Do you ever wonder why dogs like German Shepherds and Poodles are so popular and have remained so for decades?
Do you ever wonder why most breeds experience surges and declines in public demand? Fads certainly play a role, but there is also a concern for poor breeding and detrimental features that purebreds so often seem to exaggerate.
As scrutiny on all purebred dogs increases from the media and dog lovers alike, mixed-breed canines are rising in demand.
Aiming to stay one step ahead of street mongrels, designer dog breeders try to focus on the most desired traits from their chosen foundation stock It is not very surprising that many times breeders choose the GSD or Poodle to hybridize their pups.
One designer dog that may accomplish the lofty aspiration of improving two breeds simultaneously is the Shepkita.
A cross between a purebred German Shepherd and an Akita, the Shepkita or Akita Shepherd is a combination that accentuates power, intelligence, loyalty, guarding, and utility in a single animal.
Made up of breeds distinct but similar in appearance and versatility and divergent in background and motivation, the German Shepherd mix Akita makes an intriguing working dog and dedicated family companion.
We cover what you would need to know about having a Shepkita in your families like historical origins, behavior around other dogs, social potential, guard capacity, grooming needs, and general health.
Shepkita’s parents come from different worlds
Your German Shepherd mix Akita will inevitably have intense focus, a strong work ethic, and versatility. You will be able to perform many activities with him, including but not limited to police and military work, agility, jogging, search and rescue, obedience, and show.
A herding dog from Germany
As her name states, the German Shepherd originated from sheepherding dogs across Germany. Max von Stephanitz, a prominent member of a school of dog fanciers who wanted to promote purity, went to great lengths to develop the perfect working dog in 1899. He found what he considered an ideal model in the successful show dog Hektor.
Generations of careful breeding made the German Shepherd type unmistakable and his versatility world-renowned. The breed became a member of the herding group of the AKC in 1908.
A hunting dog from Japan
At one time you needed the privilege of Japanese royalty to own an Akita. Many historical sources further romanticize the Akita’s origins, citing a hunting dog from the Northern mountains of Japan. While early Akitas did hunt large game like boars and bears, they also had a strong dogfighting heritage.
Japanese owners began breeding their medium-sized Akitas with Mastiffs and Tosas to increase their size and competitiveness against other dogs in the mid-1600s, according to the Akita Association of Ireland.
Interestingly, the idea of the German Shepherd Akita mix is not new. During World War II, the two breeds’ histories would intersect.
To conserve food supplies, Japan decreed all dogs should be surrendered for their pelts, which would line soldiers’ clothing.
However, the country spared any German Shepherd serving on the police force. Desperately seeking to save their beloved breed, some owners hid their dogs while others took the drastic step of crossing them with German Shepherds.
These two puppies undoubtedly come from the same litter. Note how much they look like Shepherds and the sable and fawn coloration possible in a single litter.
Their similarity to the German Shepherd is relevant in relation to the World War II crisis in Japan and how owners were able to ensure the survival of their stock. You can observe their Akita traits more readily when they stand at attention.
The Akita is a national treasure and a natural monument in Japan. The first Akita to come to the United States was a gift from the Japanese government to Helen Keller in 1937. Akitas joined the AKC in 1972 as working dogs.
Can you predict the looks of an Akita German Shepherd cross?
Size and general appearance are predictable.
The Shepkita will be a large dog, probably somewhat smaller than an Akita at 65 to 100 pounds. He comes by his size honestly.
A Shepherd is 24 to 26 inches tall weighing 50 to 90 pounds while an Akita male can be up to 28 inches in height and weigh 90 to 130 pounds, about 20% larger than a female.
This mix is a seemingly perfect blend of the Akita and German Shepherd. He is black and tan with white, his tail only partially curled, his head somewhere between the length of a Shepherd’s and the blockiness of an Akita’s, and his body sturdy and well-balanced. He is extremely friendly, but he is also still a puppy.
A Shepherd Akita mix inherits upright ears from both parents as well as a plush double coat, a medium to long tail with varying degrees of curling, a muscular broad chest, and a sturdy body.
She will be slightly longer than she is tall. You will likely notice that your Shepkita’s ears are set further forward than a Shepherd’s and more triangular in shape.
German Shepherds are substantially longer than they are tall with ground-covering strides and remarkable stamina. Their ears are large and open and their eyes slightly almond-shaped and brown.
