Ana Oliveira
Dr Ana Oliveira (DVM, University of Lisbon)
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The Shepkita is also known as the Akita Shepherd and he is the hybrid result of crossbreeding an Akita Inu and a German Shepherd. Serious and stoic in nature, Shepkitas are extremely loyal and protective dogs, excelling in guarding and personal protection tasks. They are large-sized and generally quiet, but alert, and can be great companions.

Training and socialisation is essential, as Shepkitas may be prone to being territorial and therefore aggressive. They are not naturally friendly toward children, pets, or strangers, but provided they are properly trained, they can be great pets, even-tempered and well-behaved. They can handle both hot and cold climates, due to their protective and thick double coat.

About & History

The origin of the Shepkita, or Akita Shepherd, has not been clearly established, although he is believed to be an American creation from the mid-1900s. The Shepkita crossbreed has probably been developed after the importation of their parent breed dogs to the US, mostly following World War II.

Intending to create the perfect blend between strength and character, owing both characteristics to their parents, the German Shepherd and the Akita Inu, breeders successfully attained a courageous and devoted hybrid dog, while toning down their size and aggressiveness.

The German Shepherd

The German Shepherd has been bred in Germany since the late 1800s as a sheep herding dog, later becoming a working dog. Recognising their intelligence and trainability, Germans started using German Shepherds as courier dogs in the military during World War I and II.

Being extremely loyal, German Shepherd dogs have later become widely popular as pets, turning into a favourite amongst American households. Being extremely versatile, this breed started being included in narcotic detection, as well as search and rescue teams, taking up other roles too.

The Akita Inu

The Akita Inu is a very old breed from 17th century’s Japan. Akitas are large and have been primarily used as hunting dogs to hunt large game and fowl, but also as guarding dogs, owing to their aggressiveness and bold character. They are considered a national treasure of Japan, being regarded as a powerful symbol of protection and health. After World War II, Akitas were taken to Europe and to the US, being highly appreciated for their brave and strong personalities.


The Shepkita resembles the sturdy and muscular Akita, only smaller, with the body of a German Shepherd and the face and tail of an Akita. He has a broad chest and strong hindquarters. Shepkitas may keep the German Shepherd’s standard coat colour, but they may also come in a variety of different colours, including: black, brown, white, golden, merle, black and tan, sable, brindle, and they can also be speckled or spotted.

They tend to have a dense and thick double coat, like the Akita’s, of medium length. The Shepkita’s head is smaller than the Akita’s, but slightly larger than the German Shepherd’s, with a broader face and shorter snout. The eyes are brown and almond-shaped, and the ears are pointed, somewhat smaller than the German Shepherd’s.

An adult Shepkita weighs between 27 and 40 kgs (60-85 lbs) and is 56 to 70 cm (22-28 inches) tall. Because this is not a standardised breed, the Shepkita may display different combinations of both his parents’ physical characteristics. When pushing towards the Shepherd parent, the Shepkita will present the typical dark markings around his face and muzzle.

Character & Temperament

The Shepkita is definitely not the ideal pet for everybody, due to his serious character and potential behavioural issues. For the dedicated owner, however, with the right training and early socialisation, the Shepkita will prove an extremely loyal and playful pet. Most importantly, the Shepkita is not naturally tolerant of children, other dogs or pets, as he is quite territorial, so it is paramount to weigh this fact when thinking about adopting a Shepkita. It is not advisable to leave a Shepkita unsupervised with children, or even other animals, as they can become aggressive if they feel threatened. Nonetheless, Shepkitas are more even-tempered and friendlier than their Akita parent.

Shepkitas are naturally obedient and protective, adaptable and intelligent, being excellent guarding and working dogs. They have a deep bark, which will usually only be heard when he needs to warn his owner about the arrival of strangers. Courageous and energetic, always alert, but calm at the same time, the Shepkita can be a loving and affectionate pet, willing to please his owners and repaying his love with extreme dedication. Having an independent nature, Shepkitas tend to be wanderers when allowed to roam. In spite of his more reserved nature, and when correctly raised and trained, the Shepkita can be the ideal pet for active and conscientious owners.


Akita Shepherds’ trainability is considered to be moderate and training is required from early puppyhood, due to the potential development of behavioural issues and their tendency towards aggression inherited from his daring Akita parent. Positive reinforcement is encouraged and works best, as Shepkitas are eager to please their owners.

Shepkitas can be stubborn dogs (although less than Akitas) so, again, training from day one is the best strategy to raise a well-rounded dog – one that will respond to cues and be both trustable and respectful. When pushing more towards the German Shepherd parent, Shepkitas are easier and faster to train. Regardless, a consistent and firm training method is recommended, while keeping calm and confident at all times. For these reasons, Shepkitas are not recommended as a pet for first-time dog owners.

Another important part of the training scheme is socialisation, which should also start from the moment the puppy is brought home, as to help him become at ease with other people and animals. While the Shepkita is certainly not the most difficult dog to train and socialise, he is not the easiest either, so keeping that in mind is necessary before adopting one.


The life expectancy of a Shepkita is 10 to 13 years. The main health issues of Shepkitas are related to:

Dry Eye

This condition arises from eye exposure due to their eyelids not closing completely when they sleep, leaving the cornea (the eye’s protective outer layer) unprotected during long periods of time. Dry eye may develop into keratitis, an inflammation of the cornea.


A stomach disorder commonly associated with large dogs, resultant from the dilatation of the stomach followed by its twisting on itself and consequent blood flow obstruction.

Hip Dysplasia

Also associated with large dogs, this condition results from a malformation of the hip joint that does not allow the correct fitting of the thighbone onto the hip socket, causing pain, lameness and, later on, arthritis.


Others have reported a possible corn allergy in the Shepkita, but there have been no scientific studies to back up this claim to our knowledge. It may be something to consider, however, when looking into their diet. It would be best to consult your local veterinarian for advice.

Exercise and Activity Levels

Shepkitas need regular exercise, of mid to high intensity and for at least an hour a day, or 20 minutes of playtime coupled with two or three long walks each day. They enjoy running, jumping, exploring, as well as playing tug of war or catching a Frisbee. Playing with other dogs in dog parks is also a good option, since parks are seen as neutral territory. They have a strong work ethic, excelling as military, police, or search and rescue dogs.

The best arrangement for owning a Shepkita would include a fenced yard (as they are known wanderers), but if provided with the right amount and intensity of exercise and daily walks, apartment dwelling will be fine. In any case, they should always sleep inside, as to keep them a family dog and not a guarding dog, otherwise more aloof and independent.


Shepkitas are known to shed heavily, so daily brushing is a must to remove loose hair and help reducing shedding. Due to their thick coat, owners could be tempted to think Shepkitas will be extremely hot during summer months. However, this is not the case, as the coat acts as an insulator against the heat from the sun, but also from the cold, so they should not be shaved or trimmed.

Likewise, there is no need for frequent baths, as they will remove protective oils from the skin, thus stripping them off the coat and leaving the skin unprotected and more sensitive. Besides brushing, and the occasional nail trimming, Shepkitas do not have any other grooming needs worth considering.

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