Famous for its loving appearance, for being a large breed, and for being a great and loyal companion, the Akita is a dog of outstanding qualities, with a history of belonging to royalty, of being recognized as a national monument and for being a symbol of protection in its native country. The Akita puppy is very loved and requested by many, but they have a very peculiar personality so not everyone can assume the responsibility of having one. If you want to have a new member of your family, I invite you to keep reading to learn more about this wonderful dog and can help you decide if the Akita is your best choice.
Known as the Akita dog or Akita Inu, the word inu means dog in Japanese, as its name says, this breed has its origin in Japan, especially in Akita Prefecture in the north of the country. It’s believed that this type of dog has ancient presence than is usually believed because genetic studies have shown that is very close to the wolves along with other breeds such as Shiba Inu, chow chow and shar pei, so they are classified as one of the oldest breeds in the world. In the 17th century, they wanted to create a great dog that had qualities for hunting, herding, and to be a guard dog, so they made the cross between chow-chow dogs and Japanese Kari and tosa dogs, to achieve the desired breed. Centuries ago only the leaders of the royalty were the only ones who could have Akita dogs, for being fast and powerful, stand out exceptionally for activities such as hunting and his great body had large prey such as deer, elk, and even bears. They are so loyal that they were also used as guard dogs and nowadays in Japan they are used as police dogs.
Due to the strength this dog had, they were used unfortunately in dog fights throughout history, so they gradually crossed with other dogs losing the purebred and the breed in general until in 1908 the fights were prohibited and the first Japanese National breed club was founded in 1927 called Akita-Inu Hozonkai (AKIHO), to ensure the recovery of the breed and were achieved gradually.
The Akitas are recognized as a symbol of protection, they were transformed into the culture when Japanese parents had a child, they were given a statue of an Akita, as well they are known to represent the symbols of health, happiness, and longevity. The Japanese government in 1931 declared the breed as a national monument and one of Japan’s treasures.
One of the most well-known dog stories worldwide is the very famous story of Hachiko. In 1923, an Akita dog was taken in by an agriculture professor at the University of Tokyo and from that day on he accompanied him every day to the Shibuya train station and stayed there until he returned from his workday. Unfortunately, in 1925, the professor never returned because he had a heart attack and passed away. Hachiko waited for him for nine more years at the train station and was cared for and fed by the citizens who lived in the area. In 1934, a statue of Hachiko was dedicated to him, which is located at the west exit of the station, because of the symbol of perseverance, love, and loyalty he had for his owner, and a year later, Hachiko passed away.
In 1937 the Akita puppy was introduced in the United States, it was taken by Helen Keller, who after visiting the Akita prefecture, was delighted with this dog breed and expressed her desire to have one and a member of the police found out about her admiration for the Akita and decided to give her a puppy as a present. Once she returned to the United States, the dog became sick that same year and died. Helen was still in love with the breed, so they sent her another puppy from Japan in 1939 and he lived with her until her death a few years later.
At the end of the Second World War, after the surrender of Japan, the country was extremely destroyed and in a bad situation, as well as it affected a lot to the humans, unfortunately, the animals were great victims, the Akita was on the verge of its extinction again, many people used the skins of dogs and cats to survive the hard climates of cold, and also it was given priority to the humans regarding the feeding. The only types of dogs that barely survived were those that were dedicated to herding and among them were a few Akitas. Years after the war there was an exhibition through the AKIHO where 60 dogs of the Akito breed were presented, many of them were survivors of the war. In the next two years they began to increase the number of dogs of this breed due to their great popularity, and thanks to the efforts of the lovers of this breed they were able to recover the true lineage of the Akitas, determining the type, morphology, and color of the breed to be consistent. Due to their great effort, they were able to ensure the future of the Akita and keep them present today.
Due to the U.S. occupation in Japan, the military caught the attention of this dog breed, so it was the beginning of the export of Akitas to the United States. In the first years in the new country, the interest in this dog was slow, so it was a long way to get to be officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). Most of the first Akitas owners were people who were first-timers with dogs, didn’t have the experience to breed them and there wasn’t much interest in forming breeding clubs for this particular breed so the clubs didn’t last long. It was in 1952 when the Akita Dog Association of America was finally founded by Kelly Spellmeyer. And later the Akita Kennel Club was founded and three years later in 1959, the name was changed to The Akita Club of America, where the registration could be formalized under the regulations required by the American Kennel Club. Despite all this, there were many conflicts in the recognitions of the registers and the genealogical tree of the Akita in the country, until in 1972 The AKC, officially recognized the Akita Club Of America as the father club of this breed in the United States.
