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Akita Life Span

We will talk about the life span of this breed and then go into detail about how long they live and why it is short in comparison to many other breeds.

Life expectancy is 10 to 12 years, which is on the low end of average, to slightly lower than average when considering the life span of all dog breeds.  This is the same for both the Japanese and the American. since genetics play the largest role and both share the same genetic background.

Life style, i.e. the foods that are given and activity levels over the course of their life affect this as well.

Akita life expectancyReasons

The War

There are actually little records of the exact origin of this breed however there are solid theories…

But it is a fact that they were brought into and developed in Japan.

Before the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Akitas lived for as long as 14 to 15 years. After the WWII, it decreased to only 10 to 12 years.

It is clear that predecessors of today’s Akita suffered various degrees of radioactive exposure and lingering after effects.   In terms of a time frame easy to relate to, the bombing occurred only 7 to 8 dog lives ago.  Radiation is known to cause genetic mutations and we cannot overlook the possibility that the somewhat higher incidence of immune-mediated problems could be, at least in part, attributed to ancestral radiation exposure.

The increasing incidence of immune related problems in all Western World countries could point toward some toner broad influence.  We do know that the immune system can be weakened by certain drugs, chemicals and antibiotics…And we should accept the possibility that the Akita may be slightly more susceptible than other breeds.

That time in history affected this breed in many ways and the Akita actually came very close to extinction near the end of the war, people were without food and shelter…
And dogs were a luxury that only the very rich could afford.  Those who kept their dogs were accused of wasting food and therefore, of being enemies of the state…many dogs were killed.  Other were abandoned and  consequently starved.

Foundations were established in Japan with the goal of purification of the breed and this began before WWII, but the devastation to the dogs caused by the war undid most of that early work.


Larger dogs, in general, live shorter lives when compared to small dogs.  For example, A Lab lives 10 to 14 years compared to the Yorkshire Terrier’s 12 to 15.

Larger dogs suffer from more serious skeletal issues and disease than their smaller counterparts.  This can be seen with the following issues:

Bones and joints -  Having to support a fairly good amount of weight, connecting tissues, sockets and all bone structure will endure more stress each year

The heart -  While bigger, relatively speaking, it must also work harder and no matter what its size, it will wear out faster.

Growth Hormones -  Larger dogs have more growth hormones that flow throughout the metabolic system.  Some studies have shown that the hormones may affect life span.


In general, a female will live longer than a male, however for this breed the average extension is 2 months.

Increasing Life Expectancy

There are things that an owner can do to aid their Akita in living as long as possible.  When all of these factors are put together, it can mean the difference of at least 1 year.

Smoke -  It is a shame how many owners do not realize that dogs inhale 2nd hand smoke as much as humans do…And that it has the same terrible affects. Owners and any guests should take their habit outside or at the very least to an enclosed porch or garage where the dog does not normally go to.

Nutrition – Proper feeding (and fasting) for this breed is strongly connected to his health and in turn, life span.  For this reason, we have a comprehensive section regarding food.

Exercise -  Many people assume that a large dog needs a large amount of exercise.  In many cases this is true, but not for this breed.  Excessive running, walking uphill and cardio play will put stress on all areas of the body, especially the heart and the knee and hip joints.  This breed also overheats easily.  

One must find the right balance, as inactivity is also not good…It often leads to weight gain, which in turn causes stress on the body.  A daily walk of 20-30 minutes is best…This is not recommended in very hot weather.  When walking on a warm to hot day, one should plan out the route in order to have at least 1 break for shade and a drink of water.

Health Checks -  Found in our health section, this breed (as with all other purebreds) is prone to certain issues.  When an owner takes perhaps 5 minutes each week to look over their dog for anything unusual or suspicious, this can help catch problems early, when one has the best chance of successful treatment.  In addition, an owner must make and keep all check-up appointments with a reputable, experienced veterinarian…. Best is one with experience with past or current Akita patients.

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