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Akita vs German Shepherd – Things You Need to Know Before Getting a Pup

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While indeed dogs are human’s best friend, some breeds are more loyal than others. The Akita dog breed, in particular, is well-loved for many reasons.

It could be you like the foxy look of the Japanese Akita that looks like it is saying:

“Hello, guv. What can I do for you?”

Or the steady gaze of the American Akita that communicates strength and boldness.

Akitas are highly intelligent. They have a dignified look, imposing size, and likable demeanor that makes them a wonderful pet to have, especially if loyalty as a trait is high on your list. 

German Shepherds, on the other hand, are considered among the most intelligent and courageous dog breeds. 

The dog’s noble character, intelligence and musculature make the breed an excellent all-purpose dog to own and a truly delightful companion.

When torn between settling for an Akita or a German Shepherd because they are both so adorable, there are other things you should consider to see which breed would be most suitable for you and your family. 

Let’s delve into their individual characteristics for an in-depth look into the two breeds.

AkitaGerman Shepherd
 akita inugerman shepherd dog features
Size and WeightLarge size dog weighing 70-130 pounds. The general height is 24 to 28 inches.Medium size dog weighing 65-90 pounds. Their general height is 22-26 inches.
AppearanceBurly and heavy boned with muscular body.  Large head resting on a thick neck and broad chest. Double coat usually white, brindle fawn, sesame and pinto. The ears are erect, small eyes and short muzzle. Has a full tail that curves upwards.Muscular and sturdy body with a broad face that tapers to a sharp muzzle. Small eyes and rather large ears which stand erect. The coat is thick and rough and may be black, tan, a mix of black and tan or gray and lustrous golden coat. Bushy tail that curves downward.
TemperamentIntelligent, loyal but also stubborn and independent. They are playful, affectionate towards their owners but aloof with strangers. They love to keep clean. They do well alone or when paired with an opposite sex Akita. Their territorial trait has made them aggressive towards other dogs.Highly intelligent, and playful. They make excellent pets as well as guard dogs because of their athletic muscular body. This breed is multi-purpose. While loyal to owners it does not take well to strangers.
Health IssuesProne to bloat, hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, hypothyroidism and sebaceous adenitis.They are susceptible to degenerative myelopathy, epilepsy, hip and elbow dysplasia, bloat, pannus, thyroid disorders, malabsorption, pan osteitis and progressive retinal atrophy.
GroomingLoves to keep clean and will fastidiously self-clean very much like a cat.You can expect plenty of shedding from the double coated fur coat. Grooming needs for an Akita are moderate with a recommended weekly brushing of the coat.Expect frequent brushing of the coat to help minimize shedding and keep the coat in great condition. The grooming needs for this breed are also moderate.
TrainabilityAlthough highly intelligent, the breed’s stubbornness can test the trainer’s patience. Expect slow progress and exercise patience. Does not respond well to harsh training methods. If you decide to hire a trainer, ensure that you are engaged in the training process.Highly intelligent, smart and easy to train. Has an ability to learn numerous commands.
Quick facts about Akita and German Shepherd breeds

Related post: Akita vs Rottweiler – Myths and Facts [The Ultimate Guide to These Dog Breeds]

Little-Known Facts About Akita Breed

akita inu lying on red carpet

The Akita breed goes by several names. You’ll often hear it called Akita-inu.

No, it’s not a separate sub-breed! The “inu” simply means dog and translates to “Akita dog”. Akita’s origins can be traced back to Northern Japan on the Island of Honshu. 

This region is well known for its scenic beauty featuring mountains such as Mount Fuji which is the tallest mountain in Japan, forests and bespoke sake breweries. Interestingly, the breed was not always referred to as Akita until 1931 when it was declared a national monument in its native country. 

Before then, the breed went by the name “Odate dog” which refers to the specific region in Honshu where the dog was also a native.

Most Akita owners and admirers often wonder what Akita means. Akita is the name of the prefecture in Odate region of the Honshu Island where the breed was developed.

The breed was developed in the 17th century and was meant for dog fighting as well as hunting big game such as bears. In the 1600’s it was also used as a guard dog for royalty. In modern times the Akita breed functions primarily as a companion and family pet.

Did you know that the Akita is one of the Spitz-type breeds?

