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Akita Lifespan – What to Expect & How to Help an Akita Live Longer

Written by: Arlene D.
| Published on February 16, 2024

The Akita, a majestic and powerful breed with a noble and intimidating presence, symbolizes health and longevity in its native Japan. Known for their loyalty, courage, and dignity, Akitas have captured the hearts of dog lovers worldwide. Despite their robust appearance and strong will, Akitas, like any other breed, face specific health challenges that can impact their lifespan. These challenges, stemming from genetic predispositions and environmental factors, necessitate a well-informed approach to care for their human companions. This article delves into the lifespan of an Akita, shedding light on six common health challenges that may affect their longevity. By understanding these potential issues, owners can be better prepared to support their Akita through a healthy life, even in the face of such challenges.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition frequently seen in larger breeds, including Akitas. It occurs when the hip joint fails to develop correctly, leading to a mismatch between the femur and the hip socket. This can result in pain, lameness, and arthritis over time. Akitas suffering from hip dysplasia may show discomfort during or after exercise, difficulty standing up, and a reluctance to run or climb stairs. The condition’s impact on Akita’s quality of life can be profound, potentially leading to a decrease in their overall lifespan due to reduced mobility and chronic pain.

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV)

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus, also known as bloat, is a life-threatening condition that can affect Akitas. It occurs when the stomach fills with gas and then twists, cutting off blood flow to the stomach and sometimes the spleen. Symptoms include a swollen abdomen, restlessness, drooling, and attempts to vomit without producing anything. GDV requires immediate veterinary intervention to prevent death. This condition’s rapid onset and severe nature mean that awareness and prompt action are crucial for Akita owners.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive Retinal Atrophy is a group of genetic diseases seen in dogs, including Akitas, that leads to the degeneration of the retina, causing gradual vision loss and eventually blindness. Symptoms may only be noticeable once the disease advances, as dogs can adapt to reduced vision. Once it progresses, owners may observe their Akita becoming more hesitant in low light conditions or at night. PRA is not painful but can significantly affect Akita’s ability to navigate their environment and lead an everyday life.


Hypothyroidism is a common hormonal issue in Akitas, where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone, affecting metabolism. Symptoms include weight gain, lethargy, hair loss, and skin problems. Because these signs can be subtle and develop gradually, hypothyroidism is often underdiagnosed. This condition can impact Akita’s quality of life by making them prone to other health issues, such as obesity and heart disease, potentially shortening their lifespan if left untreated.

Autoimmune Diseases

Akitas are more prone than many other breeds to autoimmune diseases, where the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s cells. Conditions such as autoimmune thyroiditis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and immune-mediated hemolytic anemia can affect Akitas. Symptoms vary widely depending on the disease and organs affected but can include fever, lethargy, joint pain, and skin lesions. These diseases can be challenging to manage and may significantly impact an Akita’s health and longevity.

Sebaceous Adenitis (SA)

Sebaceous Adenitis is a hereditary skin disease that affects some Akita lines. It results from an inflammatory process that destroys sebaceous glands, leading to skin problems such as scaling, hair loss, and secondary skin infections. Early detection and management are critical, as the condition can cause significant discomfort and affect Akita’s overall well-being. Though not directly life-threatening, SA can diminish an Akita’s quality of life and lead to further health complications if secondary infections occur.

Understanding these common health challenges is essential for Akita owners to provide the best care for their companions. While the Akita is known for its strength and resilience, they are not immune to health issues affecting their lifespan. Early detection, regular veterinary care, and informed management of these conditions are crucial in supporting the health and well-being of Akitas throughout their lives.

How Can I Extend the Lifespan of My Akita?

Akitas are revered for their loyalty, dignity, and strength. These magnificent dogs, originating from Japan, hold a special place in their owners’ hearts. As with any cherished pet, maximizing its lifespan and ensuring it is filled with health and happiness is a priority. This comprehensive guide outlines actionable strategies to enhance your Akita’s longevity, focusing on health, nutrition, exercise, and preventative care.

