Probably the most famous canine breed in the world, the Akita Inu is a spitz-type dog that has its roots in the mountainous regions of Japan.
The name Akita Inu [pronounced as Ah-ki-tah, with emphasis on the first syllable] came from the two Japanese words Akita (a prefecture in Japan situated in the northern part of Honshu island) and Inu (dog).
However, they were first called Odate dogs (the main city of Honshu) before the year 1931.
Akitas were originally developed as fighting dogs during the Tokugawa period (1603-1925). Throughout those centuries, the dogfighting industry in the Far East was a very popular form of entertainment, as they were in Europe.
The prefecture of Akita was one of the major dogfighting areas in the city of Odate.
As of today, there are two known varieties of Akita: the Akita Inu or Japanese Akita and the American type, known as the American Akita.
Interestingly, there has been a long-time debate among fanciers whether these two varieties of Akita are classified as one breed or two separate breeds. The issue is very much controversial in Japan and international organizations have different views on this issue.
The 2 was formally set apart in June 1999. Composed of 84 country members, the FCI (Federation Cynologique Internationale) decided that the American type would be called the ‘Great Japanese Dog’, which was then later renamed as the American Akita in January 2006.
Traits and Behavior
The Japanese Akita is a large breed endowed with many good qualities. Aside from being brave, strong, dominant, reliable and independent, it is also versatile.
Over the past years, Akita Inu has evolved from a mere fighting dog into a hunting dog, guard dog, and sled dog. Native in Japan, this breed of dogs can handle extreme cold very well.
These dogs are very docile and can be trained to accomplish all sorts of tasks. They are highly territorial and are usually aloof with strangers. On the contrary, they are affectionate to their owner, household members and other animals.
One might say that they are feline in some of their actions. For instance, it is not unusual for an Akita to clean its face after eating or to even preen other dogs in the house. Indeed, these dogs have high regard for their hygiene.
Pet Care and Diseases
Akita Inu does not thrive well in places with hot climates. Training should start as soon as you get the puppy, and it should be regularly, but not too strict. This breed of dog should learn how to socialize with other dogs or else it can be quite aggressive towards visitors and other dogs unfamiliar to him.
When the bones and muscles in its body begin to grow, teach the dog how to swim. They enjoy being submerged in the water. By exposing this dog to this kind of exercise, the blood circulation in its body will improve leading to a much healthier condition.
The stiff, coarse bushy coat needs significant grooming. Brush it using only a soft-bristled hairbrush to protect the hair since this breed sheds heavily twice a year. Also, bathe the Japanese Akita only when needed to retain the coat’s natural waterproofing.
As a breed, the Japanese Akitas generally have a strong immune system, but some known genetic problems have been reported. For instance, some dog respondents showed sensitivity to certain drugs that are normally safe for dogs.
Listed below are a few of its common diseases:
- Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada Syndrome- an auto-immune condition that affects the skin and eyes.
- Cushing’s Syndrome- also known as Hyperadrenocorticism, affects the adrenal glands and is caused by long-term exposure to high levels of glucocorticosteroids, either manufactured by the body or given as medications.
- Diabetes Mellitus- also known as type 1 diabetes. It affects the pancreas.
- Gastric Dilatation- also known as bloat in which the stomach twists on itself.
The Japanese Akita breed is a little bit smaller and weighs lighter in contrast to the American Akita. For both sexes, height is somewhere between 24-26 inches (61-66cm). Males could go from 75 up to 120 pounds, while females could only go approximately 75-110 pounds.
Described as large and well-built, the Japanese Akita has a short double coat, resembling the many other northern spitz breeds such as the Siberian Husky (Note: long-coated dogs can be found in many litters due to the recessive gene). A few of its distinctive physical features are its pair of small, wolf-like ears, curled tail and calm physiognomy.
Only recognized colors include red, white, sesame, and fawn. More importantly, the Japanese are very specific with the standard ‘Urajuro’ markings for the dog to be considered as a pure breed.
The breed is expected to live for 11-15 years. A litter may consist of 3 to 12 puppies (on average: 7-8 puppies).
Both types of Akita (Japanese and American) gained worldwide stardom thanks to the heartwarming true-to-life story of Hachiko, a loyal Akita dog who lived in Japan before World War II.
Hachiko, before it became the national dog of Japan, was born on November 10, 1923. He was owned by Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor in Tokyo.
Every day, Hachiko accompanied his master on the way to the Shibuya Train Station and waited there until the arrival of the professor in the afternoon.
On May 25, 1925, the 18 months old dog patiently waited for his master’s arrival on a four o’clock train, but unfortunately, Professor Ueno had suffered a fatal stroke at the University.
Clueless and fully determined, Hachiko continued travelling to and from the station each day for the next nine years, patiently hoping that his master would return someday.
The professor’s relatives, including the locals, took care of him and offered food every time the dog is around. His vigil became world-renowned shortly before his death on March 8, 1935.
Today, a bronze statue of Hachiko stands at the Shibuya Train Station in honor of his loyalty.
Visit this dog club website dedicated to Akita Inu. Click this link: www.akita-inu.com/