I hope you have already dismissed some of these assertions as false in your own mind before posting here, otherwise I don't really understand why you'd still want to consider an Akita at all. Of course most of these things are completely false. Who in their right mind would want an Akita as a pet otherwise??
I have to say up front that I don't support hobby breeding at all. There are SO many dogs in shelters (I volunteer with Akita rescue) and so many undeservedly put down because of so-called hobby breeders. Breeding should be taken extremely seriously, not as a hobby at all. If you are not going to be completely responsible for every puppy you produce, for their entire lifetimes (i.e. if you can't sell them, YOU will keep them and care for them for the rest of their lives; if their new owners cannot or no longer want to keep them, YOU will take them back, house them, and take care of them for the rest of their lives), PLEASE do not even consider breeding. There are enough unwanted dogs as it is and most of them lost their homes through no fault of their own, but through the irresponsibility of their owners, who treat their animals like throw-away objects, instead of family members, or even precious LIVES. Off my soapbox now and if you're still here I'll answer your questions to the best of my knowledge and according to my experience.
- Are they overly aggressive? I know they have a high prey drive and can't be left around unknown kids, but is their aggression out of control? Is it true that no one is safe in your home who the dog doesn't know? I hear some won't even allow eye contact with a stranger.
NO. I had a very dominant male that did not like strangers to stare him straight in the eyes. This is not an Akita trait though. In dog body language staring straight in the eyes is a challenge. If you see two dogs staring each other straight in the eyes, a fight is about to break out. All dominant dogs react to being stared straight in the eyes (holding the stare) somewhat, regardless of breed. I could stare at my dominant male Akita straight in the eyes and kiss him on the nose. So could my friends that he knows. With people that the dog trusts, this action is not taken as a challenge so he doesn't feel the need to answer the challenge. Never try this with a dog you don't know, any breed, Akita or not... it's how people get bitten in the face.
- Do they ignore commands, and how often or why? I see myself as a very sturn and dominate type personality, but in balance. Do these dogs know what respect is?
No. The only time any of my Akitas ignore commands is when they're too focused on something else to pay attention. Get their attention (really yummy food, what have you) and they'll obey commands they know. But they don't respect automatically like many labs do. You have to earn their respect through fair and consistent means. Trying to "dominate" them generally backfires.
- Are they nervous and unsure/uneasy dogs?
Not unless they weren't properly socialized as puppies.
- Some say they are not mentally stable. True, or just ignorance?
False. That's just retarded. Why would anyone keep a mentally unstable animal in their house?
- I hear they can turn on their own owners and bite. True? If so, is it above the norm?
- How do you describe their personality?
Extremely smart, sensitive, thinking (i.e. they will think before they leap, not the other way around), independent, aloof to strangers, very loyal to their family, generally dominant with other dogs, can be protective
- How's grooming?
A lot of shedding at least twice a year for several weeks at a time. Longcoats are a pain to groom.
- What's the best diet?
Grainfree, meat based
- Can they learn to tone down their dog aggression?
Depends on the dog. Most just want other dogs to respect their space (i.e. you leave me alone and I'll leave you alone), but there are some that are very dog aggressive and some that are very good with other dogs. If having an Akita that is friendly with other dogs is important to you, I suggest you get an adult. All puppies are friendly to other dogs until puberty. When puberty hits some can turn dog aggressive.
- Will he try to constantly dominate or abuse my girl when he matures?
Again depends on the dog. Their personalities vary so much from one dog to the next, but they are usually good with the dogs in their own home. If you introduce adult dogs (providing they're not truly dog aggressive), an initial adjustment period is required where some squabbling may occur (shouldn't be any real injuries though).
- How do you rate them as a guard dog?
Not good. They tend to think too much on their own. If they think someone is a real threat, they may not off by command, unlike dogs trained in schuzhund. Do NOT train an Akita as a guard dog. They already trust strangers less than most other breeds by nature.
- How do you rate them as a loyal friend?
Very good. An Akita that's bonded to you will give his life for you without hesitation. That said, not every Akita has that kind of bond with its owner.
- How do you rate their intelligence? My girl is brilliant, but she's a Border Collie mix, so I'm unclear.
Extremely smart, more so than any other breed I've owned (German Shepherd, Rottweiler, Pekingese). They don't generally demonstrate their intelligence by doing commands over and over though. Most of them get bored if you ask them to do the same thing over and over.
- Do they truly favor one person above all others? I'm single, but...
Yes. Some dogs do this more than others.
- How are they when left alone while at work? Do they behave?
All of mine do and I didn't have to teach them to. As puppies I'll find my shoes scattered about sometimes, but nothing destroyed or damaged.
- Do they make good jogging buddies?
Not really. Some do, but labs and border collies make better jogging partners. Akitas are kind of lazy. Many of them would rather walk at a leisurely pace.
- Do they enjoy play and how often? My girl loves fetch, but like keep away too. I hear some Akita's just want to do their own thing and destroy your yard instead of play with you.
Not really. They do as puppies and young adults. Again, they're kind of lazy and aren't energetic like labs and border collies.
- How do they accept displine and what's the best route? I don't spank unless super necessary.
Do not hit an Akita. They're really sensitive dogs emotionally. Using physical force damages the bond between the Akita and the owner. Some will just shut down. More dominant ones will up their ante in defense. Verbal discipline is all that's needed most of the time. They're happy to keep the peace if they understand what you want and have a good relationship with you. The most "discipline" I've ever had to use is a spray bottle (just say a firm "NO" and squirt them in the face with water). That worked even on my most dominant Akita.
- How's their health in general?
Bloat, hip dysplasia, cruciate tears, allergies, cancer at old age are the most common problems that I've heard of.
- How are they at different ages? Young, mid-life, old...
Young: friendly, energetic, sometimes mouthy, generally likes everybody, teenagers are testy
Mid-life: more calm, more discerning between family and non-family (aloof to non-family, loyal to family), more protective
Old: gentler, even calmer, lays around and sleeps a lot but always happy to go for a walk