Discussing dog breeds, dog-adoption, and the human-canine connection.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Akita: Ancient breed from Japan


Akita are a handsome, large breed dog, well suited to families that like an independent personality.

If however, you're primarily interested in a dog that follows orders without question, this will not be the breed for you.

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Akita begin life as adorable, chunky puppies who could potentially charm their way into anyone's home. They're fuzzy, sweet, and cuddly. They're smart. They house train fairly easily. Of course, these are all bonuses.

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They also come in a fairly large selection of colors including brindle, fawn, silver, red, and white, and various color overlays, i.e. brown with black overlay etc. (recognized colors vary depending on the country one is in.) 

They are a double coated breed which developed in mountainous regions in Japan, meaning this is a breed well suited to living in the north. They will 'blow' their coat about twice a year, otherwise their shedding isn't too bad.

Akita Inu

Akita Dog (American)

Akitas are typically a quiet dog; it's said if an Akita is barking, there's a reason for it. They are naturally protective of their family and naturally suspicious of people who are not part of their family. As a breed that was also developed with the capacity to hunt wild boars, they can be expected to have a high prey drive

As a breed they are also more prone to hyperthyroidism. And as a very deep chested breed they are  more prone to bloat.

At the same time, this typically healthy dog can live up to 13-14 years, which given their size, is longer than would be expected. 

Akita aficionados will be the first to state that this is not a breed for the first time dog owner. They are also not, due to size, generally suggested for families with very young children. Of course, some families with young children do have Akitas - it's a rule of thumb, not a law.

Pets 4Homes

One of the trademarks of this breed is their loyalty and it is an iconic story of Akita loyalty that got me thinking about the breed this week.

Hachikō - Wiki commons

Hachikō is the best known Akita, having spawned articles, books, and movies. Born in 1923 or 1924 in rural Japan, he ended up with Professor Hidesaburō Ueno of the agriculture department of the University of Tokyo. Every day Hachikō would wait at the train station for Professor Ueno to return from work and they would walk home together. After a year of this routine, the professor died of a brain hemorrhage while working. He never came home but Hachikō continued to  meet the train for over 9 years, until his own death. Eventually a statue was erected at the station to commemorate his loyalty.

He also inspired Helen Keller to import the first Akitas to America. Wanting a dog as loyal as Hachikō,she obtained her first puppy during a visit to Japan. Unfortunately, that pup developed distemper; the Japanese government ensured she was sent a second dog (actually a brother of her first dog.) 

AKC Akita History

It is said that seeing the big, strong dog in pictures with Helen Keller is what inspired others to begin importing Akitas to the United States.

Akita East U.S. rescue

As beautiful, smart, and loyal as this breed is, their independent nature and misgivings about strangers means they are decidedly not suited to everyone.

As a result, if one contacts a breed specialty rescue there is usually an Akita waiting to find a new home.

If you do want to adopt an adult Akita, please work with a rescue that understand not just dog  personalities, but also breed tendencies, and can ensure that the dog you are drawn to will be the right fit for your family.


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