American Akita Vs Japanese Akita – How To Recognize Them?

There are two distinct breeds of Akita: The American Akita (or Akita), and the Japanese Akita (or Akita Inu). The difference between the American Akita vs Japanese Akita is obvious in their appearance. 

The American Akita’s face resembles a bear, while the Japanese Akita’s face resembles a fox. They differentiate in their coat color patterns as well. The Japanese Akita is only brindle, white, and red, while the American Akita has a variety of colors. These are only a few of their differences.

The History Of The Two Akita Breeds

The History of these two breeds is intertwined as one of them stems from the other.

The Akita Inu is a Japanese breed, believed to have been created sometime during the 17th century. They are believed to be descendants of the ancient Matagi hunting dogs and have their ancient roots in the Spitz breed of dogs. These dogs were originally bred to be hunters, and they hunted big animals like wild boar, bears, and deer. Because of this, the Japanese royals were interested in the Japanese Akita breeding practices to keep these dogs as a royal staple. 

Even though it was so loved, the Akita Inu faced extinction in the first part of the 20th century. With the beginning of the westernization of Japan, and the second World War, these dogs started disappearing due to mixing with other dogs and being killed for food or their coats.

The American Akita begins its history in the 1940s as nearing the end of the second World War, American soldiers started bringing this dog to the United States. Hellen Keller was the first person to bring the Akita to the USA after being gifted two of these dogs by the Japanese government. After this more and more American soldiers picked the Akita mixes and brought them to the States where the Akita was established as a breed standard by the AKC, in 1939. In 1972 the AKC officially accepted the Akita breed.

American Akita vs Japanese Akita Appearance

The difference between the Japanese and American Akita begins with their appearance. 

The Akita Inu has a face that resembles a fox with a pointed snout. It has a slim and slender body with a curled tail that loops onto its back. Its ears are triangular and sit more forward. It has almond-shaped eyes and a face that looks like the dog is smiling. 

The American Akita has a face that resembles a bear with a square, boxy appearance. Its body is more muscular and bulky. Its ears are triangular and more erect. Its eyes are small, round, and deeper set. It has massive bear-like paws that are made for hunting. 


Both breeds are considered to be large-sized, however, one is slightly larger than the other.

The Akita Inu height goes around 25-27.5 inches for the male and 22.5-25 inches for the female. Its weight is around 65-75 pounds for the male and 55-65 pounds for the female.

The American Akita height goes around 26-28 inches for the male and 24-26 inches for the female. Its weight is around 100-130 pounds for the male and 70-100 pounds for the female.

Coat And Color

You can recognize and differentiate both breeds when you compare their coats. Both of their coats are double coats and go through heavy shedding throughout the year.

The Akita Inu has a slightly longer and thickened double coat. It comes in only three colors: brindle, red, and white. It also has a recognized Urajiro pattern on its body made of white markings.

The American Akita might have a shorter double coat. It can have a variety of colors including black, fawn, red, white, and all kinds of mixes of these. It can have different kinds of markings, of which the black mask is most recognizable.

The Temperament Of The Two Akita Breeds

When it comes to their temperament, both of these breeds are quite similar. The American and Japanese Akita temperament makes them amazing guard dogs. Both of these breeds are very alert and suspicious of strangers and other dogs. The American Akita might be slightly more social and bark a little less than its Japanese counterpart.

They are both large dogs and are very prone to aggressive and territorial behavior. In fact, the Akita is known as one of the more aggressive dog breeds. Akitas can be quite aggressive towards dogs of the same sex. They also have a high prey drive, meaning that you shouldn’t let them be around small animals and young children. That said, these dogs, if trained from an early age, can be calm and loving with their close family and not resort to aggressiveness that often.

Both the Japanese and American Akitas temperament has shown them to be quite intelligent dogs. The problem is that both of them are also quite independent and stubborn, with the Japanese Akita being more stubborn than its American counterpart.

Taking Care Of an American Akita vs Japanese Akita

Having a dog at home, means you have to care for it. This means that you have to keep it healthy, fed, groomed, and properly exercised and trained.

Health And Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of both of these breeds is similar. According to the AKC, the American Akita lives up to 10-14 years, while the Japanese Akita lives up to 10-12 years.

There are a few common diseases that can affect both dogs. These include:

  • Hip Dysplasia – This is a disease of the joints, where the hip joints develop improperly and don’t fit in their socket. This will lead to arthritis. You can notice symptoms like problems with walking, limping, and pain in the joints.
  • Bloat – Both types of Akita dogs can suffer from this gastrointestinal issue. Their stomach makes it hard for food and gas to be expelled. Foods like uncooked rice can cause impaction and bloat. The symptoms are excessive drooling, fast breathing, and a stiff and painful belly.
  • Hypothyroidism – This disease attacks the thyroid gland and decreases its function. Because of that, the metabolism of the Akita slows down. It can lead to symptoms like weight gain, lethargy, hair loss, slowed heart rate, and cold intolerance.
  • Autoimmune diseases – Akitas are prone to Vogt–Koyanagi–Harada syndrome which attacks the whole body. They are also prone to Myasthenia gravis which is an autoimmune nerve disease. They can also get Pemphigus foliaceous, Lupus, and others.
  • Eye diseasesProgressive Retinal Atrophy is an eye disease that causes deterioration of the cells in the retina. It causes night vision problems, poor eyesight, and even blindness. Another eye disease that Akitas can have is Glaucoma.


