The American Akita grows up to 28 inches tall and can reach 100 lbs. American Akitas have large, triangular shaped heads with broad muzzles and large noses. The eyes and ears are small in proportion to the rest of the head, and set somewhat further apart. American Akitas are big boned, muscular and physically imposing dogs, sometimes described as “bearlike.” They feature strong boned legs and large “catlike” feet. The tail is full and curled into a half or double curl that rests against the body. Akitas have double coated fur that reaches up to two inches, with a thick undercoat and a straight outer coat that can be stiff and stand out from the body. The American Akita can be found in a variety of colors, including black, brown, pinto, brindle, and snow white. A multi-colored Akita will have a snow white background with large, evenly placed patches, including a mask of color across the face.
When showing an American Akita, there are certain expectations regarding appearance. It is expected that the patches of color are striking in contrast to the background color, without any mottling. The fur should be smooth, without ruffs or feathering. The tail should be curled, and the nose one color without speckling. American Akitas are expected to have large bones, a straight posture, and an even gait when walking.
The Japanese Akita, or Akita Inu, has very different features than that of its American counterpart. Japanese Akitas are smaller, and reach about 26 inches. They feature smaller ears that are rounded at the tips, and eyes that are wide set and almond shaped. While they are also big boned and feature strong muscles, they tend to have a narrower build and more angular features. It is said that if the American Akita resembles a bear, the Japanese Akita looks more like a fox. The Japanese Akita has a broad chest and a pronounced tuck in the abdomen. The tail is set high and features a thick coat and a single or double curl.
The Japanese Akita has a triple coat, with the outer coat being thick, stiff, and standing straight out, and the middle coat being softer. The bottom undercoat is heavier and similar to wool. Colors are restricted to white, pinto, or brindle. Japanese Akitas that are reddish or brindle must feature cream colored or white markings called “urajiro.” Japanese Akitas that are white should not feature any additional coloring. Masks of color across the face are not preferred.
When showing a Japanese Akita, it is expected that the dog will have erect posture, a gait that is light, and will not be timid or aggressive. The eyes should not be round or light colored; the nose should not feature any type of mottling or speckling, and teeth should be even and straight. The jaw should not feature an over or under bite, and the feet should not be splayed. The dog should have firm skin, noticeable muscle structure, and a tail that curls and is not dropped or straight. The face should not feature a hood or mask of coloring.