Well, it is one of several Northern breeds which are known for their thick undercoats, strong jaws, large skulls, and little pricked ears. Other breeds in this group that might ring a bell are the Siberian Husky, Chow Chow, Karelian Bear Dog, and Swedish Elkhound to name a few.

And how many dogs do you know that have a movie based on a TRUE story made after them and their exploits?

(No, we’re not talking about Beethoven. It isn’t based on a true story.)

So, most probably none or very few. The Akita is an exception and its fierce loyalty and attachment to its owner and family is legendary. The affection, intelligence and stubbornness of this gorgeous big dog is well dramatized in the Hollywood movie “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” with Richard Gere as the leading man.

The film is an adaptation of the original Japanese film called “Hachiko Monogatari” (which is even better!) that shows the true story of an Akita dog named Hachiko. It captures the spirit of an Akita breed and how special the breed truly is. It also explains in part why this breed is such a cherished symbol in Japanese culture. (Spoiler alert: get a pack of handkerchiefs!)

The breed’s dignified demeanor, boldness, affection and loyalty have come to symbolize health, happiness and a long life in Japanese culture. In fact, when a child is born in Japan, the family often receives gifts from loved ones of small statues of an Akita to symbolize their best wishes. This goes to show the spiritual significance attached to the Akita dog in Japan and now the world over.

Given that Akita was bred for the cold Northern regions, it explains the thick and dense coat that will shed twice a year.

Some owners have been known to accumulate the dense fur and spin the hair into yarn to make warm clothing such as hats and sweaters.

And no wonder they do this: the yarn from an Akita is about seven times warmer than that of wool!

Dog Hachi GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
I’m a doggo, not a sheep! (Source: GIPHY)

Who would have thought that dog hair is a unique and surprisingly efficient and fashionable material choice for cold weather?

The Akita is an excellent breed with imposing magnificence and unique loyalty. The breed is clearly not for everyone, but when it finds the right owner, you will be hitched for life.

It’s therefore not surprising that the Akita is a firm favorite in Japan.

But even in America, the breed has a huge following and is ranked 47 out of 197 breeds in popularity.

Little Known Facts About the German Shepherd 

 

german shepherd sitting on grass

The German Shepherd’s reputation of courage, loyalty, intelligence and obedience precedes it.

The breed is considered as one of the most trainable dog breeds and is often the ideal choice to fill the ranks of K-9 unit in police forces, military, as well therapy dogs.

They also make excellent sight dogs for the blind

The fame and the prowess of the German shepherd is a culmination of diligent ancient breeders’ hard work to come up with the most hardy and intelligent herding dog.

Until the late 19th century, herding dogs in Germany varied in type from one district to another.

But in the tail end of the the 1800s, a German cavalry officer known as Captain Max von Stephanitz was bent on developing the ideal German herder. This gentleman and his like-minded breeders cross-bred different strains from the northern and central districts of Germany and developed the ancestors of today’s German Shepherd Dog as we know it.

Von Stephanitz was so dedicated to the quest of developing a versatile, strong and obedient breed that he co-founded the world’s first club devoted to German shepherds and spent 35 years promoting and refining the breed.

Even crude oil being turned into refined oil takes only 12 to 24 hours!

This man took his time and patience to create a masterpiece breed.

Von Stephanitz’s club was called the Verein fur Deutsche Sch-ferhunde or SV.

Back in those days, this breed was solely responsible for herding sheep and protecting flocks from predators. It’s interesting to note that the breed was not considered as a pet or companion, but rather as a worker or servant for farmers.

Their remarkable intelligence, speed, agility and strength in addition to their keen sense of smell, made them the perfect candidates for sheep herders.

While the German Shepherds were strictly considered as workers rather than household pets, it is worth noting that they were treated with dignity because of their astute character. Farmers might not have bought them chew toys, but they did shelter them, provide food, and protection.

At the onset of World War I, the German Shepherd had grown in popularity throughout Germany and people fell in love with this breed for its loyal and courageous character.

In the advent of modern livestock management, the decline of herding as a canine sole occupation naturally declined.

Von Stephanitz, a true ambassador for his breed then promoted the German Shepherd as the ultimate K-9 worker. 

He was not wrong; to this day the breed is the preferred dog for police and military units the world over.

The German Shepherd was recognized as the 60th breed by the American Kennel Club in 1908 alongside other distinguished dogs such as the West Highland White Terrier and The Doberman Pinscher.