To maintain an optimal American and Japanese Akita weight, you need to feed them a proper diet.

Both of these dogs are large and will require a bigger amount of food to be healthy. Around 4-5 cups of dog food is the recommended amount for an adult Akita. Of course, this is dependent on their size, age, and gender. Generally, Akitas use dog food formulas meant for large dogs.

Try to feed them dog food that is low in carbs and high in protein. It should also contain enough vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fatty acids. Go for more known dog food brands and be careful of what type of ingredients they consist of. Akitas can be sensitive to pesticides and preservatives, so try to avoid them as much as possible.

Exercise And Training

When we do an Akita size comparison we can notice both of them are large dogs, with one being slightly more muscular than the other. That said, both of these dogs require only a moderate amount of exercise every day. Around 30 minutes to 1 hour of exercise split into two sessions is perfect for both Akitas. You can do simple walks to the park, light jogging, hiking, or play some games. Having a big yard at home is perfect for the Akita as it will like to run around whenever it wants to.

When it comes to training, you might struggle quite a lot if you are a first-time dog owner. Akitas are intelligent dogs, but they are also very independent and stubborn. This can make them very hard to train. The owner needs to establish dominance, and be consistent, patient, and firm when training. You should also start socializing from an early age to escape the Japanese and American Akita aggression.


Grooming the Akitas is an important part of their care. They have beautiful double coats that keep them warm and it needs frequent attention. An interesting fact about Akitas is that they tend to groom themselves, just like cats.

The thick coat needs to be brushed once a week. This is because Akitas tend to shed their coats often. Bruising protects from matting and knotting of the coat. They shed heavily twice a year, during the “coat blowing” period, and will need a little more attention. You can bathe your Akita once a month to keep it clean. Bathing too often can irritate their skin.

You should brush their teeth daily to keep them clean. Clean their ears often, especially after bathing, and check for infections. You can also cut your dog’s nails once or twice a month.

Getting An American Akita vs Akita Inu

If you developed a liking for one of these two beautiful breeds, there are a few options to get one for yourself. The more expensive one would be buying, and the least expensive would be adopting.

The Cost Of Buying Akitas

The prices for both of these dogs are relatively similar. They range around $750 – $1600.

If you plan on buying the dog from a breeder, always look for reputable breeders. Avoid puppy mills at all costs. Your breeder needs to show you all the documentation for the puppy. They will also tell you all you need to know about the health risks and temperament of the Akita. Then, you can ask to meet its parents and littermates to know more about the pup. Breeders that sell dogs from parents who are dog show winners, will charge much more for their dogs.

The Cost Of Adopting Akitas

Another way you can get an Akita puppy as a pet is to ask in your local shelter. Rescuing a puppy is a humane thing to do, and you will not have to pay as much as buying the dog. 

Some shelters have adoption fees of $50 – $150. Then you might also need to spend money on spaying/neutering the dog, vaccinations, and initial supplies. That will still be much less than actually buying the dog. Make sure to do enough research and be sure you can take on the Akita before you get it as a pet.

Final Thoughts – American Akita vs Japanese Akita

The two Akita breeds are very similar as they both are descendants of the ancient Matagi hunting dogs. The American Akita breed started forming after the Second World War by mixing the Japanese Akita with other western dog breeds.

You can differentiate them by their appearance. The Japanese Akita has a fox-like face, while the American Akita has a bear-like face. The American Akita is slightly larger and more muscular than its Japanese counterpart. Their color combinations are also different.

Their temperament is largely similar. They are very protective and aggressive dogs, but also excellent guard family dogs. They are also intelligent but quite stubborn.

In order to care for both dogs, you need to provide proper nutrition, exercise, training, and care for their health. Proper grooming should also be done regularly.


Are American Akitas dangerous?

Even though Akitas are known to be very territorial and sometimes even aggressive, they are not considered dangerous dogs. These dogs do protect their owners, but they don’t attack people unprovoked.

Is the Akita a good dog for a first-time owner?

No, both the Japanese Akita and the American Akita are quite hard to train. Inexperienced owners will have a problem dealing with their stubbornness. Akitas need early socialization as well so they don’t become aggressive.

Is the Akita an apartment dog?

Both the American Akita vs Japanese Akita are large dogs so having a big yard for them to run in is recommended. However, the Akita can also live in an apartment if it gets enough exercise throughout the day.

Who was the most famous Akita?

The most famous Akita Inu is Hachiko, a Japanese dog known for its loyalty. It used to wait for its owner even after his death and received a monument of itself in the same place where it waited.

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