Other Names: Akita
Dog Group Kennel Club: Working (AKC) Utility (KC)
Note: There are two types of Akita, the American Akita (as shown here) and the Japanese Akita. The Kennel Club of Great Britain officially split the breed on the 1st January 2006. The American Akita is now known as the Akita, and the Japanese Akita known as the Japanese Akita-Inu.
The Akita is a large, strong, muscular dog with a broad chest and neck. The have a large head with small triangular shaped eyes and small erect ears. Their trade mark tail is curled and carried over their back
The Akita’s double coat is moderate in length and very dense. The inner coat is soft while the outer coat is more coarse and slightly longer. Colours include: white, brindle or pinto.
Weight: Males 100 to 130 pounds, Females 70 to 100 pounds.
Average life span: 10 -12 years
Akita’s are extremely intelligent, energetic, alert, courageous and very territorial. They are faithful, affectionate, and love human attention making them excellent companions and watchdogs. They are good with children within the family but will be wary of other children. The Akita was never bred to live or work in groups like many hound and sporting breeds. Therefore the individual Akita is happy being an only dog or one of two dogs in a household, but can be very aggressive towards animals not part of his family group, particularly strange dogs. They have a natural hunting instinct so would not get along with non canine animals.
This dog breed is not for everyone, and definitely not recommended for a first time dog owner. Akita’s are large, powerful, independent and dominant dogs. Therefore they require a firm owner who can give them the time for necessary training. Akita’s must be trained from early puppy-hood so they know who is the boss, otherwise they will become the dominant one of the household. Early socialisation is also required to prevent aggressive and unpredictable behaviour. They do not react well to harsh training instead they need firm, loving, and consistent discipline.
This dog breed sheds a lot, if you don’t like dog hair this is not the breed for you. The soft undercoat gets matted if it is not cared for properly. This breed needs to be thoroughly brushed at least two-three times a week.
The Akita needs a lot of daily exercise. They should be kept on their lead due to their natural hunting instincts.
Akita Health Issues
Bloat – though not a hereditary condition, frequently affects many dogs including this breed. This is a very serious condition. When a dog bloats, the stomach can turn and block, causing a build up of gas. Unless treated quickly, bloat can be fatal. Signs of bloat include futile attempts to vomit and to salivate. Bloat, which may lead to cardiovascular collapse, usually occurs when exercise too closely follows eating. The incidence of bloat may be lessened by feeding adult dogs twice a day and, of course, by allowing a dog time to digest before taking him for a run in the park. Click Here for more information
Hip dysplasia – a malformation of the hip joint resulting in a poor fit between the head of the femur bone and the hip socket. This condition can be alleviated by surgery, at some cost to dog and owner. Because dysplastic dogs often produce dysplastic puppies, buyers should ask if both the sire and the dam of the puppy in which they are interested have been rated clear of hip dysplasia. Do not take yes for an answer without seeing a certificate, and ask for a copy to take to your veterinarian.
Hypothyroidism – an endocrine disease that results in the abnormally low production of thyroid hormones. The symptoms of hypothyroidism include lethargy, mental depression, weight gain and a tendency to seek out warm places. Hypothyroidism can also affect the coat and skin, causing hair loss and excessive dandruff.
Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD) – is an autosomally (not sex-linked) inherited bleeding disorder with a prolonged bleeding time (somewhat similar to hemophilia in humans) and a mild to severe factor IX deficiency. A DNA test for vWD is now available. Carrier-to-carrier breedings, in theory, will produce puppies that are 25% clear, 50% carriers, and 25% affected. Ideally, only clear-to-clear or clear-to-carrier should occur, so that no puppies will be affected. Not all dogs that are vWD affected will have severe bleeding problems, but they ARE at risk whenever they need to have surgery or have an accident. Some unlucky affected dogs will actually bleed out from a needle stick or minor wound.
Cervical Vertebral Instability (CVI or Wobbler’s Syndrome) – Dogs (usually in mid-life) suffer from spinal cord compression caused by cervical vertebral instability or from a malformed spinal canal. Extreme symptoms are paralysis of the limbs (front, hind, or all four). Neck pain with extension and flexion may or may not be present. Surgical therapy is hotly debated and extremely expensive with questionable success. In some surgically treated cases, clinical recurrence has been identified.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) – is a hereditary disease of the eye that has been identified in dobermans.. PRA is a blanket term for many types of retinal diseases, all of which result in blindness. All dobermans, regardless of age or breeding status, should be examined yearly by a member of the Veterinary Opthalmologists.
Japanese history describe the Akita as one of the oldest of the native dogs. The Akita breed developed in the Akita prefecture (hence its name) the northern most region of the island of Honshu. Centuries ago the breed was owned only by the Shogun, the imperial leaders of the country. The Akita was used as a hunter, guard, herder, and fighting dog. This dog was used to track large game and hold it at bay until the royal hunters arrived to make the kill. Game included: antelope, elk, boar and the 800 pound Yezo bear.
The breed became a popular fighting dog and was bred with other dogs including the Tosa Inu and mastiffs, both known for their strength and aggression.
During the 1800s the Akita was nearly wiped out due to a rabies outbreak. The breed soon gained positive attention in the early 1900 sdue to a famous Akita known as Hachi Ko.
During World War II, the breed was nearly lost because many Akita’s were killed for food or for their fur. After the war, the breed was re-established in Japan from the best of the remaining dogs. Although the first Akita to arrive in the United States was the puppy given to Helen Keller on her visit to Japan in 1937, breeding stock did not arrive until Akita’s were brought over after WWII by servicemen stationed in Japan. In America the Akita breed was heavily influenced by western breeds that contributed the size, the heavy bone and the ‘big bear head’ we know today. This type of Akita became well established and recognized around the world as the “American-Akita”.
This American line had lost favour in Japan due to what was considered “impure” characteristics such as loose tail curl, wrinkles, loose skin, black mask and black markings.
The Akita stud book in the United States closed in 1972 and no Akitas imported from Japan after that were able to be registered with the AKC. That led to two main types of Akitas being developed: American Akitas and Japanese Akitas.
American Akitas are larger, stockier with a black mask, and have a big bear type appearance. The Japanese Akitas are smaller with a different fox like appearance, with only white, red, and brindle colours allowed.
Akita Health IssuesThe Story of Hachi Ko
Hachi-Ko was born in 1923 and was owned by Professor Eizaburo Ueno of Tokyo. Professor Ueno lived near the Shibuya Train Station in a suburb of the city and commuted to work every day on the train. Hachi-Ko accompanied his master to and from the station each day.
On May 25, 1925, when the dog was 18 months old, he waited for his master’s arrival on the four o’clock train. But he waited in vain; Professor Ueno had suffered a fatal stroke at work. Hachi-Ko continued to wait for his master’s return. He travelled to and from the station each day for the next nine years. He allowed the professor’s relatives to care for him, but he never gave up the vigil at the station for his master. His vigil became world renowned, and shortly after his death, a bronze statue was erected at the train station in his honour. Then, in 1931, The Akita was officially declared a Japanese Natural Monument. The Mayor of Odate City in the Akita Prefecture organized the Akita Inu Hozankai to preserve the original Akita as a national treasure through careful breeding. Buy “Hachhiko Waits” from Dogs.Info book shop.