Unlike their wolf ancestors, most modern dogs are not accustomed to running long distances. The reality is that even an average jog or run means asking something quite unusual of your dog. Most dogs, by design, are made to sprint, not to cover long distances.
Akitas are smart, loyal, courageous, and energetic dogs that make excellent furry companions. If you want an Akita that’ll also double up as your long-distance running buddy, you must consult widely with reputable breeders and veterinarians. Looking at everything you need to know about Akitas, their predisposition to running long distances, and how to get the best out of your pooch.
The Akita is a large, powerful dog breed that was initially bred as an adaptable hunting dog in the mountain area of Northern Japan. It is a high-energy dog, and like any other working dog, it requires plenty of workouts. This makes it the perfect breed for long walks, hiking, jogging, and weight pulling drills, among other exercises.
How Fast Can Akitas Run?
Well, how fast a dog can run usually depends on its breed and body composition. However, all dogs have some common attributes that make them potentially good sprinters.
- Feet that can grip the ground well, including nails for traction; the firm grip enhances the canine’s turning ability and complex gaits.
- A double-suspension gallop that allows the animal to attain maximum acceleration and distance when running at top speed.
- Thanks to their flexible spine, strong abdominal muscles, and long loins, good sprinters have lots of power and forward thrust.
When dogs gallop or run fast, they exhibit a four-time asymmetrical pace; their gait follows a pattern of right front, left front, right hind, left hind. The front leg gets off the ground before its corresponding rear leg sets down. Besides, some faster breeds demonstrate a double-suspension gallop, which allows the dog to propel their body into the air with all its legs leaving the ground at the same time.
Generally, a fast running dog is timed at a sprint; it is running in short, quick bursts at a speed it cannot maintain over a long distance. But how fast can a dog run a mile? You will love to know that when it comes to the Akita, endurance is often more important than speed. However, these dogs have topped the chart at 28 miles per hour, although they can maintain speeds of up to 19 mph for a mile or two.
Endurance of an Akita
Akitas have been used in various ways, such as military and police work. They’ve also been used for guarding, fighting, hunting (bear and deer), and pulling sleds. Such jobs require an active dog with high energy levels.
As a hunter, original Akitas could run for miles in pursuit of game; they were bred and accustomed to it, like its ancestor, the wolf. Wolves could run for more than 60 miles searching for food, although the modern wolf covers less than half the distance in a day. What’s worse, the domestic dog has been fed from a dish for centuries, pruning away the roaming instincts and diluting its endurance.
Well, while there are people who will insist that their Akitas enjoy rigorous exercise, most Akita owners nowadays would beg to differ. According to most dog forums, Akitas have the stamina for moderate exercise and training. It is said to be an athletic breed that runs out of energy fast and enjoys relaxing.
When it comes to running miles, a healthy Akita pooch will run with you for a mile or two. However, there’s a good chance that he’ll be uninterested in a run that lasts longer. Additionally, her thick coat makes it difficult for the dog to run for long in warm climates. When hiking, it will walk well for about three miles before it tires out or overheats.
Regardless of how our modern lifestyle and breeding methods have affected our furry companions, Akitas were bred initially as high endurance dogs, primarily due to the nature of their work.
Hunting Background Led to High Endurance
Initially, the Akita Inu was bred for hunting, guarding, and herding. This swift, sturdy canine was unrivaled in its knack to track biggame including elk, boar, black bear, and deer. Akitas are also terribly skilled at retrieving small prey such as waterfowl. Legend has it that the Japanese once used the breed to drive fish into nets.
Akitas used to hunt deer, and as you may know, the herbivores are pretty fast. While Akitas can run fast, they aren’t as swift as their counterparts the greyhound. As such, instead of trying to keep up with a deer’s pace, Akitas honed the skill of endurance hunting, which involves a combination of medium-paced running and tracking to pursue prey until it is exhausted.
Should You Run Long Distance with Your Akita?
Are you wondering whether it is dangerous to bring your Akita for a run or jog? You’ve probably heard that most dogs are built for short bursts of speed, not for long distances. On the flipside of the argument, you may have heard that canine obesity is an outcry, and running makes an excellent way to maintain a healthy weight.
Well, both statements are correct, and there are numerous factors to consider when determining whether to run with your Akita or not.