The Akita breed is a large dog, its body is a little longer than tall, robust and strong, its size and weight vary according to sex, the male Akita can reach 27 inches in height and weigh between 85 and 130 lb while the female can measure about 25 inches in height and weigh between 65 and 110 lb. They have a life expectancy of about 10 to 12 years. It has a wide head and neck to give it good support, its eyes are small brown and its muzzle is short, it has standing and straight ears in a triangular shape with slightly rounded tips. Its body is muscular with heavy bones and its legs are straight and palmiped, which allows it to swim without difficulty. Its tail is long and likes to be curved towards the body and covered with a thick coat.
Its coat is made up of two layers, the undercoat which is soft and dense, which helps it protect itself in cold climates, and its coat usually diminishes in hot climates. The outer layer is more short, thick, and rough to the touch, which also repels water and moisture. Its coat is usually of medium size but some Akitas have long hair and are very abundant. Their colors can be varied: Red-leaved, sesame (red-leaved hair with black tips), brindle, and white. Thanks to its striking appearance, it has contributed to the increase in Akita’s popularity.
The American Akita is part of the Japanese Akita that was exported after the Second World War and although they share many similar characteristics they are considered these two independent breeds. The Americans did not like certain features that the specimens have, so they crossed with other races to obtain the desired features. The American Akita differs mainly from the Japanese by the color of its coat, it is also a little bigger and more robust, more muscular, and with a deep chest. One of the best ways to differentiate them is that the American has a black mask around its muzzle and eyes.
The Akita dog is known to have a special temperament, to be loyal to its owners, calm and quiet. It is a very balanced dog, which keeps calm, knows how to make decisions, and acts firmly in any situation, has a dominant and territorial instinct, but they are also sociable. They have a strong instinct of protection towards their family, they get along well with children and create strong bonds of love and protection towards them, they are capable of protecting them in any situation, of course, you should never leave children alone with a big dog, you must take into account that education and socialization are fundamental from puppies, that they get used to living with other animals and people to avoid bad behavior and uncomfortable situations. Even so, they are dogs that are known to be friendly, they are not to bark unless it is necessary, this you must take into account because if you see that your Akita spends it barking is because there is a reason to do so. They are very intelligent and have a character that you have to know how to handle, that’s why from puppies you must teach them who is the leader and who is in charge because if you don’t show him the authority he can start disobeying your orders and he will do what he wants. You must always mark his limits, control his instinct of dominance, and adequately educate him, for this it is recommended that the owner has experience with this style of dogs and that he is capable of controlling it, and in this way, they will be able to develop a unique bond and have the best relationship and he will show it to you with his loyalty.
CARE AND HEALTH
The care of the Akita is very simple, as its coat is recommended to make a daily brushing due to its abundant hair and remove its old coat. It can be bathed every couple of months, but if it gets very dirty you can bathe it when you consider it, the less it is the better, this way you naturally preserve its protective layer. It’s also important to maintain his best condition you should give him the best possible education and socialization. They adapt to any type of home, but if you live in an apartment, make sure you give him adequate space and that he gets daily exercise, either through games or walking him for about 20 or 30 minutes a day. They are dogs with large bodies and have a lot of energy, so they must spend it somehow, although the best housing option is a house with access to a free garden. They are dogs known for not getting stressed and keeping a calm attitude at home, but it doesn’t mean that you don’t give them the attention they deserve, remember that they are very intelligent and devoting their time is very important, they cannot be left alone for a long time and even less let them get bored, as they can develop behavioral problems such as barking, biting, digging and being more aggressive, it’s always good to establish a routine for the Akita pup that includes family activities to prevent it from being alone.
The Japanese Akita Inu is known to have good health, but like all dogs can be prone to develop diseases, one of the most common is hip dysplasia is a hereditary disease that makes the hip bone doesn’t fit with the femur, causing wear and joint pain, so if you see your dog limping you should go to the vet as soon as you can as with any other changes on his behavior, and later the adult dog could develop arthritis, if your dog has this disease don’t breed it, a responsible breeder would tell you honestly if the parents didn’t have this disease. Another condition that is very similar to this condition is elbow dysplasia but limping by the front legs, that with early diagnosis it can be treatable and even prevented.
