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This is a bit of a spinoff from the GSD thread, but I wanted to ask the same thing about Akitas. Do you think the aggressive, potentially dangerous, "beware of the dog" reputation is warranted?

I ask because I really haven't met many people with Akitas. Actually, I have only ever seen 1 while I have been out and about. I knew a couple people who had them but either we were never with eachother in situations you would bring your dog or they were dog aggressive. All I know is what I can describe from mine, which is a good natured puppy who loves to play with people who he knows and other dogs but can be standoffish sometimes. On the spectrum of aggressive dogs I have met he does not even register.

What I have noticed is that as he has gotten bigger, the people who suspect that he is an Akita or know a bit about dogs do not want to approach him. I have been asked "is an Akita?" by somebody who is standing behind me in the pet store line petting him, but will retreat to a safe distance if I say Yes.

So I just wonder what other people's experiences are with Akitas and whether they actually deserve to be considered one of the most difficult/dangerous dogs you can own?
 

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I haven't met very many Akitas but I agree with you - everyone who talks about Akitas generally assumes they are pretty aggressive and protective. I have met two at the pet store in the past several months and both of them were not friendly (I don't know if they were stranger reactive or dog reactive) although the same person had both so I suspect there could be a training issue there.
 

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The BF's Akita was not a social dog. Champ was naturally protective and did not like venturing away from home or interacting with anyone but those few family members living at the house. He didn't go on drives or trips.
 

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Ive never met one but i think ive seen one at petco and someone walking one with a child. So this is coming from little to no akita experience. I think in general though, they are a protective breed and i think more prone to dog agression, and i think there not known for being super stranger friendly. I think its sort of the same principle with gsd in the sense socialization is verry important (obviously important in all dogs but more for lack of a better word critical in some breeds) . They are i think deffinitly a one person/family dog. Of coarse there is the individual dog varients.
 

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Hello,

My only experience was as a kid. About 6-12 years old. My best friend had 1. They would always tell me they would wrestle a bear to protect their owners. They lived in a railroad apartment in New York, Queens. I don't remember the dog ever being outside other then yard. It was a 4 family house with many dogs in it. So they would be great together in the yard.

As far as my experience that dog was my first ever experience with a dog and probably why I love dogs. He was always so happy and cuddly. Sounds like he might be an exception to the rule of Akita's. Man did I love that dog.
 

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I haven't worked with or met too terribly many so take what I say with a grain of salt. ;)

Personally I really don't like any breed being described or called aggressive. There's always a spectrum of behavior within all breeds. Then breeding/genetic, training, owners' handling abilities, socialization, etc. all come into play as well.

There have been several really lovely akita mixes that have come through my shelter. I also had a pb Akita pup (conformation lines) who was awesome a bit ago. Some of the other adults I have encountered have been true to standard. Aloof with strangers and unfamiliar dogs.

Personally that aloofness isn't inherently an issue. It tends to become an issue when people have poor management, handling, and training skills and put the dog into situations they shouldn't.

Also a lot of the Asian breeds seem to be harder for people to read body language wise, and the average person already is not good at reading/understanding canine body language! Gets both people and dogs into bad situations.
 

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In my opinion...yes, they have earned that reputation. An Akita almost killed one of my best friends when I was 4. I totally understand what caused it (her ball rolled over to him when he was chained to a tree and she bent down near him to pick it up), but that doesn't mean it was a...well "provoked" attack where he was being teased or hurt. He knew her and had seen her and gotten petted by her daily for a few months. This was also not the first person he attacked. I believe he bit the owner's elderly mother as well. Finally they had to put him down. I have also encountered a few scary ones in the shelter I worked at that we had to exercise a lot of caution with.

Also in my experience Akitas are not social dogs, they're aloof and only like their people. They have no interest in making new friends and are perfectly happy telling anyone who trespasses on their property that they'd like to take a chunk out of their ass. Now of course they are fiercely loyal and protective of their masters and family, but typically a one person dog. I've also heard they're not overly affectionate in their affection, and are more likely to just sit by their people loyally and look at them lovingly rather than nuzzle and kiss all over. However from some other responses I suppose they can be much more affectionate with their people. Dogs with this inherent aloofness and wariness of strangers are also much more dangerous if they are not well socialized or well bred.

As @kmes said, aloofness is not a bad thing, but Asian breeds don't...behave in a way most Americans enjoy dogs. They're not as emotionally demonstrative as many other breeds, whether it's good or bad emotions. They also have that thing about them where they don't always give as much warning before they attack. Or their signs are more subtle than other breeds so non-dog people will not pick them up.

