Questions? Email me. I'm here to help!
mary at kumatomo.com

Introduction...

Welcome to the tips section of our site. Listed below are tips and recommendations when looking to buy an Akita, along with articles on temperament and health issues.

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What to expect...

Akitas are large and powerful dogs that don't fit into every family. They have distinct character traits that we love but can cause difficulties for inexperienced owners who don't know what to expect.

They are courageous, loyal and devoted to their families - but often aloof with strangers.
They are great watchdogs - because they are very territorial - which can cause problems. They are quick to learn - good habits or bad! It is important to establish early on just who is boss. Consistent, fair discipline makes for a happy confident Akita. No one wants to own an uncontrollable bully, so early obedience training is essential.

Akitas can be 'dog' aggressive as they struggle to be 'top dog', so it is important that the owner spends time to socialise them as pups so they learn to tolerate other animals.

Choosing a puppy...

This is a long section but we are sure it is worth your while to read and understand it as you must make the right choice before you purchase a puppy. This is far better than regretting your decision later.

Because of their background as a hunting dog, there are some breeders deliberately producing Akita’s with poor temperament. Be careful to avoid these breeders when picking out your puppy. While many Akita’s are dog aggressive, especially when adult, they should not be vicious or aggressive with people, and puppies should not exhibit these behaviours. If the breeder brags about what great protection dogs the puppies will make, your alarm should go off. Also, examine any adult Akita owned by the breeder. Do they offer the temperament you want your puppy to have when grown? A little care helps you avoid these breeders. Look for someone who took considerable care in socializing the puppies and who has adults that would be a joy to own.

Your next problem after you have removed the breeders that just don’t care about what they produce is choosing a puppy that has come from health checked parents. You should be asking if the parents of the puppy you are thinking of buying are hip scored and eye tested, if not you should ask yourself why not!! Any reputable breeder will at least have hip scores done if not eye tests. Hip scoring in Akita's is very important just as it is in any large breed dog like Alsatian’s etc. All large dogs can suffer from hip problems so using lines with low hip scores really does help to lower the chance extremely.

You will see plenty of breeders saying you should ask the breeder how many stud book numbers they have or have they got any CC's, well in our opinion they mean nothing if the dog has not got good hips and eyes. So you should ask them if the dogs they have with stud book numbers or CC's have hip scores and eye tests. You should also check if the dogs they breed and show are their breeding or are they taking the glory for someone else’s breeding. Check how many dogs in their Kennel have been bred by themselves, do they sell all their puppies? And use other breeder’s dogs to breed from. If so ask yourself why this is. Maybe this is because they are not happy with the puppies they produce and know they wouldn't do anything in the ring with them. Why else would they want to show someone else's dogs rather than keep their own and show them. Every kennel will have some dogs that were bred by another kennel but all established breeders will have far more dogs bred by themselves rather than by others.

Some kennels say if you don’t show you are a puppy farmer. We think you don’t have to show to be able to breed and feel the quality of our dogs shows this perfectly well. We would say ask these breeders how many litters each bitch they own or have owned in the past has had and in how long a period of time. You will be surprised how many litters some breeders make their bitches have and in how short a time period. It is not unusual for some to mate their bitches on every season until they cannot register anymore litters. That’s 1 litter every six months for 3 years no matter how big the litters are. Again there is nothing wrong with doing an occasional back to back mating on a bitch if the last litter was only small and you can justify why you are doing the mating again so soon. You should ask breeders how many puppies they have kept from the litters they have had and if they still have them. Again you will be amazed to hear most of the litters have just been sold without keeping anything. Responsible breeding should be done to improve the breed and also if the breeder wishes to keep a dog or bitch from a particular line or mating. We realise sometimes you may breed to get a new dog or bitch to keep your lines going in your kennel but when the litter is born there may not be the desired sex or maybe the sex you want are all longcoats, this of course is totally different to breeding just to make money.

Please take the time to ask these questions as you may regret if you don’t. Also be aware that some breeders will not refund your deposit for any reason what so ever. They will just make you wait until they have another litter with a suitable puppy in it. This to us is a totally unacceptable practice and is wrong. We would not expect someone to have to lose a deposit or wait until another litter is born hoping a suitable puppy is in that litter. This could go on forever without the right puppy arriving. You should be able to get a refund if there is not a suitable puppy in the litter you left the deposit for. However we feel you should not get a refund if you just change your mind or go elsewhere for a puppy.

Health & special medical problems...

Overall Akitas are quite hardy, but care must be taken to avoid these problem areas:

  1. Canine Hip Dysplasia

    The incidence of hip and elbow dysplasia in Akitas (as in many large breeds) can be a problem. However, any Akita used for breeding should be x-rayed at 2 years of age, and only dogs certified as normal should be bred.

    Conscientious efforts of breeders have kept the incidence of this condition moderate in the Akita.

  2. Hypothyroidism

    Akitas are subject to hypothyroidism and allergic skin diseases, both of which can be treated. Incidence of hypothyroidism seems to be increasing, and sometimes, skin diseases are a result of thyroid dysfunction.

  3. Eye problems

    Possible congenital eye defects. Progressive Retinal Atrophy and Central Progressive Retinal Atrophy have appeared in a number of breeds, including Akitas. These problems are an inherited disease and can cause sudden or gradual blindness.

    Careful screening of potential breeding pairs has helped reduce the incidence of these problems in the breed. Congenital ocular defects include - micropthalmia (small eyes), congenital cataracts (present at birth), posterior lenticonous (lens abnormally shaped), retinal dysplasia (retina developed abnormally).

    Entropion (eyelids rolling inward) and ectropion (eyelids rolling outward) can also be problems. VKH is becoming another problem in Akitas and is one to watch out for. The first signs are weepy eyes which vets tend to diagnose as Conjunctivitis. The weepy eyes soon change to huge staring blue milky eyes which requires prompt treatment if there is any hope of stopping blindness. Other signs are loss of pigmentation. The precise nature of the cause of the disease is unknown and treatment can be difficult. There is a lot to learn about this disease, and once the cause is established an improvement in treatment will be possible. The literature indicates a breed disposition but the mechanism of inheritance, if any, remains unknown.

Conclusion

We have now found the time to show our Akitas - we breed them so that other people can enjoy Akitas as pets or as show dogs if you have the time and dedication.

Our dogs share our life, home, garden and even our bed on a Sunday morning. They are part of our family.

We think temperament is as important as looks and our Akitas get on well with children and visitors alike - that isn't to say they aren't great looking dogs because they are!!

Choosing an Akita is a major event! We hope we have made it a little easier.

Questions? Email me. I'm here to help!
mary at kumatomo.com

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