The versatility and intelligence of this dog is so thoroughly displayed in the performance of myriad tasks that it’s difficult to remember the breed was originally created to herd sheep.

Still, the now-famous qualities of the German Shepherd’s intelligence, astute character, speed, obedience and courage were not forged in the military or police academies but in the sheep pasture.

Today, these outstanding qualities and characteristics of the breed make it a wonderful domestic companion, protector and friend. While the breed is reserved with strangers at first, it quickly warms up to them once that they are approved by the owner and family members.

What to Expect with Each Breed

akita vs german shepherd comparison

The Akita is a naturally protective breed; so much so that they require NO training on that front because their protective nature is innate. 

While the origins and descendants of the Akita are not in question, a split quickly developed when the breed found its way into the United States.

Types of Akita

  • Japanese Akita-Inu
  • American Akita

The first Akita to land in America from Japan was a gift to Hellen Keller by the Japanese government. 

Hellen Keller was a formidable woman with an incredible story. Born in 1980 in Tuscumbia, Alabama as a perfectly normal child, she developed a rare disease at the age of 2 years which took her sight and sense of hearing. 

But despite that, she learned how to speak with the help of her teacher Anne Sullivan.  Hellen Keller would eventually grow to become a world famous speaker and author. It’s her true story that inspired the 1962 Movie “The Miracle Worker”. She was a woman of standing in the upper echelon of society.

But what does all that have to do with Akitas?

Well, while on a speaking tour in Japan, Hellen Keller came across the story of the famous Akita “Hachiko” and got an opportunity to visit Shibuya Station where Hachiko would religiously go every evening to hope to meet his master so they can walk home together.

When the master died, Hachiko’s devotion continued as he would still visit the station and keep vigil in hope that his master would get off the train so they can walk home together.

The Akita-Inu continued this ritual for a decade. 

That was not just devotion to his owner. It was devotion, love, loyalty, and honor rolled into a single furry friend.

Talk about a Samurai dog!

It is this moving tribute to the dog’s loyalty that prompted Hellen Keller’s desire to have an Akita. Out of respect for her, the Japanese Government obliged her and that’s how the first Akita-Inu found its way to America in 1938.

Hellen Keller would later observe that the Akita to her was like an “an angel in fur”.

It is through her that most Americans came to know of how valiant and trusty this breed was and the demand for Akitas shot through the roof in the states.

During this period, the relations between Japan and the States were strained and there was no established way to bring Akitas over from Japan.

Towards the end of world war II, most American soldiers stationed in Japan had requests from loved ones to bring home an Akita when they come back state side.

And that’s how more Akita-Inus found their way to America.

Thomas Boyd is credited with producing the first Akita stud in 1956 to sire puppies in the U.S.

It is then that American Akita was born and developed to become more robust in size than the Akita-Inu.

Because the Japanese and American bloodlines have diverged so much since then, the Akita is now considered two different breeds the world over except for the United States and Canada.

The Akita was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1955. It was not until 1972 that AKC moved the Akita to the working class from miscellaneous class of dogs.

Since 2006 the American Kennel Club terms the original Japanese dog as the “Japanese Akita-Inu” and the bigger, heavier American version as the “Akita“.

Whether you settle for the Japanese Akita-Inu or the American Akita, you can expect a truly fearless, dignified, confident and perhaps willful companion with unfaltering devotion to family.

You can read more on the differences between the Japanese Akita and the American Akita in this comparison guide.

Types of German Shepherds

german shepherd as a guard dog outside

The German Shepherd (GSD) embodies some of the best traits among dogs and makes excellent companions for a vast range of people’s pet need. While loyal, friendly, playful and fierce when need be, this highly intelligent breed is NOT for everyone.

When considering a GSD, it’s worth remembering that dog descends from herding sheep all day and is therefore a high-energy dog.

They need a lot of activity and exercise because without it, they’re likely to express their boredom and frustration in naughty ways such as barking and chewing everything in sight.

German shepherds are generally categorized under two types; the “show line GSD” and the “working line GSD”.

The show line GSD’s have several distinguishing factors that separate them. But the most common and overarching one is the color of their coats and the length of their fur.

This is more for aesthetic purposes and preference but the temperament and other physical features of the dog remain more or less the same.

The working lines GSD’s are distinguished from each other based on personality and health.

