The Shiba Inu is generally considered to be the most popular breed of a Japanese dog, but the Akita (also known as the Akita Inu) is a close second. Despite their similar appearance, Akitas and Shibas are distinct breeds, with differences in their temperament and lifespan.
The average lifespan of an Akita is generally between 10-12 years, although on rare occasions Akitas have lived considerably longer than this. Akitas are larger dogs, and like most large dogs, they don’t tend to live quite as long compared to smaller dogs.
In this article, we’ll be sharing with you all the facts about Akitas and their lifespans, and we’ll also be covering the health problems that Akitas are prone to and what you can do to ensure your Akita’s life is as long and happy as possible.
What’s the Average Lifespan of an Akita?
As we’ve mentioned, Akitas generally live between the ages of 10 and 12. This lifespan duration is pretty standard for dogs that are about the size of the Akita. But why is it exactly that larger dogs don’t tend to live as long as their smaller counterparts?
It seems kind of counterintuitive that a larger dog would have a shorter lifespan than a smaller one; when you consider animals as a whole, the larger animals generally tend to live longer than the smaller ones. Indeed, scientists don’t have a perfect answer as to why larger dogs live shorter lives, but there are at least a couple of theories as to why.
The main theory is essential that large dogs die sooner because they age more quickly, and they age more quickly because they grow faster than smaller dogs. It’s also theorized that being a larger size puts more strain on a dog’s physiological processes, and causes certain things to “wear out” more quickly.
Even though scientists aren’t 100% sure why large dogs die sooner, they have managed to determine for a fact that there is a correlation between a dog’s size and its lifespan.
In 2013, researchers at the University of Göttingen in Germany did a study on 54,000 across 74 different breeds and found that for every 4.4 pounds of weight a dog gained, its lifespan would decrease by about a month.
What Are the Life Stages of an Akita?
Throughout their life, your Akita will transition through several life stages, each of which will require different methods of care from you. Here’s the breakdown of the six Akita life stages:
Stage 1: Puppy
Akitas, as well as all other dog breeds, are considered puppies from the time of their birth until the time that they’re able to reproduce. Depending on whether you have a male or female dog, the puppy stage generally lasts the first year to a year and a half after your Akita is born.
If you’re taking care of a newborn Akita puppy, you should be aware that puppies exclusively drink milk for the first few weeks of their lives, and only start eating solid food when they’re about 3-4 weeks old. By the time they’re 7-8 weeks old, their diet should be entirely solid food and no milk.
Akita puppies also need to be fed more when they’re younger. For a 2 to 3-month-old Akita, you should feed them four times a day; a 3 to 6-month-old Akita should be fed three times a day, and a 6-month to 1-year-old Akita should be fed twice a day.
You’ll also need to take care to clean your White Mask American Akita puppy’s teeth regularly, as it can take just a few years for your Akita to develop gum disease if you don’t practice adequate dental hygiene. Make sure you use toothpaste made specifically for dogs!
Other things to keep in mind during the puppy stage are whether you want to spay/neuter your Akita; if you are planning on doing this, the best time is when your Akita is about 6 months old. The puppy stage is also the time to start house training your Akita. Specifically, you should begin house training as soon as your Akita has been weaned.
Your Akita will also need several vaccines during its first year, so make sure to talk to your vet about this.
Stage 2: Junior Dog
The next stage after the puppy stage is the junior dog stage. At this point, your Akita will be almost as his or her full-grown size, but not quite. You can think of this stage as being the dog equivalent of a human teenager.
Your Akita should be able to reproduce at this point, but it might be about another six months to a year before he or she reaches true adulthood.
Stage 3: Adult Dog
Once your Akita has finished growing, they’re technically considered an adult. Akitas generally stop growing when they’re around two years of age, though they’re obviously still pretty young at this point and will continue to have a young dog’s energy levels for a while.
Stage 4: Mature Dog
When your Akita gets to be about 5 or 6 years of age, however, they’ll hit middle age and reach the “mature dog” life stage. By this point, your Akita should have lost most of their puppyhood rambunctiousness and have a calmer and more mellow temperament.
Even when your Akita is middle age, it’s important to make sure that they’re getting plenty of exercise on a regular basis, as this will keep them happy and entertained and also help keep their weight at a healthy level.
Stage 5: Senior Dog
When your Akita reaches the final quarter of their lives (around 8 or 9 years of age), they officially enter the “senior dog” stage of their lives. At this point, your Akita won’t be as active, and they might not eat as much food as they once did either.
Stage 6: Geriatric Dog
If your Akita reaches the end of their life expectancy but keeps on kicking, they’ve entered the “geriatric dog” stage of life. Obviously, not all Akitas will make it to this stage, but if yours does then congratulations, you get to spend even more time with your canine companion!
How Old Is the Oldest Akita?
We’re not sure how old the current oldest Akita is, but we can certainly tell you what the record is for the longest-lived Akita. That record belongs to an Akita (technically an Akita-Shiba mix) named Pusuke, who died in 2011 at the extremely ripe old age of 26. In human years, he would’ve been the equivalent of over 125 years old!
What Health Problems Do Akitas Have?
Akitas are generally considered to be a fairly healthy breed, but they are prone to a few different health problems. Here’s what you should be prepared to potentially deal with at some point in your Akita’s life:
Akitas have been known to suffer from a few different eye-related issues. One of these is progressive retinal atrophy, which is a degenerative condition wherein the rod cells in your Akita’s retinas start dying.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for progressive retinal atrophy, which almost always results in blindness after enough time has passed. The good news is that it’s not a painful condition, and given enough time, your Akita will almost certainly be able to adjust to being blind.
Akitas are also prone to cataracts and glaucoma, but luckily there are existing treatments for these issues.
Hip dysplasia is a relatively common condition among all medium and large dog breeds, not just Akitas. This is a genetic disorder that results in the balls of the Akita’s rear leg bones not fitting into the sockets of the hip bones. This in turn can cause stiff legs and difficulty walking.
The symptoms of hip dysplasia can start presenting themselves when your Akita is as young as 5 months, although hip dysplasia can occur at any point in your Akita’s life. Luckily, you can treat hip dysplasia through physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and dietary supplements.
Hyperthyroidism is a disease that affects your Akita’s thyroid gland, causing it to be way less active than it normally should be. The thyroid gland is responsible for producing thyroid hormones, a very important type of hormone that allows your Akita’s metabolism to function properly.
Hypothyroidism can cause a variety of additional health problems for your Akita, so it’s important to start treating this condition as soon as you notice any symptoms. Hypothyroidism can be treated with medication and the right diet.
Gastric Dilation Volvulus
Gastric dilation volvulus is a condition where your Akita’s stomach bloats up suddenly and painfully. It’s not entirely known what causes this, but exercising too vigorously after eating too large of a meal may be a significant factor.
Symptoms include dry heaving, excessive salivation, and obvious physical discomfort. Take your Akita to the vet immediately if you notice this happening, as surgery is usually the only way to save your Akita if this happens.
This is a condition where the sebaceous glands under your Akita’s skin get inflamed and fail to produce sebum. When this happens, your Akita’s skin will become excessively dry and scaly, and they’ll experience hair loss.
If you suspect your Akita is suffering from sebaceous adenitis, you should take them to a vet right away. The vet will perform a biopsy on your Akita’s skin to confirm the diagnosis.