There are actually two distinct types of Akitas recognized in most registries and Kennel Clubs. The American Kennel Club only recognizes one type of Akita and does not follow the international clubs in dividing the Japanese Akita from the American Akita. There are significant differences both in colorations and conformation between the two breeds or types of Akitas currently shown. The following information is specific to the American Kennel Club breed standards for the Akita, which are used for all judging of any AKC sanctioned show or event in the United States.
Overall the Akita should be a powerful and heavy boned dog, not light or rangy in appearance. They have a compact and strong body with a thick neck and large head, proportionate to the rest of the dog's body. They are very well balanced dog that moves with purpose. A brisk type of walk, trot or run is seen with the breed, not springy or bouncy but solid and very fluid in presentation. The Akita's front and back legs should move in a straight line and the dog should not angle to either side when he or she is moving.
The head of the Akita forms the shape of a blunt triangle, wide and broad between the ears narrowing to the squared off muzzle. The skull is flat between the ears, not arched or rounded, and there should be no wrinkling of the skin between the ears or on the forehead when the dog is relaxing. In an attentive stance with the ears pulled forward there may be some light wrinkling and that is accepted. The stop is well defined and the ratio of the muzzle to the stop and the stop to the base of the skull (occiput) is 2 to 3. There is a central line or furrow up the stop to the approximately the center of the forehead. The eyes are dark brown and triangular in shape, and relatively small and deep set. The rims of the eyes are black and tight without any drooping or loose lids.
The nose is very broad and wide and is always dark, preferably black. Any parti-coloring or lack of pigmentation is considered a disqualification. The mouth is wide and generous with a scissors or level bite acceptable. Undershot or overshot jaws are a disqualification. The lips are black and the tongue is completely pink.
The ears of the Akita are wide at the base and very triangular in shape. They are small in comparison with the size of the head and are positioned moderately high on the sides of the face and slightly forward. When viewed in profile the ears should continue the line of the back of the neck, pointing over the head, not straight up.
The neck is thick, short and muscular but blends into the chest and the shoulders. There is a crest at the base of the head that adds to the elegant look of the dog in profile. The topline of the body is flat from withers to hip and the body is longer than it is tall. For males the ratio is 10 to 9 length to height and in females it is 11 to 9. The chest is very deep and wide, adding a solid appearance to the dog. The proportion that is desired is that the depth of the body at the elbow is equal to half the height of the dog at the withers. They have a very well developed brisket and well-sprung ribs but are flat along the sides, not barrel shaped or cobby in appearance.
The front legs are round and heavy boned, thick and sturdy in appearance. The feet are very compact and cat-like with thick, heavy pads that point straight, not turning in or out. The hind legs are also very muscular and should be as heavy as the front legs and just as straight when viewed from the back. The hocks are well let down, allowing for an easy, flowing stride.
The tail of the Akita should be densely feathered with coarse, straight hair. The tail is not plumed and the hair should be the same length as that of the longest hair on the body. The tail can curl a full curl, double curl or a three quarter curly and the end of the tail has to sit below the level of the back. If the tail is let down it would reach the hock level on the hind legs. Any deviation from the standard Akita tail including a sickle tail or a straight tail is considered a disqualification. The tail should provide a good balance to the head, in proportion with the rest of the body.
The coat of the American Akita can come in several different colors. Brindle, white or pinto colors of all shades are acceptable. The colors should be clear and rich, not diluted or washed out in appearance. White markings may be found on the legs, tail or other parts of the body. White is acceptable on the face as a blaze and a full or half mask of a darker color is also acceptable. Full white Akitas cannot have any other color and will not have a mask. Pinto Akitas must have another color of markings over at least one third of the body. Akitas with less coloration than that are disqualified from showing. The undercoat, however, may be a different color than the outer coat on any other color than white, often leading to some very original and unique blending of the colors.
The coat of the Akita is always straight and the outer coat is harsh to the touch and stands slightly out from the body. The hair on the face, ears and legs is very short and it is longest, about 2 inches, on the withers, rump and on the tail. There should not be a noticeable ruff or any feathering on this breed.
The Akita, according to the American Kennel Club, also has to be within a specific size range in order to be shown. Male Akitas must measure between 26 and 28 inches at the withers and females must be between 24 and 26 inches. Classes for juvenile Akitas and puppies do not have the same size requirement.