Optimal Nutrition for Akitas

Feeding your Akita a balanced and nutritious diet is foundational to their health and longevity. A high-quality diet tailored to their specific life stage, size, and activity level can help prevent obesity, a common issue in large breeds that can lead to serious health problems. Incorporate lean proteins, healthy fats, carbohydrates, and essential vitamins and minerals to support their overall well-being. Please consult a veterinarian to determine the best diet plan for your Akita, considering their special dietary needs or restrictions.

Regular Exercise and Activity

Akitas thrive on regular exercise and mental stimulation. Despite their large size, they require daily physical activity to maintain a healthy weight and prevent joint and heart problems. Walking, hiking, and playing fetch can keep them physically fit, while obedience training, puzzle toys, and agility courses can keep their minds sharp. It’s important to balance exercise with rest, especially as your Akita ages, to avoid overexertion.

Preventative Healthcare

Regular visits to the veterinarian are crucial for maintaining your Akita’s health. Preventative care, including vaccinations, flea and tick prevention, and routine health screenings, can detect and address health issues before they become severe. Early detection of conditions such as hip dysplasia, thyroid problems, and eye disorders can significantly impact their management and outcome. Spaying or neutering your Akita can also prevent specific health problems, including some cancers.

Weight Management

Maintaining a healthy weight is essential for Akitas. Obesity can lead to numerous health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease, and joint problems, which can significantly shorten their lifespan. Monitor your Akita’s weight regularly and adjust their diet and exercise regimen. Feeding measured meals rather than free-feeding and limiting treats can help prevent weight gain.

Mental Well-being and Socialization

The mental well-being of your Akita is as essential as your physical health. Akitas are intelligent and independent dogs that benefit from early socialization and continuous mental stimulation. Socialization helps prevent behavioral issues by exposing them to different people, animals, and environments in a controlled manner. Training and mental stimulation activities can help prevent boredom and destructive behaviors, enhancing their quality of life.

Joint Health Care

Due to their size, Akitas are at risk for joint issues, such as hip dysplasia and arthritis. Incorporating joint health supplements, such as glucosamine and chondroitin, into their diet can support joint health. Providing a comfortable resting area, avoiding slippery floors, and managing exercise to prevent excessive strain on their joints can also help maintain their mobility and comfort as they age.

Dental Health Maintenance

Dental health is often overlooked but is vital for your Akita’s overall health. Dental disease can lead to systemic health issues affecting the heart, liver, and kidneys. Regular brushing, dental check-ups, and professional cleanings can prevent periodontal disease, ensuring your Akita maintains good oral hygiene.

Stress Reduction

Like all dogs, Akitas can experience stress, impacting their health and lifespan. Creating a stable and secure environment and regular feeding, exercise, and rest routines can help minimize stress. Providing adequate attention and avoiding situations that may cause anxiety or fear are essential in maintaining their mental well-being.

Tailored Health Screenings

As Akita ages, they become more susceptible to specific health conditions. Tailored health screenings focusing on common breed-specific issues can be crucial to preventative care. Discuss with your veterinarian the most appropriate screenings for conditions such as thyroid issues, cancer, and heart disease based on your Akita’s health history and age.

Healthy Environment

Creating a safe and healthy environment is essential for your Akita’s longevity. This includes access to clean water, a safe play area, and protection from extreme weather conditions. Ensuring your home and yard are free from hazards that can cause injury or exposure to toxins is also crucial.

By implementing these strategies, you can significantly contribute to extending the lifespan of your Akita, providing them with a life filled with love, health, and happiness. Each Akita is unique, and their needs can change over time. Staying attuned to their health, behavior, and happiness and adjusting care as needed is key to a long and fulfilling life together.

Frequently Asked Questions About The Lifespans of Akitas

1. What is the average lifespan of an Akita?

Akitas are known for their strength and loyalty, with an average lifespan of 10 to 15 years. This lifespan can vary due to several factors including genetics, health care, diet, and exercise. Providing a high-quality diet, ensuring regular exercise, and maintaining routine veterinary care can positively impact an Akita’s lifespan. Like all breeds, Akitas may face specific health challenges, but they can enjoy a full and happy life with proper care.

2. Can diet affect an Akita’s lifespan?

Yes, diet plays a crucial role in an Akita’s health and can significantly affect its lifespan. Feeding your Akita a balanced diet of essential nutrients helps prevent obesity, which is linked to various health issues that can shorten a dog’s life. A diet appropriate for their age, size, and activity level, combined with regular veterinary consultations to adjust their diet as needed, supports overall health and longevity.

