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Akita dog breed profile

Akitas love being the center of attention.

Whether your dog is a purebred Akita, or an Akita mix, learning about their breed can explain a lot about your pet’s personality, habits and overall health. Or maybe you're looking to adopt an Akita and want to do a bit of research first — we can help with that.

Akitas love their people so much that they’ll likely thrive as the only pet in the house. But there's so much more to these dogs. Here’s what you should know about the breed before bringing an Akita home. 

What do Akitas look like? 

If you measure from the ground to their shoulder, Akitas are usually around 25 to 27 inches tall, Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch by The Dodo’s on-staff veterinarian, explains. These pups can weigh between 65 to 130 pounds on average. 

Do Akitas shed? 

Akitas have a double coat of fur (which usually grows in black, brown, brindle, red, white, fawn and silver), meaning that the outer layer is short-to-medium length, coarse and dense, while the inner layer is soft and thick, Dr. McCullough explains. It's important to add that because of their dense coats, they’re not well suited to hot and humid days, and the thickness of their coat means they’re known for being a shedding breed. 

“Akitas aren’t hypoallergenic,” Dr. McCullough explains. “Akitas shed minimally on a daily basis, but they have heavy-shedding periods a few times during the year.”

Akita temperament

Akitas love their people the most and are loyal, affectionate and independent. They’ll be a little cautious around strangers, so it’s best to introduce unfamiliar humans to your pup slowly. 

These pups love their people so much that they prefer to be the center of attention (and sometimes that makes them territorial) — it’s best if they’re the only pet in your home. However, Dr. McCullough says that well-socialized Akitas can learn how to tolerate other animals. 

“Akitas are intelligent and very strong,” she adds. “They’re at their best when they have a job to do.”

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What health issues do Akitas face?

According to Dr. McCullough, Akitas are susceptible to health issues unique to their breed, like gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), hypothyroidism, entropion and ectropion. Here’s a breakdown of each condition so you can have an informed conversation about prevention at your first vet visit. 

GDV (also known as bloat)

GDV occurs when a dog’s stomach fills with air and twists on itself. The symptoms of this condition include abdominal pain, profound lethargy, decreased appetite, retching, weakness and collapse, Dr. McCullough says. Veterinarians usually recommend surgery followed by intensive nursing care to cure GDV. 

Hip dysplasia 

Hip dysplasia is when one or both of a dog’s hip joints become loose, Dr. McCullough explains. Signs that indicate a dog is struggling with this condition include limping, a swaying or bunny gait, deterioration of the rear leg muscles, difficulty laying down or getting up and a reluctance to use the stairs. However, every pup is different, and some dogs may not show obvious symptoms. 

Your veterinarian can recommend the right treatment option depending on the severity of your Akita’s hip dysplasia. Usually, though, this condition is treated through pain medication, joint supplements, steroids, acupuncture, surgery or physical or laser therapy. 

PRA

PRA is a genetic disease that causes a dog’s retina to deteriorate slowly. Pups who struggle with PRA often lose their eyesight, might be hesitant to go outside at night or refuse to enter a dark room. Unfortunately, symptoms don’t usually appear until later stages of the disease. 

“There’s no treatment for PRA, but affected dogs can be supported by providing extra light in dark environments in the early stages of the disease and by keeping their dog’s environment constant,” Dr. McCullough shares. 

Hypothyroidism

“Hypothyroidism is a condition in which there isn’t enough thyroid hormone due to destruction of the thyroid gland by the immune system or for unknown reasons,” Dr. McCullough explains. “Thyroid hormones control the body’s metabolism.”

You can spot hypothyroidism if your pup is weak, gaining weight, lethargic, has a decreased appetite, hair loss, darkening skin or gastrointestinal upset. According to Dr. McCullough, this condition is treated with a synthetic thyroid hormone medication. 

Entropion and ectropion

Entropion happens when a dog’s eyelid rolls inward, while ectropion is the opposite (when a dog’s eyelid rolls outward). Both conditions can cause eye discharge, conjunctivitis and cornea inflammation, Dr. McCullough says. They’re both treated with surgery, she adds. 

Adopting an Akita

Are you interested in adopting an Akita, Akita mix or any pet at all? Check out our shelter partners to find your new best friend.

The Dig, Fetch by The Dodo’s expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too. Fetch provides the most comprehensive pet insurance and is the only provider recommended by the #1 animal brand in the world, The Dodo. 

Photo by Charlotte Rush on Unsplash

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