If you’re in the market for a watchdog to join your family and keep it safe, Pitbulls and Akitas will be great picks. Both breeds are loyal, intelligent, and highly protective. Pitbulls are a lot easier to train, though, because they’re eager to please; Akitas are more free-willed and take effort to tame.
But they’re much bigger and make for better guard dogs. On the downside, these great Japanese dogs aren’t always friendly toward strangers or other pets. Their grooming needs are higher, too. So, which breed should you get—a Pitbull or an Akita? To help you with the choice, our dog experts put together a detailed comparison that goes over medical conditions, grooming needs, character, social traits, and other key factors. Read on to find your perfect dog!
At a Glance
Developed back in the 17th century in Japanese mountains, Akitas are large, muscular dogs specifically bred to hunt and watch over livestock. To survive the unforgiving climate up in the mountains, Akitas have a double coat. Around the globe, this breed is appreciated for its loyal, courageous, and grandiose nature; in Japan, they’re a symbol of happiness and protection. The Great Japanese Dog is a burly, well-built animal with a strong bone structure.
Adult males reach 28 inches in height and 130 pounds in weight, making for ideal guard dogs. Suspicious of strangers, Akitas don’t get along with other pets or new people. That said, they are very quiet and only bark when it’s necessary (like when a stranger enters your property). They do have a playful side, though: they only show it to the people they trust. But are they easy to train? How do you groom and treat an Akita? Let’s find out!
Personality / Character
Strong-willed and independent, Akitas have a headstrong nature. They only like to be around family and people they know. When introduced to strangers, these large, imposing dogs won’t be at all friendly. At the same time, human companionship is very important to them. Once you create a strong bond with these Japanese giants, they’ll do whatever it takes to keep you from harm’s way. Akitas easily make it into the top-5 of the best guard dogs.
They are affectionate, have lots of energy, and are (relatively) quick to adapt. A quick note: if you want your four-legged buddy to be more open to new faces, you need to socialize it with people while it’s still a pup. This is the best way to make this aggressive, don’t-take-no-BS protector more tolerant to fellow pets and humans. Also, please remember that Akitas aren’t very patient around children (even though they are protective of them).
The Akita is not easy to train—let’s start with that. It’s an intelligent, loyal dog, yet with an obstinate personality. It takes years to train an Akita, and the sooner you start, the easier it will be to tame this 130-pound beast. Again, the only way to boost its socializing skills is to train this Japanese beauty at a young age. Even so, you should never let it wander into an unfamiliar, unsecured area off the lead.
If an Akita comes across another dog without a leash, that can lead to undesired consequences. This is especially true for same-sex interactions. As for workouts, these dogs don’t like to run or play for many hours, although they are an energetic breed. A simple jog for about 30 minutes should be enough. More good news: since these dogs were brought up as protectors, Akitas fully embrace the mundane life of a house dog.
Health & Care
Akita dogs live for 10–14 years, which is the average lifespan for dogs. And they can easily handle cold weather thanks to their upbringing. But, just like most dogs, the Akita does have a few health concerns, mainly hip dysplasia, various thyroid disorders, and bloating. This condition is called Gastric dilatation-volvulus and can be fatal for your pet no matter how healthy and active it is. So, how do you prevent it?
Train the dog to eat slowly and only feed it small portions of food. GDV usually happens when the dog consumes more food, fluids, and gas than the stomach can handle. As for dysplasia, the best way to treat it is to keep the dog in shape and use special exercises approved by a vet. If it’s a big issue for the dog, surgery might be required. Hypothyroidism, in turn, is treated with thyroid hormone replacement.
These dogs have a thick double coat that needs to be brushed roughly once a week. The undercoat sheds twice a year; to keep the situation under control, when that happens, brush the dog extensively. Thankfully, Akitas lose very little hair the rest of the time. Don’t forget to brush the teeth of your pet to keep it healthy. Nail trimming is mandatory as well.
Got a big farm or house that needs protection? An Akita dog will be a perfect guardian! It’s incredibly strong and protective of its family. With an Akita watching over your property, no intruder will be able to pass. This breed doesn’t take kindly to strangers, though, and you’ll have to put in a lot of effort to make it warm up to other pets in the house. Akitas are among the most loyal, intelligent, and effective guards. They aren’t afraid to risk their own lives for the owners!
