Akitas Vs. German Shepherds

The German shepherd excels at a variety of canine jobs.
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While the German shepherd is one of the world's most recognizable dog breeds, the Akita -- a national treasure in his native Japan -- is less well-known. While both are large dogs with erect ears, the Akita and the German shepherd are very different canines. The American Kennel Club categorizes Akitas as members of the working group and German shepherds as members of the herding group.

Size Differences

At maturity, male Akitas stand between 26 to 28 inches tall at the shoulders, with females slightly smaller at 24 to 26 inches. The German shepherd isn't quite as tall, with males standing between 24 to 26 inches tall and females 22 to 24 inches. Full-grown Akitas weigh between 65 and 115 pounds, while German shepherds range from 50 to 90 pounds.

Coat and Color

The Akita sports a dense, soft undercoat and a straight top coat. All colors are permitted in the breed standard, including solid white. The German shepherd, also a double-coated breed, boasts a straight, dense top coat. While the German shepherd is classically portrayed with a brown body and black saddle, all colors are actually permitted in the breed standard with the exception of solid white. Both breeds shed fairly heavily and require regular brushing. The Akita is a relatively odorless canine, who grooms himself in a feline manner.

Temperament Differences

A German shepherd lives to please his person. He does best with an active owner or family -- he's too energetic and too much dog for couch potatoes. More independent and somewhat less active than the German shepherd, Akitas don't get on particularly well with other canines. Both breeds are naturally protective, although the Akita doesn't bark much. Neither breed is particularly welcoming to strangers. While early socialization is important for any dog, it's especially true for the aloof Akita. Let your Akita puppy meet as many people as possible, whether in your home or while out on walks or visiting friends and neighbors. Getting to know people early on can reduce possible aggressive tendencies in the breed.

Exercise and Training

There's possibly no dog breed as versatile as the German shepherd. This very smart, easily trained canine excels as a military and police dog, guide dog, search-and-rescue animal -- and he'll even herd livestock. He's happiest when he has some sort of job. While the Akita can certainly participate in canine sports, such as agility, he doesn't have the competitive drive of the German shepherd and doesn't take as naturally to training. The Akita Club of America recommends the breed for therapy work. Both breeds need a lot of exercise.