That being said, I would say an Akita is on the same level as a Rottweiler. A breed with a high propensity for aggression and with the ability to do serious damage if they attack. You need to have dog experience, training experience, AND be able to handle a massive dog to safely own an Akita. They are one of the breeds I would never own and never want to own, but like any dogs they're not all bad.
 

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Well. I have had only positive experiences with them. That's not to disqualify the bad or even tragic experiences people have had,just giving my experiences with breed. My best friend had two when we were kids. They were great dogs but they weren't like a golden which is one reason I really love them, I get their aloofness. We also didn't bother them if they weren't in the mood, their approach to life is somewhat like a cat. My cousin also had an Akita, Dakota, she was very well behaved and he worked hard training her and socializing her. She was again very aloof( not fearful at all) when she wanted to be pet she would come over and when she was done you just had to respect her space( I feel this way for dogs in general too) She also was raised alongside my younger cousins and very used to kids coming and going, lots of activity. I also had a wonderful dog who was partially Akita and some shep. He was curious and generally friendly. He was raised along side my children. I never felt unsafe when I went out with him. We also had a couple as patients when I was a vet tech, never any problem. IME with Akitas is that you know and respect their space and they will respect yours. I think approaching their training and socialization would be different than most other breeds ( a few working Pyrenees and anatolians I've met have a similar personality) They are very independent thinking which suits certain people. They can be wonderful dogs if bred, raised and in capable homes but are obviously not for everyone. Akita and Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs are two dogs that I would love to have :)
 

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Akitas are formidable dogs and have the tools to be a handful if they are not properly socialized and trained. I have only known one Akita and she was a cupcake. Most of the descriptions regarding temperament read pretty much the same such as " The Akita is docile, intelligent, courageous and fearless. Careful and very affectionate with its family. Sometimes spontaneous, it needs a firm, confident, consistent pack leader. Without it, the dog will be very willful and may become very aggressive to other dogs and animals.". Kind of sounds like a GSD as well.
 

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Just FYI @DriveDog, dogbreedinfo is not a reputable source. Lots of BS and false information. Especially the "pack leader" nonsense.

Anyway, to answer the OP....Yes, Akitas can be challenging. And with poor breeding and being under or unsocialized and trained...They can absolutely be very dangerous dogs. A well bred and properly trained/socialized Akita is a wonderful dog though. A dog you can trust to be gentle with your family, but also knows how to identify a threat, and deal with it using an appropriate level of force or intimidation. The mark if a truly good guard dog. They are bred to be more independent so that they can make such decisions on their own and not be as influenced by people. It can make training challenging, but not impossible.
 

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Just FYI @DriveDog, dogbreedinfo is not a reputable source. Lots of BS and false information. Especially the "pack leader" nonsense.

Anyway, to answer the OP....Yes, Akitas can be challenging. And with poor breeding and being under or unsocialized and trained...They can absolutely be very dangerous dogs. A well bred and properly trained/socialized Akita is a wonderful dog though. A dog you can trust to be gentle with your family, but also knows how to identify a threat, and deal with it using an appropriate level of force or intimidation. The mark if a truly good guard dog. They are bred to be more independent so that they can make such decisions on their own and not be as influenced by people. It can make training challenging, but not impossible.
 

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Just FYI @DriveDog, dogbreedinfo is not a reputable source. Lots of BS and false information. Especially the "pack leader" nonsense.

To each their own. I used their words not mine. I'm not much for the notion of "pack leader" because it is often construed in a fashion which might taint the relationship between human and dog. I would use the terms calm, firm, confident, wise, fair and consistent in place of "pack leader" which is not "nonsense" by any measure. My guess would be that an Akita needs solid leadership similar to many other breeds. Other websites describe the Akita as a dog which needs an owner who can provide firm, loving discipline. It's all the same to me but this much I would assume; an Akita in the hands of a less than committed provider will become a handful.

I'm curious since dogbreedinfo is BS, could you please offer a reputable website which describes an Akita's temperament?

Interesting factoid about Akitas, probably known by all Akita owners and fans: The first Akita brought to the USA was by Helen Keller, a gift from the Japanese.
 

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To each their own. I used their words not mine. I'm not much for the notion of "pack leader" because it is often construed in a fashion which might taint the relationship between human and dog. I would use the terms calm, firm, confident, wise, fair and consistent in place of "pack leader" which is not "nonsense" by any measure. My guess would be that an Akita needs solid leadership similar to many other breeds. Other websites describe the Akita as a dog which needs an owner who can provide firm, loving discipline. It's all the same to me but this much I would assume; an Akita in the hands of a less than committed provider will become a handful.

