The Ultimate Pitbull vs Akita Comparison Guide [Scruffy Doggo or Fluffy Fido?]
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Getting a dog can be a big decision.
But getting the RIGHT dog is critical.
“Should I get a strong-looking pitbull, or a fox-like dog breed like akita?”
After all, whichever canine you pick will definitely become an additional member of the family. So you need to feel confident that the choice you make is in the best interest of your loved ones – furry AND furless!
Akitas and Pit Bulls are incredibly popular breeds and with good reason. They are both handsome breeds, lovable and protective to the tips of their tails!
Still, they do have different needs and temperaments that may or may not be the best fit for YOU. Getting a dog is a dance for two, and you need the same sense of rhythm if you don’t want to step on each other’s toes.
Let’s compare and contrast the two breeds to the last detail to help you make an informed decision on which option may be the best match for you.
|Size and Weight||The Akita is a medium to large sized breed that weighs 70-130 pounds and stands at 24-28 inches tall||The Pit Bulls are medium to large sized breeds that weighs anywhere from 50- 120 pounds and can stand as tall as 17-28 inches|
|Appearance||Japanese Akita-Inu comes across as a leaner breed when compared to its cousin the American Akita. It is slender boned than the American version. The Akita-Inu’s facial appearance is more fox-like while American Akitas are bear-like. Both breeds are double coated with a tail that curls upward and rests on the lower back of the dog.||They typically have a stoic build and are deep-chested with a muscular body. The ears can be cropped or uncropped. Un-cropped ears will often be held at half prick. Their shoulders are muscular and strong with wide sloping blade. The coat is taut and of medium length with a glossy look and feel. Has a short and low set tail that tapers to a fine point.|
|Temperament||Naturally imposing and strong-willed with a streak of stubbornness. Well-loved for its goofy side and unwavering loyalty. Courageous, dignified and would protect your family at all odds if it came down to it. An Akita is very protective in nature and as such make excellent guard dogs.||They’re notoriously determined dogs but with a jovial and happy disposition. They are keenly aware of their surroundings. Their confidence, smart and good nature make them good companions. They have a protective instinct about them and make good guard dogs.|
|Life Expectancy||~13 years||8-16 years|
|Health Issues||The Akita is a massive dog and fast growing. Moderate diet for this breed is crucial as it can easily become obese and suffer subsequent health issues The breed is also prone to bloat, hip dysplasia, kidney disease, hypothyroidism, sebaceous adenitis, progressive retinal atrophy.||Pit Bulls are more susceptible to obesity and hypothyroidism, skin irritation and infection, knee problems and hip dysplasia. Other common diseases among Pit Bulls are also cataracts.|
|Grooming||The breed is a heavy shedder. Shedding twice a year. For as long as you have the right brushing and deshedding tools, weekly brushing of the coat should mitigate shedding and will keep the coat looking plush and well kept. Trim nails once a month, and clean their teeth twice to thrice a week with dental wipes. Also check ears for infection and bad odor and make sure it’s cleaned at least once a week.||Pit bulls are quite easy to groom because their smooth and glossy fur barely sheds any fur. Brush the coat once to two twice a week using a rubber curry brush. Use dental wipes or dog toothbrush and toothpaste 2-3 times a week to clean a Pitbull’s teeth. Use dog nail clippers to trim the claws once a month. Examine the ears and clean once a week.|
|Trainability||An Akita is an intelligent breed, perhaps too intelligent for its own good. The breed is trainable but requires plenty of patience. They must see the trainer as top dog or leader of the pack in order for him to tow the line.||Highly trainable as the breed thrives on mental and physical stimulation. Also has an eager to please disposition.|
Related post: Siberian Husky vs Golden Retriever: In-Depth Comparison [Read Before Buying a Pup!]
1. Pitbull vs Akita Personality – What to Expect
Since Japan started a preservation club for the Akita, the breed has not only flourished but the lineage has remained pretty unchanged through the ages, except for the American Akita.