A Shepherd’s tail is moderately long and carried low when relaxed. The neck is long, the head narrow, and the jaws slightly square.
An Akita, standing next to a German Shepherd, will have smaller ears angled about 20 degrees forward of the vertical plane. She has a wedge-shaped head with a shorter muzzle than the Shepherd. Her tail is also shorter and is carried curled over the back.
Akitas have a variety of tail sets, from a double curl to just a half-moon draped and reaching the mid-back. The Akita appears square and high off the ground compared to a GSD.
An Akita’s defining features are a black mask on the face and a full, curled tail. Only white dogs do not have facial markings.
The Akita Inu, or Japanese Akita, does not have a black mask, either. The only acceptable colors are red fawn, white, or brindle. Red fawn dogs with black tips are sesame.
As a quick aside, many countries recognize two distinct breeds of Akita, the Akita Inu and the American Akita. The United States does not separate between the Akita types, and they boast the highest numbers of Shepkitas. The UK recognizes a Japanese Akita and the Akita, refusing to acknowledge the name, American Akita.
What colors can the hybrid be?
Shepherd-Akita mixes can be the colors of either breed or a few colors beyond the typical spectrum.
- Black and tan – GSD
- Black – GSD
- Blue – GSD
- Fawn – Akita or GSD
- Tan – GSD or Akita
- Red and white – Akita
- Brindle – Akita
- White – GSD or Akita
- Sable – GSD
- Merle – not seen in the purebred Akita or Shepherd
- Pinto – Akita. Pinto is a large proportion of white with splotches of color over a third of the body in an organized pattern. Pinto Akitas usually still have a black facial mask, although sometimes split by white down the middle.
- White with black spots or freckles – atypical of either Akitas or German Shepherds. Solid white purebred dogs of the two breeds in question do not have spots.
Shepkitas, except solid white dogs, will often have facial masks. Black masks, of course, are not readily apparent on black or brindle dogs.
How difficult will my Shepkita be to train?
You have a high chance that your Shepherd mix will be easier to train than a purebred Akita. Exactly how stubborn or strong-willed your puppy becomes depends on what proportion of genetic factors he inherits from each parent.
Keep in mind your pup has the potential to inherit domineering tendencies from either or both parents.
German Shepherds are generally very easy to train. Occasionally, a Shepherd may have a serious dominance problem. However, once you gain Shepherd’s respect, she tends to be quite obedient.
Akitas are willful, strong-minded, and independent. Our experience with Akitas is, while clearly very smart, they seem to ponder commands before executing them. Moreover, Akitas, like other Spitz breeds, tend to wander and do not always have a reliable recall.
Is Shepkitas aggressive? Are they good watchdogs?
You should not have any doubts about your Shepherd Akita’s skills with guarding your home and family. Prepare yourself for potential aggression against perceived threats to you or your property.
Early training and socialization are crucial so your dog can become a reasonable and discerning judge of shady behavior.
Experts often recommend you focus more on teaching your dog obedience rather than undergoing any guard training with a Shepherd or an Akita.
Canines with natural guard tendencies do not need improper training or encouragement to be more aggressive. Either can create a dangerous dog.
German Shepherds have courage, boldness, and fierceness that has placed them among the best guard dogs for decades.
Not specifically bred for aggression, their hostility against intruders comes from protective instincts first cultivated through their work with livestock. They extend that protection to all family members and are territorial over home and property.
Akitas, like Shepherds, are loyal and courageous. However, they are more similar to the Doberman in that their breeders developed aggressive tendencies to accommodate the primary role of guarding persons and property.
Their ferocity against intruders is inherent and uncompromising. Akitas, according to TheNest, will not tolerate animals or human visitors if you are not home.
Grooming will be moderately time intensive
Your German Shepherd mix Akita will likely require brushing every day. Her double coat will be thick with the outer guard hairs probably medium in length. A slicker brush will remove loose dirt and dead fur and skin cells.
Your dog needs a bath if soil build-up becomes severe. Use a mild shampoo to help prevent irritation and keep the skin from becoming too dry. Clip nails at least once every six weeks and check ears regularly.
Rarely a long-haired German Shepherd does not have an undercoat. For the most part, a Shepherd has thick fleece underfur near her skin with a medium to the long outer layer of coarse hair.
Akitas also have a double coat, although their fur is often shorter, thicker, and softer than the German Shepherd’s.
