American Akita Vs. German Shepherd – Which Dog Should You Get

When comparing the American Akita and the German Shepherd, you will find that they are naturally protective and loyal to their families. Plus, these dogs are both distinctive-looking and large.

Akitas are classed as members of the working dog group. German Shepherds are classified as members of the herding dog group.


American Akita Vs. German Shepherd – History & Origins

Akitas date clear back to the 1600s and are named for the Akita province in northern Japan.

Originally used to guard Japanese royalty, the Akitas were also used for hunting large fowl, game, and even bears. When Helen Keller visited Japan, she was gifted an Akita to take back to the US.

A larger and more robust Akita was bred in the UK and the United States. This American Akita is often mistaken for the Shiba Inu.

German Shepherds are a more recognizable breed than the Akita. The breed originated in Germany in 1899. The breed was first bred to herd sheep. When herding dogs’ need diminished, the German government started using German Shepherds for the military service and police work.

During WWI, German Shepherds were used as Red Cross dogs. After the war, a puppy went home with an American soldier in Los Angeles. The puppy later became Rin Tin Tin and starred in over 26 films in Hollywood. This made the breed famous.


American Akita Vs. German Shepherd

There are a few differences between the American Akita and a German Shepherd:


The German Shepherd is one of the world’s most recognizable dog breeds. The Akita, while well known in Japan, is less well-known. Both these dogs are large with erect ears.

The American Kennel Club recognizes the German Shepherd as members of the herding group. At the same time, the Akita is a member of the working group.



The Akita male stands between 26 to 28 inches tall at the shoulder at maturity. The female is a little smaller at 24 to 26 inches at the shoulder. The German Shepherd male stands between 24 to 26 inches tall at the shoulder at maturity while the female is 22 to 24 inches.

A full-grown Akita weighs between 65 to 115 pounds. The German Shepherd weight ranges from 50 to 90 pounds.



The Akita has a coat that is a double coat that’s thick and odorless. The long-haired Akitas have a coat that is much longer. The colors of an Akita are varied in black, white, chocolate, or brindle, or a combination of colors.

The German Shepherd is also double-coated with a straight but dense topcoat. The classic German Shepherd color is a brown body with a black saddle. However, all colors are permitted within the breed standard except solid white.



The Akita is a breed that has a strong will and an independent character. These dogs are a challenge to train because they are a strong, large, and a dominant breed.

Establish yourself as the leader because the Akita will take advantage of an inexperienced owner. They are intelligent and courageous dogs that will guard their family. When properly socialized and trained, they’re affectionate and friendly dogs.

The German Shepherd has a desire to please his owner. German Shepherds are easy to train and can be trained to a high standard, plus this breed is highly intelligent.

They make an excellent family dog as long as they are adequately trained. German Shepherds love their family but don’t warm up quickly to strangers. Plus, they need a lot of mental stimulation and physical exercise. They will act out if they become bored.



The Akita is more independent and less active than the German Shepherd. Plus, Akitas don’t generally get along well with other dogs.

The Akita doesn’t bark much, is somewhat aloof, strong-willed, and stubborn. Akitas are very territorial and don’t like sharing their area with other animals. The Akita is still a very primitive breed that is still close to the wolf.

The German Shepherd is known for its loyalty to its owner. They are easily trained and are intelligent. Being so fearless and alert makes the German Shepherd an excellent watchdog. A German Shepherd’s work is their life, which is why they are used so much by law enforcement and rescue teams.


A tendency to bark

The German Shepherd has a tendency to bark more than the Akita.


Biting Potential

Akitas are listed by insurance companies as a high risk for biting. An unsocialized Akita can be a liability.


Shedding Level

Akitas shed a couple of times a year. You will have to brush your dog often to manage the shedding. The best place to brush your dog is outdoors because of the hair flying around, especially during the shedding season. When the shedding season starts, you may feel that you’re surrounded by a cloud of dog hair.

German Shepherds are famous for their shedding. The breed sheds twice a year, and the shedding period lasts for a month or more. Daily brushing during the shedding season is recommended to keep ahead of the hair. You may want to brush your dog outside to keep the hair from flying throughout your house.


Exercise Needs

The Akita needs a large fenced in yard because he will need to have somewhere to unleash his energy during the day. You can’t let an Akita do nothing all day, or they will become destructive when not supervised.

The German Shepherd also needs room to move around, so a large fenced in yard is ideal. German Shepherds are very active and need both physical and mental stimulation.


Apartment Dog

Neither of these dog breeds is suited for apartments.


Health Issues

Akitas are prone to hip dysplasia, bloat, sebaceous adenitis.

German Shepherds are prone to hip dysplasia, bloat, allergies, and elbow dysplasia.


Life Expectancy

The Akitas life expectancy is 10-12 years.

The German Shepherd life expectancy is 10-14 years.


