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American Akita vs Japanese Akita
Dog Breed

American Akita vs Japanese Akita

The Akita is an ancient breed originating from Japan that has split into two distinct breeds: the Japanese Akita and the American Akita. Although they have a common ancestor, their paths are quite diverse, thus resulting in different physical characteristics, character traits, and even the way they’re taken care of. In this article, we will describe the main differences between these two breeds, thus helping any future owner to make the right decision about choosing a dog. 

American Akita Vs Japanese Akita

The Akita breed began to divide in the middle of the 20th century after World War II. During that period, the Japanese Akita was brought to America and was bred selectively which resulted in another breed. On the other hand, the Japanese Akitas were tried to be preserved with their original characteristics of Akita Inu. 

Initially, the Akitas were any dogs that originated from the Akita region in Japan. Unfortunately, dog fighting became very popular among the Japanese, and many dogs were bred for fighting, not for preserving lineage. Thus, this resulted in dog fighting becoming outlawed. 

After World War II, when Japan was facing famine, these dogs were left to die as there was no food left to feed them, leading to only 16 Akita dogs remaining. Over the 20th century, breeders were able to rebuild two bloodlines: the Ichinoseki Line (Japanese Akita Inu), with a fox-like appearance, and the Dewa Line (American Akita), with a bear-like appearance. 

In the 1950s, Hellen Keller brought the Dewa Line to America, thus establishing the American Akita breed. 


Size and Weight

When it comes to differences, the most noticeable is the Akita size and weight. The Japanese Akita is an elegant and slender breed with an average height of 25-27 inches. The Akita males typically weigh around 70-100 lbs, while the females – around 50-70 lbs.

On the other hand, the American Akita size is generally larger. Their average height is around 24–28 inches, with Akita males weighing around 100-130 lbs and females between 70-100 lbs. 

Coat Colors

Another striking difference between the American and Japanese Akita is their coat color. The Japanese Akitas have only three colors dominating their fur; red, white, and brindle. The most frequent color is red alongside white markings, or “urajiro.” This is the main purpose of Japanese breeding so they can preserve the rare traditional and pure lines. 

The dog breed American Akita, on the other hand, has a wider range of fur colors such as solid white, brindle, or pinto. There are also combinations of these, such as black, brown, fawn, or silver, making the American Akita coats have a very unique appearance.  


Temperament and Personality

Although they have very different appearances, both breeds have similar personalities and temperaments. They are most famously known for their protective nature and loyalty. And, although they can be very distant and unresponsive to strangers, they are very affectionate towards people they’re attached to. 

Aside from their loyalty, the Akitas are very independent dogs with a strong will. This can be a challenge if you want to train them, however, once you do, it will feel like a huge reward. 

Health and Lifespan

Both Japanese and American Akita have a very similar lifespan ranging from 10-13 years. Generally speaking, they might be more prone to certain conditions, as they’re not very active.

Moreover, autoimmune diseases, hip dysplasia, and anxiety are prevalent among them. For this reason, it's essential to monitor what they eat and arrange regular veterinarian checkups.


When it comes to their grooming habits, both American and Japanese Akitas are quite similar. Both breeds have a coat that requires proper brushing as it sheds heavily twice a year. It’s important to reduce the brushing to once a week when they’re outside these periods. 

It is also very important to regularly bathe and trim them; as well as clean their ears. By combining all these aspects of grooming, you will be sure your dogs will be happy and healthy. 


Even though both breeds share a common ancestor, the American and Japanese Akitas are very different breeds. They both exhibit certain traits and characteristics that differ from one another. Mostly the difference is visible in their size as Japanese Akitas are much smaller than the American ones. If you are in doubt whether or not your dog has traces of these breeds, you can take a dog DNA test to clear out the picture. It will be an interesting and useful experience, as you will have lots of fun and gather some insights into your dog’s health.

Regardless of their looks, both of these breeds show extraordinary independence. They can be very protective, loyal, and devoted to the people they live with. That’s why it is important to know these small differences as they can have an impact on how you build your relationship with the Akita. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main differences between the American Akita vs Japanese Akita?

When it comes to differences, the most known ones are their looks and temperament. Originally, the Japanese Akitas tend to look more elegant with a fox-like look, while the American Akitas are generally bigger and have wider heads and muscles. 

Is there a difference between Akita Inu vs Shiba Inu?

Mostly, the difference between these two dog breeds is their size. While the Shiba Inus are small with a nimble and hunting body, the Akita Inus are way larger with a body for more serious hunting.