The Akita has a unique temperament that is one of the reasons they have such a loyal following of dog breeders and owners. The Akita is a very loving and steadfast dog, naturally very protective but also independent and capable of thinking things out for his or her self. While they thrive on human attention they are also good when left on their own and are not prone to separation anxiety or destructive behavior provided they are routinely exercised and obedience trained. Akitas can be good outside dogs although they really prefer to be around people whenever possible.
Despite the Akitas large size they are an amazingly graceful dog that is able to adjust to almost any type of living space. Unlike some of the working dogs they can adapt to living in apartments and homes with only very small fenced yards, provided they get at least two moderately long walks per day. Typically most Akitas will be very low energy indoors and are not going to be a dog that dashes madly from room to room when in the house. More commonly the Akita will find a favorite spot where the family is in sight and simply sit back and watch. While they only need moderate amounts of exercise they also love long hikes and getting out into the country where they can run and explore. They are also good swimmers for the most part, although some are very hesitant to get in the water.
While not highly playful, the Akita is a great dog for children and adults alike. They are very affectionate with their own family and always like to be close by but not necessarily in the center of everything. The Akita enjoys a good romp or a game of fetch and they are great as jogging, hiking or walking companions. Most Akitas enjoy being outdoors during the day when the family is gone to work and school and their heavy, dense coats means they are great for any winter climate. In very hot and humid summer conditions the Akita often prefers to stay indoors and should only be exercised in the early morning and late evening.
The Akita is not a good companion dog for other pets unless raised with the other dog or pets from a puppy. Highly socialized Akitas are tolerant of other dogs and pets, however they rarely choose to interact with dogs outside of the family. As such not all Akitas are suitable for off-leash park areas and most will stay very close to the owner even when off-leash. Other dogs approaching their owner may trigger the protective instinct in this breed. Some Akitas have a very high prey drive and they may not be suitable for households with small pets, including cats. If a puppy is raised with cats they quickly learn which cats are part of the family and which cats are not, and they will chase and kill other cats, birds and animals that come into their territory or space.
With children in the family the Akita will thrive. They have unlimited patience with the family kids, however they may not accept other children as readily. In Japan children would often be left with the family Akita while the mother's worked in the house and she could rest assured that the dog would sound the alarm and protect the children. Akitas will use their body to step between a stranger and a child of the family or even an adult, typically their intimidating size and intense stare is all that is needed for the stranger to step back.
Unlike many dogs the Akita is very comfortable as a single pet or in a household with one other dog. Always select a dog of the opposite gender and have both spayed or neutered for the best possible combination. It is not recommended to have more than one intact male Akita in the same household unless you have a kennel where they can be kept away from each other. When females are in heat male Akitas become more aggressive and territorial often resulting in injuries and fights even between companion dogs. Neutering one or both males prevents much of this type of aggression as does proper kennel management.
As a very clean dog the Akita is sometimes compared to a cat. They do use their front feet to clean their face, just like a cat, and they also have that natural curiosity very much like the feline species. The Akita will groom his or herself typically once a day and they are almost ritualistic in licking their feet and legs. Akitas are also known to lick and groom other dogs or cats in the house.
The Akita is very protective of his or her property and will defend their space at all costs. Some Akitas are prone to talking or making a yodeling, howling, grumbling type of noise to show their contentment. Some owners call this talking while others call it singing, but it is definitely a one of a kind sound that is unique to the breed. They are not known to be problem barkers and typically if they do bark something is very out of the ordinary. While the Akita will learn to accept new people they are generally not affectionate towards those that are not part of the family. They may be described as aloof and distant by outsiders, a complete opposite to the fun loving and affectionate dog the family knows and loves.
Most Akitas will stay at home and are not problem wanderers. However, because of their aggression with other dogs and their protective nature they need to be kept in a very secure fence. They can jump and climb and are smart enough to figure out how to open gates and kennel doors if not properly secured. Problem solving is a challenge for these dogs and they will stop and study what they are trying to do before making a plan of how to handle the challenge. Akitas, like most working breeds, prefer to have something to do as part of the family. Obedience training combined with routine exercise will be very important to the emotional and behavioral well being of this dog.