For starters, pups who are too young or too old should not run for long distances as it could impact their bodies negatively. If puppies start running too early (before their bones and joints are completely developed), they can experience permanent health conditions. Besides, large breeds like the Akita take longer to develop fully, meaning that they require more time before they are old enough to go on long runs (at least 18 months).
On the other side of the spectrum, older dogs may also find running over long distances challenging. They do not have the same endurance levels as younger pups, and they may also develop age-related conditions that may make physical activity painful or difficult.
For instance, senior dogs may develop arthritis, which causes the joints to ache. Vigorous exercise only makes it worse. They could also have other underlying conditions such as respiratory disease, which makes running harmful.
Any dog can have an underlying health issue that would make running dangerous. Regardless of their age, you must consult with your vet before altering your Akita’s exercise regimen.
Running, although a healthy practice, requires pre and post-workout checkups; the more time you dedicate your pooch’s care, the better a running companion he or she will prove to be.
Again, you mustn’t assume that since your dog seems healthy, they can begin running several miles immediately. You must start slow and keep distances short. Consequently, you must allow your dog to develop strength and endurance gradually.
- Grooming Counts
Grooming is one of the most overlooked considerations for exercising a dog.
For starters, nail care is crucial, and you must ensure that your pup’s nails are trimmed regularly to prevent them from breaking painfully. When a dog experiences this pain, it compensates by exerting their weight on different areas of their paw to avoid leaning on the nails.
Trimming your Akita’s nails will allow him to accompany you on long-distance runs. Additionally, checking her ears and paws frequently can improve your outdoor experience.
- The Weather
Akitas have a dense double coat (unusually thick undercoat), which makes their tolerance for hot temperatures relatively low. However, they love playing in snow and cold weather.
During hot weather, your pooch faces the risk of dehydration, heatstroke, andscorched paws from the hot pavement. Besides, sunny days tend to see more dogs and people outdoors, which could be a problem, especially with the Akita’s aggression.
Apart from taking frequent water breaks, try using the five-second test to ensure that the road surface isn’t too hot for your furry friend. The test entails placing the back of your palm against the pavement for five seconds. If it is too hot for you, then it’s also too hot for the dog.
What to Bring On Your Long Run?
The most crucial supplies for your run is sufficient water for both of you. Well, it doesn’t have to be an entire backpack of supplies; your Akita can carry her supplies in a dog pack harnessed to her body. You can pack a collapsible bowl and a water bottle or two. Luckily, dog packs are fitted with reflective strips, which makes your pooch visible to motorists.
You may also want to bring dog waste bags as it is not only common courtesy but a legal requirement in some states.
Training an Akita to Run
If your Akita has already learned to walk on a leash, you won’t need much training for running. However, Akitas that pull like they are on a sled can be a pain to run with; excess pressure on a handheld or waist leash may cause cramps.
You can teach your dog to run at a gentle pace by halting if she pulls on the lead too hard. Soon enough, she will learn that pulling is counterproductive. You may also want to teach your pup left, right, faster, slower and halt commands. Most Akitas will quickly pick up on these cues if you opt for verbal cues and utter them before acting.
A T-shaped hallway is an excellent place to teach both directions. Once your pup is confident, you can test your skills on the road.
How Long Can an Akita Run or Exercise for at A Time?
Akitas will appreciate mental and physical exercise daily. These gentle giants need a moderate amount of workout every day, which can include several brisk walks together with one or two play sessions. During the weekends, you may consider participating in dog sports. Akitas have the endurance for medium-length working and playing sessions.
Modern Akitas are an athletic breed that expends their energy quickly and loves to kickback.
Keeping Your Akita Safe On the Run
After your vet has cleared your Akita to run, you can take the following measures to ensure their safety;
- Start by taking long walks as it will help the muscles to develop the necessary energy requirements.
- Keep your Akita on a leash as they are overly protective of their owners and aggressive towards other animals. It will also protect them from traffic and cyclists.
- Train your pooch to run on one side
- Avoid running in the heat
- Do not take your dog running immediately after a large meal regardless of their health, as it may cause Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus Syndrome (bloating).
- Take frequent water breaks to keep your Akita hydrated during the run. Long, infrequent water breaks can also lead to bloating.
- Monitor your dog for signs of heat sickness, exhaustion, or injury. If your dog is uncomfortable, never push them further.
- Finish your run with a short walk to help your pooch cool down
- Examine your Akita after the expedition. Check for ticks, burrs, abrasions, injured or torn paw pads, etc.