The American Akita and the Japanese Akita are the ONLY varieties of the breed.
In comparison, there are five varieties of the Pit Bull breed:
The origins of the Akita have never been in question as history clearly shows and recognizes their nativity as Japan. The Pit Bull remains an English dog breed regardless of where in the world you find them.
For the sake of a clear distinction between the Native Japanese original Akita-Inu and the ones that found their way to America and underwent some evolution, the American Kennel Club coined the phrases Japanese Akita-Inu for the Japanese purebred and American Akita for those that would be sired in the States.
The temperament of these two breeds is the same — boldly courageous, and dignified.
However, the American Akita does have a bigger physique. Their bone structure is denser and they stand slightly taller than its Japanese counterpart. As to which one you choose to get boils down to a question of preference.
The Pit Bull’s temperament, on the other hand, is more playful and fun loving but with just the right tinge of determination.
The hallmark of a Pitbull is a muscular, stocky build with deep chests and large, square heads.
They are well known for their notorious determination in any task given. This can range from learning a new trick, acting like a family guardian or simply digging a hole wherever THEY want.
This comparison pits two medium to large dogs against each other. Here is a more detailed breakdown of each breed:
The Pitbull looks alert and aware much like the Akita. Apart from the frame of the body, head and overall look here is how each breed fares in height and weight:
If you are settling for the Pitbull Terrier over the Akita, you can expect a more agreeable dog with a happy-go-lucky disposition.
It has inexhaustible courage AND a big heart.
But the Akita, on the other hand, is super loyal and protective, if a bit broody and moody!
Pitbulls are born with blue eyes which darken as the dog grows older. You will notice their eyes tend to be bright blue when they are puppies.
But as they grow and the melanin comes into their eyes, the eyes darken into a beautiful light or dark brown.
These dogs have been known to have an interesting color palette for their eyes that makes them stand out. They can even have hazel or green eyes.
Their gaze can be captivating even hypnotizing.
The eye color of the Akita, on the other hand, has always been a standard brown with dark rims around it. Akitas with blue eye colors are usually mixed with a Siberian Husky, another northern breed.
The eyes of the Akita are usually triangular to almond-shaped depending on which variety you want. They are also typically deep-set.
A pittie’s eyes should be medium size, round, and sitting low on the head. They should also be well apart.
If you come across a pitbull with blue eyes, the dog may be a mix with another blue-eyed dog. Or your companion may:
In Pitbulls, all other eye colors are acceptable EXCEPT the blue. So if you notice it, better go straight to the vet!
While the Akita has a double coat that features a top and undercoat, the pitbull is a single-coated breed. Their coats are shorter and they do not have the layered undercoat like the Akita.
The topcoat of the Akita has shorter hairs that are coarse in texture. The undercoat is softer with fuzzy hair that is very dense and offers full coverage.
Both Japanese and American Akitas have double coats as explained in detail in this guide.
In contrast, breeders like to emphasize that Pitbulls have dog fur, not dog hair.
Yes, there is a difference.
Dog hair grows in a single layer and it feels similar to their skin.
But dog fur feels dense and is shorter. It also grows in short cycles allowing it to shed and grow thicker when needed in colder months.
Dogs that don’t shed a lot like Maltese and Yorkies have dog hair that has a longer growth cycle. Doggies with hair shed less than dogs with fur.
The pitbull has dog fur that sheds and grows in short cycles.
While a pitbull will not shed twice a year like an Akita, its dog fur can be found on your furniture all year round.
But even compared to other short furred breeds of dog, the pitbull generally sheds LESS.
Akitas, on the other hand, are prolific shedders. Like other double-coated breeds, they have two blown coat events in the year. That is when these dogs shed EVEN more than usual.
But with regular brushing of their coat, they will shed less on regular days. The two coats of the Akita may be different in color but the colors match their typical coat color spectrum.
An American Akita has more color options compared to a Japanese Akita.
With the latter, you have a choice of red, brindle, orange, and white. But the former variety offers a much wider color spectrum to choose from.
