Breed Group: Working Group
Shoulder Height: 24-27 in.
Weight: 70.5-130 lb.
Life Span: 10 years
Colors: Black, brown, brindle, fawn, red, silver, white
- The Akita was originally used for guarding royalty and nobility in feudal Japan
- There are two strains of Akita: the original Japanese version and the American version, the latter of which possesses a more distinctive tail and a thicker undercoat
- The American Akita is generally recognized as its own breed. However, the American and Canadian Kennel Clubs have yet to separate the two strains
The Akita is a sturdy dog that hails from the mountains of Honshu in the Akita prefecture. A descendent of the Matagi dog, which hunted wild boar and Asian black bear primarily, the breed has had a rocky history. From being crossbred with many other breeds from Asia and Europe, such as the German Shepherd and the English Mastiff, to being driven nearly extinct by the second World War, it has endured as a loveable and distinct breed.
The loyalty of the breed is what has made it so legendary, but the breed also suffers from a number of faults with its personality. It is a dominant and independent dog. Akitas rarely get along with other breeds, especially if they share a gender, and they are built powerfully. Several nations have even put restrictions on them because of their reputation as a potentially dangerous dog. Despite this reputation, however, they do typically get along with children, though this is dependent on the dog.
Like any large dog, exercise is necessary to keep the well-tempered Akita happy. However, because of their independent streak and dominant role around other dogs, it is not recommended you walk them off the leash. Their grooming needs vary depending on if you have a long-coated or short-coated dog, but a thick undercoat does mean that they shed regularly, especially during the change of seasons.
Akitas are generally very healthy and robust dogs. However, they are also prone to a number of autoimmune diseases that require a lot of treatment over a long period of time.
- Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada syndrome affects the skin and eyes.
- Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia affects the blood and, just like humans, makes the breed particularly sensitive to cuts and cold.
- Lupus, the oftentimes fatal autoimmune disease that can pop up anywhere in the body, is another common disease with Akitas.
- Other disorders and ailments that are fairly common are hip and elbow dysplasia, Von Willebrand disease, glaucoma, and gastric torsion.
- Hachiko is an Akita who was so loyal to his owner, Professor Hidesaburō Ueno, that he waited at the train station every day for nine years… after Ueno died from a brain hemorrhage while he was teaching at the University of Tokyo.
- Helen Keller fell in love with the breed when she visited Japan in 1937 and was presented with the first two Akitas to enter the United States.
- The Akita is the National Dog of Japan and was pronounced as a national monument by Emperor Hirohito in 1931.
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