Neither dog requires you to clip their coats. Often, shaving your Shepkita’s fur disrupts their ability to regulate their core temperature.
Can your Shepkita be an all-weather dog?
Your German Shepherd mix Akita will have a thick undercoat that insulates him from the sun and keeps him warm in the winter.
More states have passed laws that prevent you from leaving your dog for prolonged periods outdoors when the temperature dips below freezing. Some dog houses now provide safe means to install a pet heater when it becomes extremely frigid in the winter.
No matter how much you winterize your dog’s environment or your Shepherd or Akita mix loves the snow, leaving her unattended outdoors can lead to emotional and social problems.
The German Shepherd and Akita both thrive in cold conditions. Their undercoats, of course, provide excellent insulation, but their longer outer fur is water repellant to keep them dry. Despite any adaptation to cold weather, you should always provide shelter from wind and rain.
German Shepherds tolerate the heat somewhat better than Akitas. Adjustments you should make in temperatures over 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit are limiting exercise, providing shade and possibly a pool, ensuring access to water, and moving walks to cooler times like early in the morning or late evenings.
Do you have to worry about your Shepkita’s health?
Both purebred Akitas and Shepherds have health problems they can pass along to any offspring. They share several issues in common.
- Hip dysplasia – developmental disorders of the hip joint that can cause progressively worsening discomfort throughout the dog’s life. Your veterinarian may recommend surgical intervention in some cases.
- Hypothyroidism – The thyroid gland functions below normal levels, requiring supplementation.
- Elbow dysplasia
- Hemangiosarcoma – A cancerous growth on the spleen that can cause chronic bleeding.
- Epilepsy – Seizure disorder
- Hemophilia – A specific clotting factor is absent
- Diabetes – A disorder that affects the regulation of blood sugar
- Von Willebrand’s – Affects a different clotting factor than Hemophilia
- Myasthenia Gravis – According to VCA Hospitals and other veterinary sources, usually an acquired autoimmune disease that disrupts chemical signals between nerves and muscles.
- Autoimmune skin diseases
According to Globaldogbreeds, the Shepherd Akita mix has picked up a few unique health problems not commonly cited in the research into German Shepherds or Akitas.
- Luxating patella – More often associated with small dogs, the American College of Veterinary Surgeons reports that luxating patellas appear to be on the rise in dogs like the Akita and Flat-Coated Retriever.
- Lupus – Likely from the Akita’s genetic predisposition to autoimmune disorders.
How long will your Akita Shepherd live?
Akitas, German Shepherds, and Shepkitas all have similar lifespans. The Shepherd lives 10 to 13 years, according to Shepped. The Shepkita also is reported to live 10 to 13 years and the Akita 10 to 15 years.
Your Shepherd Akita mix needs moderate exercise
A Shepkita will likely require exercise midway between what a German Shepherd and an Akita needs. German Shepherds with their intense single-minded focus and exceptional stamina, need mental stimulation as well as sessions of rigorous activity.
Akitas tolerate shorter bursts of exertion, but still need about 30 to 45 minutes of exercise per day, according to Animalwised. You need to incorporate training with Akitas as much if not more so than with Shepherds.
Will your Shepkita fit into the household?
Shepkitas are most likely to be kind and protective of children of their household if socialized at a young age. They may or may not tolerate other animals. You may not see dog aggression appear in your pup until he approaches adolescence or around six to eight months of age.
Both Akitas and German Shepherds can learn to see children as part of their pack that they need to protect and around whom they must be gentle. Akitas cannot be trusted to extend that solicitous attitude to children outside of the family. You should never trust any dogs, especially large ones, unsupervised with small children.
German Shepherds and Akitas have a strong prey drive. You should not tempt Akitas, especially, by placing them in the close vicinity of pet birds or small dogs. Some Akitas befriend cats, but their volatile play energy warrants extreme caution.
Is the Shepherd mix Akita a good dog for you?
The Shepherd Akita mix is potentially a great family companion. Like most large dogs, she require early socialization and firm training.
She is an attractive and affectionate pet and a natural guard dog. Very versatile, you can enjoy several activities like flyball, fetch, agility, obedience, and hiking.
Shepkitas probably do best if they are the only animal in the household. If you have plenty of quality time to spend with a large and strong-minded dog, a Shepherd Akita mix may do well in your family.