The pitbull also comes in various colors. You can expect to see red, brindle, merle, chocolate, black or white coats. They also come in a moo-moo pattern – aptly named because it looks like a cow’s fur.
The ears of the Akita are erect and upright which makes them easily distinguishable. But there are tiny differences between Japanese and American Akita ears.
The Japanese Akita ears are smaller and while they are erect, they tend to angle forward. Some even have a slight frontward flop on the tip.
The American Akita’s ears, on the other hand, are completely upright and erect and also appear larger.
With Pitbulls, the situation is a bit more diverse within a single lifetime. Some have upright ears while others have floppy ears.
When they are growing as puppies, Pitbulls have what is known as rosebud ears.
They are soft folded flaps that look like rosebuds before unfolding and they also look too large for the puppy’s head.
As they grow, the cartilage makes the ears stand upright.
Akita puppies also start life with floppy ears. But by teething, the cartilage and bone in their ears are becoming stronger resulting in more upright ears.
You may notice that some Pitbulls have very erect, small ears. That is the result of ear cropping.
It is a surgical procedure done on puppies between six and 12 weeks old. They surgically remove a portion of the dog’s ear leaving the cartilage standing erect.
Ear cropping in Pitbulls is a practice done to prevent their ears from being bitten off during fighting or injury during work.
According to the American Kennel Club, this practice is acceptable because it is vital in preserving and defining the breed’s character.
Others beg to differ, such as British Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). If ear cropping sounds cruel, it’s because it IS cruel. (And completely unnecessary at that.)
Pitbulls often make it to the list of MOST muscular dogs – without even trying!
I mean, have you seen these dogs??
They look stocky, with a powerful chest and equally strong hindquarters. They are naturally lean and muscular but this also depends on the care you give them.
For medium-sized dogs, they bring more muscle to the playground compared to other similarly sized dogs.
Akitas are equally muscular but their double coat tends to hide their muscle structure. They are, however, known to be powerful dogs with excellent muscle mass and bone density.
Their working nature builds muscle.
(It just doesn’t look as if they were hitting the gym every day of their life!)
They also have deep chests and strong legs which is why they are a natural choice for law enforcement work.
2. Grooming Akita vs Pitbull
Because the Akita is a self-cleaning dog, it has moderate grooming needs. The pitbull is a single coat dog which also means it needs moderate grooming.
But the grooming needs vary – especially on the coat.
Brushing — There’s more to it than just ‘brushing’!
Once a week brushing is sufficient to keep the coat healthy and clean out any dirt or debris on the Akita’s double coat. In contrast, brushing a pitbull’s coat every two weeks is sufficient to keep the coat shiny and clean.
Their fur is less dense and they do not shed as much. Overall it is much easier to brush a Pit Bull’s fur compared to an Akita’s coat.
When it comes to shedding, you can expect much more shedding from the Akita than the Pit Bull although both breeds are all-year shedders.
However, the Akita has two periods in the year where they experience a blown coat. That is massive seasonal shedding of the coat. The Pitbull doesn’t go through this.
Popular brushes for pitbull brushing include the curry or rubber brush that is specifically designed for short fur that regularly sheds.
These tend to pull loose hair out while distributing the dog’s natural oils.
Bristle brushes keep the coat shiny and smooth. Make sure the brush has closely packed bristles.
Since Pitbulls are year-round shedders, it is best to always have a shedding brush. They effectively lift dead skin, debris, and dirt from the fur.
Finally, make sure that you have a slicker brush handy to reduce shedding. The slicker brush will adhere to your dog’s body making it more comfortable during brushing.
For the Akita, you have to go in with an undercoat rake to do an effective job of unmatting the tangled hairs, especially in the undercoat.
Some people prefer to brush using a shedding tool to remove the loose hairs in the double coat. You may spend about an hour brushing the dog until you notice there is less hair being shed.
The undercoat rake will also help remove dead skin while a bristle brush in the final brushing will distribute the natural oils on the dog’s skin.
