considering an akita
  • Hello all, so me and my boyfriend were talking about future dogs last night, and we are thinking about adding an akita at some point. Around this time last year, I wouldn't have even considered owning a nihonken breed, but ever since me and Mark got together, he has told me that he loves akitas and has always thought about owning one. I've always known that akitas tend to be on the more aloof side, but Mark and I were at the Fort Worth kennel club dog show a month ago and we got to interact with some akitas and their breeders and I discovered that there's always an exception to the rules. The akitas that we interacted with were very sweet and just loved to be around people. In fact there was this one female who was a therapy dog for special needs children. Ever since that day, I've been thinking about akitas a lot, and last night I told Mark that I'd be open to adding one to our family in the future. It won't be happening for a few years yet, but I figured I better start doing my research now and learn as much as I can. :)

    First off, I will admit that I am a bit of a pushover when it comes to dogs and animals. I know that akitas need a strong handler, and while I know that Mark has the right kind of personality for them, I will likely end up doing most of the care since he often works out of town. I am studying to become a teacher, so I'm working on trying to curb the pushover side of me. :)

    I know that socialization is vital in raising akitas, and I plan to do a lot of it with my pup. For those of you who are in the Fort Worth Texas area, my favourite hangout spots are sundance square and the magnolia/west 7th cultural district. I also love going to pet's mart, dog parks, and Mark and I walk the trinity river almost every night. :)
    I plan to take my akita to school with me from time to time, and I'm also looking to start a volunteer program for college girls at the Texas campuses. I wanna create a stress-free environment where they can come in and talk about certain things and get to play with dogs as well. It breaks my heart what society and the media have done to the akita breed (all be it not as bad as pitts and rottweilers), so I was thinking that an akita would be great to use in my pet therapy to educate others. :)

    Now for my questions, what is the difference between an AA and a JA? Which are larger? Do both breeds come in the long haired variety? I know that if I decide to go with a breeder, I ultimately don't get to choose what puppy I get, but I've always been partial to the long haired ones. :)
    If there are any NK/akita meetup groups happening in Texas, please let me know and Mark and I will try to be there. :)
  • PoetikDragonPoetikDragon
    Posts: 2855
    Here are the physical differences between the two:
    http://www.kaijukennels.com/breed-info/two-breeds-akita/
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
    http://www.facebook.com/PoetikDragon
    http://www.facebook.com/KaijuKennels
    http://www.kaijukennels.com
  • Thanks Hun. :)
    Question, it seems like the JA's have a longer coat than the AA. However, it didn't mention anything about AA's coming in long coats, so I was just wondering about that. :)
  • PoetikDragonPoetikDragon
    Posts: 2855
    Both AA and JA have long coat gene.
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
    http://www.facebook.com/PoetikDragon
    http://www.facebook.com/KaijuKennels
    http://www.kaijukennels.com
  • akitamaxakitamax
    Posts: 9
    It's been a bit over a year since my guy (an AA) came home with me, and my best advice would be to meet as many Akitas as possible. Reading up on the breed helps but in my experience generalizing a breed is like generalizing a culture, sure some stereotypes/characteristics may hold true but they are all individuals and there is great variance. For example Akitas are always said to be a very difficult dog to own, in my case I couldn't have asked for an easier dog to live with. Laid back, friendly, clean, obedient, just the right amount of clingy etc. The only drawbacks with mine is that being off leash will never be a realistic goal. If he catches a scent, he will follow it to the depths of hell. No amount of training will ever change that impulse in my opinion. Also, he gets along with most dogs but he will end up challenging a male dog every now and then so definitely not a dog park dog. Like any breed there are pros and cons, for my lifestyle, the pros far outnumber the cons. And I think that's what it really comes down to, your individual lifestyle and expectations from your pet.
  • Akitamax, thanks for your advice Hun. I'm sorry you lost your AA boy last year. :(
    I've actually seen an akita at the dog park in my parents neighborhood. He too was really sweet and cared more about getting attention from people rather than interacting with other dogs. :)

    One other question, I do know that akitas have a high prey drive. Me and Mark plan on rescuing exotic animals in the future. We're into reptiles and sugar gliders, and Mark is into birds. We will also be adding a bunny in the near future as well (the bunny will be there long before the akita), so could this be a problem or would the akita realize that the bunny is family?
  • PoetikDragonPoetikDragon
    Posts: 2855
    I do know that akitas have a high prey drive.

