Akitas are a majestic breed that originated in the northern mountains of Japan over 400 years ago. They’re most famous for their legendary loyalty and devotion to their owners, which has earned them a special place in the hearts of dog lovers worldwide.
With a powerful and muscular build and a thick, plush coat, Akitas were initially bred as hunting and guard dogs for Japanese nobility. Today, they’re a popular companion dog that continues to captivate dog owners with their beauty, intelligence, and unwavering loyalty.
However, owning an Akita comes with its own unique set of challenges. Akitas tend to be high-energy, independent, and stubborn. They also have a strong prey drive, which can lead to aggression towards other dogs. Implementing training and socialization from a young age, as well as regular physical exercise and mental stimulation, are crucial to integrating your pup.
Akita fast facts
|Loyal, Courageous, Independent
|Would thrive in a house with a fenced yard,
or in a rural setting with plenty of open space
|Average lifetime cost
How much does an Akita cost?
A purebred Akita from a reputable breeder can cost between $1,000 to $3,000, with Japanese Akitas tending to be on the pricier end. (Though Akitas originate from northern Japan, today there are two different variations—Japanese Akitas or “Akita Inu” and American Akitas.) The lifetime cost of owning an Akita can vary significantly based on things like their health, grooming needs, and overall lifestyle.
Here’s an estimate of the expenses you might expect to incur over an Akita’s lifetime, which typically ranges from 10 to 12 years:
- Initial costs of puppyhood (puppy price, vaccinations, spay/neuter, microchipping, supplies): $1,500-5,000 (or more for rare colors/patterns)
- Food: $500-1,000 per year
- Annual veterinary care (check–ups, vaccinations, flea/tick/heartworm prevention): $500-1,000 per year
- Grooming (nail trimming, baths, and occasional professional grooming): $100-300 per year
- Pet insurance (optional): Varies, but generally cheaper if you sign up early in your Akita’s life
- Training classes (optional): $50-200 per class or private sessions
- Boarding or pet–sitting (if needed): $25-100 per day or negotiated rates for extended periods
- Miscellaneous expenses (toys, treats, fancy shoes, bedding, etc.): $300-1,000 per year
Why are Akitas expensive?
There are a handful of reasons why adding an Akita to your fur fam can get pricey. For instance:
- Limited availability: Akitas are a relatively rare breed, which drives up their price.
- Health issues: Akitas are prone to several health issues (which we’ll dive into later). You might wind up with some costly vet bills.
- Training needs: Akitas are known for their strong-willed and independent personalities. Your pooch might need consistent and firm training—including assistance from a professional trainer—which can be time-consuming and expensive.
- Grooming requirements: Akitas’ thick, double coat requires regular grooming—like brushing, bathing, and occasional professional attention—to keep them clean and healthy, which can get pricey.
- Size: Akitas are large dogs, which means more food, bedding, and supplies than smaller breeds would need.
What’s Akita insurance?
Akita pet insurance, like coverage offered by Lemonade, can help cover the costs of your pooch’s vet bills.
You pay a monthly premium and in exchange, you can protect your fur fam without stressing as much about the costs. A dog insurance policy can cover a range of costs related to accidents, illnesses, and preventative care. At Lemonade, there’s even a special plan for puppies to help with all of your early pet parent costs.
Vet bills can add up, especially for major procedures (but we’ll discuss that in more detail below).
Also keep in mind that it pays to sign your Akita up for insurance when they’re a small puppy, before they may be diagnosed with any pre–existing conditions. (A pup with pre–existing conditions can still get insurance, though the policy would not pay to treat those specific conditions).
Your Akita can get a Lemonade Pet policy as soon as they are two months old.
Some common health concerns Akitas face—and what they cost
Akitas, like any dog breed, can be prone to certain health issues. Due to their unique physical features and genetic predispositions, they’re more susceptible to the following problems.
What is it?: A genetic condition that affects the hip joint, leading to arthritis and discomfort in the hip area.
Common signs: Limping or favoring one leg, decreased mobility, and difficulty standing up and lying down.
How much does treatment cost?: The treatment options for hip dysplasia in Akitas vary depending on the severity of the condition. Some of the treatment options include:
- Weight management: Overweight dogs put more stress on their joints, exacerbating hip dysplasia. One of the simplest treatments is weight management, which involves feeding your pooch a healthy diet and ensuring they get enough exercise. This can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars a year for dog food and basic supplies to several thousand dollars for specialized diets or equipment.
- Medications: There are several meds available that can help manage your pup’s pain and inflammation from hip dysplasia. These can include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), joint supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin, and pain medications. The cost of medications can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per year.
- Surgery: In severe cases of hip dysplasia, surgery may be required. There are several types of surgery available, including hip replacement, femoral head ostectomy (FHO), and triple pelvic osteotomy (TPO). The cost of surgery can range from several thousand to tens of thousands of dollars.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
What is it?: A genetic condition that causes the gradual deterioration of the retina and can eventually lead to blindness.
