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Akita Rescue Dogs
The Akita's magnificent coat and imposing stance make it a stunning looking animal, a true ‘big bear’ of a breed. With that physical stature comes great confidence and self-assuredness, meaning it is important owners understand and accommodate the breed correctly. As with all large, confident dogs, Akitas need owners who are firm but fair and provide a suitable home life to meet their needs.
Because they can demonstrate a high predatory chase drive Akitas are not well suited to living with cats, other small animals or children, although much depends on the character of the individual animal.
If you are interested in rehoming an Akita, please take a look at our dogs featured and contact Battersea’s rehoming line on 0207 627 9234.
Originally from Japan, the Akita was used as a hunting dog by peasants and royalty alike, reputedly working alongside falcons on aristocratic excursions in search of deer, wild boar and black bear.
Though many will scarcely walk through a puddle these days, they also have a reputation as a water retriever.
There are two main types of Akita - the Japanese and American. The Japanese version has Oriental features and tends to be smaller and lighter boned with a thicker coat, while the American Akita is substantially larger and stronger, and has a shorter coat.
Like the real life Hachi-ko, who for nine years after his master's death continued to meet the Tokyo train the academic used to catch home from work, Akitas are a loyal breed and form a close bond with their immediate family. They can be haughty with strangers, however, and interact best once their respect has been gained.
A calm, assertive attitude on the part of the owner will help them enjoy being part of a family.
The Akita's magnificent ‘double coat', made up of a firm top coat over a softer under layer, requires regular grooming. The breed typically moults twice a year, although milder weather and central heating mean it can shed on a more regular basis.
Typically clean, they only need bathing once a year unless they get especially dirty outside. For day to day maintenance a good brush to remove loose hair and a wipe of the feet with a cloth to check for foreign bodies should suffice. Further advice can be obtained from a qualified breed-specific groomer.
Exercise and mental stimulation
A healthy adult Akita needs two 30-45 minute walks a day, plus opportunities to relieve himself outside. Although not a must-have, a secure garden allows them to enjoy off-lead exercise and games. Out and about they should always be under control on a lead.
Exercise is best controlled, with the emphasis on aerobic walking combined where appropriate with socialising with other people and dogs. Place the focus on walking to heel, with 'stop', 'sit' and 'wait' commands peppered throughout to increase control. Off-lead exercise in the garden could be fetch work, ‘go find ‘ games or just fun frolicking with a favourite toy.
Most Akitas love to ‘mouth’ in play and as a general form of communication. Mouthing is the gentle use of the dog’s mouth to hold your hand, arm, etc. Sometimes dogs can get over-excited and the gentle mouthing can become harder. If this happens, express your displeasure by voicing a loud “Ahh “ and moving away from the dog, preferably out of the room, before returning a few minutes later. This indicates gentle, soft use of the mouth is fine but anything harder is not.
As Akitas are a strong, powerful breed all toys need to be of an appropriate size and strength. Toys should never be used to engage in tug-of war games as Akitas shouldn't be encouraged to try and ‘beat’ their owner in any kind of activity.
Incorporating basic commands into playtime helps reinforce the bond between an Akita and its owner and increase obedience.
Akitas don't need acres of room, but boundaries are essential in order to reinforce the leader/ follower hierarchy between a dog and its owner. A specific area should be set aside for its bed, one which members of the household know not to impinge upon.
Their heavy coat means they tend to favour a cool spot on wooden floorboards or flagstones rather than a carefully created warm bed. As they get older and less mobile, however, they require a softer bed to help support their body.
The appropriate and correct use of a suitably-sized indoor crate can be invaluable when living with an Akita. In addition to representing a safe haven for your dog to retreat if it wants to rest, sleep or be left alone, a crate is also a space where it can be left safely on its own when you go out.
It's important indoor crates and kennels are only used as a positive experience and further reading is a must before you consider implementing one in your home. They should not be perceived as a ‘quick fix’, as it takes time to prepare a dog to become comfortable with them.
Other dogs and animals
When speaking of Akitas people often bring up the subject of aggression. The breed's innate fondness for chasing small furry things means they need special handling and guidance when in the presence of other animals. And for this reason they are less likely to fit into a household with cats or other dogs, particularly smaller ones.
The breed's confident and protective nature means it's not advisable to allow an Akita off lead in public places. Although they can be sociable, their natural strength and desire to control need to be managed by their owners.
Akita should be fed two meals a day, with a quality complete dry food as the main element. Fresh meat and appropriate vegetables, as well as cooked pasta and rice can be added in small quantities from time to time.
Here at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home we feed all our dogs on a mixed diet of wet and dry food kindly donated to us by Pedigree. Obesity in dogs is an increasing problem in the UK and it is essential that every dog, regardless of breed has a diet suited to its size and the amount of exercise it takes. If you have any concerns about your dog’s weight please discuss these with your vet.
Don't forget that when feeding dog either canned or dry foods ample water must be available at all times.
Because the Akita is a large breed it's very important not to exercise it less than one hour before or after a meal as this can lead to digestive problems.
References and recommended reading
A New Owner’s Guide to Akitas by Barbara J Andrews, TFH Publications
Ain’t Misbehavin’ by David Appleby, Broadcast Books
For further advice on Akitas contact the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home Behaviour Advice line on 0905 020 0222 (calls cost 25p/min from a BT landline, other networks may vary). The line is open 12-5pm, Mon-Fri.
Battersea Dogs & Cats Home: 0843 509 4444.
Calls cost 5p per minute from a BT landline, mobile charges may vary. All income donated from these calls will go towards the care of the dogs and cats at Battersea.