Are Akitas Dangerous? [Why and When]

The American Akita breed, also known as the American Akita or just Akita, is a dog breed that started out as hunting dogs in Japan

The American Akita is not well-known outside of its native country, despite being one of the most popular breeds in its home turf. The main reason for this is that many people are afraid to keep them as pets due to their temperament and large size. So, are Akitas dangerous?

are Akitas dangerous
Are Akitas dangerous? [Why and When]

Why Do People Think Akita Dogs Are Dangerous?

Akitas are very affectionate toward their family members, but they are wary around strangers. They are protective guard dogs by nature, so they will try to start fights with anyone who trespasses onto their territory without permission. In some cases, an Akita has been a victim of mistaken identity due to them not looking like their standard breed appearance.

An injured or abused Akita may become violent towards other animals and humans as well through fear or anger issues caused by their past experiences.

Some Akitas were bred for fighting purposes, but it is now an illegal practice. Japan now protects these dogs by law and calls them a national treasure.

beautiful akita
A beautiful Akita pup


An aggressive Akita can be humongous and intimidating in size. Males typically grow to between 23 and 28 inches tall at the shoulder, with females being smaller at 22 to 25 inches tall. They weigh anywhere from 40 lbs up to 100s pounds depending on their sex and lineage.

Jaw Power

They have a strong jaw power due to their breed’s history as hunting dogs. These robust dogs have seriously injured or even killed other animals in the wild with a single bite. Their jaws will lock and not open until they want to.

People who own this type of dog need to be extra careful when in public to protect themselves and the Akita from being provoked. While Akita’s love their families, a poorly trained one is not above attacking a child.

Prey Drive

This breed has a high prey drive due to its history of hunting small game such as birds and rabbits in Japan. Owners should never let their Akitas off the leash when anywhere near these types of animals or allow them outside unsupervised around small pets that may run away from their grasps like guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, rats, gerbils, ferrets, and birds.

For this reason, Akitas are not generally the ideal fit for households with other types of pets.

Sociability with Other Dogs

Akitas do not often get along well with other dogs outside of the family setting. They are very dominant dogs by nature. So they will try to pick fights with strange dogs as a way of showing dominance.

A dog will show signs that they want to fight by staring down their opponent and growling at them.

Unfortunately, when the strange dog does not back out, a fight can break out. Any owner needs to keep their Akita on a leash when in public and ensure that they cannot see any strange dogs around ahead of time.

Akitas can get along well with other dogs if they are socialized with them while still young and trained to do so. If not, it is best to keep them in a one-dog household because any strange animal could be a threat to the Akita’s territory.

Akita Inu and Shiba Inu
Akita Inu and Shiba Inu are two native breeds in Japan.

History of Hunting

It is unclear when Akitas were first used as hunting dogs in Japan. Their name derives from “Aki,” which means autumn in Japanese; this suggests they may have originated around the Autumn Equinox in September when wildlife started to get harder to find.

After the breed first came to Japan, it’s believed that they were hunting and fighting dogs until the early 1920s, when they became more popular as pets and symbols of status among Japanese royalty and nobility. By the end of World War II, Americans started to import these canines as devoted guard dogs.

So how did Akitas come to fruition? Japanese hunters took two smaller breeds with strong prey drive and put them together to create a larger dog that still retained a high prey drive but had the strength and stamina needed to bring down large game such as deer or boar. 

Their original purpose is what may cause some problems with modern-day life. If an Akita is left alone and bored, they may develop anxiety problems and start barking excessively for attention. They need some positive activity to feed their drive.

alert Akita Inu
An Akita Inu standing on a rock.

What to Do If Your Akita Is Attacking You or Someone Else?

Akitas can be very dangerous when they don’t have good training or don’t get enough exercise throughout the day. They should never be left alone with children or family members who cannot control them in a threatening situation. They are too big and active to be cooped up in one spot all day.

In other words – don’t keep these large dogs in an apartment or cage.

This breed needs owners who have the knowledge, time, patience, and energy to properly care for this type of dog for the well-being and the safety of strangers around it. If an Akita does attack without provocation, experienced owners should deal with it quickly to avoid severe injury or death from the dog’s powerful jaws that could easily crush a human skull if they chose to. 

If your Akita attacks someone, try to get the Akita off of that person by using water hoses or squirt guns if necessary. Play it safe, and use a muzzle when you take it out on a walk. If you own an Akita you can’t control, consider getting professional training help for everyone’s safety.

American Akita running
An American Akita (shedding) running in the field.

So, Are Akitas Dangerous?

People easily misunderstand Akitas because they have a bad reputation due to the actions of their owners and their history as hunting dogs in Japan. They often benefit from proper training from an early age. Socialization with other animals and people can turn these dogs into loving family pets that obey their commands without fail.