Home Petopia American Akita vs Japanese Akita – Deciphering the Differences Between These Powerful Breeds

American Akita vs Japanese Akita – Deciphering the Differences Between These Powerful Breeds

American Akita vs Japanese Akita

With their alert expressions, muscular frames, and lush coats, Akitas naturally command respect. But did you know there are two distinct varieties of this ancient Japanese breed? The American Akita Vs Japanese Akita share common ancestry, but selective breeding has led to some pronounced differences.

If you’re captivated by these powerful dogs and are weighing the nuances of each type, you’ve come to the right place! In this comprehensive guide, we’ll unravel the often confusing similarities and contrasts between the American Akita and Japanese Akita.

I’m [your name], a passionate Akita owner and expert. I’ll walk you through everything you need to know to determine which variety may be the better fit for your lifestyle and experience level – from their history and appearance to personality, care, costs and more. Let’s jump in and demystify the marvelous yet complex world of Akitas!

American Akita
American Akita vs Japanese Akita - Deciphering the Differences Between These Powerful Breeds 1

Breed History and Origins

To fully understand how the American and Japanese Akita developed as distinct branches, we first need to delve into some history:

Shared Japanese Ancestry

Both Akita types originated centuries ago as versatile working dogs in Japan’s northernmost region of Akita. There they were used for hunting, guarding, and companionship. Their courageous spirit and physical hardiness allowed them to flourish.

Breed Devastation and Revival

Sadly, during World War II the Akita breed neared extinction. But dedicated Japanese breeders were able to revive the Akita using a small pool of surviving dogs. However, only decades later was it recognized that American soldiers had also transported some Akita specimens back home prior to the war.

Emergence of Distinct Bloodlines

In the postwar period, American breeders focused on developing a heavier, more substantially boned Akita adapted for the show ring rather than fieldwork. Meanwhile, the Japanese worked to preserve what they viewed as the original, spitz-type Akita for heritage and purity.

Separate Breed Recognition

By the 1990s, the physical and temperamental differences between the divergent American and Japanese Akitas became too pronounced to ignore. Japan designated them as two distinct breeds. Most major kennel clubs followed suit.

Despite their shared roots, the modern American and Japanese Akita have clearly forked into their own separate dog breeds after decades of specialized development. Keep reading as we dive into the differences.

Comparing the Physical Characteristics

Now that you understand how the breed split, let’s explore how American and Japanese Akitas differ visually:


  • American – Larger and heavier boned, 26-28 inches tall, often 100-130 lbs
  • Japanese – Smaller and lighter boned, 24-26 inches tall, generally 70-85 lbs

Head and Expression

  • American – Broad skull, small triangular eyes, scissor bite
  • Japanese – Narrower head, almond-shaped eyes, slight underbite

Build and Proportion

  • American – Stocky, bear-like, sturdy, heavily muscled
  • Japanese – Square build, moderate bone, more leggy and agile


  • American – Thicker and fuller, soft undercoat with harsher outer layer
  • Japanese – Double coat but not as thick or plush as American variety


  • American – All colors allowed – various solid, pinto, and brindle patterns
  • Japanese – Restricted to red, white, sesame (red fawn), or brindle coats

In a nutshell, American Akitas have bulkier, stockier frames, while Japanese Akitas exhibit a leaner, square-proportioned build echoing their spitz ancestors.

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Comparing the Temperament and Personality

Beyond their physical attributes, the divergent breeding priorities in America versus Japan also impacted Akita temperament and personality:


  • American – Tend to have more intense guarding instincts. Naturally wary of strangers. Quick to sound alarm at disturbances. Need extensive proper socialization.
  • Japanese – Alert and observant but tend to have slightly more relaxed guarding instincts. Reserve judgment of strangers rather than instantly distrustful.

