Many people enjoy purebred dogs, such as the German Shepherd, for their elegance, dedication, and strength. However, in recent years, more people have started to move away from purebred dogs and toward “designer” dogs.
One breed in particular that lives up to the results that designer dogs have set out to accomplish is the Akita German Shepherd.
Akita German Shepherds are a designer dog breed with a large and strong stature and various coat colors. They are loyal, eager to impress, and intelligent. They also require extra effort, needing lots of exercise and mental stimulation, proper grooming, and proper nutrition for optimum health.
In this article, we will take a good look at all things Akita German Shepherd, as well as what you can expect if you decide you’d like to get one.
What Is an Akita German Shepherd?
An Akita German Shepherd, as you may be able to gather from its name, is a mix between two dog breeds, namely the Akita Inu and the German Shepherd. They are also known as German Shepherd Akitas or sometimes even Shepkitas, by putting their names together.
They take after their stoic parents, as well as being loyal, independent, highly intelligent, and protective pets. They are known to be great companions to active individuals and families with a lot of love to give.
They can also be adapted to virtually any environment with consistent positive reinforcement training.
In terms of their appearance, however, knowing how your Akita Shepherd will look is like trying to guess which number you’ll get when you roll a die.
The possibilities are endless, and every variation that you get is as beautiful as the next. Nevertheless, there are a few features that are common throughout this breed of dog. These include:
- the short, narrow muzzle
- black nose
- brown eyes
- pointed ears
- small-ish head
- medium length, thick coat
- sturdy forequarters
- broad chest
- large paws
- slightly curled tail
There is also a large variation in the coat colors in an Akita Shepherd mix, but the most common colors are black, tan, sable, brindle, golden, brown, white, speckled, and spotted.
Height and weight also vary quite a bit, with adult females growing to be between 22 to 24 inches (55-60 cm) and weighing around 60 to 80 lbs (27-36 kg), while males can grow to be 23 to 25 inches tall (58-64 cm) and can weigh between 65 and 85 lbs (29-39 kg).
Is an Akita Shepherd the Right Breed for Me?
An Akita Shepherd mix is no doubt a wonderful dog. However, they require a certain type of person to be their owner.
Let’s take a look at some of the things you need to take into consideration before you acquire one of these dogs.
Do You Have Enough Space?
As mentioned before, Akita Shepherd mixes can grow to become very large dogs, and as such, will require a lot of space to live in.
These dogs are best suited to houses with a lot of space and preferably a garden or backyard to run around in. However, they can live in a reasonably sized apartment, as long as you have the time to take them outside to play and roam for a few hours a day.
As well as having enough space to play, they need somewhere big to sleep. If you’re not too keen on sharing your bed with a dog, you can get them a large dog crate, like this MidWest Folding Crate for X-Large Dogs, or a dog bed, like this Furhaven Pet Orthopedic Dog Bed.
Do You Have Experience or Access to a Professional Dog Trainer?
Because Akita Shepherds are a highly intelligent breed of dogs, they thrive off of consistent training. They are naturally protective dogs and can sometimes be aggressive towards anything or anyone they perceive as a threat to their owner, but they can learn not to attack with some proper training.
Akita Shepherds can also sometimes be stubborn or headstrong and will occasionally test their owner’s boundaries, so they will need an owner who will be firm yet not overly aggressive.
You will need to act strong and take the lead to assert your dominance; otherwise, your Akita Shepherd may develop a dominance problem and will be hard to control.
These dogs are best suited to an experienced dog owner; however, they can get along well with new dog owners who are willing to put in the time and effort to train them properly.
It is also a good idea to spend some time training your Akita Shepherd with a professional dog trainer or to become part of a dog training club and attend it regularly.
Do You Have Other Pets?
Akita German Shepherd mixes can become great friends with the other pets in your household or other animals when you’re out and about. However, this will require some training and socializing with many different animals from a young age as Akita Shepherds are still guard-dogs at heart.
Socializing them from a young age will make them less likely to be aggressive towards other animals.
However, they do have a naturally strong prey drive, so it is always good to be cautious when they are around small dogs and cats. It is also advised not to leave them alone with other animals unsupervised.
German Shepherd and Akita Inu Basic Facts
Akita Shepherds are known to be loyal, hardworking, and protective dogs, traits which they inherit from both of their parents. This is what makes them such great dogs for individuals and families with older children alike.
