Akitas are notorious for their fluffy coats; but reaching up to 28 inches in height, weighing up to 40kg, and having a working dog heritage, these are big, powerful dogs. Therefore, it’s vital to learn about their typical temperament and whether they are an aggressive breed. I have spent some time researching all about the behavioral traits and tendencies of Akitas. I will be sharing my findings down below.
So, are Akitas aggressive? Akitas can be aggressive, and they generally do not tend to back down when provoked. They are fearless and protective of their owners should the need arise. Nonetheless, they are typically affectionate, composed, and receptive dogs if they have received proper training, sufficient socialization, and are brought up with the right care and environment.
Akitas have an interesting history. They were originally bred for guarding royalty and nobility in Feudal Japan. They’ve also been used for hunting bears, boar, and deer.
So it is fair to say that the Akita still does have it in their DNA to be aggressive. It comes as no surprise to learn that they are not entirely fond of strangers!
This does make them a suitable candidate for a watchdog; although more challenging for first-time dog owners who want to socialize their Akita with other dogs and animals.
It naturally follows that you should never approach an unknown Akita or its owner. You do not know what their temperament is like, their exposure to other people, and so on.
Remember you are just a stranger to them and they do not generally take too kindly to those.
All being said, Akitas can make loyal companions that can develop close bonds with their owners and display many acts of kindness, compassion, and love.
Owning an Akita is a challenge, and may not be suitable for all families, but with the right care and with a bit of planning and persistence, they can make a dedicated dog and a great companion.
Let us now take a closer look and deep dive into the average Akita temperament, before turning to potential causes of aggression and the best approach to preventing this behavior.
Akitas have an interesting and complex temperament; they can behave very differently depending on the people they are around and their environment. They are known to be quite a challenge to own and raise.
Generally, Akitas are playful and affectionate with their family and the people whom they trust and know well. They possess strong personalities, which can be a little overwhelming at times.
They are intelligent, courageous, and loyal to the point they will do whatever is necessary to keep their family safe. They are in many ways, a very faithful bread.
They always want to be wherever their family is and for anyone who grew up with Akitas, its actually quite hard to imagine this lovable breed being aggressive.
But, to with lively and inquisitive children, animals, and strangers – they are very different. This is when an Akita’s aggression may come through.
They are more suited to be the only dog in a household as they can become especially aggressive to dogs of the same gender.
Never leave children alone with an Akita, even one that is a member of the family. You never know when an Akita’s aggression may come through. That being said, small children should never be left alone with any breed of dog.
Its also imperative that an Akita becomes accustomed to children and people from a young age; this way their guarding instincts can more naturally be controlled.
Akitas are very active dogs and they need a lot of exercise. Without exercise and mental stimulation, they can become bored.
A bored Akita is a destructive Akita, so you want to avoid that as much as possible. Due to their size, they can cause a lot of destruction in a short amount of time.
In addition to all of the personality traits we’ve already mentioned, they are also very stubborn at times and headstrong.
The breed is extremely intelligent and wants to think and do for themselves. It takes a strong owner to show an Akita where they really lay in the pecking order.
Cats, other small animals, and other pets will also be targeted by an Akita. They have a high natural prey drive so it is best to keep them away and isolated at all times.
Training is difficult for this breed, but it can be done. You just need to overcome their assertive, strong-willed nature – so persistence and optimal methods are a must.
Are Akitas Dangerous?
Akitas are on several lists of the most dangerous dog breeds, coming in at number 10 on this list by Forbes.
However, they are definitely not the most dangerous breed. One of the things that makes an Akita dangerous is the fact that they are large dogs with a strong protective instinct.
This is not to say that all Akitas are dangerous. With the proper training and an owner who is able to handle them, Akitas can be fun-loving dogs.
This is especially likely with their family members. Though they may continue to be wary around children.
Even without meaning harm, it’s possible for a child to get hurt by an Akita simply due to their size.
It is not uncommon for unattended children to get knocked over or hurt in other ways by large dog breeds, when not being supervised by an adult.
Akitas can also be dangerous to other dogs, especially ones of the same gender.
This aggression could also lead to injuries with people if they try to get in between. It is always best to keep Akitas away from other dogs, especially when not muzzled or leashed.
What Can Make Akitas Aggressive?
Akitas will not act out aggressively unless they perceive that there is a reason to do so. With aggression, there is always a cause that can be identified.
There are several things that are known to set off Akitas. We have to remember that this behavioral response is in their nature and when they were originally bred as Japanese guard dogs.
While some dogs will become aggressive as the last resort, Akitas can become aggressive more easily.
Its essential that you treat an Akita with respect and do not inadvertently act out aggressively towards them.
One particular thing to refrain from doing is to get down to your Akita’s level and stare them in their eyes. They interpret this as a challenge and act of aggression from you. They will of course, likely retaliate.
You need to ensure that you are not abusing your dog, or neglecting their needs. For example, when training positive reinforcement techniques are recommended over punishment.
Kids and Strangers
Kids, strangers and any form of threat to the family can all trigger aggression in some Akitas.
Some may be good with a person or situation one time but then aggressive the next go-round, for whatever reason.
Environment and Upbringing
Another really big factor in aggression for Akitas is their environment and how they are brought up.
Loving families who know how to care for an Akita can go their entire lives without seeing any aggression in their beloved Akita.
Like many breeds, an Akita who is mistreated or void of love and affection by family, will grow up to be an aggressive dog.
