HUSKY VS AKITA! What's The difference!?
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So, let’s get started with comparing the origins of these fascinating breeds, and we begin with the history of the Siberian Husky. As its name would suggest, the breed originates in Siberia and was introduced to Alaska for the first time in the year 1908 for sled-dog races.
The Siberian Husky we have today has been developed from the native sled dogs that had been bred in North-East Siberia for thousands of years. No doubt these ancient people, called the Chukchi, were highly motivated to perfecting their sled dogs by means of selective breeding: There survival depended upon them - because, without the sleds, there was no way for the hunters to take the food back to their families.
In the 1930’s, 12 of these Siberian sled dogs were introduced into the United States. Soon, these stunning dogs became popular in other countries as well. It is said that “every single Siberian Husky in the world has ancestry going back to the handful of dogs [who were] imported into the US in the early part of the 20th Century.”
Because of their heritage, Siberian Huskies count as some of the oldest dog breeds on the planet. However, the Akita might be even more ancient: Researchers suggest that they have been around even prior to recorded history.
In ancient Japan, the privilege of owning Akitas was exclusively reserved to the ruling class, the Shogun. Not unlike the Husky, the Akita was bred for agility and endurance. However, their original role was not to pull sleds, but to assist hunting parties in Northern Japan. The Akitas’ role was to track and flush out large game - such as elk, bear and wild boar – and to keep it in check until the hunters could arrive to kill it. This task required not only courage, but also considerable strength and endurance from the dogs - simply because of the rough, mountainous, and often snow-covered terrain they had to work in.
After World War II, US soldiers brought several Akitas back with them - but it was not until the early 1980’s that the breed spread to many other counties of the world.
DIFFERENCES IN LOOKS
In outer appearance, the Siberian Husky and the Akita do have a lot of similarities. This is especially the case for the slightly smaller and lighter Japanese Akita – also known as the Akita Inu. Both the Husky and the Akita have beautiful, thick and plush coats that come in a variety of colours, such as red, brindle, sesame, fawn and white. Other characteristics these two breeds share are their small, erect, triangular-shaped ears and their curly, brushed tails. In their overall appearance, both these stunning breeds are well-proportioned and give the impression of strength and agility.
Now, let’s take a look at how to visually tell the Husky and the Akita apart, as there are a few distinct features. Most notably, the eyes: Huskies quite often come with stunning ice blue eyes, or with one blue and one brown eye.
As well, they are smaller and lighter than the Akita, with males standing between 53 and 60 cm at the withers (that is, between 21 and 23 inches) and females being slightly smaller. Their weight can range from to 20 to 27 kilos (which is between 45 and 60 pounds), again, with females being a bit smaller.
Japanese Akitas are considerably taller and heavier than Siberian Huskies, with breed standards only allowing dark brown eyes. Adult males stand at up to 70 cm tall (which is around 28 inches) and weigh between up to 50 kg (or, 110 pounds), with the females being a bit smaller and lighter.
American Akitas are usually taller and considerably heavier than their Japanese cousins.
INTELLIGENCE & TRAINABILITY DIFFERENCES
Now, let’s find out how intelligent and trainable these strikingly beautiful breeds are. Again, they share a lot of similarities: Both are equipped with a high level of intelligence –that is, however, coupled with a strong tendency to think and act independently.
This independence is deeply ingrained in the Siberian Husky and stems from their past as sled dogs. Think about it this way: Since time immemorial, the native people of Siberia had to rely on their dogs to transport meat from their hunting expeditions back to their families. These journeys were fraught with danger, as the heavy sleds could easily break through thin layers of ice – and drag men and dogs to a terrible death in freezing cold waters. As it was humanly impossible to predict the thickness of a particular ice sheet the sled had to cross, the Chukchi-people had to rely on their dogs’ instincts. The decisions to halt or deviate from a certain route was, therefore, not made by the musher, but by their lead dogs. The men had learned to trust their dogs, which, no doubt, has saved countless lives over time.
