- Group – Working
- Height – 24-28 inches at the shoulder
- Weight – 34-55 KG
- Life Span – 10-12 years
The Akita was developed to hunt bears in Japan and, as such, is a great guard dog. They’re strong and loyal, often employed by police for active duty.
The Akita originated in northern Japan many centuries ago, probably descending from northern spitz-type dogs. Akita is a rugged, mountainous area at the north end of the main island of Honshu. The Akita was known there as the matagi or the matagiinu, meaning the “esteemed hunter.” It was used to hunt deer, black bear and wild boar. According to an American Kennel Club publication: “The Akita’s hunting abilities include great strength, keen eye and nose, silence, and speed in a durable, sturdy body suitable for hunting in deep snows. His hard, intelligent, never-give-in attitude in the field was prized by his masters. His soft mouth enabled him to retrieve waterfowl after they had been brought down by the hunter’s arrow.”
In addition to its instinctive hunting skills, the Akita was bred specifically to be a pit-fighting dog, used to fight other dogs in specially staged competitions during the 17th, 18th and even 19th centuries. As dog-fighting became unpopular – and in places, unlawful – the Akita found a number of other ways to use its talents. The breed continues to be used to hunt wild boar, deer and other large game. It also is a trusted guard dog, police dog and competitive show dog. Finally, the Akita has become valued as a loyal companion. Through generations of selective breeding, today’s Akita has superior size and a fearless spirit. He can be somewhat obstinate and requires firm but kind leadership from his owner. The Akitainu Hozankai Society of Japan was founded in 1927 to preserve the purity of the Akita breed. In July of 1931, the Japanese government designated the Akita as one of its country’s national treasures. Akitas were instrumental in World War II, and the breed rose markedly in popularity after the war, when returning American servicemen brought Akitas home to their families.
Akitas were first introduced in England in 1937. That same year, Hellen Keller visited the Akita prefecture and was given a two-month puppy by the Ministry of Education, which she brought back to America. The Akita Club of America was founded in 1956, and the breed was admitted to registration in the American Kennel Club Stud Book in 1972. The Akita was fully accepted into the Working Group in 1973. In the United States, Canada and Australia, the American Akita and the Japanese Akita are considered to be the same breed. In all other countries, they are treated as separate breeds. Some American Akita fanciers are trying to split the breed in two. While the two “types” of Akitas share a common history, the American version is larger and comes in more colors.
Personality and Temperament
Akitas are intelligent and calm. Though great watch dogs, they bark infrequently.
This breed prefers not to have other dogs in the family. There may be problems if they do not become acquainted with cats and other household pets early in life. They get along with children that are respectful of their space.
Hair, Care and Grooming
The hair is straight and coarse, and the undercoat is soft and dense.
The Akita is a shedder. At least twice a year, groom it with a metal-toothed comb.
This breed is prone to hip dysplasia, thyroid problems, immune diseases, skin problems, eye, and knee problems.
Training and Activity
A good deal of patience and persistence is required when training this breed.
Akitas are able to adjust to your schedule. Daily walks are good, but they seem to handle foregoing a walk, if needed.
Akitas do well with fresh food, free of preservatives. A diet of cooked meat and fish, supplemented by fruit and quality supplements will keep your Akita is high spirits. Avoid the “all dog” foods, many of which are full of preservatives. If you are going to go with a store-bought food, make sure it’s a high-quality and check the ingredients to see what it is made of.