You may have heard of the famous dog Hachiko, an Akita who spent nine years waiting for his dead owner to return.
He had a short coat, much like most of the Akitas you have probably come across so this got us all wondering if a long coat Akita exists.
The short and straightforward answer to this is yes. Long-haired Akitas which closely resemble teddy bears are existing, albeit rare.
If you’re curious about how they got their unusual coat length or you simply want to see a picture of one, you’re definitely in the right place!
I will share with you all there is to know about them and where you can even get one for yourself.
What Is a Long-Haired Akita? Do Long Coat Akitas Really Exist?
Though uncommon and not an everyday sight, the long-haired Akita does exist. A long-haired Akita is a variety of the Akita breed which originated in Japan. The difference from the typical Akita is that this variety, often called Wooly, has a longer coat which makes them resemble a fluffy teddy bear.
Since it is unusual to see Akitas sporting a long coat, many theories have been circulating among canine circles to explain how they came into existence.
The most common theory says that they are a result of putting together the Akita and the now extinct Karafuto.
The Karafuto dog, also called the Sakhalin Husky, is a spitz-type hunting dog that carries similar features as the Akita.
In fact, the Karafuto looks a lot like the long-coated Akita with its pointed triangular ears and thick but fine hair.
Breeders were believed to cross the Karafuto to the Akita in the 1900s to address the latter’s need for a longer and thicker coat.
Japan has prefectures with climates that can be very cold, so Akitas living there needed protection from the harsh climate.
Long-Haired Akita Appearance: What Does a Long-Haired Akita Look Like?
The long-haired Akita looks much like the standard short-coated Akita but with a longer and fluffier coat.
The double-coat is composed of fine and dense hairs that are silky and soft to touch. This is also what makes them look like adorable giant teddy bears.
Contrary to what some people think, this Wooly does not have more hair than its short coat counterpart. The truth is that the longer hair gives the illusion of a fuller coat.
Long coats in Akitas also vary in length and texture. It can range from slight feathering on short-looking coats to fluffy and wooly coats that may reach the dog’s feet.
When it comes to the dog’s build, the long-haired Akita has a powerful and muscular body frame with heavy bones.
This variety is said to have slightly bigger bones than the standard. Its head is broad and shaped like a blunt triangle.
In terms of its facial features, it has a deep muzzle, small eyes, and ears that are erect.
Long-Haired Akita Genetics: Why Do Akitas Have Long Coats?
Likewise, long-haired breeds like the Australian Shepherd have short-haired versions.
In canine genetics, genes determine several characteristics of a pup. For coat length, there is a gene that determines short hair and another that determines long coat hair.
According to Animal Genetics UK, long-coated dogs usually exhibit a genetic mutation in their FGF5 gene. Since this mutation is recessive, a dog must carry two copies of the long hair allele for a dog to be long-coated.
If both Akita parents have the long coat gene, regardless if this gene manifests, there is the chance of them having a long-coated Akita offspring in their litter.
This explains why some short-coat Akitas surprisingly breed long-haired Akita babies.
To check if your dog can produce long-haired offspring, you can have them undergo DNA testing. This test can count the number of recessive long hair alleles that your Akita carries.
Are Long-Haired Akitas Rare?
Yes, long-haired Akitas are rare, and they are not as common nor as popular as the short-haired ones. You cannot find them as easily as you can find standard Akita puppies.
To elucidate, the Akita breed is considered a national treasure in Japan. This fact is partly the reason why long coat Akitas are rare. How so?
After the declaration, Japanese breeders avoided having long-haired Akitas in their litters and breeding programs to keep the image of the Akita breed which has the short coat standard.
Breeders in other countries followed suit, especially with the kennel clubs and organizations upholding these breed standards. When they do get long-haired Akitas, they stop the lineage by not breeding these dogs.
Good news, though! There are several breeders at present that are fighting the stigma against the long coat Akita.
These Wooly enthusiasts are breeding more long-haired Akitas and caring for them the way they deserve to be treated — with the same love and respect given to standard Akitas.
Do Kennel Clubs Recognize Long-Haired Akitas?
In the specifications for coat length, they recognize Akitas with short coats, but unfortunately not the long-haired ones. They even consider the existence of long coats in the breed as a cosmetic fault.
Regardless of kennel club recognition, long-haired Akitas are equally beautiful as the short-coated version.
Long coats are not an abnormality nor is it something to be frowned upon since it only occurs due to a recessive gene.
Long-haired Akitas do not manifest any health issue related to their coat length so tagging them as problematic is kind of uncalled for.
Kennel clubs are not keen on recognizing for the sole reason that they deviate from what they expect during conformation shows.