For instance, the breed from Max Von Stephanitz, remember him? The founder of the German shepherd breed? Is the West German Shepherd working line. It’s largely considered to be the original German Shepherd.

The working lines were bred with a focus on their ability to learn, work as well as obey rather than attention to their appearance. Von Stephanitz’s West German GSD is unanimously considered to be of the highest quality.

Show line German Shepherds

  • Saddle coat GSD
  • Sable GSD
  • Panda GSD
  • Black GSD
  • White GSD

 Working line German Shepherds

  • Czech working lines GSD
  • West German working lines GSD

German Shepherds are perhaps the most recognized and coveted dog breeds in the world and with good reason.

That’s because of the breed’s versatility which has proven to be amongst the best guard dogs and companions for a broad range of families.

They are devoted, loyal and highly trainable which explains why they feature prominently in the military, police units, search and rescue as well as pets or guard dogs in many homes across America and the world over.

Irrespective of which breed you choose, a GSD will exhibit the above mentioned traits in abundance.

Let’s further dissect the differences between the Akita and the German shepherd dog breed to see what attribute(s) may win you over to one breed over the other.

1. Physical Appearance

The German Shepherd is a medium sized dog while the Japanese Akita-Inu and American Akita breeds are considered medium to large dogs. These differences are revealed in their physical appearance and in their gender breakdown as follows:

american akita vs japanese akita vs german shepherd comparison
Weight and height of American Akita, Japanese Akita and German Shepherd

Both the Japanese Akita-Inu and the Akita Americano have an imposing size and incredible stamina thanks to their physique. These traits contributed to their ability to hunt even in harsh weather and work as sledge dogs.

They have a soft mouth, which also made them a great choice for retrieving water fowl during hunting expeditions.

These dogs are quite nimble and light on their feet for their size thanks to their webbed cat-like feet.

They move with brisk and powerful gait.

The German Shepherd’s medium build and strong musculature allows them to walk at an easy trot and quickly turn up the speed on a dime when the situation calls for it.

Their agility, strength and stamina are nothing short of impressive. The GSD covers plenty of ground in fewer steps in keeping with its original herding duties.

Both breeds have an imposing presence that deter crime yet have a gentle and playful disposition that make them great pets and companions.

Eyes

The Akita’s eyes are small, deep set and triangular in shape. They are dark brown in color with tight black rims that contrast well with varied Akita’s fox-like or dark coat colors.

It is not uncommon to come across an Akita with blue eyes. In such cases, it’s very likely that the Akita is a Siberian Husky mix!

If you stop to think about it, the Akita and the Siberian Husky do have some resemblance.

The two breeds are about the same size and have large heads and upright ears. But that’s Northern breeds for you! Beautiful as they come!

The German shepherd has a handsome long snouted face.

If the eyes are the windows to the soul of a dog, then the medium sized almond shaped eyes of the GSD reveal a witty soul.

The eyes of this loyal breed exude intelligence and composure. They are dark in color and according to AKC breed standards, the darker the better.

Due to the shape of a long snouted face, the eyes are not deep set but neither are they protruding.

Coat

japanese akita coat

The Akita has a plush double coat. The Undercoat is thick, dense yet soft, and is shorter than the outer coat. This outer coat is somewhat harsh, straight and water repellant.

The coat is longest and fluffiest at the tail end of the dog whose tail curves upwards. An Akita’s coat color will range from pure white, pinto, sesame, fawn, red fawn and brindle or a combination of color.

When markings occur, they are well distributed and have good balance. It’s not surprising to find the inner coat having a different color from the outer coat.

The Japanese breed standard does not accept a black mask on the face while the American breed standard accepts a mask.

Unless you are choosing your Akita for show purposes, mask or no mask is not an issue that should affect your choice.

What’s synonymous in all Akita coat colors though, is they all have a rich and brilliant appearance that’s pleasing to the eye.

The GSD is also double coated and comes in a variety of colors. The dog’s undercoat serves to regulate the temperature of the canine in both hot and cold seasons. 

In the hot months, the inner coat shields the breed from UV rays and during the cold and wet time of the year, this inner coat layer helps repel water and cold thus protecting the skin.

The outer coat of the GSD has a wiry and abrasive texture which also serves a protective shield against the elements.

Although quite rare, some GSD’s are considered to have a single coat.

