Akita Intelligence: How Smart Can You Expect Them to Be?

Akita Intelligence: How Smart Can You Expect Them to Be

Akitas are highly intelligent, strong-willed, and proud. They respond best to respectful commands and positive training that motivates them. Akitas are independent and may seem aloof with strangers, but they are close with their owners and form strong bonds.

How Do Akitas Rank in Intelligence?

In Stanley Coren’s book ‘The Intelligence of Dogs,’ Akitas are ranked 54th in obedience and working intelligence out of 138 breeds tested.

Akitas are classified as having ‘Average Working/Obedience Intelligence‘.

Akitas are known to be moderately easy to train but they often display an independent mindset.

Why are Akitas Known as Less Intelligent?

The Akita is often perceived, though not necessarily accurately, as a less intelligent dog breed. Here are some key factors contributing to this perception of Akitas:

Challenging Trainability

Akitas are moderate in obedience intelligence and working drive.

They are less eager to please than many other breeds due to their independent nature.

They require creative, patient training with positive reinforcement.

Due to their strong will, they might not always follow commands.

Breed Purpose

Akitas were originally bred for to hunt large, dangerous game in the mountains of Japan.

Valued most for instinctual intelligence and physical ability, not trainability.

Their work required independence and complex problem-solving.

Calm Temperament

Akitas have a mellow, dignified temperament.

Unlike hyper, highly energetic breeds, they are not constantly seeking stimulation and tasks.

People might mistake their calmness for a lack of intelligence or initiative.

Communication Style

Akitas communicate more subtly through body language and physicality.

Not as vocal or expressive with faces/tails as other breeds.

Their subtle communication might seem like less mental activity.

Reputation as Guard Dogs

Fiercely loyal protectors making them popular guard/watch dogs.

For Akitas, guarding is more about instinct than complex decision-making.

This role has led some to assume they don’t need high intelligence.

Difficulty Generalizing Intelligence

Research indicates dog intelligence is complex. There’s no definitive method to rank overall intelligence.

Akitas’ strong instincts compensate for their lower working intelligence and trainability.

Factors Affecting Akitas Intelligence

An Akita’s intellect and cognitive abilities can be influenced by various factors.

Genetics

  • Being a primitive spitz breed, Akitas naturally have instincts and intellect ideal for hunting and guarding.
  • Their genes set a basic level of intelligence, which naturally has limits.
  • Over generations, selective breeding can improve their working ability and trainability.

Early Socialization

  • Akitas need a lot of positive socializing from a young age.
  • Socialization teaches them to translate their natural instincts into appropriate behaviors.
  • Without socialization, Akitas may struggle to use their intelligence effectively.

Training

  • Responsive to patient, creative training using positive reinforcement.
  • Trainers need to show leadership to gain Akita’s respect.
  • Bad training methods can reduce their problem-solving skills and willingness.

Mental Stimulation

  • Require activities to engage their minds like interactive toys and food puzzles.
  • Lack of mental stimulation can cause boredom and limit development.
  • Mentally engaged Akitas tend to show more cognitive abilities.

Health

  • Major health issues may negatively impact energy, memory, and alertness.
  • Conditions such as hypothyroidism can lead to a decrease in cognitive function.
  • Overall physical health is tied to higher mental acuity.

Age

  • An Akita’s intelligence improves from adolescence into adulthood.
  • In their senior years, Akitas often experience a decline in cognitive abilities and physical health.

Can Akitas Intelligence Be Improved?

Although Akitas’ intelligence has natural limits due to breeding and genetics, owners can use many methods to enhance their cognitive skills.

Early Socialization

Starting early socialization at 7-8 weeks old is extremely important.

Helps Akitas develop sound judgment and decision-making skills.

It’s beneficial to introduce Akitas positively to various environments, people, and animals.

Consistent Training

Use positive reinforcement, patience, and creativity in training.

Work in short bursts to maintain their interest and focus.

Teach them to associate cues, expand their commands, and train in varied environments.

Mental Stimulation

Keep their minds active by rotating interactive puzzle toys.

Use food-stuffed chew toys to encourage them to work for their meals.

Play hide and seek with treats and toys.

Obedience Training

Formal obedience classes offer mental challenges that benefit Akitas.

These classes strengthen their understanding of cues, and commands, and enhance their problem-solving skills.

Healthy Diet

High-quality food fuels the brain. Omega fatty acids support cognitive function.

Avoid low-quality fillers in food that can lead to reduced mental clarity.

Proper nutrition enables sharper thinking.

Physical Exercise

Exercise, like fetch, running, and swimming, boosts brain oxygenation and keeps Akitas mentally engaged.

Prevent boredom and restlessness.

Routine Vet Visits

Monitor for conditions like hypothyroidism that affect cognition.

Catching health issues early helps prevent impacts on intelligence.

If necessary, vets can suggest cognitive supplements to help maintain mental function.

How Smart Can You Expect Your Akita to Be?

Whether you’re a soon-to-be Akita owner, or you’re simply curious about an Akita’s IQ, you can expect your Akita to be a fairly smart dog, but only if they’re properly handled, cared for and trained as a pup. The Akita breed ranks as #54 for Dog IQ, but this is not to say that they aren’t completely incompetent animals.

Due to an Akitas nature of defense, staunch and sometimes problematic demeanor, it can be difficult training an Akita, especially for first-time Akita owners. They are dogs willing to learn, but ONLY on their terms (which coincides with their stubborn personality) and is a personality trait which is rare to find in higher IQ dogs such as German Shepherds or Border Collies.

If, however, an Akita has been cared for in a loving, firm and intelligent household with adequate dog training installed since a pup, an Akita can indeed grow up to be a very smart animal.

Multiple Intelligences in Dogs

When you look at “Intelligence in Dogs”, you’re observing many things such as a dog’s ability to possess certain types of behaviors/knowledge which can determine where they sit on the scale to other breeds of dogs.

Intelligence in dogs is split into different factors, such as:

  1. Instinctive (Ability to reason, communication when required and mental ability that determines physical response)
  2. Adaptive (Memory capability and how well they solve problem within their environment)
  3. Working and Obedience (How easily they can be trained, Can they be tamed, Are they showing an interest and willingness to learn, etc.)

The big factor to consider with intelligence in canines is their upbringing and the surrounding environment. Similar to children, if a child has been brought up with any form of neglect or poor education, it’s less likely for them to succeed compared to others who have had structure and quality education.

You can use this exact analysis with dogs, because if you compare a dog with an upbringing of neglect and an incompetent owner vs. a loving environment and a competent owner; Regardless of the breed, only one of them will be likely to succeed further compared to the other.

Instinctive Intelligence

Instinctive intelligence has everything to do with a canines ability to carry out what they were originally bred to do, in conjunction with their mental ability to be able to reason and communicate effectively which will determine physical actions.

Obedience Intelligence

Obedience intelligence is slightly more difficult to assess, as upbringing and external influences can play a part in the obedience of a canine, however, for the most part, this is assessed on a dog’s capability and willingness to learn.

How Do We Measure Dog Intelligence?

Dog intelligence can be measured through a variety of tests that identify certain IQ levels within different areas such as adaptivity, communication, emotional, etc. Depending on the score of each dog and each test, can determine where they sit on the scale of dog intelligence.

If you’re wanting to measure your own dog’s intelligence, you can carry this experiment out a few different ways. At home DIY tests, online tests or even taking your dog to a specialist are only some of the ways you can begin to measure your dog’s intelligence.

Below are links to websites that provide free dog IQ Tests you can try:

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