Prey Drive

  • American – Often exhibit higher prey drives due to use in hunting. Strong instincts to give chase. Require supervision around small animals.
  • Japanese – Moderately strong prey drive but tend to be calmer and less reactive overall. Easier to train in recall and restraint.


  • American – Bred more for guarding than obedience work. Tend to be bold, dominant, strong-willed and more stubborn.
  • Japanese – Respond better to training as they were utilized more for utility work. Relatively more handler oriented and eager to please.


  • American – Guarding tendencies if not properly handled can translate to unwarranted aggression in some lines. Extensive socialization essential.
  • Japanese – Far less dog or human aggression when properly socialized. More receptive to firm yet positive handling.

In summary, American Akitas tend to be more intensely protective by nature while the Japanese lineage exhibits more receptiveness to training and moderate reactivity. Bear in mind that individual temperament plays a role too.

Japanese Akita
American Akita vs Japanese Akita - Deciphering the Differences Between These Powerful Breeds 2

Comparing Ideal Home Environments

Given their size, strength, and guardian instincts, both Akita varieties require experienced owners regardless. However, some differences in their ideal living conditions exist:

Space Requirements

  • American – Their larger size means they need ample indoor and outdoor space to thrive. A medium to large sized yard is ideal. Apartments are not recommended.
  • Japanese – While still requiring room to move, they can manage slightly smaller accommodations than American Akitas given their lighter build.

Climate Conditions

  • American – As a bulkier double coated breed, prone to overheating in extremely hot and humid climates. Do best in more temperate regions.
  • Japanese – Their lighter coat allows them to better regulate temperature in warmer weather, but still prefers avoiding extremes.

Family Environment

  • American – Best in homes with well-mannered older children. Close supervision with toddlers is essential. Do extensive socialization. Multi-pet homes can be challenging.
  • Japanese – Their moderately calmer nature makes them slightly more compatible in homes with younger children and other pets when properly introduced. Still need oversight.
  • Both – Require owners fully committed to early training, socialization, activity, and responsible ownership. Not recommended for first time dog owners.

Their training and stimulation needs mean neither Akita is ideally suited to being left alone for extended periods. Arrange care as needed when away long hours.

Comparing grooming and Care Needs

In terms of grooming and general care, some similarities and differences exist between the two Akita varieties:

Grooming and Shedding

  • American – Their thicker coat requires more frequent brushing to control shedding, mats, and keep fur and skin healthy. Expect heavy seasonal shedding.
  • Japanese – Shed moderately year-round and more seasonally. Coat usually requires slightly less maintenance overall, but don’t neglect regular brushing.

Overall Care Needs

  • Both – Require similar amounts of daily exercise, playtime, training, socialization and veterinary upkeep. Neither adapt well to being ignored or untrained. Thrive when mentally and physically stimulated.
  • Both – Prone to same potential health issues include hip dysplasia, bloat, cancer, thyroid problems. Purchase health tested lineages.
  • Both – Need nail trimming, teeth brushing, ear cleaning as part of regular grooming routine.
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Their grooming and care needs differ only moderately. Be prepared to actively train, exercise, and socialize both Akita types. Proper enrichment allows them to channel instincts in a healthy manner.

Comparing the Costs of American Akita vs Japanese Akita

As large, active pedigreed breeds requiring attentive ownership, Akitas represent a serious financial investment:

Purchase Price

  • American Akita – $1500 to $4000 USD from health tested lineages
  • Japanese Akita – $2000 to $5000+ USD from imported or highly prized bloodlines

One-Time Initial Expenses

Expect around $2000 to $5000 upfront for supplies like:

  • Sturdy crate, carrier, leashes, collars
  • High quality food, dishes, toys
  • Grooming tools
  • Beds and crates
  • Initial vet fees including exam, vaccines, tests
  • Training classes
  • Securing home like fencing

Yearly Costs

Annual costs average $2000 to $5000 covering:

  • High quality food – approx. $1000
  • Routine vet visits and preventatives – $500+
  • Miscellaneous supplies – $500
  • Professional grooming (or tools) – $200+
  • Boarding fees if relevant – varies
  • Emergencies or injuries – $1000+
  • Ongoing training as needed – varies

As you can see, both Akita varieties represent at least a decade-long financial commitment and lifestyle change. But devoted owners describe life with these regal dogs as utterly priceless.