In actual fact, they still have two coat layers, but because the undercoat is so sparse, they do come across as having a single coat.

In the show ring, such GSD’s have earned themselves the term “smoothies”.

When it comes to coat colors, GSD’s has numerous solid colors as well as color combinations. The most common one is black and tan but others include; solid black, black and red, bi-color, sable, black and cream as well as black and silver.

Have you ever come across a white GSD?

Well, the breed can come in some rare colors which the AKC considers to be fault colors. These include white, panda, liver, blue or any pale washed out looking color.

Although not many, some enthusiasts continue to breed these rare colors.

But unless your intention of getting a GSD is for the show ring, set beauty standards by institutions should not affect your choice as what you get will still be a standard GSD.

The German shepherd is an all-year round shedder while the Akita molts only twice a year.

Ears

japanese akita vs german shepherd ears

The head of an American Akita has some resemblance to that of a bear. Akita puppies can also be mistaken for bear cubs because they look so much alike.

So, the ears of the American Akita do look like that of a bear, small and firmly erect, set wide on the head but not too low.

Also, they have wide at base in relation to the rest of the head.

But unlike those of a bear, the ears of the American Akita are triangular with a slightly rounded tip.

While the Japanese Akita-Inu also has triangular ears, the face is more reminiscent to a fox.

The GSD’s tall alert ears are a prominent signature feature of the breed.

They may be floppy in puppies but at about the time the breed reaches four months of age, they become erect and largely contribute to the dog’s alert look.

Musculature

Akitas are heavy boned with well-developed muscles.

Their bulky head, deep chest and solid frame, cuts a majestic figure. The musculature is in tandem with the original breeding purposes of a fighter dog that wields strength and a hunter that can endure tough terrain.

The Akita was bred to be a working dog with great stamina and endurance enough to serve as sledge dog amongst other duties.

This canine is big and strong, but light on its feet.

The original purpose for breeding the GSD was herding sheep all day.

So, their musculature is lean, lithe and well defined with strong athletic abilities that allow the breed to cover more ground quicker.

For a big, powerful dog, they can move with excellent stealth.

2. Grooming 

grooming an akita

Making a visit every so often to a groomer is a good idea when you have an Akita or a GSD.

However, grooming services can be costly so it’s better to learn and familiarize with the grooming needs of your canine and tend to them safely.

With the right tools, and some research, you can be up to speed on how to properly groom these magnificent canines yourself.

Here is a look at how to ensure these two breeds are well -groomed to feel and look their best.

How to Groom an Akita

Brushing

Brushing the coat of the Akita is an integral part of the breeds grooming.

The breed sheds twice a year. So don’t be surprised to have fur all over your home.

Brushing the fur once a week using a slicker brush, pin brush and a firm bristle brush will prove helpful and minimize the amount of fur in your space.

Using an undercoat rake on the breed is also a good idea as it rakes dead fur as far as the under coat.

A quality deshedding tool comes in handy during heavy shedding season when the breed shed piles of fur.

It’s advisable to carry out this exercise outdoors to minimize the amount of fur inside your home.

Ears

Check and clean the ears of this breed weekly using a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner.

This helps prevent odors and will alert you of an infection well in time if you spot redness. In case infected, be sure to see the vet promptly.

Teeth

Although an Akita has a shorter snout, the teeth are easily accessible. This makes it easier to brush them using dog toothbrush and dog toothpaste.

Alternatively, you can use disposable dental wipes. It’s recommended that you clean your Akita’s teeth at least 2-3 times a week.

When you start this routine from puppy age, your dog will become familiar with it and be more at ease during teeth cleaning. Taking you dog to a dentist once a year is also highly recommended.

Nails

paws of an american akita

Akita’s nails should not be left to grow excessively as long nails can affect the majestic gait of the breed.

If your canine buddy spends a considerable amount of time on hard surfaces such as concrete or asphalt the nails will wear out naturally and you won’t have to trim them.

But if the dog does not got out as often or spends most of his time on grassy patches, then the breed’s nails may warrant a trim once a month.

You will know it’s time for a trim should you hear a tapping sound as they walk on hard surface such as your parquet floor. You can use a dog nail trimmer or nail grinder for the best results.

Tail

The hair grows more profusely on the tail of this breed and therefore requires special attention when brushing or using a deshedding tool.