Long-Haired Akita Size and Weight: How Big Do Long-Haired Akitas Get?
With proper nutrition, exercise, and love, adult Akitas may grow as big as 26 to 28 inches for males and 24 to 26 inches for females.
Akita dogs are naturally big-boned so they may weigh as heavy as 100 to 130 pounds for males and 70 to 100 pounds for females.
The long-haired Akita may weigh a bit more because of its bulkier build, but this does not significantly change the breed’s growth curve.
Thus, if a breeder is claiming that they have Akitas that are way heavier than normal since they are long-haired, by all means, doubt him.
Long-Haired Akita Temperament: Are Long-Haired Akitas Good Family Dogs?
It is no question how loyal Akita dogs can get. Hachiko is the perfect example of loyalty in the Akita breed. Imagine waiting in the same place for nine years for your owner to come back — truly the definition of loyalty!
On top of that, there are a lot of good characteristics in Akitas that make them great for family life.
For one, they have an instinct to protect as they are guard dogs. With early socialization and the right introduction to children, your long-haired Akita can be your kid’s protector.
This protectiveness also makes Akitas wary of strangers. If they meet someone new and see him as a threat, they may get aggressive and physical towards the person.
Intelligence is also a key temperament trait of Akitas including the long-haired variety. They are easy to train and can easily understand commands and cues even with unclear instructions.
A downside of this intelligence is that they can be stubborn. If they do not want to do something, they will stand still until you stop forcing them.
Playfulness is another trait that Akitas show when they are around their family. These dogs love to play around and have fun.
Moreover, Akitas, especially the long coat dogs, are huge fans of winter. Their coats are great for the cold and they will enjoy running around and playing with snow together with your little ones.
Watch these happy long-haired Akitas playing in a winter wonderland:
One thing you should know about Akitas, though, is that they are best to have when there are no other pets or animals around. They are not as friendly as the Australian Shepherd, Beagle, and Bichon Frise.
Many breeders and owners of long-haired Akitas agree that this variety is friendlier and has a gentler temperament compared to short-haired dogs.
While a thorough investigation still needs to be conducted to confirm this, we cannot deny how lovable the long-haired Akita is.
Long-Haired Akita Lifespan and Health Issues: Are Long-Haired Akitas Healthy Dogs?
Providing your long-haired Akita with a proper diet, enough playtime, and exercise will help it reach the breed’s life expectancy of 10 to 15 years.
Physical activity is also important to keep your Wooly in top shape. A sedentary lifestyle can cause your Akita to be overweight, and you might not notice it because of all the fluffy fur. Hence, you need to give your dog enough time to be up and active.
No matter how much you take good care of your long coat Akita, it may still encounter these health problems that are common to the Akita breed:
- Arthritis: Just like humans, Akitas can also get arthritis. Dogs with arthritis may feel discomfort and pain because of the inflammation of their joints.
- Hip Dysplasia: This orthopedic problem occurs when your Akita’s thigh bone does not fit its hip joint. Hip dysplasia causes dogs to limp.
- Hypothyroidism: When your Akita’s body does not produce enough thyroid hormone, it suffers from hypothyroidism. Signs to look out for include hair loss, weight gain, and fearfulness, among others.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy: An inherited eye problem, progressive retinal atrophy is a degenerative disease that affects your dog’s eyesight especially in the dark.
- Epilepsy: One of the common neurological conditions in dogs, epilepsy causes dogs to have seizures.
- Patellar Luxation: Also referred to as a floating knee cap, patellar luxation is a bone problem where the dog’s kneecap is dislocated.
Long-Haired Akita Grooming Needs: How to Groom Your Long-Haired Akita?
Because this variety has longer hair compared to short-coated Akitas, you need to give more time, effort, and attention to your dog’s grooming needs.
In other words, expect that they are more high-maintenance than their standard counterpart.
Their long coats may not be as obvious when they are still a pup, but slowly the fuzzy coat will turn into a thick coat as expected from a Wooly.
You should start grooming as early as puppyhood since proper and consistent grooming is important to prevent the coat from matting or forming knots.
Weekly grooming is recommended, but it will be better if you can work on their fur daily.
Invest in quality grooming items such as a proper brush and comb that won’t hurt your dog. In brushing your long-haired Akita, start from the outer coat and work towards the inner layers of fur.
Special spots that need extra care because they are prone to knotting are inside the rear legs, armpits, and behind the ears.
If you feel that you are unable to groom your long-coated Akita, seek help from fellow Akita owners. They can teach you how to groom your dog. You may also go to a professional grooming service and get tips from them.