Increasing The Distance Your Akita Can Run
Six months ago, Bush, our Akita, could not play for more than 15 minutes without being winded and lying down exhausted. Today, he glides through 10-mile trails without a sign of fatigue.
Here’s how you can increase the distance your Akita pup can run.
- Establish an interest
- Start slow
- Build a foundation with base training
Your Akita became an athlete the day you decided she was your running buddy. As such, you owe her the best nutrition to meet the rigors of running. You should feed the following to your running dog:
- A meat-rich diet
- Protein-dense diet
- A diet abundant in digestible calcium
- Foods with plenty of micronutrients
- A meal containing enzymes and good bacteria
If your dog is a bit older, you may consider adding glucosamine and chondroitin to their diet for better joint health.
How Do I Know If I’m Overworking My Akita?
You’ve probably seen people out with their dogs for a happy, safe morning jog enthusiastically maintaining the pace and having a good time. On the other hand, you may have come across pups being dragged along as they try to catch their breath while their human companions run too fast for the pooch to keep up.
The enthusiasm around exercising with your dog, if unattended, can turn out to be dangerous for the dog. Here are some ways you can know whether you are overexerting your dog.
- Behavioral Changes
Changes in behavior can be a helpful indication that you’re overworking your Akita. For instance, if your dog is usually elated at the prospect of running with you, but plops down and refuses to go anywhere, it could be a sign that she’s tired.
Inconsistent conditioning is a leading cause of behavioral changes. Playing off-leash for an hour doesn’t translate to an hour of exercise. Most dogs, when left alone, will have spurts of activity and then rest when off-leash.
As an active dog parent, you must establish a good conditioning plan; Alternate between days of cardio and strengthening exercises with a full day of rest.
- Abrasion on Paw Pads
According to Dr. Susan Jeffrey, playing is more important than hurting paws. Akitas have a high tolerance for pain, and they can run until their paw pads tear and they’d still run some more. But how can you tell whether you’ve overworked your dog’s paws?
Easy. Overtasked paw pads may;
- Have tears characterized by visible flaps of skin
- Appear red or worn out
- Appear thinner than usual
- Be swollen or contain pus
Health Problems Associated with Running Long Distances
Akitas may develop various health issues that are breed-characteristic. The problems can include immune system disorders affecting the skin, gastric dilatation-volvulus, hypothyroidism, and sebaceous adenitis (a condition that leads to complete hair loss). Owners can take various measures to thwart the development of these conditions.
Apart from the genetically predisposed health complications, your pup can develop issues from too much exercise. You must be thinking, “exercise provides a myriad of mental and physical benefits.” I agree with you. Besides, it also maintains limb joints, enhances the range of motion, prevents injury, maintains a healthy weight, supports cardiovascular health, and strengthens your relationship.
However, that isn’t an invitation to overwork your Akita. Running long distances with your dog puts him at the risk of developing a joint injury, back injury, cardiovascular issues, and respiratory distress. Always remember that moderation is key when exercising your dog.
Some of the issues associated with running long distances include:
- Muscle Soreness
Muscular stiffness is a telltale that your dog may be overexerting themselves. After too much exercise, you may notice a struggle when your dog attempts to get up. Your dog may even let out a cry when trying to move about.
At the worst, your Akita may develop exertional rhabdomyolysis, a condition that causes the muscle tissue to break down. Furthermore, the by-products could lead to kidney failure or damage.
Akitas have such a resolute drive to work and play that they will push through excess fatigue and risk of injury.
- Joint Injury
The impact associated with running long distances can lead to strain and sprain in various dog joints. While toe joints are more susceptible, the elbow and wrist joints are also at risk. Dogs carry approximately 60% of their mass on their front limbs, exerting quite some stress on those joints.
If a senior dog has osteoarthritis, over-exertion can lead to instant pain and fast-track the continuing degeneration of joint tissue.
- Heat Sickness
Heatstroke and heat exhaustion are a crucial concern as Akitas can overheat, mainly owing to their dense double coat. If your Akitas body temperature exceeds 106℉, it can be fatal. Besides causing potentially fatal hyperthermia, dogs can also have a hard time breathing or become dehydrated.
Some signs of heatstroke include:
- Excessive panting
- Elevated Heart rate
- Kidney failure
- Dark red or dark pink gums