- The Akita is the largest of seven native Japanese dog breeds. The modern akita is actually a recreation of that breed, restored using a combination of many breeds.
- The original akitas were used for big game hunting and for guarding. They were also used for dog fighting beginning in the 1600s, with crosses made to improve that ability. At that time they were called odate inu, or odate dog.
- In the late 1800s they began to be interbred with some foreign dogs that were brought into Japan. This influx of other genes threatened the breed's identity, as it lost many of its spitz characteristics.
- In the early 1900s a zoologist realized that the breed was in danger of being lost, and he worked to preserve it as a natural monument.
- In 1932, Hachiko gained fame for the breed as the faithful dog that waited for his master at the train station every day for the rest of his life, unaware that the man had died at work.
- In 1937, Helen Keller brought further fame to the breed when she selected one as her companion and brought it to America. It was the first akita in America.
- During World War II, most akitas were killed for fur or because of lack of food, or they were interbred with German shepherds, which were the only dogs allowed. After the war, only about 20 akitas were left in Japan. Most others were part German shepherd.
- The breed grew slowly, with fanciers making great strides to restore it to its earlier nature.
- The AKC recognized the akita in 1972.
Akita Behavior Concerns
- Makes a loyal and protective companion.
- Playful with children, but may mistake the play of visiting children as threats to family children. As with any large breed, dogs and children should be supervised.
- True to its spitz heritage, it is independent, bold and adventurous.
- A one family dog, tending to be aloof toward strangers. Early socialization so that it willingly accepts new people is important.
- Often aggressive toward other dogs and pets.
- Obedience training is a requirement for this breed.
- Learns quickly, but can be stubborn.
- Does best with reward-based training involving food or games, and an owner who can be a strong leader. Does best with reward-based training involving food or games, and an owner who can be a strong leader.
Akita Suggested Exercises
- Makes a trustworthy and alert housedog as long as its exercise needs are met.
- Requires a long walk or jog every day.
- Most akitas do not do well in dog parks.
- Games and tricks provide needed mental exercise.
- Its thick coat provides good protection against cold weather but may make it prone to overheating.
- Coat is made up of a soft thick undercoat covered by a straight, harsh outer coat that stands off from the body.
- The coat needs weekly brushing weekly-more when shedding heavily.
- Shedding is above average.
Suggested Akita Nutritional Needs
- Akitas tend to stay in good weight. The thick coat can obscure weight problems, so be sure to use your hands to feel.
- Adult dogs should be fed a balanced diet, with restricted calories if the dog starts to gain too much weight.
- Puppies should be fed a large-breed growth food, which slows their growing rate but not final size. This may decrease the incidence or severity of hip dysplasia in adults.