    This falls back to what @akitamax said about generalizing. Neither breed of Akita have been bred for hunting or selected for drive in 70+ years and many have been selected AWAY from prey drive because families like to have other pets. I think it is more an exception than a rule when an Akita has "high" prey drive. I have a couple with medium-low drive -- willing to lure course but ONLY if the conditions are perfect -- and most of my dogs, and most JA I have met, have next to none. My AA had none at all. My dogs and puppies I've sold live with cats, rats, birds, etc just fine. Even dogs I imported as adults and had never seen a pet cat before.

    I've got a new Hokkaido Ken bitch right now and she's definitely more drivey than any of my Akita. She obsesses over my pet rats (which is good, I want to do Barn Hunt with her!). But she isn't interested in the cats which is nice.
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
    http://www.facebook.com/PoetikDragon
    http://www.facebook.com/KaijuKennels
    http://www.kaijukennels.com
    Post edited by PoetikDragon at 2017-04-26 21:42:35
  • Question, what are some things that first-time akita owners should prepare for before getting one? As a first time akita owner, would you recommend rescue or breeder?
  • PoetikDragonPoetikDragon
    Posts: 2855
    I would definitely recommend a reputable breeder for a first time owner. Your life will be so much easier if you have a known history, thoughtfully selected parents, good animal husbandry practices, and a good "head start" with proper upbringing, nutrition, and socialization. Not to mention the lifetime support that a reputable breeder should offer. I'm "on call" 24/7 to owners for the next 10-14 years... the lifetime of their dog. If a breeder you're considering wont offer the same, look elsewhere.
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
    http://www.facebook.com/PoetikDragon
    http://www.facebook.com/KaijuKennels
    http://www.kaijukennels.com
    Post edited by PoetikDragon at 2017-04-26 23:09:32
  • For some reason I had a feeling you were gonna say that. :)
    I now feel stupid for not getting the breeders contact info when me and Mark were at the dog show. The thing is, I'm not sure if I wanna get an akita right from puppyhood or get a retired adult stud/damme. With Mark and I's work and school schedules, I'm not sure how conducive it'll be to raising a puppy. That being said, by then I should be done with school for good and have a teaching job, so we'll both be more or less settled down. :)

    I do have a question about travelling with an akita. Mark does have to go out of town for work from time to time, and when I have summer holidays off, I'll be going with him. I wanna take our dogs with us when that happens. Do akitas generally travel well? Also, do hotels ever have breed restrictions?

    As for diet, I absolutely will never feed raw in a million years (just a personal choice). I'm thinking about going the home-cooked route. A good friend of mine feeds her 2 akitas BB wilderness, and it's worked out great for them. :)

    I also have a question regarding other family members and house guests. About 90% of the time it'll just be me and Mark, but his daughter and grandkids may come and stay from time to time. Should we socialize our akita with them from puppyhood?
  • PoetikDragonPoetikDragon
    Posts: 2855
    Having raised my share of puppies now, I much prefer adults. They can be problematic introducing into a multi-dog household, but other than that, there's more pros than cons I think. You know exactly what you're getting, they're already trained, there is little risk of you "screwing them up", they don't have to be tended to constantly (potty breaks), etc.

    We travel frequently with our dogs, by car, truck, RV, and plane and have had zero problems. A couple get a little car sick as babies but get used to it by a few months old and are fine.

    Hotels don't generally have breed restrictions but they do sometimes have size/weight restrictions or fees based on the size of the dog. The most common dog-friendly hotels (motels) are Super8, Motel 6, and La Quinta.