To keep the coat shiny and fluffy use a wide-tooth comb and a pin brush.
How to clean those cute ears?!
Cleaning an Akita’s ears is simpler because they sit upright and erect. Pouring ear cleaning solution into the ear is easy and quick and when the dog shakes its head, the solution comes out faster with the dirt and the debris accumulated inside.
Also, you have better access to the pinna (outer part) of the ear as it protrudes significantly to be gently gripped in your fingers.
This breed is less prone to suffer from ear infections.
On the flip side, cleaning the ears of a floppy-eared pitbull requires a bit of navigating.
Do not grip the pinna too hard or you will grab the dog’s ear cartilage. Just lift the pinna at the edge and clean the inside and outside of the floppy section.
You have to be even more careful if the dog has cropped ears.
Next, pour the ear cleaning solution into the ear canal and let it swirl inside for 30 seconds. Your dog will naturally want to shake its head and in the process remove the ear solution and any other dirt in the ear.
Wipe the ear clean using gauze.
The Akita may not be agreeable to having an ear solution poured in its ears because this is a strong-willed dog.
So, make sure it is securely sitting and comfortable before beginning to clean its ears.
You wouldn’t want 130 pounds of muscle dripping ear solutions around the house!
You may find that the Pitbull is more agreeable to ear cleaning compared to the Akita.
DO NOT EVER USE Q-TIPS ON ANY DOG’S EARS.
Trim and clip those nails
Trim an Akita’s or a Pitbull’s nails once or twice a month especially if they are not very active outdoors.
When your dog plays outdoors or is busy working, its nails tend to naturally wear down because of constant contact with different surfaces.
Both dogs are generally active which means their nails are usually worn down by the surface one which they walk on.
Always keep track of the dog’s nails to ensure they do not grow too long. And when cutting them, use a nail grinder which is more comfortable and effective for the Akita’s tough nails.
You can tell the nails are long by the sound they make on a surface when they walk. If you leave your dog’s nails uncut for too long, you can even cause paw deformation.
And the tails?
The tail of the Akita is a fun little nugget on its body that curls upwards and features a bushy look. A quick brush and trim will have it looking like the dog’s crown even though it is on the tail end and not the head.
Pitbulls, on the other hand, are among the dog breeds that have their tails docked. Their natural tails are thick at the base and sit low. It tapers as it gets towards the end to become a pointy tip.
You don’t have to do much brushing of the Pitbull’s tail like you need to do with the Akita.
Some people prefer to dock their Pitbull’s tails which eliminates this aspect of grooming.
Again, others dub it animal cruelty, and for good reason. It does hurt the dog, despite what advocates claim. And dogs have tails because they need them!
That’s why tail docking is ILLEGAL in many countries across the world.
Teeth brushing (since they LOVE smiling!)
Brushing the teeth of a straight muzzle dog is a bit more straightforward. And the Pit Bull and Akita both have straight muzzles and evenly aligned teeth.
However, keep in mind that some Pitbulls have a shorter snout so you may need to expose their teeth a bit more to clean properly.
With the right dog toothpaste and toothbrush, you can clean the outer section of their teeth effectively.
If your Akita is being head-strong, begin by introducing dental chews to keep the teeth healthy. Next, introduce your finger into their mouth and rub it along the gum line and up and down the teeth.
DO NOT push your finger too deep into the dog’s mouth.
Or if all fails, you can try food supplements to clean teeth that you include in their food or water. One of the best options on the market is the ProDen PlaqueOff Powder that you sprinkle on the dog’s food once a day.
Akitas can be stubborn when it comes to cleaning their teeth unlike Pit Bulls that have a more accommodating disposition.
For the Pit Bull, use a finger brush at first until the dog is accustomed to the feel of a toothbrush. They will soon obey when it is time to brush their teeth.
3. How to Train Pitbulls vs Akitas
When it comes to training, you will find the Pitbull is more agreeable to obedience training compared to an Akita. Naturally, the Akita is very independent and head-strong. It is used to dominating so it doesn’t comply easily with domination.
