Some of our Akitas currently looking for new homes.

Akita Behaviour & Temperament - Page 9

Selecting a Puppy


Choosing the right puppy requires a frank assessment of not only your personality but that of the others in your household, too. Pick a dog that suits the personality of the least dominant person in your family. That too runs on a scale. The least dominant person in my family is well able to handle a mildly dominant Akita. We are all very assertive. My sister-in-law, however, is just able to hold her own with my brother's old Akita, who is a medium dog. Any harder temperament, and she'd be the looser in a contest of wills.

A medium puppy might be appropriate for the family with three brash youngsters but not for the one with two girls who hide behind their mother through the whole interview. An unforgiving puppy is not a good choice for the former; he may not be tolerant of rough play that accidentally hurts. The latter is probably better off with the most submissive female.

Breeders who avail themselves of the PAT have a very useful tool for placing puppies appropriately. If you are fortunate enough to find one, heed her advice. These tests have no pass or fail, good dog or bad. They are helpful in assessing the native character of a puppy and in suggesting where best to place him and how best to work with him.

For instance, all puppies will need some sort of correction and an unforgiving one must learn to accept it in a good spirit. Owners of a less-forgiving puppy should be encouraged to find a training class with positive training methods. Force-training is not only ineffective with this type of dog but may well sour him on training altogether.

A very independent puppy makes a poor candidate for a home where no one is at home during the day or where he is left outside most of the time. These dogs are capable of getting along on their own and may not bond well or at all to members of the family. When one of them comes out and finds the dog digging in the flowerbed and tries to issue a correction, the result may be aggression on the part of the dog. Even mild Akitas do not take well to corrections from strangers.

Of the Akitas I have observed, the vast majority show medium to extreme submissiveness on the PAT. They also show a strong tendency towards independence and some tendency to resent unpleasantries. I personally tested a litter where all the dogs scored in the medium to upper ranges on the entire temperament test. While this would be great for a German Shepherd, my experiences since have made me very cautious with such dogs. Two of this litter attacked people, the other was with a very active, very assertive family who loved him dearly but kept him well in hand. He was their beloved pet until his death at ten.

If I had an Akita puppy that tested as very assertive (biting hands, etc), I would have serious reservations about him. I certainly would repeat the test several times and would be ultra careful about his placement, making sure that the new owners were able to handle such a dog. Certainly, I would be less likely to be concerned with a female that showed dominant tendencies than a male. While some breeds have little difference in temperament between sexes, I don't believe this is true for Akitas. An adult male Akita is just tougher than his female counterpart.



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