Finding a Healthy Akita Puppy or Adult

If the Akita seems like a good match, here are tips for finding the right dog for your home:

  • Verify health testing and pedigree lineage for puppy’s parents. Expect to join breeder waitlists.
  • Consider adopting adult Akitas from rescue groups to bypass puppy stages. However, extensive vetting is still required.
  • For purchasers, request breeder references and confirm they will take dogs back if ever needed. Most quality Akitas will require spay/neuter contracts.
  • Prepare for transportation – importing Japanese Akitas or traveling to reputable American Akita breeders may require flights or long drives.

Take your time and perform due diligence finding a breeder aligned with your goals – whether seeking a show prospect, working partner, or devoted family companion. Patience pays off!

Key Considerations Before Choosing an Akita

I hope this thorough comparison between the Japanese and American Akitas has shown they share core traits but also have some pronounced differences. To determine which variety may suit your home best, reflect on:

  • Your experience with intense, powerful guardian breeds – Akitas demand proper handling
  • Time available to actively train, socialize, and exercise daily
  • Space you can provide – either requires room indoors and out
  • Household factors like children, multi-pet dynamics, noise levels
  • Grooming commitment – both have thick double coats
  • Budgeting for substantial potential veterinary costs
  • Restrictions like breed or weight limits where you live

I highly recommend meeting both varieties before choosing which Akita is right for you. Don’t let their beauty overshadow serious consideration of the responsibility required! With the right match, an Akita will reward you with a lifetime of devotion.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Akitas

To wrap up this extensive comparison guide, here are answers to some of the most common Akita FAQs:

What is the difference between Japanese Akita and American Akita?

The American Akita is larger boned, stockier, and more substantially built while the Japanese Akita has a leaner, square build closer to their spitz-type ancestors. Temperament wise, American Akitas tend to be more intensely protective while Japanese Akitas exhibit more trainability.

Are Akitas good family dogs?

When properly trained and socialized from an early age, both Akita varieties can adapt well to family living with owners who appreciate the breed’s strong guarding instincts. Close supervision of interactions with small children is absolutely essential. These dogs bond very loyally to their own families but reserve judgment on strangers, so extensive socialization is critical. With proper handling, Akitas do make devoted companions.

How much does an Akita cost?

Expect to pay $1500 to $5000+ for an Akita from a quality breeder depending on the lineage and whether you are acquiring a Japanese or American variety. Annual costs for care also run quite high given their substantial healthcare, training, food, and grooming requirements. Akitas represent at least a 10+ year commitment.

Are Akitas dangerous dogs?

Breed traits like strong guarding instincts, wariness of strangers, prey drive, and tendency towards dog aggression mean Akitas can certainly become dangerous in the wrong hands. However, when responsibly bred, extensively socialized, professionally trained, supervised, and actively enriched, Akitas may show watchful wariness but are very devoted and gentle with their families.

Do Akitas bark a lot?

Akitas are not excessively barky dogs overall but do have a loud, intimidating bark they use to sound the alarm against perceived threats. Most owners describe Akitas as calm, quiet dogs indoors who will alert bark but not make excessive nuisance noise. Ensure their training and exercise needs are met to prevent problem barking.

Please let me know if you have any other questions! I hope this comprehensive comparison of the Akita breeds, along with information about ‘The Indian Spitz Dog Breed‘ and ‘The Majestic Norwegian Forest Cat,’ has provided helpful insight. Wishing you the very best whether deciding between the Japanese or American Akita to welcome into your home or simply broadening your canine and feline knowledge. Please write in English language.

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