Akitas are very stately looking. They are large, formidable, and frankly a little intimidating. But are Akitas dangerous? You will get a different answer to this question depending on who you ask. Some Akita lovers will swear that Akitas are not dangerous at all while other people say that Akitas are absolutely dangerous. But which group is correct? When it comes to labeling a dog as “dangerous” or “aggressive,” perception is often reality. In many places, Akitas are seen as dangerous, which is all that matters for the law, insurance purposes, and public perception.
Here is everything you need to know about Akitas and their dangers, both real and perceived.
Why Akitas Are Considered Dangerous
Akitas are considered dangerous due to two main things – their size and their temperament. Akitas can be very large. The American Akita can stand over two feet tall and weigh as much as 130 lbs. Even the Japanese Akita (Akitainu) can weigh as much as 75 lbs. That makes these dogs intimidating and hard to control. Akitas also have an aggressive temperament. They are very protective and can become aggressive towards strangers and other dogs in the right circumstances. Many people choose Akitas for their loyalty to their owners and their protective nature, but this can also make them unpredictable and sketchy in stressful situations. These traits lead to an increased bite risk compared to other dogs.
Akita Bite Risk
Akitas have a scissor-shaped jaw, similar to that of Pitbulls, which gives them an incredible amount of bite force. It also means that their jaws cannot be dislodged by force unless the dog relents and lets go on its own. Other dogs’ jaws allow you to pry their mouths open to release a bite if necessary. You cannot do this to an Akita.
A study conducted by Animals 24-7 found a large number of serious injuries connected to Akita bites. The study monitored dog bites over a period of years and found the following statistics.
The study also found that Akitas bite children at a 2:1 rate (44 child bites vs. 22 adult bites.) That figure is not surprising, considering children ages 5 to 9 make up the largest age group that suffers from dog bites.
These numbers reflect the fact that Akitas can be at high risk for dog bites. That perceived elevated risk for dog bites has also influenced certain policies surrounding Akitas.
Akita Laws and Insurance Considerations
Since Akitas are considered to have an elevated risk for bites and are seen as potentially dangerous, they have been subjected to enhanced rules and regulations. In many places, Akitas are listed as a dangerous breed which affects the ability of their owners to find rentals, carry liability insurance, or even own the dogs. Some municipalities have rules governing the ownership of aggressive dogs. Some apartments refuse to rent to people who own Akitas. Some insurance will not cover dog bites caused by a so-called aggressive breed like an Akita.
These are all important things to consider if you own or plan on owning an Akita. Even if you have never had any problems with your Akita, the law and regulators might see your dog as aggressive either way.
How To Mitigate The Dangers Of Owning An Akita
Despite public perception, there are ways to mitigate the dangers of owning an Akita. Most “aggressive” dogs never show any signs of aggressiveness in their lives. This is largely due to a series of factors that owners take to ensure that their dogs are always on their best behavior.
One of the biggest keys to well-behaved dogs of any breed is training. If you plan on getting a large or potentially aggressive dog, training is imperative. You should make sure your dog knows basic commands like stop and recall. You also need to make sure your dog respects you and has the ability to respond to commands during stressful or new situations. The earlier you start training your dog, the better the results will be.
Another key to keeping an Akita calm and manageable is socialization. A lack of socialization can make your dog overly protective of you and can lead to aggressive behavior in public. The key to socialization is to start the dogs early (as puppies if possible) and to introduce them to a wide variety of situations while they are small. Take your dog on walks. Take them to the dog park. Introduce them to new people, new dogs, and new situations. The more a dog experiences when they are young, the more they will learn and the more comfortable they will be as they grow into a full-sized adult.
Exercise is also important. Large dogs, like Akitas, can have a very large motor. They have a lot of energy, and letting this energy build up can lead to it being expelled in unhealthy ways. If your dog gets “crazy” or gets too energetic and hard to control throughout the day, you likely need to provide more exercise. Some people think one good walk per day is enough, but that might not be true. Some dogs might need two long walks per day and a play session like fetch or chase to get all of their energy out. An Akita with too much energy can start exhibiting concerning and sometimes dangerous behaviors.
Lastly, you need to make sure you can control your dog. Even the best behaved dogs can have a moment where they slip up. If your dog starts to go after another dog or a person, you need to be able to control them. Whether that is through stern voice commands or physically being able to restrain them, control is critically important. Remember, full grown Akitas can stand 26 inches tall and weigh 130 lbs, so being able to control and restrain them at a moment’s notice can be the difference between an accident and a near miss.
Any Dog Can Potentially Be Dangerous In The Wrong Situation
These facts and warnings are not meant to denigrate the Akita. Akitas are seen as aggressive and dangerous by some people, but that doesn’t mean that all Akitas are dangerous by any means. In fact, any dog has the potential to be aggressive in the wrong situation. Chihuahuas, Labrador Retrievers, and Jack Russell Terriers are all found on the list of dogs most likely to bite. Even the smallest cutest dogs can bite, which is why you should never touch someone’s dog without permission and why pediatricians caution against leaving any dog unsupervised with any child.
Any dog can potentially bite especially if they are overly protective, prone to stress, poorly socialized, or untrained. That includes everything from a Boston Terrier to a Bull Terrier and the Akita.
Akitas are seen as dangerous, but that doesn’t mean that they are all dangerous. The Akita’s impressive size combined with their protective temperament and strong jaw makes them a high risk for dog bites. That has led some organizations like insurance groups, law firms, and local municipalities to label Akitas as a dangerous or aggressive dog breed. That is important to know before you get or interact with a new or strange Akita.
- Related Read: Are Akitas Hypoallergenic? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