But it is important to remember that both dogs need patience and consistency in training. Use the following steps to train these dogs:
That means you are gradually introducing new environments with the same commands to the dog.
The end goal is to make sure that you can give the command to the dog anywhere and they will obey.
The good news is that Pitbulls are such softies! They are eager to please, highly intelligent, and loyal. So, with positive reinforcement, you will find this breed grasps obedience training much faster.
Ever heard that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? That may apply more to Akitas than Pitbulls.
But it is always a good idea to begin training all dog breeds when they are puppies.
They respond better and you have better control. Also, it is easier to socialize a puppy with people and other pets.
4. Exercise and Health
Work out with Fido!
Pitbull trainers have a few secrets up their sleeves including giving the dog a job so that they can expend their pent-up energy.
Both breeds are natural-born athletes and high performers so let them have a job that gives them all the exercise they need.
Incorporate agility games or obedience tasks like retrieving and pulling as part of their exercise routine.
Expect to spend at least an hour a day walking or exercising a Pitbull.
Akitas also need an outlet for their powerful bodies and energy. They need explosive exercise for a minimum of two hours to be sufficiently engaged.
Programs like the Canine Good Citizen Program offer dog and human bonding activities. You can also enroll your dog in activities like swimming, weight pulling, running, and Lure coursing which they can do once or twice a week to supplement the regular walks and playing in the park you do at home.
The Akita has a lifespan of up to 13 years while the Pitbull can live for up to 16 years.
Health Conditions Affecting Pitbull vs Akita
Akitas tend to inherit this condition where their thighbone doesn’t fit properly into its socket. It typically affects the hind legs and can cause complete lameness in the dog if left untreated. It is also extremely painful for the dog.
Interestingly, the same condition occurs quite frequently in Pitbulls as well.
Another disease that affects both the Pitbull and the Akita! Although treatable, hypothyroidism can cause obesity, skin problems, and other more severe conditions like epilepsy.
The dog doesn’t make enough thyroid hormone which not only makes it susceptible to other diseases but also makes it aggressive and other behavioral issues.
Tummy Issues (Mild & Severe)
Deep chested dogs like Akitas are prone to this disease which is also known as gastric torsion. When the Akita eats quickly, exercises vigorously after eating, or has one large meal a day, air can accumulate in their stomach causing twisting and distension of the tummy.
The dog goes into shock as their blood pressure drops. With little blood getting to the heart the dog is likely to die within half an hour.
The Pitbull is also prone to this disease because it is a deep chested dog as well.
Heart conditions are more prevalent in Pitbulls than in Akitas. The most common heart condition with Pitbulls is aortic stenosis. It is a congenital heart condition that the dog is born with.
The connection between the aorta and the left ventricle in the heart narrows causing a heart murmur in the dog’s heartbeat.
Some dogs will not show signs of the disease for a long time while others quickly become lethargic or suddenly die.
This condition occurs mostly with Akitas compared to the Pitbull. It is characterized by skin lesions that appear around the ears and dog’s midline. While it is not life-threatening, it is not curable either and needs life-long management.
The dog’s skin thickens and becomes prone to secondary infections. It can also cause the dog to have an odor because of the constant infections.
It is a hereditary disease.
Both Akitas and Pitbulls are especially susceptible to allergies which can be caused by the environment or even the food they eat.
Make sure that you are careful to give these dogs food free from by-products, grains, and artificial additives.
The solution is to find the offending substance and remove it from their food or environment.
5. Price Comparison — Pitbull vs Akita Puppies
The average price of a pitbull puppy is between $500 and $1000.
That is considerably cheaper compared to an Akita puppy which will set you back $750 to $2000.
The Akita is more expensive compared to the Pitbull because it is a novelty breed. They are not super common and they don’t come with a reputation for ferociousness like the Pitbull.
Breeders tend to be more expensive than shelters because you are paying for a well-bred, well-cared-for puppy that is trained to be a good fit for your household. That applies whether you are buying an Akita or a Pitbull.