3. How important is exercise for extending an Akita’s lifespan?

Exercise is vital for extending an Akita’s lifespan. Regular physical activity supports cardiovascular health, helps maintain a healthy weight, and can prevent joint and muscle issues. Akitas benefits from a combination of physical activities like walks, runs, and playtime, along with mental stimulation from training and interactive toys. Balancing exercise with adequate rest is key, especially as the dog ages.

4. What are common health issues that affect Akitas?

Akitas are prone to certain health issues that could impact their lifespan, including hip dysplasia, gastric dilatation-volvulus (bloat), hypothyroidism, progressive retinal atrophy, autoimmune diseases, and skin conditions like sebaceous adenitis. Awareness and early intervention through regular veterinary care can manage these conditions, potentially preventing them from shortening an Akita’s life.

5. Does spaying or neutering my Akita impact its lifespan?

Spaying or neutering can have a positive impact on your Akita’s lifespan. These procedures can prevent various reproductive cancers and diseases, reducing the risk of health issues that may shorten their life. Moreover, spaying or neutering can also help mitigate behavior-related risks that could lead to accidents or injuries.

6. How does regular veterinary care contribute to an Akita’s lifespan?

Regular veterinary care is crucial for identifying and managing health issues early, vaccinating against preventable diseases, and providing guidance on diet, exercise, and general wellness. This proactive approach to health care can detect conditions before they become serious, contributing to a longer, healthier life for your Akita.

7. Are Akitas prone to obesity, and how does it affect their lifespan?

Akitas can be prone to obesity, especially if their diet and exercise are not carefully managed. Obesity in Akitas can lead to a range of health issues, including diabetes, heart disease, and joint problems, all of which can significantly shorten their lifespan. Maintaining a healthy weight through proper diet and regular exercise is key to preventing obesity-related health issues.

8. Can mental health affect an Akita’s lifespan?

The mental health of an Akita can indeed affect its lifespan. Stress, anxiety, and boredom can lead to behavioral and physical health issues, impacting overall well-being and longevity. Providing mental stimulation, proper socialization, and a stable environment can improve your Akita’s mental health and, consequently, its lifespan.

9. What impact does genetics have on an Akita’s lifespan?

Genetics play a significant role in determining an Akita’s lifespan, predisposing them to certain health conditions. While you cannot change your dog’s genetics, being informed about their genetic health risks allows for early monitoring and intervention, positively influencing their lifespan.

10. How does dental health affect an Akita’s lifespan?

Dental health significantly affects Akita’s overall health and lifespan. Poor dental hygiene can lead to periodontal disease, which is linked to heart, liver, and kidney problems. Regular dental care, including brushing and professional cleanings, can prevent these issues, leading to a healthier life.

11. What are the signs of aging in Akitas?

Signs of aging in Akitas include graying fur, decreased activity levels, more frequent napping, reduced hearing and vision, and the development of chronic health conditions such as arthritis. Recognizing these signs allows for adjustments in care to support their health better as they age.

12. Can environmental factors affect an Akita’s lifespan?

Environmental factors, such as exposure to harmful substances, inadequate living conditions, and extreme weather, can affect an Akita’s health and lifespan. Providing a safe, comfortable environment and protecting your Akita from extreme temperatures and toxins can help extend their life.

13. How does socialization impact an Akita’s health and lifespan?

Proper socialization can positively impact Akita’s mental health and lifespan by reducing stress and anxiety, preventing behavioral problems, and encouraging a more active lifestyle. Socialized Akitas are generally happier and healthier, contributing to a longer life.

14. What preventive measures can extend an Akita’s lifespan?

Preventive measures such as regular veterinary check-ups, vaccinations, parasite control, a balanced diet, adequate exercise, and dental care can significantly extend an Akita’s lifespan. These measures help prevent or manage health issues that could shorten their life.

15. Is there a difference in lifespan between American Akitas and Japanese Akitas?

While both American Akitas and Japanese Akitas share similar lifespan ranges, individual health, care, and genetic factors play a more significant role in determining lifespan than the specific type of Akita. Proper care and attention to health can help ensure a long life for Akitas of either lineage.

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