The Akita dog breed originates from Odate, Akita, a mountainous region in Northern Japan. Hellen Keller is credited as being the first person to have brought an Akita back to the United States. She got one after being impressed by the world-famous, loyal Akita dog named Hachiko. Hachiko waited for his late owner for nine years at a train station. A statue was even erected at the train station for him.
It is clear from their origin that Akitas can easily survive in the cold. Dogs adapt to the climate of the region they are brought up in. Akitas have developed double coat hair that is great for cold weather. Plus they have well-adapted toes to help them move around in the snow or climb out of freezing water.
Therefore, Akitas can survive pretty cold weather. This article will take a closer look at how they can do this, how long they can do this for, and when you should and shouldn’t let your Akita out in the cold. In the end, you will have a pretty good idea about how tolerant your Akita is to cold weather.
Akitas and Cold Weather
Akita is well adapted for cold weather through their double coat hair and webbed toes. All Akitas have two layers of hair. On top is the longer visible collection of hairs known as the guard hairs while underneath is the thick, wooly short hairs. The wooly textured hairs protect the Akita from either sunny or cold weather.
That said, your Akita could be at risk of a heat stroke if the weather is too sunny because the double coat hairs absorb most of the sunlight. The longer strands protect Akita’s short hairs from dirt. This is why Akitas do well in warm or cold weather but not hot weather.
Akita can comfortably stay in extremely cold weather up to -30 degrees.
If you build him a proper shelter he will even survive outside in the cold weather for longer. However, most people who own Akitas prefer having them indoors.
Hunting in the Cold
As expected from their origin, Akitas are good hunters. In fact, they are categorized as working dogs. In addition to hunting, they are a good companion of your family and can perform draft work. With a well-adapted outdoor structure, they can easily hunt in mountainous and snowy regions.
The American Akita has an impressively strong bone structure, large body, and long body. The strength makes them great hunters in tough terrains. If you have an Akita, you may have noticed that she has an excellent alert posturing and guarding instincts.
If you wish to get an Akita for hunting, you should know they are easy to train. Even though they appear calm, when the occasion calls for it, they sometimes get aggressive, which is a good quality to have in a hunting dog. When you add all the physical attributes to the cold weather adaptation, you realize you got a great hunting dog with the Akita.
Is My Akita Weatherproof?
There is no doubt that the double coat hair feature makes this dog breed a champion of the cold weather. Therefore, Akitas can be said to be almost weatherproof.
However, as mentioned earlier, all dogs adapt to the weather patterns in the region they are raised in. Which is to say that if your Akita is not used to cold weather, they may not do well in it.
Akitas may not be well adapted for cold weather for a number of reasons.
A good example is an Akita that has been raised in relatively hot regions such as the tropics. Such an Akita would be adapted for warmer and hotter regions. If you purchase such a dog it will have limitations in cold weather. But this happens very rarely.
Nevertheless, the bottom line is that Akita is weatherproof. It’s in their DNA and years of adaptation. If you plan on purchasing an Akita you should ensure you get their history dating back to about 3 generations. If all goes well, you should not have to worry much about the rare cases, because most breeders tend to breed their dogs based on their abilities. This has allowed many Akita breeders to maintain pure breeds.
Age Impact on Cold Tolerance
Most dog breeds’ tolerance to cold weather is affected by their nutrition, age, and health and coat density. This brings up the question: does age affect the Akita’s ability to tolerate cold temperatures.
If all the factors above are considered and offered in their optimum, an old Akita will still do well in cold weather. Adult Akitas are actually best suited to stay longer in cold temperatures. Puppies under eight weeks will not do well in cold weather. They have not yet fully developed their ability to regulate their bodies.
The Akita is a steady breed with a life span of 13 years. Due to their distinct features and adaptation, most of them continue thriving in cold weather even in their grey years. They remain great outdoor companions throughout their lives.