Now let’s take a look at what makes this breed of dog so well-liked and increasingly popular amongst dog owners, starting by looking at the two individual breeds that make up this mixed-breed dog.
German Shepherd Basic Facts
As you might be able to tell from the name, German Shepherds originate (unsurprisingly) from Germany. It was originally bred to be a sheep herding dog but slowly began to be used for other purposes as well.
Max von Stephanitz was a prominent member of the school of dog fanciers, and he went to great lengths to find the “perfect” working dog. In 1899, he found what he thought was an exemplary model in a successful show dog called Hektor. This is what began the breeding of the dog we have come to know as the German Shepherd.
These dogs have quickly become one of the most popular breeds in the United States. Their features make them easily distinguishable from other dogs, with their long and lean bodies, their large brown eyes, and their varying coat colors.
They have medium length hair and a double coat, which leads to a lot of shedding. This means that maintenance on these dogs is quite high, needing to be properly brushed at least once a week, but preferably more often.
They are on the larger side when it comes to dogs, growing to about 21 1/2-25 1/2 inches in height (55-65 cm) and around 48.5-88 lbs (22-40 kg). Their life expectancy ranges between 9 and 13 years.
German Shepherds are loyal, intelligent, easy to train, agile, and strong. They are generally easy-going when they are around their owners but can be stand-offish or even sometimes confrontational with strangers.
They are very protective by nature, but with proper training and socializing, they can be taught to see the difference between what is genial and what is a threat.
These dogs are also very active and need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to keep them happy. As such, they don’t do very well when being left alone for extended periods of time.
Their mental and physical capabilities make them pretty much always the first choice for working purposes, such as search and rescue, narcotics detection, bomb detection, and they are often used as guide dogs for people with a visual handicap.
If you’d like to know more about German Shepherds, watch this video:
We also have a list of some great articles that we’ve written that cover some of the things that we have just talked about in great detail. Have a look for yourself in the links below!
- The Black German Shepherd: A Complete Breed Guide
- The White German Shepherd: A Complete Breed Guide
- How To Socialize Your German Shepherd
- How to Keep a German Shepherd Busy While You’re at Work
Akita Inu Basic Facts
The Akita Inu, on the other hand, originates from the mountainous Odate region of Japan.
They were first bred to hunt large and medium-sized game, such as elk, boars and small bears, as well as fowl. They were also used as guard dogs to protect the Japanese royalty.
They are seen as a national treasure in Japan, and they symbolize protection, health, happiness, and longevity.
They were first brought into the United States by the American author, political activist, and lecturer Helen Keller, who became infatuated with the breed during her visit and was given a puppy as a gift to take home.
The population of these dogs steadily began to increase in the US when servicemen brought their own dogs back with them after World War II.
They are fairly large dogs, with a distinct and powerful appearance. They have a big head and small triangular eyes and a robust stance. Their coats usually come in black, white, or chocolate, a combination of color and white, or brindle.
These dogs also shed quite a bit of their hair, so weekly brushing is advised to keep their plush coat healthy. Vacuuming will also become a regular part of your life as your Akita’s hair will get on everything.
Akitas usually stand at around 24-28 inches high (61-71cm) and weigh in at between 70-130 lbs (32-59 kg). They usually live to become 10 to 15 years old.
In terms of their personality, Akitas are a bold and willful dog and extremely loyal to their owner(s). They are wary of strangers, alert, intelligent, and have a lot of courage.
They are aggressive towards other dogs (especially of the same sex) and don’t back down from a fight. They are also an active breed and require a lot of exercise to keep them from becoming bored, and in turn, destructive.
However, they are very playful and affectionate with their owners. They enjoy companionship and, with proper training and socialization, can become amicable around other people and animals.
However, they are still best suited to a one-dog home and are stubborn, so they require a little more patience when being trained.
If you’re interested in the Akita Inu, definitely give this video a watch:
What to Expect With the Akita Inu German Shepherd Mix
Now that we’ve gone over the fundamentals of both the German Shepherd and Akita Inu individually, we can take a look at what you can expect to get when these two wonderful breeds are mixed together.
