According to the American Kennel Club (AKD), the Akita was bred as a hunting dog and has strong guarding instincts, and their breed-appropriate temperament can include aggressive behaviors. These dogs often exhibit dominant behavior, and obedience training is recommended to prevent aggression issues.
Roots of Aggression
According to the AKC breed standard for Akitas, these dogs may be intolerant of other dogs, especially those of the same sex. Bred to be a hunting dog that worked alone or in pairs, rather than a pack hunting dog, the traits allowing for good socialization with other dogs were to some degree bred out of Akitas in favor of creating a more independent thinker and more successful lone hunter.
Because of this, many Akita dogs do best as the only dog in a family or with only one other dog, according to the Dog Owner's Guide website. The Akita Rescue Society of America notes that male Akitas generally are aggressive to other male dogs, while female Akitas are often aggressive to other females.
Other Causes of Aggression
Because of their high intelligence and independent natures, most Akitas respond very poorly to harsh treatment and will likely become aggressive as a result if exposed to harsh discipline. Hitting or kicking an Akita may result in a bite. Additionally, Akitas are sensitive, family-oriented dogs and can suffer acute stress--which may encourage aggression--if they are exposed to sudden changes of environment on a regular basis or if they are raised without family interaction.
Other common triggers for aggression in Akitas include direct eye contact--by other dogs or humans--which they can view as a challenge, according to the Akita Rescue Society of America.
Types of Aggression
The types of aggression in Akitas, as in other dog breeds, usually can be divided into three categories: fear aggression, dominance aggression and pack aggression. Pack aggression is the aggression between dogs in the same household, often displayed as they compete over resources such as toys, food or attention. Dominance aggression and fear aggression are the two types of aggression most often displayed to strange dogs. Dominance aggression is usually marked by an erect tail and stiff back, whereas when displaying fear aggression, a dog generally will lower or tuck its tail and haunch its back.
Early and continued obedience training is widely recommended by groups like the Akita Rescue Society of America and the AKC as a key way to prevent Akita aggression. Socializing Akita puppies to other people and other dogs in controlled, safe environments is also recommended as a way of significantly reducing the development of aggressive behaviors.
Aggressive dogs can represent significant liabilities for their owners. If you already own an aggressive Akita, make sure to eliminate as many potential aggression incidents as possible. Reduce your dog's exposure to the sights and sounds that trigger his aggressive behavior, and if possible, consult a local dog trainer on appropriate precautions and classes.