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I guess the first question you should ask yourself is, why do you want an Akita? While there is no uncomplicated “right” reason, there are several very plainly wrong ones. If you just want to invest in a home business, then you need to do more research on dog breeding because you’ll be very lucky if you break even. If you’re primarily interested a beautiful, impressive looking accessory, you’d probably be happier with a nice painting or statue of an Akita that you won’t have to interact with. And if you’re only looking for an attack animal with a frightening reputation, go away...you’re wasting bandwidth, my time and a dog’s life.

That being said, let’s have a preliminary look at this remarkable animal. For clean lines, compact grace and unflappable dignity, the Akita has few (if any) equals. The distinctive triangular, forward-set ears and expressive eyes are the hallmarks of the breed, and they’re as lithe as cats in spite of their massive construction. Even as pups, they have a regal attitude and an astonishing amount of self-control. Heavy-handed bullying of an Akita pup is likely to result in resentment and potentially violent behavior, and indeed is quite useless and unnecessary. Akitas will cooperate...they will not be intimidated. This distinction assumes added significance when your dog is expected to weigh somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 pounds at maturity. Firm, consistent, fair discipline and clear expectations are absolutely necessary for an Akita, and it’s simply no good being impatient or wishy-washy. The former will probably result in you being ignored, the latter in being challenged at every step. Few other breeds have such clear boundaries between the leader and the led.

Originally bred for hunting, the Akita fell victim to the “sport” of dog fighting during the 17th and 18th centuries and was crossed with the highly dog-aggressive Tosa in order to produce a more competitive animal. This remains a problem with the breed in general, and while Akitas can be conditioned to accept other animals in the household, most tend to consider strange animals as either combatants or prey. It’s important to note that Akitas are very people oriented, and while they are protective (as are most breeds of dogs) they are not by nature aggressive toward humans. Reserved with strangers, yes. Unfriendly, no. But they need to be part of the family if they’re to respond as such. Just as a human will become neurotic if isolated, so will any dog regardless of breed, and proper socialization is perhaps the most important aspect of responsible dog ownership. A mature Akita will be less inclined to seek spontaneous contact with strangers, so it’s necessary to thoroughly accustom pups to humans and their activities.

Akitas are generally quite good with children in their own families, and most can be made trustworthy with all children provided there is adult supervision. Good general advice, by the way...little people often give exactly the wrong signals to dogs and usually aren’t capable of recognizing warning signals in time to avoid confrontation. Never leave a small child unsupervised with ANY dog. Even Muffin the Maltese can be hazardous to a toddler, but outright tragedy is occasionally the result when Muffin is 28 inches tall at the shoulder and tips the scale at 105 pounds.

Generally healthy, Akitas have a genetic predisposition toward hip dysplasia. Responsible breeders screen for this, but there’s no absolute guarantee against it. Nourishing food formulated for large breed puppies, regular vet visits and attention to exercise and weight are the best preventatives for future problems in this area. Akitas don’t require an inordinate amount of exercise, but should (ideally) have a fenced yard to run in or at least regular daily walks. Otherwise mannerly enough, the Akita tends to be a dedicated crotch sniffer and furniture muncher and this may be something you’ll have to tolerate for many years. Try not to take it personally.

So, what are the benefits that accrue to Akita-philes? Incredible beauty, for one thing. This dog’s lines and build are absolutely symmetrical, and its coat colors so clear and defined they might have been applied with an airbrush. The attentive, subtle facial expressions of an Akita are to die for, and the air of subdued power is awe inspiring to say the least. It moves...and sometimes behaves...like a cat, even to the ground hugging, liquid stalk and facial grooming. Not especially vocal by nature this dog will have to have a very important reason for raising an alarm. This means you probably won’t be getting those 2 a.m. phone calls in response to the dog’s having turned on his auto-bark function and then gone away for the weekend. And it means when your dog DOES bark, you can be assured it’s because of something that requires your immediate attention.

Akitas are fastidious, affectionate and firmly bonded with their families, quiet, beautiful, adaptable and the very definition of the term “watchdog”. The question, therefore, seems to be not so much, “why should I consider an Akita?” as it is, “why shouldn’t I consider an Akita?” Horror stories and misinformation to the contrary, go right on ahead with your research, because this breed may be the one for you.