Pitbulls are a crossbreed, the “golden middle” between terriers and bulldogs. They’ve been around for 200+ years, originally bred as guard dogs and for bull baiting. Strong, agile, and capable of standing up to bullies, Pitbulls are quite friendly around the right people. More than that, they’re happy to meet new people (but not dogs) and quick to adapt to new circumstances. Just don’t forget to keep the dog on a leash during first encounters!
Adult males reach 24 inches in height and weigh 80 pounds, large enough to eliminate a threat. Their high-energy, eager-to-please character is perfect for first-time owners. In many ways, Pitbulls are low-maintenance dogs, but they do crave your attention. This means leaving a Pitbull alone for a long time might lead to depression, anxiety, and even destructive behavior.
Personality / Character
These dogs are almost never pictured as cute, loving, or playful. But we’re happy to say that Pitbulls are actually very kind, caring, and affectionate. While they do look scary sometimes, Pitbulls stay excited for most of their lives. So, don’t be surprised if you notice puppy-like behavior in a fully grown doggo. Pitbulls always want to show their appreciation to the people they get attached to.
Pitbulls are the ideal pets for physically active families that like to take their dogs everywhere. They create the strongest bond with the person that spends the most time with them, but these dogs love all members of the family. Pitbulls are great with children, too. Instead of being frustrated, they show compassion and are happy to keep kids entertained. You’ll still have to teach your children how to behave around dogs, of course.
Pitbulls are smart, eager to please, and not that hard to train. However, to achieve the best results, you will need to have a strong hand to teach them proper manners. These hounds don’t always go well with other canines or even fellow Pitbulls. Still, they’re more welcoming than Akitas, especially if you socialize a Pitbull while it’s still a pup. Pitbulls are adaptive, too, and will be happy to spend most of the day indoors.
As long as you give them 1–2 hours of exercise per day, they’ll be alright. Positive reinforcement should be the cornerstone of all your training sessions. We’re talking about encouragement and treating the pet with its favorite snacks. And one more thing: Pitbulls are highly sensitive and don’t like loud noises. The list includes heavy traffic, fireworks, gunshots, and even loud people.
Health & Care
In contrast to Akitas, Pitbulls have a hard time handling extreme cold since their coats are much thinner. Hot summer days are not much better and can often lead to heat strokes. So, if you live somewhere in California, you might want to keep the dog inside when the sun is up and scorching. The short skin also makes Pitbulls vulnerable to various skin conditions and allergies. Along with that, they suffer from dysplasia, kneecap dislocation, and degenerative myelopathy (DM).
Muscle loss, overall weakness, and lack of coordination are clear signs of DM. Sadly, there’s no treatment for this condition yet, but you can help the dog by keeping it fit, using slings and ramps, and implementing physical therapy. Of course, preventative care is the best remedy for most diseases. So, don’t forget about regular veterinary checks and vaccination!
Speaking of the coat, some Pitbulls shed all year, while others stick to seasons. In any case, you won’t have to put lots of effort into grooming. In fact, it might not even be necessary. Bathing should be a part of your dog’s routine, but, again, it won’t take much time since the coat is thin and single-layered. A little bit of trimming and brushing, and the dog is all set!
For a first-time owner, a Pitbull is a great choice. Despite the bad rep, these dogs are very social, kind, and charming. Tolerant toward new people, they’re patient and highly protective of children. Pitbulls want to make their owners happy—that’s why so many families in the US have them. They follow commands readily and see training as a game instead of being stubborn. Pitbulls are excellent watchdogs, too!
Which Breed Is Right for You?
Both Akitas and Pitbulls are loyal servants, but they have different personalities. An Akita will be a challenge to train, especially if you have little experience with dogs. This breed isn’t at all welcoming toward strangers, either. More importantly, due to their free-willed, impatient character, Akitas are not recommended around little kids. So, if you’re looking for an obedient and all-around friendly dog, think twice before you adopt an Akita.
That said, these imposing dogs are strong, protective, and a menace to intruders of all shapes and sizes. Bred to be of service, they can handle hard work and guarding duties. As for Pitbulls, these dogs are a bit more patient around children and won’t instantly switch into an aggressive mode when encountering strangers. Pitbulls are just as intelligent as Akitas yet have a more open-hearted, easy-going personality.
Plus, their grooming needs aren’t as high. Summing up, families that dream of energetic, playful, eager-to-please dogs should opt for a Pitbull. At the same time, folks looking for a bigger and stronger breed to take care of the property and put its own life in danger for the family will appreciate the sheer strength and highly protective, territorial nature of Akitas.
- Related Read: Jindo vs Akita: The Main Differences (With Pictures)