I'm curious since dogbreedinfo is BS, could you please offer a reputable website which describes an Akita's temperament?

Interesting factoid about Akitas, probably known by all Akita owners and fans: The first Akita brought to the USA was by Helen Keller, a gift from the Japanese.
The parent breed club is usually the best place. You can also look at the standards for the breed from various kennel clubs like the AKC, UKC, CKC etc. They typically describe temperament as part of the standard.

The Akita Club of America: Official Website
 

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This is what I got from your link TiggerBounce.... "Alert and responsive, dignified and courageous. Akitas may be intolerant of other dogs, particularly of the same sex."
-The breed standard of temperament.

It seems to me that Akitas are in a separate category of dogs, maybe grouped together with animals like the LSGs. I mean, dogs that can go badly wrong in unqualified hands and that the large majority of owners say they would not take on themselves. I really see the response towards Akitas being different than that towards pit bulls, shepherds, Rottweilers, and similar breeds; in those cases, the majority of the individuals are well adjusted and friendly animals. They are often owned by inexperienced people with no major consequences. (Unless I am misinformed)

From my own experience owning an Akita, I don't see many of the stereotypical behaviors. I have no doubt that he would protect me if need be, and sometimes I see a flash of that protectiveness if we come on somebody walking at night or a person who gives off a really bad vibe, but the dog aggression, inability to go out and about, unprovoked shows of aggression/power, dislike of greeting strangers, stubborn and unaffectionate elements are inaccurate. Although, when I see the response of strangers and some of the posters here- it makes me wonder if he is simply unique or he will develop some different habits as he grows older.

Finally, I do not believe that the Akita is a dog that needs "firm and strict leadership". On the contrary, I think attitudes like that could have significantly contributed to the problem. IME, what people perceive as stubborn-ness or disrespect is a result of their reduced capacity to understand and communicate with people. Akitas are part of a group of nine breeds who are more closely related to wolves than they are to any other type of dog. My Akita puppy is more genetically similar to a wild wolf than to my mom's Cavachon, even though he is technically a canis lupus familiaris. My theory is that this causes the "ancient breeds" (what that group of nine is called) to be less nuanced in their interpretations with us. This is why they are considered to be difficult to train and sometimes disrespectful. The desire to please and to be in a relationship with their family unit is still there, but the communicative skills are less developed than with the more "evolved" breeds. I have used exclusively positive reinforcement with my puppy, and I would certainly not be considered strict in any sense of the word, but Loki passed advanced obedience at 20 weeks old and I find him to be more responsive and trainable than many other dogs I have worked with when approached in a way that attends to his unique abilities.

I would actually consider my husky/pitbull to be the less trainable, more stubborn, and potentially more dangerous due to his prey drive and independence.
 

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This is what I got from your link TiggerBounce.... "Alert and responsive, dignified and courageous. Akitas may be intolerant of other dogs, particularly of the same sex."
-The breed standard of temperament.

It seems to me that Akitas are in a separate category of dogs, maybe grouped together with animals like the LSGs. I mean, dogs that can go badly wrong in unqualified hands and that the large majority of owners say they would not take on themselves. I really see the response towards Akitas being different than that towards pit bulls, shepherds, Rottweilers, and similar breeds; in those cases, the majority of the individuals are well adjusted and friendly animals. They are often owned by inexperienced people with no major consequences. (Unless I am misinformed)

From my own experience owning an Akita, I don't see many of the stereotypical behaviors. I have no doubt that he would protect me if need be, and sometimes I see a flash of that protectiveness if we come on somebody walking at night or a person who gives off a really bad vibe, but the dog aggression, inability to go out and about, unprovoked shows of aggression/power, dislike of greeting strangers, stubborn and unaffectionate elements are inaccurate. Although, when I see the response of strangers and some of the posters here- it makes me wonder if he is simply unique or he will develop some different habits as he grows older.

Finally, I do not believe that the Akita is a dog that needs "firm and strict leadership". On the contrary, I think attitudes like that could have significantly contributed to the problem. IME, what people perceive as stubborn-ness or disrespect is a result of their reduced capacity to understand and communicate with people. Akitas are part of a group of nine breeds who are more closely related to wolves than they are to any other type of dog. My Akita puppy is more genetically similar to a wild wolf than to my mom's Cavachon, even though he is technically a canis lupus familiaris. My theory is that this causes the "ancient breeds" (what that group of nine is called) to be less nuanced in their interpretations with us. This is why they are considered to be difficult to train and sometimes disrespectful. The desire to please and to be in a relationship with their family unit is still there, but the communicative skills are less developed than with the more "evolved" breeds. I have used exclusively positive reinforcement with my puppy, and I would certainly not be considered strict in any sense of the word, but Loki passed advanced obedience at 20 weeks old and I find him to be more responsive and trainable than many other dogs I have worked with when approached in a way that attends to his unique abilities.