The tail needs to be diligently bushed to get rid of any dead fur or excess hair and keep the fur on it looking neat.

Other areas that need some extra attention are the thighs, behind the ears and around the ruff.

Feet

There is always the potential of overgrown hair around the paw pads of the breed which can reduce traction on feet when an Akita is walking or running.

Always take a minute to carefully trim these hairs.

The feet section can be tricky to navigate, but a round nose grooming shears should help you get the job done safely and with relative ease.

How to Groom German Shepherds

german shepherd grooming

It’s not uncommon to hear GSDs being referred to as German shedders.

It is with good reason.

When considering this breed as a pet, it may also mean investing in a good vacuum cleaner that can cope with plenty of fur around the house.

Brushing

GSDs will tend to have a medium plush fur coat. That means their hair on their outer coat is about 2 inches.

Using an undercoat rake for brushing will reduce shedding.

Some GSDs can have hair longer than 2 inches. In the case of longer hair lengths, brushing with a greyhound comb will achieve a better result. (A greyhound comb is a long pinned steel comb.)

But how often is often enough? Double coated breeds such as GSDs which are heavy shedders, call for 3-4 brush downs a week.

Using a deshedding tool in shedding season is also highly recommended.

Most grooming experts agree that an occasional bath using a deshedding shampoo and conditioner does help get rid of the last 20% of dead fur that just doesn’t seem to go away.

While this is true, the breed should not be washed too frequently as doing so strips the skin and fur of precious natural oils which in turn can lead to irritated skin.

You don’t want THAT to happen just because they look so cute in a bubbly bath.

So how frequent should you wash the fur? Well, a good indicator of when to consider a bath for this canine is when it starts to develop a pong.

Then you know its time. This may be somewhere in the 8th week mark or so.

However, there are those exceptions where the dog has rolled in a muddy puddle or something stinky is stuck to their fur.

An immediate bath is then necessary and for overall skin health.

Ears

ears of a german shepherd

Ears are prone to infections and odors if not cleaned periodically. It’s good practice to check and clean weekly or at least once in two weeks.

Hypoallergenic baby wipes can be used as they are gentle and easy to use.

Using ear cleaning solutions too frequently can result in irritation in the ear canal.

Teeth

Dental health is a crucial part to the breed’s well-being.

The breed’s tongue naturally cleans the inside surfaces of the teeth so it is the outside surface that’s most prone to the build-up of plaque and tartar.

That can be addressed by using dog toothbrush and dog toothpaste to brush the teeth 2-3 times a week. Disposable dental wipes will also get the job done.

Accumulated tartar can be scraped off using a dental scaler but this should be done at the groomer’s or vet’s facility.

It is recommended that GSDs be introduced to teeth brushing routine at 6 weeks of age to get them used to the process going forward.

Talk to them gently as you brush their teeth to help your canine get used to this practice.

Nails

If the breed spends a decent amount of time on paved surfaces, the nails will naturally be worn down to size.

Examine the nails once a month and trim using a nail grinder or dog nail cutter when necessary.

3. Trainability

training a german shepherd

While both the breeds are highly intelligent, they have differing personalities which plays into the level of difficulty when it comes to training them.

The Akita’s stubbornness and willfulness makes them harder and slower to train and requires a good level of patience on the trainer’s part.

German Shepherds, on the other hand, are every trainer’s delight. They are eager to please and to learn with an impressive ability to master many commands.

Training an Akita dog

  • Start training them from an early age. Choose a spot such as the backyard that is free of distractions
  • Train him on obedience by teaching obedience commands such as sit, come, stay
  • Frequently take the Akita out for walks and practice obedient command you have been teaching
  • Remember to have plenty of treats to reward his good behavior when he obeys
  • After a period of Four Weeks on obedience training with some success, start choosing environments with some distractions and see whether he responds to your commands or gets distracted. If easily distracted, keep on practicing in less distracting environments and exercise a lot of patience with the Akita
  •  If he has made good progress, house train him and also start on leash training
  • As part of basic training and socialization, be sure to introduce your Akita to friends, family members as well as neighbors that he is likely to see often
  • Reward him when he obeys as it validates your relationship but also teaches him that you are his master

Training and socialization should start as early as 7-8 weeks with simple and basic obedience training then ramped up gradually to advance commands and house training depending on the progress.

Spending plenty of time with your Akita and including them in your activities also helps him thrive.

