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Akita Breed Info: Characteristics, Origin, and More

Originating from the Akita Prefecture in Japan, these dogs were originally bred for hunting and guarding.

They were also used by samurai for fighting, and their courage and loyalty were highly prized.

There are two types of Akita: the Akita Inu and the American Akita.

The Akita Inu is the original Japanese breed, while the American Akita was developed in the United States.

Both breeds are known for their muscular build, thick double coat, and distinctive curled tail.

They are also known for their strong-willed personalities and need for consistent training and socialization.

Let’s take a deeper look into the history, characteristics, and care of the Akita breed.

History and Origin

Akita Breed Info: Characteristics, Origin, and More

The Akita breed has a long and fascinating history that dates back to ancient times in Japan.

Let’s explore the early history of the Akita, its influence during World War II, and the story of the famous Akita, Hachiko.

Early History

The Akita breed originated in northern Japan, where it was bred for hunting and guarding purposes.

The breed was developed from the Matagiinu, a now-extinct breed that was used for hunting large game such as bears and wild boars.

Akitas were also used by samurai for guarding and fighting.

In 1931, the Japanese government designated the Akita breed as a “natural monument,” recognizing its importance to Japanese culture and history.

However, during World War II, many Akitas were killed for their fur, and the breed was almost wiped out entirely.

World War II Influence

During World War II, the Akita breed faced a significant threat to its survival.

Many Akitas were killed to use their fur for military purposes.

However, a few dedicated breeders worked to preserve the breed, and after the war, the Akita made a comeback.

The American Akita was developed after World War II when American servicemen brought Akitas back to the United States.

The American Akita is a larger, more robust version of the Japanese Akita, with a thicker coat and a more muscular build.

Hachiko’s Story

One of the most famous Akitas in history is Hachiko, a loyal dog who waited for his owner at a train station every day, even after his owner died.

Hachiko’s story has become a symbol of loyalty and devotion, and a statue of him stands at the Shibuya train station in Tokyo.

Another famous Akita is Kamikaze-go, who was given to Helen Keller by the Japanese government in 1937.

Keller was so impressed with the breed’s intelligence and loyalty that she called the Akita “gentle, companionable, and trusty.”

Despite facing significant challenges during World War II, the breed has survived and thrived, thanks to the dedication of breeders and the loyalty and devotion of Akitas like Hachiko.

Physical Characteristics

As an Akita breed expert, you know that one of the first things people notice about Akitas is their impressive physical appearance.

Size and Weight

Akitas are a large and powerful breed, with males typically weighing between 85-130 pounds and females weighing between 65-110 pounds.

They stand between 25-27 inches tall at the withers and have a broad head and thick neck.

Coat and Colors

Akitas have a thick double coat that comes in a variety of colors including red, brindle, white, and pinto.

Their outer coat is straight and coarse, while their undercoat is soft and dense.

Akitas shed heavily twice a year and require regular grooming to keep their coat healthy.

Distinctive Mask

One of the most recognizable features of the Akita is their distinctive mask.

This mask is a darker color than the rest of their coat and can cover their entire muzzle or just a portion of it.

Some Akitas have a white mask, which is a desirable trait in the breed standard.

Temperament and Personality

When it comes to temperament and personality, the Akita breed is known for its loyalty, independence, and strong-willed nature.

As a companion, they are affectionate and devoted to their owners, but they can also be aloof with strangers.

Akita’s Loyalty

Akitas are fiercely loyal to their families and will do anything to protect them.

They are known for their courage and will not hesitate to defend their loved ones if they feel threatened.

This loyalty also means that they can be protective and territorial, so early socialization is essential to ensure they are comfortable with strangers.

Interaction with Other Animals

Akitas can be independent and strong-willed, which can make them challenging to train and socialize.

They have a high prey drive, which means they may not get along with other pets, especially smaller animals.

It is best to introduce them to other animals at a young age and supervise their interactions to prevent any aggressive behavior.

Akita’s Independence

Akitas are known for their independent nature, which can make them difficult to train.

They require a firm and consistent hand to establish rules and boundaries.

Positive reinforcement techniques work best with this breed, as they respond well to treats and praise.

It is essential to establish yourself as the pack leader early on to prevent any dominance issues.

Health and Lifespan

Akitas are generally healthy dogs, but like all breeds, they are prone to certain health issues.

It’s important to be aware of these potential problems so you can take preventive measures and catch any issues early on.

Common Health Issues

Hip dysplasia is one of the most common health issues in Akitas.

This condition affects the hip joints and can lead to lameness and arthritis.

It’s important to have your Akita’s hips evaluated by a veterinarian, especially if you plan on breeding your dog.

Another serious condition that can affect Akitas is bloat.

This is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the stomach fills with gas and twists on itself.

Symptoms include restlessness, drooling, and a distended abdomen.

If you suspect your Akita has bloat, seek veterinary care immediately.

Hypothyroidism is another health issue that can affect Akitas.