Shelters tend to take in abandoned dogs with no history. That makes them an unpredictable (but all the more humane) buy. Dogs without a pedigree deserve a chance at happiness too!
6. History & Fun Facts About Pitbulls and Akitas
The Akita’s back story is as impressive and valiant as they come.
This breed has rubbed shoulders with royalty and has tasted the battlefield, faithfully running beside horse-riding Samurai warriors.
Earlier on in the course of its history, the Akita-Inu was considered royalty as at one point in time, it could only be exclusively owned by the ruling class of Imperial Japan.
In contrast, the Pitbull has always been a commoner’s dog.
Right before the Civil War, immigrants from the British Isles poured into the United States.
But in that Exodus, their treasured Pit Bulls came along with them. It was during this era that the Pit Bull Terrier breed was named the “American” Pit Bull Terrier.
The term Pitbull now refers to several breeds that are descendants of the Old English Bulldogs crossed with Terriers.
While one of the Japanese Akita’s primary duties in its earlier days was hunting and guardianship, the Pit Bulls were, unfortunately, bred for fighting.
The history of this breed is inextricably associated with the ancient blood sport of “bull baiting” that was a rave in the British Isles back in the 1800s.
This sport involved putting a bull in an arena and setting one or two bulldogs on him.
The dogs mercilessly harassed the bull for hours on end until the bull collapsed out of exhaustion and bite injuries.
This was a pass time for the lower classes and a way to escape boredom.
But this breed has come a long way and redeemed itself.
The Pitbulls tenacity, determination, and amiable character have flourished and is on display for all to see as it evolved into an all-purpose role responsible for herding sheep and cattle, guarding livestock and families against thieves and wild animals.
While the Akita-Inu has come back from the brink of extinction several times, the Pit Bull has grown stronger in numbers from the time it was first created.
When acquiring an Akita, you get a loyal, dignified dog with a streak of unyielding independence. But when you get the Pit Bull, you get a ferocious looking dog with a sweetheart disposition and an eagerness to please.
But both dogs are prolific hunting dogs. Akitas were used to find wild boar and even bear during hunts and Pit Bulls were used to flush out wild hogs.
Both dogs have also been used in battle. The Akita was a valuable companion for Japanese soldiers during the Second World War and the Pit Bulls were used to deliver messages during World War I.
The Pit Bull breed is ranked 85th in popularity across the US while the Akita is 47th.
Prominent people who have owned pit bulls and have spoken highly of them include; Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Alba, Hellen Keller, Marc Jacobs, Liam Hemsworth, and Channing Tatum to name a few.
On the other hand, Richard Gere, Alain Delon, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Tom Welling and Eric Christian Olsen swear by Akitas.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you breed an Akita and a pitbull?
Yes, you can. And the resulting dog is the cute Akita pit. These dogs are loyal, intelligent, and fun with the long snout of the Akita and the round eyes of the pitbull.
They are moderately easy to train with a high prey drive and potential for playfulness.
Are Pitbulls good with kids?
Yes, they are. They are protective and their soft nature makes them a pushover for children. These dogs are very affectionate and loyal. They LOVE games and cuddles, which makes them excellent family companions!
And with their querying, intelligent eyes, they always look like they are saying something.
You can look at this other comparison guide to see how Akitas compare to German Shepherds, another family favorite dog.
Do Akitas live longer than other dogs?
Not as a rule of thumb. They live an average of 13 years which is similar to other breeds. With good care, they can go into old age healthy and active.
Bottom Line – Which Breed is the Right for You?
The Akita is a wonderful dog that loves deeply and is loyal with its affections. But it DOESN’T like the competition of other pets or being around strangers.
Keep it simple with an Akita by maintaining a one-pet household and mitigating encounters with strangers.
Pitbulls, on the other hand, are excellent for an active household. They can handle the attentions of children, a cat, a parrot, a parakeet, probably a turtle, a hamster, and a pet goldfish. All at the same time!
And STILL, have the energy to run around at the agility training program!