Akitas (nor any other dog) do not respond well to harsh training methods. They may even refuse a treat when they are opposed to the training.

They need a good leader who is firm, disciplined and fair and they will follow along… eventually.

And when they do, you will have a well-trained, loyal, well-adjusted dog in your home.

Training German Shepherds

Training GSDs should also start at an early age of about 7-8 weeks when the puppies are still impressionable.

Your diligence in training will set you up for a great, obedient and loyal future relationship with your canine.

German shepherds are eager to learn and please their master, they thrive on praise.

These two facts coupled with their high intelligence make them very trainable and a joy to work with.

  • Start with simple obedience training at puppy stage at about 7-8 weeks
  • Between 8-16 weeks of age, socialize your puppy by going for walks, visiting friends and family, grocery shopping, jogging in the park etcetera. The more new sights, sounds, and smells they experience during this stage the better. Conducting this process and within the prescribed window is critical for development in good socialization. That socialization is what translates to confidence
  • Crate training leading up to house training is also important as it helps your GSD in reducing chances of developing separation anxiety
  • Begin obedience training from three through 24months
  • As they grasp these commands the GSD can then naturally transition to more complex training and tasks such as tracking, agility, herding and guarding

Train your German Shepherd regularly because he loves it and thrives on it. 

In fact, at 24 months going forward, this breed loves to be occupied with a task or tasks, the more the better. 

The breed is truly working dog in every sense of the phrase

A point of note; when training a GSD its critical to work within the prescribed time lines such as outlined above.

While for other breeds puppy-hood ends at about the 24 months, male GSD are considered mature at three years and females at 2 years.

It is then that they graduate to complex training.

In the meantime, they should be kept occupied with plenty of progressive training. Their intelligence and versatility are unmatched, but so is their need for physical and mental stimulation.

4. Exercise and Health

akita puppy running

Exercise in both breeds cannot be overemphasized. One would be served well to remember that the Akita is intuitively a hunter and a survivor.

For that reason, it is only fair to the breed for the owner to ensure the dog gets in a good workout every day.

The breed requires a minimum of 2 hours of exercise per day.

The German Shepherd comes from a herding background and feels great when running open fields.

This breed is a high energy breed that needs a good dose of exercise and mental arousing activities on a daily basis.

They also require a minimum of 2 hours exercise per day.

Enough exercise and training activities are paramount for the two breeds as it provides them with the mental and physical stimulation they need.

Not only is it good for their health but also plays a major part in keeping these two breeds from mischief.

When the Akita and the GSD are not kept sufficiently active, they can result into destructive behavior out of frustration and pent-up energy.

Here is another comparison guide between the Akita and the pitbull that shows this breed can keep up with any high-spirited, energetic dog breed you can think of.

Health Conditions Affecting Akitas

sad akita inu dog

Like most dogs, there are those diseases that the Akita breed is particularly susceptible to. These health conditions include the following;

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

This is a hereditary disease in which the eyes are genetically programmed to go blind. Akitas are a bit more susceptible than other dogs to have the condition. While PRA is not painful, it is also not curable.

Early symptoms in breeds with this gene include night blindness or dilated pupils at about three to five years of age.

Owners who want to know the status of their Akita in regard to this gene can have their vet conduct a test for the condition.

Gastric Dilatation Volvulus / Bloating

Bloating is a life-threatening condition that is common in deep chested breeds like the Akita.

It can be easily avoided by properly spacing out meals as opposed to feeding one large meal at a go.

As the name suggests the dog become bloated with air that they can’t expel from their stomach.

Bloating can also be prevented by ensuring your Akita is adequately rested after meals before exercising or engaging in vigorous play.

Cancer

As Akitas grow older, there is a high likelihood of the breed developing cancer.

Fortunately, with vet medical advancements today, this need not be a death sentence provided it’s detected early.

Most cancers are curable and can be addressed through surgical removal while some will respond to chemotherapy.

To catch anything of this nature early, ask your vet to conduct periodic diagnostic tests as well be on the look for lumps and bumps when examining your Akita.

Obesity

Heavy set and large dogs like the Akita need to develop lean muscle which can be achieved through exercise.

Also, consider dog food that your vet recommends containing the appropriate levels of lean protein.

Owners should be mindful of not over indulging an Akita with treats as it can really pack on unwanted weight.