As will one who perhaps lives with a loving family but doesn’t receive proper training and socialization.
Sickness And Injury
Being ill or injured can make any dog breed act out aggressively. They usually do so to conceal and hide it away. Dogs do not like to feel vulnerable or show this to their owners.
So, if your Akita is in pain, you must be very careful around them to ensure they do not act out defensively, growl, or even snap.
How To Prevent Aggression In Akitas
Preventing aggressive behavior in an Akita is going to take work and consideration. They are not like some other dog breeds and their behavior does need to be managed more closely.
Let us take a look at some of the best ways to ensure your Akita behaves responsibly and favorably:
Training and Socialization
Training and socialization are extremely important when it comes to owning an Akita. Besides providing them with a loving home, training and socialization are two of the most important parts of preventing aggression in Akitas.
Akitas are known to try and challenge owners to become the dominant leader of the pack, but this can be corrected with consistent training.
Starting socialization with both people and other dogs when they are extremely young will help them get comfortable with both and will teach them how to act around them.
Dogs learn certain behaviors and manners from other dogs that they just can’t learn from people.
Training an Akita can be a challenge at times due to its stubborn nature. You’ll need to have patience when training your Akita, but just remember, it’s an important process to ensure the happiness of your dog and the safety of everyone around.
In addition to the importance of socialization and training, another way to prevent aggression is to ensure that your Akita doesn’t get bored. Or at least bored very often.
This includes ensuring that you change up their routine every so often.
You need to provide plenty of different toys and ensure they are experiencing new places regularly. This is not a dog that does well when refined to a few rooms of the home.
If given the chance they can become destructive and that destruction could morph into aggression.
Although Akitas prefer to be inside with their family they do still need to get between 30 and 60 minutes of physical exercise every day.
This will help with their moods as well as their health. You can also add in mental stimulation games for this highly intelligent breed to keep them entertained, as well as to tire them out.
Another way to help prevent aggression in Akitas is to educate others on how to act around the breed.
Children, especially, need to be taught how to act around Akitas, even ones they are familiar with.
Again, do your part and never leave a child alone with an Akita, or another dog breed.
Hiring A Specialist
Often, owners of this breed decide to hire the services of a specialized dog trainer or animal behavioral specialist.
These often have a number of effective strategies that can support or improve the process.
Either way, persistence, repetition, and time are required to ensure your dog learns to behave the way you need them to; for their and your own safety.
Prevention is always better than cure; so try to identify the potential triggers in your dog and avoid them as far as you can.
This could mean walking or exercising them at quieter times; keeping them away from other male dogs and people.
While Akita’s may look like friendly and cuddly dogs, this is not the breed to approach.
Unless, of course, the Akita is yours and they are demanding the attention, which they will from their family.
The original aggression bred into Akitas still simmers just below the surface at all times. This must be acknowledged.
While not all Akitas are aggressive, it doesn’t necessarily take much to pull it out of them. There are several different factors that can result in this behavioral display.
Akitas love their families more than anything and will risk their lives to protect them.
Children, strangers, and pets are all factors that can provoke this reaction. This is most likely due to fear, or the belief they are all threats.
The environment in which an Akita is brought up can also play a big part in if they feel the need or desire to act aggressively.
Akitas from a loving household will be less likely to become aggressive unless there is a direct threat to their family.
In contrast, an Akita who is used solely as a property guard dog, who is left outside most of the time, or who lives on the streets, will more than likely be an aggressive dog.
Thankfully, these are extreme examples.
One less extreme, but more likely, is a dog from a home that did not provide sufficient or effective training or socialization.
In this scenario, the Akita simply does not know the proper way to act.
Training and socialization are the best ways to prevent an Akita from becoming aggressive.
The younger you can start, the better for the dog and everyone else. Their stubbornness may come out during training, but you just need to have patience.
Another good recommendation for preventing aggression in Akitas is to keep them entertained and tired.
By giving your Akita something to do, or keeping them physically and emotionally tired, they won’t become bored.
Bored Akitas, like some other breeds, will act out when they are bored, causing destruction and mayhem.
There’s a big difference in the amount of destruction an Akita can do in ten minutes compared to a chihuahua.
While Akitas may be classified as one of the most aggressive, or dangerous dogs, it’s important to realize that this does not mean that all dogs of this breed are.
There are plenty of Akitas who have never had any issues.
If you want to own an Akita, just do your research so that you only purchase from a reputable breeder with a good track record of producing even-tempered dogs. It may cost you a little more, but it’s well worth the extra investment.
You’ll be rewarded with a loyal and loving companion who loves to play and cuddle with you.
Just be extra careful if you have children or any other dogs already; they are unlikely to be the best fit and entirely suitable.
Nevertheless, with an Akita, you won’t have to worry about anyone breaking into your house once word gets out that you own one!
Akitas can attack their owners if provoked, or they are acting out of fear. However, this is true of any dog breed that has not gone through sufficient training. Moreover, Akitas are less likely to attack their owners as they are typically very loyal and faithful; developing strong bonds with their family members and those that are close to them. They are more likely to attack a stranger or another dog of the same gender.
Akitas are relatively easy to train, but a consistent schedule and approach is required. Tedious training methods and harsh training methods are also likely to be counterproductive. While Akita’s are very intelligent, they are quite stubborn so it will take work to eliminate bad behaviors. Thankfully, they take well to house and bathroom training. All training is going to be most effective when implemented from the time the Akita is a puppy or a young age.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.