    If you get a puppy, you should definitely expose the puppy positively to every kind of experience and situation you expect them to be comfortable with as an adult. Socialization is lifelong, however, and doesn't stop just because a puppy grows up or you get an adult dog. It just becomes more work to undo bad beginnings. Some issues that take place during a pup's primary or secondary fear imprint periods may never be fully resolved.
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
    http://www.facebook.com/PoetikDragon
    http://www.facebook.com/KaijuKennels
    http://www.kaijukennels.com
  • Thanks hun. It really does sound like an adult akita would be better for me. :)
    My question is, wouldn't most retired show/breeding dogs have spent their careers in cages? I'm not sure if that's the case of all show dogs, but a friend of mine told me to keep that in mind a while back. :)
  • PoetikDragonPoetikDragon
    Posts: 2855
    No, not at all. At least not in the US (it is different in Europe and Japan). Show dogs are still pets and family members first and foremost. The era of large commercial/professional show breeders with 50+ dogs is long gone. Now its a hobby for the middle class, regular people with a few dogs who still have day jobs and work to do during the week with the occasional dog show or performance trial on the weekend. And, specifically, an ethical breeder isn't going to be one who keeps their animals in cages most of the time. If they're not responsible enough to buy a puppy from, then don't get a retired adult from them either.

    There are those of us who have dogs that can't get along, too many dogs to have loose together at the same time, or simply don't feel that dogs need to be friends with each other for their own well-being and so keep them separate [especially when out of the house and unable to observe their behavior]. In that case, they may utilize dog runs, crates, and a management routine to rotate the dogs in the house and yard and keep everyone happy with ample opportunity for exercise and interaction with the family. But they should not spend their lives in a cage.

    ETA: A show dog has to put up with dog shows, which are crowded, noisy, full of other dogs, they have to run very close to strange dogs, and they get manhandled by strange people (usually men) during the exam. Plus they have to be leash trained, polite, and behave well throughout the whole thing. This is more socialization than most "regular" pets (people completely outside the dog fancy and dog training world) ever receive.
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
    http://www.facebook.com/PoetikDragon
    http://www.facebook.com/KaijuKennels
    http://www.kaijukennels.com
    Post edited by PoetikDragon at 2017-04-27 17:55:47
  • I have actually never been to a breeding kennel before. How many adult dogs do reputable breeders typically keep in their home? With your retired adults, do you keep them yourselves or do you find homes for them? Do they live outdoors or indoors? Do you have any other animals in the home besides your dogs? (I know you have pet rats too)

    BTW, I sent you a PM, not sure if it came through.
  • PoetikDragonPoetikDragon
    Posts: 2855
    We currently have 7 dogs, 3 cats, 4 rats, and sometimes a turtle (she lives in the yard/neighborhood - came with the house - and spends months/years hiding in hibernation).

    Until recently, the majority of our dogs were spayed/retired/pets. But last year we rehomed our spayed girl, Angirasu, and we lost our pet American Akita, Gryphon. Since then we've imported two show/breeding dogs. So now we have 3 retired (one neutered, the other two still intact) and 4 show/breeding dogs.

    We have two boys who hate each other. So our oldest girl and one of the boys sleep in our bedroom. The other dogs sleep in crates in the livingroom. During the day, they take turns 1-3 dogs out in the back yard, 1-2 dogs in the house, and the rest of the dogs in crates. We also have converted one of the bedrooms into exclusively a whelping room, a full suite for a momma dog and litter of puppies when we have them.
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
    http://www.facebook.com/PoetikDragon
    http://www.facebook.com/KaijuKennels
    http://www.kaijukennels.com
  • Question, when the dogs go outside, do they stay in a fenced yard or in runs? I just don't really feel comfortable leaving a dog in the yard unsupervised. :(
  • PoetikDragonPoetikDragon
    Posts: 2855
    We don't leave them in the yard unsupervised. We have 3 runs, usually use only 2 of them and the rest of the dogs are in the house when we leave.
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
    http://www.facebook.com/PoetikDragon
    http://www.facebook.com/KaijuKennels
    http://www.kaijukennels.com