Long-Haired Akita Puppy Prices and Expenses: How Much Does a Long-Haired Akita Cost?
Because the long-haired Akita is rare and not bred as much as the short-haired variety, you will see breeders advertising them a few bucks higher.
However, since this is only a result of a recessive gene, they usually cost the same as their short coat counterparts.
That said, the average cost of a long-haired Akita puppy may range from $800 to $2,000 depending on the breeder’s reputation, the dog’s bloodline, and other factors.
Apart from the initial cost of purchasing a long-haired Akita, you should consider other expenses that are one-time and recurring.
Initial costs include pet insurance, vet visits, vaccinations, and needs such as a bed, leash, collar, food and water bowl, grooming tools, dog food, treats, and toys. This may cost $450 or more.
Recurring expenses to consider on a weekly or monthly basis are dog food, treats, checkups and vet visits, and grooming.
Before getting a Wooly pup, you should prepare your wallet for these expenses so you won’t be in trouble in the long run.
Places to Find Long-Haired Akita Puppies for Sale and Adoption
Where you will get your long-haired Akita is very crucial because it has a say on the look, temperament, and health of the dog you are getting.
Dogs from reputable breeders are usually in great health and have a good temperament.
Settling for a cheaper alternative such as puppy mills will land you an unhealthy Akita pup with health and temperament issues. Avoid puppy mills at all costs so their unethical practices will die down.
To help you in your search for the perfect long-haired Akita pup, I came up with this list of responsible breeders and useful organizations:
- AKC Marketplace – You are in the right place with the AKC Marketplace because it is run and maintained by AKC. Only qualified breeders that are members of the club are listed here. Even though long-coated Akitas are not recognized by AKC, you may ask breeders if they have this variety.
- Akita Club of America Breeder Listing Service – The Akita Club of America is officially recognized by AKC as a club dedicated to the Akita breed. They have a list of breeders by location which you can use for reference.
- Lancaster Puppies – An online database of pups for sale, Lancaster Puppies lets breeders promote their litters online through their platform. There are photos of available dogs to help you choose the right one. You can ask questions if you are unsure if the Akita is long-coated or not.
- Greenfield Puppies – Greenfield Puppies is another site where you can find Akitas that are looking for a new home. This site’s system has badges to tell you if the pup is vaccinated, dewormed, family-raised, and more.
Adoption is another way of finding and getting a long-coated Akita. The great thing about adopting is that you hit two birds with one stone.
You get to have a furever buddy and at the same time, you will be able to save a dog’s life.
You can find rescue and adoptable Akitas of all ages from these sites and groups:
- Adopt-a-Pet – Considered the largest pet adoption site in North America, Adopt-a-Pet helps in placing abandoned and rescue dogs in new homes. They have different dog breeds including Akitas.
- Petfinder – With a good number of rescue listings across the country, Petfinder is a go-to for those looking for Akitas to adopt. They have connections with animal centers and rescue shelters in various states.
- Big East Akita Rescue (BEAR) – BEAR is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving Akitas in the states of New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. You can find dogs as young as pups, teens, adults, and even as old as seniors.
- Midwest Akita Rescue Society (MARS) – A subsidiary of the rescue group Akita Owners Rescue Foundation, MARS is a volunteer-run organization that rescues, treats, and rehomes Akitas in the midwest states. Areas covered include Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin, and parts of Kansas and Kentucky.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Long-Haired Akitas Shed?
Similar to the short-coated variety, the long-coated Akita is a heavy shedder. As an Akita fur parent, you should expect to find fur all over your furniture, floor, and basically everywhere.
They blow their coat once or twice in one year, and they experience minimal shedding between these coat blows.
How Many Coat Colors Do Akitas Have?
When it comes to coat colors of the Akita breed, the AKC recognizes a total of 20 coat colors listed below:
- Brown brindle
- Brown with black overlay
- Fawn with black overlay
- Red with black overlay
- Silver with black overlay
- Black brindle
- Black with brown undercoat
- Black with fawn undercoat
- Black with red undercoat
- Black with silver undercoat
- Fawn brindle
- Red brindle
- Silver brindle
- White with red shading
Final Thoughts: Is the Long-Haired Akita the Right Dog for You?
Long-haired Akitas are a rare find and a dog you should consider getting if you want a loyal and lovable teddy bear-looking guard dog.
They are simply the best of both worlds as they are a brave protector and a gentle and loyal friend.
They may not be what is regarded as the norm and the benchmark, but long-coated Akitas are just as loyal, protective, playful, intelligent, beautiful, and lovable as the standard ones.
You can never go wrong with choosing them as your pet companion, trust me!