Akita
Adult Akita

Akita

Origin

The Akita is a breed native to the northern, mountainous regions of Japan. This dog’s ancestors were originally used by the Matagi, a group of Japanese hunters who would use the dogs on the hunt. This original use makes the Akita ancestors one of the oldest native Japanese dog breeds.

Akitas almost did not make it to current day, though. During World War 2, the military had issued an order for all non-military dogs to be euthanized. Luckily, though, people had begun to cross-breed the Akita with German Shepards, as well as a few other breeds, in order to save them from this movement.

Because the Akita did originate in Japan, it took quite some time for the breed to move over to the United States. However, it finally did in 1937 thanks to Helen Keller, the famous woman who was born both deaf and blind.

Description

The Akita is a Spitz breed, which means it is signified by long, thick fur that is often white, pointed ears and muzzles, and either a tail that curls over the back or droops down. This type of fur for the Akita, specifically, reflects the conditions which it originated in. The Matagi hunters mainly operated in the winter months, so a warm coat was extremely beneficial for the Akita.

The Akita’s body is generally stocky with heavy bones, although the Japanese is the more slender of the two (Japanese and American). Akita fur is extremely thick. In fact, they have a double-coat. Coat colors and patterns can vary. American standards allow for pinto, brindle, solid white, black mask, self-colored mask, and differing colors of undercoat (stomach and chest) and overlay (guard hairs). Japanese standards, on the other hand, are a bit more strict, allowing for red, fawn, sesame, brindle, and pure white. All of these, and some American styles, have “Urajiro” markings (white coat on muzzle sides, cheeks, jaw underside, neck, chest, body, tail, and inside of the legs). Furthermore, coats can be either long or short.

Its head is often described as “bear-like”. It is big in comparison to many other breeds, as well as stocky and muscular like the rest of the body. Following the typical Spitz breed description, the Akita also has triangular, pointy ears which sit at an ever so slight angle which follows the neck’s arch. The Akita’s eyes are generally small, dark and deeply set. They are also triangular in shape, like the ears, although not as severe.

Akita feet are well knuckled and often described as “cat-like”. This makes it far easier for the Akita to walk on the difficult terrain where it originally worked.

As for height and weight, adult American males typically range between 26-28 inches at the withers and weight about 100-130 pounds. Females measure roughly 24-26 inches and typically weigh between 70-100 pounds. Again, Japanese styles are more slender.

Akita litters can vary (anywhere from 3 to 12 puppies), although, on average, they consist of 7 or 8. Life span of the Akita is about 10 years.

Personality

The Akita is not a dog breed that is recommended for inexperienced pet owners. However, for those who are able to handle the Akita, it can make a great family pet.
To begin, reasons why it is not a good dog for inexperienced pet owners include its aggression and spontaneous qualities. As for aggression, it is good with families, but it can have an extremely dominant nature. Again, the Akita breed was originally intended for use in the hunt. The qualities that its past trainers developed in it have stuck. For example, it tends to be very aggressive towards other animals and dogs, especially those of the same gender. The Akita tends to be the “leader” in any type of dog pack or gathering. Lastly, it can be territorial.

Now, as far as spontaneity goes, this is not necessarily a bad quality. However, it can make walking the dog or controlling it at home quite difficult. The Akita will stick to a decision once it is made. Furthermore, its size will overpower inexperienced people that try to control or calm it.

However, despite these difficult qualities, the Akita can also make an excellent family pet. Again, the Akita is territorial and will be extremely protective of its owners. This is especially true in the case of children, as Akitas are known to have quite the affinity for them. They are known to be courageous and fearless, and will not hesitate to protect their family in a dangerous situation. They are also good at making decisions, no matter how spontaneous, so it is easy for these dogs to judge a harmful situation from a non-threatening one. Their intelligence also allows them to learn and adjust quickly.

Akitas have also been known to be “cat-like” when it comes to personal hygiene. They will routinely clean themselves, and keep their environment clean, making them great indoor dogs.

Again, Akitas are great with children. While they can be aggressive towards other dogs or in danger situations, they can also be quite docile. When not feeling threatened, they are very calm and loving. Not only this, but they are also very playful

Current Use

While some people may still choose to take their pet dogs on hunting trips with them, that is no longer the Akitas primary use. Nowadays, it is mainly designated as a companion animal. Many people choose Akitas as their family pets, again, for the qualities listed in the previous section.

One other common use of Akitas now is as a therapy dog. Again, they are protective, docile, playful, calm, loving, etc. All of these qualities make them perfect for use as a therapy dog. For those who do not know what this is, therapy dogs are specifically trained to visit and provide comfort and affection to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, hospices, disaster areas, and people with learning difficulties.

Lastly, because of their history and the fact that they are quick learners and easily trained, Akitas are often used in dog shows or competitions. Specific competitions in which they compete include conformation showings, obedience trials, canine good citizen programs, tracking trials, agility competitions, weight pulling, hunting, and “schutzhund” (meaning “personal protection”).

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