I would actually consider my husky/pitbull to be the less trainable, more stubborn, and potentially more dangerous due to his prey drive and independence.
Good post.

Your comment " Finally, I do not believe that the Akita is a dog that needs "firm and strict leadership". On the contrary, I think attitudes like that could have significantly contributed to the problem.", what "problem" are you citing?

FWIW, it is not the human who decides what is "firm and strict", it is the dog's nature and hardness or softness that determines what is "firm and strict". So, the use of "firm and strict" is very subjective.

From Karen Pryor's website touching on the subject of leadership.

"Leaders control the resources and make the rules. In the modern home, humans control the resources, or at least have the capacity to control them. They also make the rules, or at least have that capacity, too. The humans who care for them are a huge part of a dog's environment. This puts humans in the position where some degree of leadership is not just advantageous, but appropriate.
Attention, affection, play, shelter, safety, and food are some of the resources humans must provide to dogs. Rules about how to greet others, how to enter or leave the house, how to walk on a leash, where to sleep, where to toilet, how to play are all open to interpretation if the human doesn't lead the way effectively.
To take responsibility, as leaders should, for not only a dog's behavior, but also for his physical and emotional well-being, then leaders should consider appropriate outlets for energy and the expression of instinct or drive. At the very least, food should be earned in some capacity.
What a dog was bred to do should be taken into consideration, of course. All dogs have certain traits in common, though, and most are happy with any activity chosen for them as long as how the behavior associated with the activity is taught thoughtfully."
 

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I think every dog is an individual so I can't say every akita is the same. The ones I've come across though seem to be aloof to strangers and generally just ignore you which is absolutely fine imo. The worst ones I've come across is one who was in the back of a car with an infant in a baby seat running back and forth barking and growling trying to get out and another who lunges at the leash to try and get to dogs and people. Both of these dogs behaviour are completely the owners fault though, and I've seen all sorts of breeds act like this so I can't say that akitas tend to do it more than nay other breed based on my experience.

I actually love the breed and think they are fantastic with the right owner. Unfortunately I think they are one of those breeds that are becoming increasingly popular because of their looks and people buy them without doing any research on the breed and don't know what owning an akita entails. I've noticed that every dog shelter in the area has atleast 2 or 3 akitas in it these days :(
 

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@squidwanda - my dog,Macai, was partial Akita and while he had the protective instinct when there was a person I didn't get a good "vibe" with( happened twice, no aggression took place) He would be a little standoffish when new people would come over. But when going out I could take him anywhere and he wasn't aggressive with other friendly dogs or people. Honestly for being an Akita/GSD mix he was quite friendly when out and about. I thought he could be intimidating looking but most people always asked to pet him and thought he was cool looking. For your dog, I think as long as you know him and are an informed and responsible owner ( which is what I take away from all your posts) he will represent an Akita well. That's all we can really do regardless of breed/breed mix.
 

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squidwanda,

I forgot to ask in my previous post. Please excuse my ignorance but I always like to learn, so I'll ask. What is an "LSG" ? I've seen "LGD" livestock guardian dog is this the same as "LSG"?
 

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squidwanda,

I forgot to ask in my previous post. Please excuse my ignorance but I always like to learn, so I'll ask. What is an "LSG" ? I've seen "LGD" livestock guardian dog is this the same as "LSG"?
Yeah! I think it is supposed to be LGD but I couldn't remember. That's what I meant!

Also, I agree with what you said about a firm and strict leader. Loki is a very passive dog, I hestitate to use submissive in regards to personality but he is often the one who gives up resources and defers to the decision of me and my husky mix. I rarely ever correct him and I am less proactive about making sure he follows house "rules". However, Bear gets anxious and will ignore my commands if his schedule and rules are not enacted as usual.

What I really object to is the whole alpha mentality, which USUALLY (not in your case, just as a philosophy) goes hand and hand with "be a strong leader". I imagine this would exacerbate the "problem" of aggressive Akitas and would only serve to bring out any negative tendancies.

Certainly, every dog benefits from a strong leader in the traditional and kind sense of the word :)
 

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I have met one, he comes to my clinic. He's a good boy, but not what I would term "friendly" in say a golden retriever sense. He is very intimidating and if I didn't know him I wouldn't approach. He has a very well taught impulse control, but his owner also knows his limitations. He is allowed near people, and can handle being around strangers, but no dogs.
 
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