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Akita’s are an ancient dog breed, originally bred to hunt bears in the mountains of northern Japan and to be the loyal companion for samurais. With such a storied history of cold mountain living, not to mention their plush double-layered coat, it’s safe to assume that the Akita can handle the cold outdoors. But just because they can handle frigid temperatures doesn’t necessarily mean that a full-time outdoor life is best for your Akita. Akitas are loyal to a fault and have a reputation for being quite stubborn, and they need close, constant human interaction to be at their very best.
So, are Akita’s outside dogs? No, Akita’s, while especially suited to withstand the snow and cold, thrive the most when they live inside with their owners. Akitas can live outdoors for extended periods of time, but as dog owners, we don’t just want our dogs to live in the most basic of ways. We want happy, healthy dogs, and Akita’s are no exception.
The Akita is a fascinating breed of dog, with many quirks and nuances that may go unnoticed by the casual observer. Experienced Akita owners, on the other hand, can talk for days about how special their dogs are, including their love for snowy, cold weather. Akita’s love a good romp in the snow, and unlike their human owners, Akita’s seem to not even notice swiftly dropping temperatures, which can make it easy to incorrectly assume that Akita’s are suited to living outside full time. There are several reasons why outdoor excursions should be limited for Akita’s and not a full-time living situation. But what does this mean for you as an Akita owner?
Are Akitas Good Outside Dogs?
Yes, Akitas are good outside dogs as long as temperatures don’t get too hot or cold. Even though they do well outdoors, Akitas shouldn’t live outside permanently. If your Akita only ventures outdoors to relieve themselves, they may become restless eventually and want to spend a little extra time in nature. It’s perfectly fine to leave your Akita outdoors for multiple hours! This allows them to explore and sate their curiosity while getting some much-needed exercise. For short or long periods of time, Akitas can enjoy the outdoors, but as owners, there are a few steps that can be taken to maximize our Akita’s comfort and enjoyment of the outdoors.
First, make sure your Akita’s outside area is clean and well kept. Garbage, waste from your dog or other animals, and standing water can all be dangerous for your Akita, and the consumption of such items can make them very sick.
Out of all of these dangers, water can be the most damaging. Standing water can harbor parasites such as giardia and provide a perfect breeding ground for mosquitos. Mosquitos carry the deadly heartworm, a disease that all pet owners fear. Instead of relying on natural water to hydrate your dog, keep a readily available supply of fresh, clean water you empty and refill daily.
Second, make sure your Akitas outdoor area is secure and they aren’t able to escape. Akitas can clear fences nearly 6 feet tall and are proficient climbers, so it’s important to provide a secure area so your Akita does not run away. If your Akita is an especially skilled escape artist, then a covered outdoor kennel may be your best bet. You want to allow them enough space to run and explore comfortably while still being safely contained.
Lastly, Akitas are large dogs with a natural prey drive that, given the opportunity, love to stalk and hunt small game. If you want to avoid your Akita getting ahold of a squirrel or mouse, it’s best to keep a close eye on them while they’re outside. It may seem harmless to let your Akita hunt, but small, wild animals can harbor parasites as well and should be avoided.
Your Akita’s desire to hunt can also become problematic around other small pets like cats and toy breed dogs, especially if your Akita has never been introduced to these animals before. Akitas need extensive training before you can be sure that they will never mistake a small pet for prey. If your neighbors have small dogs, it may be pertinent to have a discussion with them about proper fencing to keep everyone’s pets safe and happy with no sense of danger.
All in all, Akitas make great outside dogs and love extended periods of time in the great outdoors, but they shouldn’t be expected to live there permanently.
Can Akitas Live Outside in Cold and Hot Weather?
Akitas can tolerate weather from -30℉ all the way to 86℉ for moderate amounts of time.
Below -30℉, even your Akita’s impressive coat can’t keep them completely warm. Limit trips outdoors to short bursts of time when it’s this frigid.
The same goes for above 86℉, too. Overheating isn’t common in Akitas, but extensive time outdoors in high heat can be very dangerous to any dog breed.
Weather isn’t too much of an issue with Akitas. Their double-layered coat keeps them warm in the winter and helps protect them from high temperatures in the summer. In fact, it’s recommended that double-coated dogs never be shaved.
It might seem like you’re doing them a favor by shaving them so they can keep cool, but actually, when a double-coated dog is shaved, it messes with the dog’s ability to regulate its body temperature. So while Akita’s do well outdoors in most temperatures, keep their coat natural to give them the best temperature regulation abilities!
When your Akita is outdoors in extreme weather, it’s a good idea to watch out for signs that they are uncomfortable. In hot weather, this can mean excessive panting and thirst, and for cold weather, your Akitas may hold their feet off the ground to avoid the freezing temperatures on their delicate paw pads.
Do Akitas Need a Yard?
While Akitas do best with a yard, they can be quite happy living in an apartment as long as they get enough exercise and walks outside.
Akitas are hard workers but have a large couch potato streak, and as long as they are near their beloved owners, they don’t mind apartment living at all. As with most dogs, to compensate for the lack of yard, apartment dwelling Akitas will need longer, more extensive walks to keep them content and well-exercised.
If you decide to keep your Akita in an apartment with you, consider excursions like nature hikes and trips to the park as a special treat for your outdoor-loving giant. Be cautious of dog parks! All Akitas are different, but their massive size, combined with their territorial tendencies, can make them less than stellar dog park attendees.
Is it Cruel to Keep a Dog Outside?
Domesticated dogs, like Akitas, are not suited to full-time outdoor living, and forcing them to live outside can be cruel. The exception to the rule is full-time working dogs, like Alaskan sled dogs and dogs that guard flocks of sheep.
It may seem hypocritical to say that some dogs, like sled Huskies and Great Pyrenees Shepard dogs, can live outside full time while Akitas cannot, especially with their similarities in size and appearance, but these working dogs have come from long genetic lineages of outside living. At their most basic natures, they are different, and therefore able to live outside full time.
The fact of the matter is, domesticated dogs need to be near humans to be at their best. They have evolved over time to live in cohabitation with humans, and without that constant contact, they can be left feeling bereft. Akitas, especially, crave the nearness of their owners to be happy.
Akitas attach themselves very strongly to their owners, and when they must spend extended periods of time away from them, they grieve. Which such a powerful love for their owners, it’s easy to see why living outdoors full time, away from their favorite person, could be considered cruel for Akitas.
On the other hand, as we mentioned before, Akitas will happily enjoy long hours outdoors by themselves if given the opportunity. They don’t need to be around their owners every second of the day; in fact, it’s healthy for them to have some alone time. Being able to be alone without becoming upset helps to avoid separation anxieties in your dog.