Japanese Akita vs American Akita: 10 Key Differences

Japanese Akita vs American Akita: 10 Key Differences

Japanese Akita vs American Akita. These two popular breeds have many similarities, and at the same also are quite different in many respects. Find out what you can expect with both dog breeds!

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Where Do Japanese Akita and American Akita Come From?

The Akita breed originated in the snowy and rural lands of Odate, Akita Prefecture, the mountains of northern Japan. They were employed as hunting and guarding dogs and are currently trained for police and guard work.

Due to the arrival of new dog breeds from the Western world, such as German Shepherds, the purebred bloodline started to decline in Japan at the beginning of the 19th century.

Akita breed was also negatively affected by World War II, leaving Akita on the brink of being wiped out.

The Japanese Akita and the American Akita began to split into two types in the post-World War II era.

Helen Keller, an American woman, is credited with bringing the Akita to America after being given two Akitas by the Japanese government in 1938.

After World War II, many soldiers saw how solid and great-looking Akitas were, so they brought them to the United States. It helped to boost the breed’s popularity in the states.

So, over time, differences started to appear. In America, people bred Akitas to be big and bear-like. But, in Japan, breeders tried to maintain the original breed stats.

Two types of Akita are a Japanese Akita, commonly called Akita Inu and American Akita.

Japanese Akita vs American Akita: Size

American Akita is slightly larger than Japanese Akita.

Japanese Akita has a size range from 23-25 inches (59-64cm) and weighs between 65-120 pounds (30-55 kg).

American Akita‘s height is between 24-26 inches (61-71 cm) and weighs around 70-130 pounds (32-60 kg)

Japanese Akita vs American Akita: Appearance

japanese akita vs american akita

Both Japanese and American Akitas have a thick double coat, erect ears, and tail that flips over the back. But they also have many differences that are easy to distinguish.


An American Akita has a bear-like head, while the Japanese Akita is more fox-like in appearance with a smaller head.


They both have beautiful eyes but the American Akita has small deep-set eyes while a Japanese Akita has more almond-shaped eyes akin to a Husky.


While both have triangular ears, the Japanese Akita’s ears will be slightly more forward, but the American Akita’s ears will be more erect.


The American Akita is larger and has a more muscular body frame than the Japanese Akita.


The American Akita may have a less curved tail than the Japanese Akita.

Japanese Akita vs American Akita: Coat Types

american akita vs japanese akita

Both Japanese Akita and American Akita have a double layer with a dense and plush undercoat and a short topcoat, but some litters can have long-haired puppies due to a recessive gene.

Japanese Akita comes in 4 colors identified by the Japan Kennel Club: red fawnbrindlewhite, and sesame.

On the other hand, American Akita has a much wider spectrum of colors.

The American Kennel Club has set the Akita’s coat color in their breed standard: any color, including white, brindle, and pinto, is acceptable. However, the most common is Pinto, Brindle, and Solid white with a mask on the face.

Japanese Akita vs American Akita: Lifespan

The average Japanese Akita and American Akita lifespan is between 10 and 13 years. In fact, large breed dogs like Akita live shorter than smaller breeds because of early aging and genetic disorders.

However, the Akita’s lifespan also depends on many factors like diet, exercise, and temperament… Some Akitas live a good life longer than thirteen. But some, unfortunately, don’t even reach ten by unexpected accident or illness.

Japanese Akita vs American Akita: Temperament

The temperaments of both Japanese Akita and American Akita are quite similar.

These dogs are independent, loyal, intelligent, and wary of strangers. Although aloof around new people, they are loving and devoted to their owners.

Akitas are one of the most loyal companion dogs you can find! Do you know the touching story of an Akita dog named Hachiko that made thousands of people cry? This story was also adapted into a Hollywood movie called Hachi: A Dog’s Tale. You can read this story here.

Their instinct is to act as guardians and protectors because of their hunting background. They may be intolerant of other pets, especially same-sex dogs, and can be a handful for first-time dog owners.

You should never leave a Japanese Akita or American Akita alone with small children or pets. The downside of these dogs is aggression. However, with the proper training and socializing early, these dogs can be exceptionally loyal and well-behaved.

Japanese Akita vs American Akita: Exercise Needs

american akita vs japanese akita

To keep your dog happy and healthy, both types of Akita require a moderate amount of daily exercise.

In this category, there is not much of a difference. Thirty minutes to an hour a day with brisk walks, romping in the yard is sufficient for them.

Puppies should avoid jumping or jogging on hard surfaces until at least two years old when their joints are fully formed.

Japanese Akita vs American Akita: Training

Training is vital for both Japanese Akita and American Akita, but this is not easy. Despite their incredible loyalty, they can be hard to train.

This breed must be treated with respect and no teasing as they will not respond well to harsh training methods.

Using high value and rewards to keep them motivated, convince your dog that it is always better to listen to you.

You should socialize the Akita puppies with other dogs early to help soften the edge of their wariness. A well-socialized Akitas tend to be less aggressive and more friendly.

Whatever your dog’s breed is, training is a must if you want to eliminate bad behavior and create the obedient, well-behaved dog of your dreams. You can choose suitable online classes from these 20 reputable SpiritDog Training courses to learn how to “successfully” train your canine using science-based positive methods, or grab the free guide below.

Japanese Akita vs American Akita: Grooming

Japanese Akita and American Akita are heavy shedders and usually shed their fur twice a year before seasonal changes. This is also known as “blowing their coat” and happens during the spring and fall seasons.

They need to be brushed two to three times a week. During shedding season, you should brush them daily to control their shedding.

They also need bathing every three months or more if your dog plays in a mud puddle or something smelly. Trim their nails once a month and clean their ears weekly.

Japanese Akita vs American Akita: Health

japanese akita vs american akita

Both types have the same potential health risks. Here are some health issues you should know if you’re considering either the Japanese Akita or American Akita:

  • Bloat
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Autoimmune hypothyroidism

They need sufficient exercise, regular grooming, and a high-quality diet to be healthy. Keep them at a healthy weight and have a vet check-up routine to ensure your dog is as healthy as possible!

Which is Better American Akita or Japanese Akita?

Choosing between Japanese Akita and American Akita can be difficult for many people!

The main difference between the Japanese Akita vs American Akita is that the Japanese Akita has a more fox-like appearance while American Akita has a more bear-like look.

Both types have similar temperaments, exercise needs, trainability levels, and health risks.

No matter which type you decide on, make sure that you train and socialize them very well from a young age. You will have a loyal companion with a rich history.

And before you leave, check out our best new puppy resource for new dog parents below ⇓

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