The question of Akita personality traits is not a short, simple answer. This incredible breed cannot be described in just a few short sentences.
It may be best to first begin with some comparisons and to describe how the Akita differs from others in their class.
This breed is a little stronger in character than a Collie….And he is a little more independent than a German Shepherd….Or most herding dogs for that matter. And there is a good reason why…
Most herding breeds were developed to work for humans and to follow commands, and this made them very capable in regard to obedience.
Conversely, those working and Terrier breeds which trace their origins back to a time when they were used in war, for solitary guard duty or chasing after game, evolved into more independent thinkers.
They were bred to work alongside man, but not necessarily for them.
And here is where the Akita Inu personality differs from his Spitz-type ancestors, and his traits make him much more than a watch dog…
Most of the guarding breeds go very quietly about their work. Like his Mastiff ancestors, the Akita does not bark often…And when he does, it is not done with the goal of scaring someone off that the dog is afraid of. Quite the opposite, it is a clear, distinct and serious warning to stay away.
Their heritage is to protect. His way of fulfilling that role must be channeled by a diligent owner.
Here is What You Can Expect:
An independent thinker – This is sometimes mistaken by stubbornness.
A dog that is very aware of rank – If an owner has more than one Akita, both are finely tuned into sense of rank. Each will want to be fed first, first to exit the house, first to enter, etc. This tells them where they fall on the totem pole. It is for this reason, that an owner must ensure that their dog learns from day 1 that it is the human(s) who are at the top of the command station. We will talk about this more in the training section.
A fast learner - Most learn very quickly and most become very bored after learning the basics of what is being taught to them. They are very capable of understand what is expected, but their personality causes them to seem to want to know WHY they are expected to do certain things. For this reason, offering motivation is important. For example: heel while we walk = praise and a yummy treat afterward. Plunk your butt down and refuse to walk with me= being ignored and no tasty snack.
An excellent inside dog – Despite the size, and despite the heavy coat of fur which sheds quite a bit, this is a perfect indoor companion. This breed lived in palaces and has proven himself to adapt extremely well to living with people in just about any sized home.
They have no fear of heights - Those with balconies must be aware of this. Young males, particularly, have more bravado than judgment. They have been known to jump off a 2nd floor patio without seeming to have any idea of what will happen upon landing.
They love supervised freedom - Most will greatly appreciate running alongside you at the beach or alongside a quite country road. Their personality is one that enjoys the sense of liberty, the extra exercise and all of the new sights and smells.
Sensitive - While they are known for having a high physical pain tolerance, their feelings can be hurt very easily. Don’t let the size fool you.
Reaction to strangers is often misunderstood and does differ depending on the gender of the dog. Many references refer to this breed as standoffish or wary of strangers. This is not correct. The Akita could not care less about what any stranger thinks of them or what a person is doing (unless they appear to be a threat). Females tend to like and appreciate affection from people more than males do. Males will tolerate hugs and pats, but female seem to “take it in” more.
Devotion – The Akita will not pester you for attention or nudge you with their nose every other minute to get you to play with them. Their devotion is calm and quite, but very strong. The adult will be very content to lie quietly nearby you while you are watching TV…You may assume that he is sleeping, but he is normally very aware of your movements…And if you get up to go to another room, what do you know? Your Akita is right there, following you, like your shadow.
Patience - It is impressive how the Akita personality gives us a dog that is so in tune with humans and while dominant, is rarely intrusive. Without your company, he will be bored and lonely, but will wait quietly for you to return. He may, without making a noise, stand beside your bed and stare at you for an hour, waiting for you to wake up….And then, when you do, he will want attention.
Good with All Ages – Many wonder if this breed does well with the elderly…and the answer is yes. Many are used in hospice care and in retirement homes to cheer up the old and ailing residents there. Children are a different story, and most of it depends if they are part of the household...And if not, how they are supervised.
Other Dogs - Most form very strong bonds with other dogs, especially smaller ones, if it is a canine in the same household. With outsiders, friendships rarely form. In most cases of encountering another dog that is new to them, a male will never get along with a male dog of any breed and female to female is not a good mix. It is important for owners to understand that instinct rules and that despite any good-intentioned training, strong aggression will come roaring out when the Akita is faced with another dog. It can be lessen somewhat if both dogs are fixed (spayed or neutered). Aggression will be stronger if the other dog is of similar size.
A males raised with another male will be fine with the other until the age of 6 to 12 months. Females in the same household will be fine with each other until one of the enters heat, at the approximate age of 1 year old.
Biting – The Akita is a watch dog. He will be very watchful of people until he makes a decision or is shown that someone is a welcomed visitor. He will bite, but not indiscriminately. While part instinct, control depends on how the owner trains.
Mildly Claustrophobic - They do not do well when shipped for travel and they do not like confined spaces. Males, particularly, likes to see and feel that he is in control of his surroundings.
American Akita character is a bit different than Japanese….But with this said, one must remember that inter-breeding has been (and is) being done to a great extent, thereby crossing the bloodlines and producing dogs that are both American and Japanese.
The American is a bit more serious in nature. The closer the genetic makeup of the dog is to the modern Japanese lines, the less inclined to guard in an exceptionally solemn way. He will instead be a bit more easygoing. For most owners, they have a dog that is neither a frolicking pet nor a dead-on serious one…this breed falls nicely in the middle.
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