The Akita comes from Japan, and is the largest of all the Japanese breeds. They were originally bred for pit fighting, but when the sport declined they were adopted as hunting dogs. They also make excellent guard dogs, and have been used for guarding, army and police work. American servicemen of the occupational forces became very fond of the Akita, and introduced them to their families. Today, the Akita is held in high regard and is not only a national monument in its native country, but a valued companion and family pet. There was a time when the Akita was facing extinction but, thankfully, due to the formation of the Society for the Preservation of Japanese Breeds, it is now a much loved and thriving breed.
AppearanceThe Akita is a powerful, alert and well-proportioned dog. It has a thick double coat with a harsh, waterproof outer coat and a thick, soft undercoat. The coat requires regular and thorough grooming and is heavily shed twice a year. It comes in several colours: pure white, red, sesame and brindle. The Akita also has webbed feet, which allows it to move well in the water.
The body of the Akita is slightly longer than it is tall, with a broad chest. They stand at around 61 – 71cms and weigh in the region of 34 – 54kg. The head is broad and flat, with a strong, short muzzle and erect ears. The eyes are dark brown, the nose is black and the tail is carried high over the back.
The Akita has a reasonable life span of between ten and twelve years, but is unfortunately prone to a few health problems such as: hip dysplasia, thyroid problems, immune diseases, and eye, skin and knee problems.
TemperamentThe Akita is a very affectionate, intelligent and fearless dog that can be very wilful. They are extremely faithful and thrive on companionship. Although these dogs are generally very good with all members of the family, they can be less trusting towards strangers and may even bite. They need a firm hand and good training, otherwise they can become difficult to handle. The Akita is pack orientated and will freely chase cats and other household pets; so great care must be taken when introducing them to other animals. Although the Akita is strong and has a tendency to get into fights with other dogs, it is surprisingly docile and easy-going. They are ideal for any sized dwelling, as they only require a moderate amount of exercise.
Interesting FactsSmall statues of the Akita are used to symbolise good health, happiness and longevity in Japan, and are often sent to sick people and parents of new babies.
Japanese mothers used to place complete trust in these dogs and would often leave them to guard their children.
At one time only the Imperial family and the ruling aristocracy were allowed to own an Akita.