Many Akita Shepherd owners say that this breed of dog is a quiet one. But this doesn’t mean that they aren’t paying attention. These are highly alert dogs who are always on the lookout for any perceivable threat.
They always want to make sure you are safe and will let you know if something is up without being yappy about it.
They are also not very likely to bark a lot (only when they deem it absolutely necessary), which is great because no one likes a neighbor with a noisy dog!
These mixed-breed dogs are extremely loyal to their human friends, as both of their parents are also very loyal companions.
They are likely to develop a strong bond with their owner and can be overprotective at times. It is advised that you focus on teaching your Akita Shepherd to be obedient rather than doing any sort of guard dog training.
Akita Shepherds have natural guarding tendencies, so they don’t need encouragement to be aggressive and do not benefit from improper training.
Both of these things could result in a dangerous dog; however, they don’t mean to harm. They are only trying to protect you because they care about your safety.
Akita Shepherds have a double-coated fur of medium length hair, and thus they shed quite a lot. Taking proper care of their coats can be high-maintenance and requires a lot of time and energy to keep it looking at its best.
They also “blow” (shed) their coat seasonally, and when this happens, they need to be brushed every day. This means that they may not be the best dog for someone with allergies.
However, when they aren’t blowing, they only need to be properly brushed once a week. Their coats are quite manageable if you groom them regularly enough. Otherwise, it’ll get tangled and knotted and will need to be cut off.
To do this, you’ll need a few different brushes. A slicker brush, like this Miracle Coat Slicker, is essential, as well as an undercoat deshedder, like this PetNeat Professional Deshedding Tool, for when they start to blow their coats.
Additionally, you’ll need to trim their nails once or twice a month, with something like this BOSHEL Dog Nail Clipper. Their nails need to be cut down to a length that shouldn’t hear them clicking against the floor.
You’ll also need to check their ears daily to make sure there aren’t any pests or debris in them and brush their teeth. A simple solution to keep their ears clean are these ear wipes from PetMD, and for tooth brushing, look no further than Vet’s Best Enzymatic Dog Toothpaste.
You can ask your vet to show you how to do this properly clean your dog’s ears and ask them how often you should brush their teeth, as this may be different with each dog.
Akita Shepherds are an appealing dog for many reasons, but they also have the tendency to inherit several health problems from their parents.
While the Akita Inu and German Shepherd are two very different dogs, they do have some health issues in common.
Let’s take a look at the health issues you might encounter in an Akita Shepherd mix, starting with the major concerns.
Canine Hip Dysplasia
Hip dysplasia is a skeletal condition in which the ball and socket of the hip joint do not fit or develop properly, and it causes them to rub and grind against each other instead of sliding smoothly.
This causes the hip joint to deteriorate over time, eventually leading to a complete loss of function. This is relatively common in large dogs and is a health issue when it comes to Akita Shepherds.
Bloat is also known as gastric dilatation-volvulus complex (GDV) and is a potentially life-threatening medical emergency.
It occurs when a dog’s stomach fills with air – it can then build up pressure and cut off blood flow between the heart and the back legs and abdomen.
This makes the blood pool at the back end of the body and will eventually send your dog into shock.
As the pancreas becomes more oxygen-deprived, it produces more toxic hormones, one of which could stop a dog’s heart.
Von Willebrand’s Disease
Von Willebrand’s Disease is the most commonly inherited blood disorder in both dogs and humans, and it affects the body’s clotting ability.
It is caused by a deficiency in the amount of a protein in the body needed to make platelets stick together to form a clot when a blood vessel is damaged, or the skin is cut.
This clot would seal the opening and prevent the body from losing too much blood. The deficient protein is called the Von Willebrand factor.
Degenerative Myelopathy is a disease that is more common in older dogs. It is a progressive disease of the spinal cord, which can lead to a loss of coordination, dragging, or knuckled-over feet.
Eventually, the limbs become weak, and the dog can no longer walk.
It is caused by the degeneration of transmission fibers in the spinal cord (demyelination), which strips away the insulation between the nerve fibers, and axonal loss, which is a loss of the actual nerve fibers.
This interferes with the communication between the brain and limbs and leads to the eventual loss of use of the limbs.
Autoimmune Thyroiditis is a disease that these dogs inherit from their Akita ancestors, and it occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid gland because it does not recognize it as helpful tissue.