Common signs: Night blindness, dilated pupils, and loss of peripheral vision.
How much does treatment cost?: Unfortunately, there’s no cure for PRA. Treatment is solely focused on slowing its progression, which could include dietary changes and supplements—which can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per year—and avoiding bright light.
What is it?: Also known as gastric dilation-volvulus (GDV), this is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when the stomach fills with gas, fluid, or food, and then twists on itself, blocking the entrance and exit. This twisting prevents blood flow to the stomach and other vital organs, causing the tissue to die and releasing toxins into the bloodstream. Bloat is considered an emergency and requires immediate veterinary attention.
Common signs: Distended abdomen, retching or vomiting, restlessness, and shallow breathing.
How much does treatment cost?: If your Akita is showing signs of bloat, they’ll need immediate veterinary attention which typically involves stabilizing the dog, decompressing the stomach, and in severe cases, surgery. Treatment can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Surgery is often required to prevent it from happening again.
Other common health issues Akitas face:
- Autoimmune disorders
Different coats for Akitas
Akitas differ in color depending on the breed variation. For example, the Japan Kennel Club only recognizes Akita Inus with these colors:
- Red fawn
- Sesame—the rarest Akita color
The American Akita has a broader spectrum of coat colors, with the American Kennel Club accepting any coloring including white, brindle, or pinto.
Keep in mind that Akitas are double-coated, and can have different coloration for each. As an Akita parent, you can expect shedding year-round, but especially in the fall and spring. Proper grooming and diet are essential to maintaining their coat—and avoid shaving them at all cost!
What questions should I ask a reputable Akita breeder?
When considering an Akita breeder, it’s essential to ensure they are reputable and prioritize the health and well–being of their dogs. They’ll also be able to provide some info on your future pup’s bloodline.
This will help you avoid unsavory operations and so–called “puppy mills.” (And needless to say, never buy a dog from a pet store.)
Here are some questions you should ask an Akita breeder to determine their credibility:
- Can you provide references from previous clients or your veterinarian?
- Are the Akita puppies registered with a reputable breed organization—such as American Kennel Club (AKC), JKC, CKC, or UKC?
- Do you perform health tests and screenings on the parent dogs?
- Can I meet the puppy’s parents?
- How do you socialize your puppies?
- What kind of support do you offer after the puppy goes home?
- How long have you been breeding?
- Can I see the puppies’ living environment and the facility where they are raised?
- What vaccinations and veterinary care have the puppies received?
- Do you have a contract or health guarantee for the puppies?
Should I get pet health insurance for my Akita?
Like most purebred dogs, Akitas are at higher risk of certain genetic health issues than mixed-breed dogs. Plus, it can be pretty expensive to pay for common first–year expenses like vaccinations for rabies and heartworm, regular checkups, and a spay or neuter procedure.
This is where we let you know that Lemonade strongly promotes adopting pets over purchasing them from breeders. There are plenty of needy dogs out there, and mixed-breed dogs can often be healthier than their purebred counterparts.
That said, we love all dogs, always. And insurance will give you peace of mind and keep your Akita healthy. You can get a quote from your favorite insurance company (we’re talking about Lemonade) in just a few minutes—it’s quick, simple, and even a little fun…
Fun facts about Akitas
This’ll come in handy the next time you’re on Jeopardy.
- The most legendary Akita was “Hachiko,” who was known for his incredible loyalty to his owner. Multiple movies have been made about the true story of Hachiko—including a Hollywood film featuring Richard Gere—and he has his own bronze statue next to Shibuya Train Station in Tokyo.
- Helen Keller brought the first Akita Inus to the US after receiving a pup—which she named “Kamikaze”—as a gift from the Japanese government in 1937.
- If you bring an Akita into your life, you’ll certainly be in good company. Celebs who’ve owned the breed include Drake, Cher, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Freddie Prinze Jr.
- According to the American Kennel Club, Akitas are known to groom themselves like cats.
Why is Lemonade great for Akitas?
With Lemonade pet insurance, Akita parents can customize their policy to get the coverage their furry friend needs.
For starters, a basic Lemonade pet health insurance policy includes accident and illness coverage. This will help cover the costs of tests, treatments, and medication if your Akita has an unexpected accident or illness. You know, like if they decide to take up skateboarding.
A base policy is great for the unexpected things in your fur fam’s future, but Lemonade also offers affordable preventative care, designed to keep your pet healthy, and helps cover expenses you’re probably already paying for.
By adding a preventive care package to a Lemonade policy you’ll also get access to live medical chat and be covered for all types of routine care—like your annual wellness exam, checkups, blood tests, several vaccinations, and other routine health care for your pet.