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Are Akitas Good Guard Dogs? Breed Behaviour & Facts

Jordyn Alger

By Jordyn Alger

akita inu puppy outdoors

If you’re looking for a guard dog, yes the Akita is a great option. The breed is known for being courageous and exceptionally loyal, which are two key qualities of any excellent guard dog. While the Akita will be suspicious and reserved around strangers, its family will bring out its soft side. To learn more about Akitas, keep reading below.

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History of the Akita Breed

The Akita was developed in Japan during the early 17th century. More specifically, it was developed in the Akita prefecture in northern Japan, thus giving the breed its name. According to ancient stories, the emperor at the time banished a nobleman to the Akita prefecture. The nobleman was particularly interested in dogs and made the most of his situation. During his banishment, he encouraged the barons under his authority to compete in breeding hunting dogs, with a focus on massive, versatile dogs.

Generations of deliberate breeding created an adept hunter, a hard worker, and a loyal companion. The Akita was so powerful that it could hunt deer, wild boar, and even the colossal Yezo bear.

Ownership of Akitas was once restricted to the imperial family and some select members of the court, and they have been the focus of many Japanese legends. While the breed has drawn precariously close to extinction at times, the dog’s survival was assured with the foundation of the Japanese national breed club in 1927. Today, Akita dogs are used as guard dogs and companions alike by families all over the world.

akita dog standing outdoor
Image Credit: FunFamilyRu, Shutterstock

What Are Akita Dogs Like?

The Akita has a noble character and an imposing figure. This muscular Spitz-type dog is renowned for its dignity and protective nature. They stand 24–28 inches at the shoulder and weigh as much as 100 pounds for a female and 130 pounds for a male. This massive dog takes its role as a guardian very seriously.

The Akita has a quiet personality. It is suspicious around strangers and intolerant of other animals. Because of that, it is not recommended that you bring an Akita into a house with multiple pets. While Akitas can be socialized to tolerate other animals, it is unlikely that they will forge a bond. Plus, the Akita is bred to have a strong prey drive. Smaller animals may trigger this response, leading to disaster.

Yet, Akitas thrive on human interaction and have plenty of love to give to their families. With family, the Akita will show its playful, affectionate side. They behave better around young children than other pets, although it is still recommended that any interaction with children be supervised due to the size of the Akita. Even the most well-intentioned Akita may accidentally knock down a small child simply because of its size.

Akitas are practically programmed to protect their loved ones. With an Akita for a companion, you will always have someone watching out for you.

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The Importance of Training and Socializing Akita Dogs

Akitas are protective of their owners and endlessly loyal, but this devotion does not extend to others outside the family. Regarding outsiders, the Akita will be wary at best and hostile at worst. To prevent needless aggression, the Akita must be socialized and trained from birth.

The Akita must learn that not all strangers are threats and how to behave in unfamiliar situations. Since the dog is so large and powerful, a poorly trained Akita may cause serious issues, such as harming someone or another animal.

They are intelligent yet independent, which can make training a difficult matter. Since training an Akita properly is vital, they are not recommended for first-time dog owners.

Socializing Akita Puppies

Socializing your Akita while it is still a puppy is essential. The ideal time for training begins around 3 weeks old and then closes around 16 or 20 weeks of age. During this time, you must expose your Akita puppy to new sounds, sights, smells, and other sensations so that your dog will not fear them later in life. Some key areas to focus on when socializing your Akita include:

  • Introductions: Bring your puppy to meet multiple new people each day, including well-behaved children.
  • Handling: Make sure that several people hold and cuddle your Akita puppy, and ensure the contact is pleasant.
  • Feeding areas: When your puppy is eating, approach the food bowl and drop a tasty treat in its dish. This will help dispel your dog’s negative feelings about people approaching its food and water.
  • Noises: Introduce your Akita to different sounds but be sure not to expose it to too much too fast. This can overwhelm your puppy.
  • Aggressive behaviors: Don’t respond with harsh punishment when your puppy displays aggressive behaviors. This often backfires. Instead, reward the correct behavior.
  • Solitude: Your puppy will need to learn how to be alone to avoid developing separation anxiety.
man running with akita inu dog outdoors
Image Credit by: Zen Chung, Pexels

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Important Facts About The Akita

Beyond the Akita’s abilities as a guard dog and its need for early and effective training, there is more that you will want to know before bringing an Akita home.

1. Akitas Are Clean Dogs

A major benefit of owning an Akita is how clean the breed is. An Akita will often groom itself like a cat and keep its coat clean. Also, housetraining an Akita is often easier than housetraining some other breeds. They shed moderately and only need to be brushed twice per week. However, Akitas blow their undercoats twice yearly, so you will need to brush your dog more frequently around this time.

2. Akitas Thrive with Experienced Dog Owners

Due to the high levels of effective training the Akita needs, the dog is not recommended for first-time owners. While this dog is intelligent and affectionate, it is also strong-willed and independent, which can make it difficult for an inexperienced dog owner to train properly.

Akitas responds well to respectful, confident commands. They thrive under positive reinforcement and motivation rather than punishment and force. If you are confident in your dog training skills, the Akita may be your perfect companion.

3. Cold Weather Boosts the Akita Dog’s Drive

Something about cold weather seems to get the Akita’s blood pumping. If you live in a snowy area, you may notice your Akita rolling around in the snow or even eating it. They will also be eager to hunt rabbits or other small creatures, so make sure you have your dog in an enclosed, supervised area when outdoors.

happy akita inu
Image Credit by: TatyanaPanova, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Akitas are remarkable, majestic dogs. Their loyalty and dedication to their families are unbreakable, and their bravery is unwavering in the face of danger. If a guard dog is what you want, the Akita can fill that role with excellence. You will need a strict training and socializing regimen to ensure that your Akita can determine friend from foe, and experienced dog owners are recommended. If you decide that the Akita is right for you, you will surely make a devoted companion for life.

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