This condition occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones, which can lead to weight gain, lethargy, and skin problems.

Treatment typically involves medication to replace the missing hormones.

Progressive retinal atrophy is a genetic condition that can cause blindness in Akitas.

It’s important to have your dog’s eyes checked regularly by a veterinarian, especially if you plan on breeding your dog.

Sebaceous adenitis is a skin condition that can affect Akitas.

It can cause hair loss, scaly skin, and a foul odor. Treatment typically involves medicated shampoos and antibiotics.

Life Expectancy

Akitas have a relatively long lifespan compared to other large breeds, with an average lifespan of 10-14 years.

However, like all breeds, they are prone to certain health issues that can impact their lifespan.

Gastric dilatation-volvulus, also known as bloat, can be fatal if not treated promptly.

It’s important to be aware of the symptoms of bloat and seek veterinary care immediately if you suspect your Akita has this condition.

Autoimmune diseases can also impact the lifespan of Akitas.

These conditions occur when the immune system attacks the body’s own cells and tissues.

Symptoms can vary depending on the specific condition, but can include lethargy, weight loss, and skin problems.

Treatment typically involves medication to suppress the immune system.

Care and Maintenance

Taking care of your Akita is crucial to ensure its health and happiness.

This breed requires a lot of attention and care, but with proper maintenance, your Akita can live a long and healthy life.

We’ll show you the essential aspects of caring for your Akita, including diet and exercise, grooming needs, training, and socialization.

Diet and Exercise

A proper diet and regular exercise are essential for maintaining your Akita’s health.

A high-quality dog food that is rich in protein and nutrients is recommended.

Be sure to measure your Akita’s food carefully to prevent overeating, which can lead to obesity.

Additionally, regular exercise is necessary to keep your Akita healthy and happy.

Daily walks and playtime are great ways to keep your Akita active and engaged.

Grooming Needs

Akitas have a thick, double-layered coat that requires regular grooming to keep it healthy and shiny.

Brushing your Akita’s coat at least once a week is recommended to remove any loose fur and prevent matting.

Additionally, regular bathing is necessary to keep your Akita clean and smelling fresh.

Be sure to trim your Akita’s nails regularly and clean its ears to prevent infections.

Training and Socialization

Akitas are known for their willful and stubborn nature, which can make training a challenge.

However, with patience and consistency, you can train your Akita to be well-behaved and obedient.

Positive reinforcement methods, such as treats and praise, are recommended for training your Akita.

Socialization is also crucial for Akitas to prevent aggression towards other dogs and people.

Introduce your Akita to different people, animals, and environments from a young age to promote socialization.

Akita’s Role

As a breed, Akitas have a long and storied history as working dogs in Japan.

They were originally bred for hunting large game, such as bears and elk, and were also used as protectors of their owners’ property.

Today, Akitas are still used as hunting companions, but they have also become popular as family dogs and guard dogs.

Hunting Companion

Akitas were originally bred for hunting, and they are still used for this purpose today.

They are known for their strength, agility, and keen sense of smell, which make them excellent hunting companions.

Akitas are particularly well-suited for hunting in snowy conditions, thanks to their thick, double coats, which keep them warm and dry in even the harshest weather.

Family Dog

Despite their history as working dogs, Akitas are also well-suited to life as family pets.

They are known for their loyalty and affection toward their owners, and they are excellent with children.

Akitas are also very protective of their families, and they will not hesitate to defend them if they feel they are in danger.

Guard Dog

In addition to their role as family pets, Akitas are also popular as guard dogs.

They are large, powerful dogs that are naturally territorial, which makes them excellent protectors of their owners’ property.

Akitas are also known for their fearlessness, which makes them a formidable opponent for any would-be intruders.

Akita’s Recognition

The Akita breed is recognized by various organizations around the world.

Let’s look at the recognition of the Akita breed by the American Kennel Club and its significance as a symbol in Japan.

American Kennel Club Recognition

The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the Akita breed in 1972.

Since then, the Akita has been classified as a member of the Working Group. The AKC has also set a breed standard for the Akita, which includes specifications for the breed’s appearance, temperament, and other characteristics.

According to the AKC breed standard, the Akita is a large, powerful dog with a broad, bear-like head and a thick, double coat.

They are known for their loyalty and courage and are often used as guard dogs.

Akitas are also highly intelligent and trainable, making them excellent working dogs.

Symbol in Japan

In Japan, the Akita is a revered symbol of good health, happiness, and long life.

A statue of an Akita is often given as a gift to families with newborn children, symbolizing the hope for the child’s health and prosperity.

The Akita is also considered a national treasure in Japan and has been designated as a Natural Monument by the Japanese government.

The breed has a long history in Japan, where it was originally bred for hunting and fighting.

Overall, the Akita breed’s recognition by the AKC and its status as a symbol in Japan are testaments to the breed’s unique qualities and importance in both the working and cultural spheres.

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National Canine Research Association of America