To summarize: Due to their history, Siberian Huskies are very used to thinking for themselves – to evaluate situation and make informed decisions, so to speak. Of course, on the flipside, this presents us with a dog who does not feel the need to please their owner. This is not to say that Huskies cannot be trained to decent levels of obedience, because with patience and perseverance, they can be motivated to work quite nicely. However, we should not expect them to perform to similar levels as, for example, the German Shepherd.
In terms of independence, the Akita is very similar, albeit for different reasons: Their role as fearless hunting companions in ancient Japan – who had to tackle large and dangerous game – laid the foundation for their own personal brand of independence. Like the Husky, they had to work independently as well, because the hunters relied on their Akitas to find desirable game, flush it out - and then, to keep it in check until the humans had caught up with the dogs.
As we can see, each breed’s historical context explains the own respective independent streak. And whilst this apparent stubbornness does not make training those amazing dogs any easier, it does make any successes we do achieve with them all the more rewarding!
And this brings us to the main differences in temperament. Again, due to their history, Siberian Huskies are excellent “team players”. That means they get along great with other dogs. Usually, they are quite sweet-tempered towards humans, which does not make them the best guard dogs. Back in the day in Siberia, the survival of men and dogs strongly depended on the sled dogs working together perfectly – with each other as well as with humans.
However, in the absence of strong, consistent leadership, Siberian Huskies can develop aggressive behaviour – just like Akitas. Another feature both breeds share is their extremely intense prey drive. Huskies tend to hunt just about everything, even birds, and can cover enormous distances whilst doing so. Which, obviously, puts the dogs at great danger and, again, emphasises the need for strong leadership.
And whilst Akitas are also prone to going off on unauthorized “hunting-expeditions” when off-leash, they are prone to react aggressively towards other dogs. Akitas need lots of socialization throughout their lives in order to become perfect canine companions and family dogs - whilst Huskies tend to be more mellow and forgiving.
With the right socialisation and training, both breeds can become devoted family dogs and do well with children – however, it is best not to choose either breeds if you have very small children in the house.
EXERCISE AND GROOMING DIFFERENCES
It is safe to say that both breeds need lots and lots of physical exercise and mental stimulation in order to become – and to stay – balanced, well-behaved and well-rounded canine companions. This is especially important if you keep them in the house most of the time: Both breeds can get destructive when under-stimulated, that means they can use their pent-up energy to take apart your furniture, rip up your carpets or gnaw on your doorframes. Bored Huskies not only can do similar amounts of damage, but with an added vocal background of loud howling.
Due to their nature as sled dogs, bred to run hours upon hours without tiring, Huskies need far more exercise than Akitas. So much so that normal walks will not satisfy them. Unless you actually work them as sled dogs, you could teach them to simply run next to a bicycle – or, you could engage together with them in so-called draught dog sports, such as canicross, dogscooting or bikejoring. Sled dogs are perfect for these kinds of canine activities.
Akitas, on the other hand, do not need to run as much as Huskies, but they definitely require regular walks, plenty of playtime with their owners, as well as at least one good, intense run off leash per day.
When provided with sufficient mental and physical stimulation, both the Siberian Husky and the Akita are usually quite happy to relax inside the house for hours at a time.
Now, when it comes to grooming, both breeds are very similar, as they both come with thick, plush double coats. To keep these coats nice and shiny at all times – as well as to minimize shedding – regular brushing is recommended, at least 2 – 3 times a week. A pin brush, paddle brush as well as a comb with wide-set teeth are the best tools to use for the rich coat of these glorious dogs.
Outside of shedding season in spring and autumn, both Huskies and Akitas hardly shed. The Akita is an especially clean breed: They actually groom themselves by licking their fur – just like cats.
And this brings us to the end of our discussion of these two intriguing dog breeds who have many characteristics in common – starting from their stunning looks and reaching all the way to their strong and independent character.