akita around chickens and rabbits but not our 20lb shiba. It's the ones with poor breeding or very poor handling that cause the problems. If you are looking at a respectable breeder and you know how to handle a big dog with natural guarding tendencies than you aren't going to end up with a violent killer or neurotic antisocial fear biter. More likely they'll fail to greet people but have no problem being greeted. Actually that's what turned me on to the breed in the first place. I walked in the door, they came up to sniff me, I rubbed their ears and instead of an excited wiggly dog at risk of jumping or licking me they looked rather offended and walked off. Some though are attention hogs and will happily run up to everyone they see. Even within the same litter that part of their personality can vary greatly.

    Now if shibas were akita sized I'd be fearing for my life. [​IMG] Psychotic killing machines in cute costumes.
  9. Rusty Hills Farm

    Rusty Hills Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 3, 2008
    Up at the barn
    Thanks everybody! You've given me lots to think about. I'm thinking a good step would be to find a decent breeder and start spending some time with him/her and interacting with the dogs. With both Dobies and GSDs, I know the breeds well and know several breeders personally. I can just ask to be put on their waiting lists and still know I will eventually get a good dog if I wait long enough. With Akitas, it will be a whole new learning process before I ever take the leap of acquiring a puppy. I want to know BEFORE I do this that the breed and I are a good fit for one another. At the moment, I'm not so sure.

    Thank you for all your help!

  10. myersark

    myersark New Egg

    Jan 17, 2011
    We raised Akitas for several years. They were big babies!!! As noted by others, not good with strange dogs, though. And two females in heat? Don't let them get together! Our white one, Bear, died a couple of years ago at age 12. We just lost our black/white pinto, Pee Wee, last year at the age of 14 (as well as a chow-mix dog that was dumped as a puppy), Pea, at the age of 16. In the several years we raised Akitas, none had health problems at all. One owner did call to say his vet thought his dog had a form of lupus and wanted to know if any of his relatives had it (no). We completely trusted Pee Wee and Bear with our small grandchildren (well, anyone, even strangers).

    We now have a couple of Dobermans. They are sweethearts as well and we trust them with the grandkids as well. (But they weren't so nice to some of my chickens!!!)

    My advice to anyone is to see the parents of whatever dog they are interested in, whenever possible. Chances are really good if they are well-adjusted, the odds will be in favor of their offspring being the same, with, of course, proper care and treatment.

    Good luck! Akitas are awesome, awesome dogs. (Hey, they are revered by their homeland, Japan!) [​IMG]

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