The result is a myriad of health issues ranging from health disease, back pains, metabolic and digestive disorders

Health Conditions Affecting German Shepherds

sad german shepherd dog

Hip Dysplasia

GSDs are prone to hip dysplasia.

This is where the femur doesn’t fit snugly into the pelvic socket of the hip joint.

Hip dysplasia can exist with or without clinical signs and is an inherited condition. A dog with this condition is likely to develop arthritis in its senior years

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus/ Bloat

Bloat is a life threatening condition that GSD owners should be aware of. This is when your canine’s stomach becomes distended with gas or air and then twists.

It is the same condition as what the Akitas suffer from.

The dog will not be able to belch or vomit to relieve air from the stomach.

As a result, the normal return of blood to the heart is impaired. Your GSD could easily die from this condition in 30 minutes.

To avoid bloat, feed your canine the right diet, space out meals, and let your dog rest enough after meals before exercising.

Allergies

GSDs can suffer from a variety of allergies triggered by contact with a substance or certain food.

Allergies affect dogs in the same fashion as they affect people.

If you notice your GSD licking at their paws, scratching, or rubbing their face a great deal, they may be having an allergic reaction.

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI)

If you notice your GSD is losing weight, has gas, no appetite but he seems to be hungry, it’s very likely that he is suffering from EPI.

The genetic disease of the pancreas is a disease that causes the cells that produce digestive enzymes to be destroyed.

As a result, the dog can no longer absorb or digest food and that quickly leads to severe malnutrition. Fortunately this condition can be promptly diagnosed with a blood test at your vets.

Most dogs readily recover. The treatment involves adding pancreatic enzymes to the dog’s food as well as a cocktail of properly supervised medication.

Price Comparison – Akita Puppy vs German Shepherd Puppy

akita puppy vs german shepherd puppy

One option of obtaining an Akita puppy is by visiting a local reputable pet store.

Buying from a pet store should set you back quite a bit. Both an Akita or Akita-Inu puppy of about 6 months can go for as much as $4500!

But for the most part, most breeders will sell between $700- $2000. If you are lucky enough to find an Akita on adoption at an animal rescue center, then you will get it for far much less.

A German Shepherd puppy of 6 months and above for a family pet will cost you between $500-$1500.

However, when looking for a show quality GSD with exceptional lineage, then the price range will sky rocket to roughly between $2000- $10,000.

For both breeds, it’s highly recommended that you acquire them from a rescue center or from a reputable breeder.

Preferably from breeders who are registered with AKC or other recognized organizations.

This way, you can be sure that the canines you are about to buy have been bred ethically and responsibly.

Most breeders will have the right documents for the pet such as vaccination records.

Frequently Asked Questions

german shepherd in winter

Can these double coated dogs do well in hot regions? 

The answer is no.

Their double coat would NOT fare well in regions that are too hot. They excel in cold and moderately hot climates.

It would be like wearing a winter coat in summer all day and night.

Can an Akita and German Shepherd live together?

Yes, they can with the right training.

However, the Akita is very territorial and prefers to live in a single pet household. It may be best to respect this nuance in the breed.

You can check out this guide on the Akita and the Rottweiler for more comparison of the breed versus other dogs.

If you really want a german shepherd and Akita in your home, consider a shepkita. It is a mix of a GSD and an Akita.

Wrap Up – Which One is Better for You?

So, which breed will it be for you: an Akita or a German Shepherd?

If you are an ardent outdoor enthusiast who loves to hike, hunt, run or camp, this is a solid tie as both breeds welcome the outdoor environment and naturally feel right at home.

But for those strictly looking for a trusty and loyal companion with a playful and highly energetic personality that loves to hang out with the family and can serve as a bodyguard for the family, the German Shepherd will suit your needs.

First time dog owners who do not have a clue at training a dog in obedience, may find the Akita a bit too much of a handle. Given that the Akita will thoroughly exploit that weakness, you will be better off with a German Shepherd as it is a more forgiving breed that’s easy to train and eager to please.

However, if you don’t have much patience or experience, it’s best to avoid these two breeds altogether and opt for a good ol’ Labradoodle or a Golden Retriever.

On the other hand, for those who have handled and trained dogs before and are committed to the challenge and patience of owning and training an Akita, this gorgeous breed will not disappoint. 

It also makes an excellent companion and fun friend in quieter households.

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