American Akita Vs. German Shepherd – Grooming & Maintenance

The Akita needs to have a bath only when it’s necessary. Since this breeds coat is waterproof and a double coat, it naturally repels dirt.

An Akita will try to stay clean, so unless your dog has rolled in something disgusting and smelly, there’s no need to bathe him.

Since an Akita coat is so hard to dry after being bathed because of the thickness, dog shampoo may not rinse out thoroughly.

Be sure to wipe your dog’s ears clean with ear wipes. From a young age, have your pet used to having his teeth brushed with dog toothpaste.

You can either use a toothbrush that fits over your finger or get a long-handled toothbrush.

To trim your Akita’s nails, buy a nail clipper for large breeds. When your dog is still a puppy, have him get used to it. An older dog can have their nails clipped, but it may take longer.


The German Shepherd needs to be bathed once a month or so. To avoid skin issues, be sure to thoroughly wash out all the shampoo. Allow your dog to thoroughly dry before letting him outside. Gently wipe the dog’s ears with a soft bath towel to prevent ear infections.

Brush your dog’s teeth every day so it will prevent dental issues. Start at an early age, so he gets used to it. Trimming your German Shepherd’s nails is essential. If they become too long, it may be painful for your pet to walk.


American Akita Vs. German Shepherd – Education and Training/Socialization

Akitas are stubborn and strong-willed. Your dog’s character can go from outgoing and friendly to be aloof with strangers.

Akitas are very territorial and don’t like sharing their personal space with other animals. It’s essential to begin early socialization because an Akita can be very aggressive with other animals.

Introducing an Akita as a puppy to a family with children, so he is socialized with the family’s children when he’s young. Don’t bring home an adult Akita if you have children or other pets. It’s not safe with such a territorial breed like the Akita.

The Akita is best suited for an experienced owner familiar with the breed. This breed would be difficult to manage for a first-time owner. A person who is considering adopting an Akita needs to have lots of time for training, socializing, getting used to the company, and lots of exercises.  Akitas can benefit from being crated when left home alone.


German Shepherds make excellent family dogs as long as they are trained and socialized. They get along well with children and will play in the yard with them.

When you socialize a German Shepherd, then he will develop the confident and stable temperament that these dogs are known.

Introduce your dog to visitors who frequent your home. If you keep him penned up in the yard or in the house, he may become fear aggressive and won’t be able to tell the mailman from a burglar.

When your dog is socialized, he’ll tell you what situation is safe and which are not.


American Akita Vs. German Shepherd – Cost


The American Akita start at $800 and more depending on different factors.

The German Shepherd can cost between $600 to $5,000 depending on different factors.


American Akita Vs. German Shepherd FAQ’s


  • American Akita’s other names are America Hakata, Japanese Akita, Akita Inu, Bear Hunting Dog, and Great Japanese Dog.
  • The average litter of puppies is 3-12.
  • If an Akita is not crated when you leave him alone, you can come home to destroyed furniture and other items. A bored Akita is a destructive Akita.
  • Akitas are mouthy and will carry items they find in the home around in their mouths. They are also known to drool.
  • Akitas have markings on their face that make them look like they are wearing a black mask.
  • They have triangular ears which are small and thick with a broad muzzle,
  • They have a large fluffy tail that are curled and a broad chest with a long body.
  • Akitas are noisy dogs that moan and grumble but don’t bark much.
  • They stalk their prey catlike and keep their body close to the ground before attacking.


  • German Shepherds have a litter of 5 to 10 puppies.
  • German Shepherds come in tan colors with a black saddle, golden sable, all black, grey sable, white, and bicolor.
  • Since this breed is a working breed, they need to be mentally and physically stimulated every day.
  • The breed is very protective and makes an excellent watchdog, and can be trained for personal protection.
  • German Shepherds are not recommended for apartment living.
  • German Shepherds shed twice a year for two months of continual clouds of hair.
  • White German Shepherds prices are from $750 to $1000 depending on many factors. White German Shepherds used to be considered defective and were killed at birth by breeders.
  • Solid black German Shepherds are called Lacquer Blacks. The solid black color can become almost invisible if the surroundings are dark at night.
  • German Shepherds can be territorial and protective of their family.



Main Similarities: Both dogs are large dogs that will take time to be trained and socialized. Both dogs are protective of their family. Both dogs take an experienced owner to control them. Both dogs shed and need to be brushed daily to keep ahead of the shedding.

Main Differences: The Akita is the more aggressive of the two dogs and needs to be introduced to children in the family as a puppy. The German Shepherd will bond with children and are more of a family dog.

The Akita doesn’t bark as much as a German Shepherd. The German Shepard will be more likely to bark at strangers he doesn’t know.


Both dogs are suitable for the protection of the family and home. If you want a more family-oriented dog, then the German Shepard is the dog you want. If you want a more one-on-one dog, then the Akita would be the dog you want.

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