The Akita or Akita Ken is a Breed of large dog originating in Japan, named for Akita Prefecture, where it is thought to have originated. "Inu" means "dog" in Japanese, although in practice this animal is nearly always referred as "Akita-ken," based on the Sino-Japanese reading of the same kanji.
|Akita Inu Quick Facts
||Males more dignified and bold than females
|Guard dog ability:
||approx. 12 years
The breed stands 24 to 28 inches at the withers (60 to 71 cm). Females weigh anywhere from 70-100 pounds (30-45kg). Males are 75-130 pounds (35-60kg). In Japan, Akitas come in only four colours: Red Fawn, Sesame (red fawn hairs with black tips), Brindle, and White. All except white must have whitish hair on the sides of the muzzle, on the cheeks, the neck, chest, body and tail. The Pinto color is not accepted as a Japanese Akita color, but only as an American Akita color. In the U.S., however, some breeders still interbeed the original Japanese type with the heavier American type, which is larger, shorter in fur, and allows more colors. It is felt by many that combining the two types leads to improved appearance and genetic health by increasing genetic diversity. In the United States, there is only a single Akita breed. Akitas from Japan and Akitas from the U.S. and other countries are all registered with the American Kennel Club as "Akitas." In many other countries the breed has been separated into two breeds: the Akita and the American Akita. However, the American Akita is acknowledged by many knowledgeable American breeders as being a different breed than the Japanese and these breeders advocate a splitting of the one breed into two.
Although the American Kennel Club has put the Akita in the Working Group, several different breeds contributed to the modern Akita, some hunting dogs and some dogs used as competitive fighting dogs, however it must be made clear that the common idea that the Akita is a 'Japanese Fighting Dog' is some way away from factual accuracy. Whilst the Akitas ancestry may lie with dogs used for fighting (see the Edo Period below) the modern day Akita is a long way from this and indeed most good breeders will not breed from dogs that are known to have aggressive natures. In general the Akita is very laid back, and has an easy-going temperament which makes it a very good family environment pet.
Akitas are a large breed, not a giant breed. They are excellent house dogs. They require only a moderate amount of exercise. Akitas are known to be very quiet dogs, only barking "when there is something to bark about". One of the most famous things about Akitas is that they make people feel calm and relaxed so an Akita is an ideal dog if you have stress problems.
The two most outstanding characteristics of the Akita as a house pet are that they are very clean and that they are very easy to house break. Akitas have been described as almost "cat-like," as they are clean and odorless. This may also be one of the reasons why they housebreak so easily. Most Akitas respond so well to housebreaking that they are trained in a matter of weeks, although it may take longer if other "slower learning" dogs are present.
As far as the family children are concerned, there are few worries. Akitas are devoted, patient friends and protectors of children. Akitas are typically very gentle with children, and it is said that Japanese mothers often left their children with only the Akitas to watch over and protect them. Remember, however, that young children should never be left unattended with a pet. When raised indoors with children, they can be excellent companions.
Left unattended in the backyard or in a kennel, they tend to develop "personality" problems and become very destructive to the yard, which is due to boredom. They are highly pack oriented, thus, isolating them from the pack (i.e., the owner) causes them great stress.
Akitas tend to be stubborn and require a firm but loving education where "no" always means "no" and never "whatever".
The Akita is a dominant dog who may expect other dogs to be submissive. If they fail to live up to the Akita's expectations, incidents can happen.
Akitas have a high and well-developed prey drive, particularly to small animals, including cats. An Akita is not likely to shower affection on someone that is not a member of his family or a close friend that he sees frequently, and can be extremely aloof. Akitas properly socialized and raised with other animals usually accept them as members of the family.
The loyalty and devotion displayed by an Akita is phenomenal. The typical pet Akita will follow you from room to room, yet has the uncanny ability not to be underfoot. Your Akita lives his life as if his only purpose is to protect you and spend time with you. This trait is evident in the tale of Hachik??.
Akitas do, however, have a tendency to be very aggressive to other dogs and small animals and are capable of ferocity. It is not uncommon for an Akita to catch and kill small (or even large) animals (including cats, guinea pigs, rabbits and small dogs) if it is allowed to wander and should therefore never be allowed to run off its lead around other animals.
Some of the health conditions known to affect this breed include:
- Canine herpesvirus, a strain of the Herpes virus that happens to affect canines
- Gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV), a condition associated with bloat;
- Pemphigus, which causes the autoimmune system to attack the dog's skin (leading to pustules)
- Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), an adult-onset condition which gradual degeneration in the eye cells (i.e. rods & cones)
- UveoDermatological Syndrome (UDS), known as Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada (VKH) disease in humans
- Sebaceous adenitis, an autoimmune condition which attacks and destroys the dog's sebaceous glands
- Canine Hip Dysplasia
The Akita's ancestors were dogs used by matagi for hunting. These dogs, usually called matagi inu, were not as large as modern Akita dogs. Many of these dogs were used as guard dogs. They were also used in the sport of hunting bears.
In the Edo Period, Dewa Province (present-day Akita prefecture) was ruled by the Satake clan. Since the Satake were tozama daimyo (considered potentially rebellious), they received severe restrictions by the Tokugawa Shogunate in all military areas. The clan decided to encourage dog fighting around 1630 in order to make it possible for the samurai to retain their aggressive edge in a way that would not offend the shogunate. Dog fighting became especially popular in the Odate area. Dog fighting enthusiasts in the area began to interbreed matagi inu with dogs indigenous to the area. These dogs, which later turned into the Akita, were called Odate inu at that time.
Before World War II
After the Meiji Restoration, people began to breed Akita with many dogs from other regions in Japan, such as the Tosa. The Meiji Restoration also ended Japan's closed door policy, and large, western dogs began to enter Japan. As a result, Akita were also bred with German Shepherds, Great Danes, and Mastiffs. This resulted in the breed losing many of its spitz-like characteristics. Akita were later bred with Hokkaido and Karafuto dogs (also known as the Sakhalin Husky), which were introduced to mainland Japan after the First Sino-Japanese War.
In the Taisho Period, people such as the mayor of Odate Town began a movement to preserve the Akita breed. By this time, the Akita had begun to turn into a mixed breed as a result of excessive breeding with other dogs. Watase Shozaburo, a Japanese zoologist that successfully proposed the Law for Protection of Natural Monuments (?¤©?„¶