But you can be on the lookout for signs your dog is affected by the cold weather. When he refuses to go out or is shivering or curled up in the house, then probably it’s too cold for him.
Snow and Wind Factors
So far it’s clear that Akita loves cold weather. That said your Akita is still at risk of hypothermia and frostbites in extremely cold weather. When there are blizzards and it’s snowing your Akita will get snow on its fur and face.
The next sections will take a closer look at how to care for your Akita in such conditions.
Caring for Akitas in the Cold
Although Akitas are hardy dogs, they still deserve lots of care and attention if they are to do well in cold weather. Care in the cold weather starts with the right nutrition.
Puppies require highly nutritious food to facilitate quick growth that will make them ready to take on the cold. Older dogs should also get similar nutritious food because it helps them build up a fat layer under the skin that keeps the body warm when its cold out. The right food, therefore, helps them to maintain their ability to tolerate cold temperatures.
Your Akita also needs a lot of exercise. The good news is that you can take them out for walks even in the cold weather if you feel like it.
Sometimes, Akitas can get aggressive, so avoid exercising in public places. You should also build a proper shelter for your Akita if you plan on allowing him to spend time outside for longer periods.
Since the double coat is perhaps the Akita’s most important protection from the cold, it deserves lots of gentle care and attention. Clean and groom your dog regularly because the wooly coat underneath does not do well in the presence of dirt.
Akitas also shed a lot, so be sure to brush their coats regularly with a bristle brush.
What are the Other Dangers of Akita from the Cold?
Frostbites affect any dog including Akita if it stays outside in extremely cold weather for too long. Usually, the blood vessels nearer the surface constrict and become narrower. The body is reacting by diverting blood to vital organs in the body rather than cold areas. This in effect leads to lower blood flow to most of the body in cold areas.
Hypothermia can also occur. This is when your Akita’s body temperature has gone lower than normal. If your Akita is exposed for longer periods in the cold and gets wet, they might get hypothermia. This condition more commonly affects dogs with heart and kidney diseases and older dogs.
Therefore, as Akita owner, it’s your responsibility to protect your companion. Here is how to do that:
What Can be Done to Protect Akita from the Cold?
Even though the Akita is well adapted to cold temperatures, it needs protection too. The idea here is to keep your dog as warm as possible.
Every time he comes back inside you need to remove any snow from his body. You can do this by using a towel to wipe off the snow.
If he sleeps outside, ensure that his shelter will offer maximum protection from the elements. If not, then you can bring him in during colder days and nights.
If you have an indoor Akita, consider buying him a coat and boots. This will help to keep them warmer when it gets too cold out.
Additionally, keep him on a leash. Although this is not directly related to the cold weather, it’s for his benefit. Sometimes, dogs might lose their scent when it’s snowy. This poses a challenge to the owner and the dog in case they get lost. This is where leashes, updated tags and collars come in. It makes it a lot easier to track them.
Watch his weight. Just like humans, dogs tend to burn fewer calories especially when it’s cold. Your Akita will probably be spending more time sleeping indoors during cold seasons. If they eat more, they will easily add unnecessary weight.
Beware of frostbite and hypothermia. Again, while Akitas do really well in the cold, they can still be affected by hypothermia and frostbite. There is a limit to how much cold temperatures they can endure. When it gets too cold while they are outside, although they might not notice it themselves, you need to jump into action and get them back inside or risk frostbite and hypothermia. The best thing is to let them remain indoors or within a secure and safe shelter instead of wandering around in the cold weather for the sake of it.
But what can you do when it snows for too long? Well, in such cases, you need to prepare yourself by getting enough supplies beforehand. That way, he will have enough food to last him when you can’t reach the food stores easily.
How Cold is Too Cold for Your Akita?
Your Akita may be well adapted for some really cold temperatures but they too have their limits. That said, their limit is quite impressive for any type of dog or animal for that matter. They can easily handle -40 degrees.