Hypothyroidism is a common manifestation of this disease, but autoimmune thyroiditis can also be a symptom of something else, like lupus erythematosus or pan endocrinopathy.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is a group of degenerative diseases that affect the photoreceptor cells in the retina. The retina is a layer of cells at the back of the eye that converts light entering the eye into electrical signals, which are then sent to the brain to be processed and interpreted.
This disease causes these photoreceptor cells to deteriorate (or atrophy) over time and will lead the affected dog to become blind eventually.
There are some other health issues to watch out for that we have listed below:
- Elbow Dysplasia
- Sebaceous Adenitis
- Perianal Fistulas
- Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency
Here are the occasional tests you should have your dog take:
- DNA For Von Willebrand’s Disease
- Internal Imaging
- Full Body Physical Examination
The Akita Shepherd mix is a highly intelligent breed, and they benefit from constant stimulation. However, they can sometimes be stubborn or unwilling to allow you to be the dominant one in the relationship.
The stubbornness comes from the Akita Inu, while the dominance issues are inherited from the German Shepherd.
You should start training your Akita Shepherd as soon as you bring it home. Asserting your dominance from an early age will teach them to be obedient and to listen to your commands.
However, it is important that you are not aggressive with your dog and instead use firm but positive methods of training.
If your Akita Shepherd has more dominant German Shepherd genes, they will pick up on the tricks and commands you are teaching them faster than if they have more dominant Akita Inu genes.
If you have already taught them all of the basic tricks and commands, try teaching them something more complicated, and don’t hesitate to search the internet for new tricks to try.
Hiring a professional dog trainer will help you learn how to properly train your dog and may also speed up your dog’s training. If you have access to a trainer, it is highly recommended that you make use of their services with this breed.
Akita Shepherd mixes are brave and highly intelligent, but they are also a stoic dog by nature.
They are loyal to their owners and can be very affectionate with them. They aren’t easily annoyed but can become somewhat aggressive if provoked by something they see as a threat.
Bottom line, they are playful dogs and like to be active with their owners.
This mixed-breed dog is quite large and has an appetite to match. Their dietary needs can range between 2.5 – 6 cups of food a day, depending on their age and activity levels, which can be broken up into two meals a day.
A long time ago, Akita Shepherds were fed fish, sea plants, and rice. But nowadays, you can find supplements like this 10 in 1 Dog Multivitamin that will provide them with the necessary nutrients.
The best source of proteins for these dogs is meat, but they can also be fed some veggies to ensure that they get the vitamins and minerals they need.
However, you can also just feed them some high-quality dry dog food, and they will be healthy and satisfied.
Akita Shepherds come from two very active dog breeds, and so they are very active themselves.
Akita Shepherds require lots of exercise to keep them happy, healthy, and mentally stimulated. You should spend at least twenty minutes a day playing with them; they enjoy playing with a frisbee, playing fetch, tug-of-war, and so on.
They also benefit from time spent working on tricks and mental activities. Again, keeping this breed mentally engaged is very important.
On top of this, you should take your Akita Shepherd on a half-hour to hour-long walk at least once a day, or you can take them along with you when you go jogging or cycling around your neighborhood.
Additionally, you could take them to a dog park for some playtime with their other canine friends, being careful of when strange dogs come near you, as your Akita Shepherd might feel you are being threatened and will want to protect you.
While Akita Shepherds are not bred widely and are therefore quite rare, they are still one of the more affordable designer dogs. An Akita Shepherd will run you anywhere between $450 and $650, depending on your location and the breeders in your area.
Upfront costs for things like a bed/crate, food, bowls, collar, leash, neutering, and/or microchipping will cost around $500.
Maintenance costs involved in owning can range between $800-$1200 for things like emergency medical expenses, veterinary checkups, food, toys, licensing, training, and other assorted expenses.
While these dogs are usually only to be found at breeders, some do occasionally end up in animal shelters or at foster homes, so check your local animal rescue centers if you’d prefer to adopt one rather than buy it from a breeder.
Akita Shepherds are the perfect dog for anyone who wants a loyal and protective companion who is able to give them lots of physical and mental exercise and who has lots of love to give.
They would do best in a single dog home, with a big yard to run around in.
They are also best suited to homes where there aren’t very small children, as they may get too rough with them at times.