Also, they tend to develop hypothyroidism, which appears when there is a problem with thyroid hormone, you can notice the symptoms when it begins to present obesity, is tired for no reason, lose a lot of hair, and may present lethargy, hyperpigmentation, pyoderma, and other skin conditions. It is treated with medication and diet.
One of the most serious diseases that dogs like the Akitas have because of their long and deep chest is called Gastric dilatation-volvulus or usually called Bloat, this happens because your pet eats fast and in large quantities, drinks too much water and then exercises, As a consequence it causes the stomach to fill with air or gas causing it to squirm, the dog is unable to burp or vomit to release those pressures in the stomach, therefore, preventing the normal backflow of blood to the heart, so the blood pressure drops and ends up going into shock. If you find your dog is salivating excessively, trying to vomit but unable to, and you see his abdomen distended, you should take him to a vet immediately, otherwise, he could die.
Akitas also suffer from progressive retinal atrophy, an eye disease, and one of the main symptoms that can develop is night blindness, and over the years your dog will become visually handicapped, so be sure to have your pet checked by your vet every few times between the early years to ensure this inherited disease is ruled out, and to make sure your Akita puppies don’t inherit it. Another genetic disease that Akitas can suffer from is Sebaceous adenitis (SA), it’s very difficult to detect this diagnosis as it is often confused with hypothyroidism, allergies, or other conditions. If your Akita has SA it begins to present in such a way that the sebaceous glands in the skin become inflamed (for unknown reasons) and are eventually destroyed. If it gets worse, your dog’s skin will become thicker and begin to smell bad, along with secondary skin infections. Although this is a cosmetic problem it can be very uncomfortable for your dog, your vet will do tests to determine if he has this condition and discusses a variety of treatment options that are best for your pet.
Make sure to visit the veterinarian approximately every 6 months and have them do all their check-ups to rule out any diseases. Have him take all his vaccinations from puppy to adult dog and keep the order of all the ones he needs from time to time. Perform deworming every few months as prescribed by the vet.
If you decided to have an Akita puppy as a new member of your family, I recommend you opt to have it through an Akita breeder that is subscribed to the clubs of this breed and follows all the rules established to be an official breeder. Once you have contacted a reputable breeder, you have to make sure that he gives you all the necessary information about your puppy, how he was raised, his genetic history to confirm if his parents suffered from any disease and make sure that he is a purebred, that he has all his vaccines and that it’s dewormed, what kind of food was used in the puppy, see how the parents and the puppies react to the breeder to identify if they are in a healthy environment and are not being exploited just to have benefits, an honest breeder makes sure that all parents were cared for and treated correctly by their owner and vet, also respecting the time frame to have pups and that he is dedicated to this breed.
You can also choose to adopt and give a second chance to live in a family to an Akita that is in a shelter or with protectionists, many Akitas were abandoned by their previous owners because they did not know how to assume the responsibility that it takes to have this dog breed.
Feeding, as with any pet, is extremely important; it will determine the health of your dog, prevent illness, and help him to be in better physical condition. Dogs are like people, you can’t feed them all the same, in the case of your Akita you must take into account their age, their weight, how active they are. Make sure you give him a high-quality dog food that has all the necessary nutrients it needs to have a good life.
Depending on the age of this dog breed you have to focus on what nutritional aspects are right for their development and these are divided into 3 stages:
- Puppies: you can choose a high-quality puppy food and make sure it contains vitamins, iron, calcium, and protein, as this will allow your puppy to grow in good health and without any bone or muscle problems. Pups improve with a routine, so establish and set guidelines for a moderate schedule for eating, and so it keeps a routine till grows.
- Adult: since they are large dogs they also need large doses of food. We recommend that you ask your vet what is the best amount you can give them, as it can vary according to their weight. Also, don’t overdo it with too much food as it can become overweight. Also take into account the lifestyle of your Akita, if it exercises a lot it will seek to recharge its energy through food.
- Senior: after the age of 7 you should start focusing on what type of nutrition is most suitable for your dog. Unlike other ages, the amount of protein can be reduced in case they are in delicate health, your vet will recommend which diet is most beneficial for them.
You must always keep it within reach with fresh and clean water, keeping it well hydrated is very important, and more if it is very active, will help prevent disease.
I hope that all this information has helped you to learn about this beautiful breed and to know if you can be responsible of having this breed, the Akita is a loving and intelligent dog that would be happy to be part of your family, they like to be in a familiar environment and to create unique bonds with each one of them, their loyalty is going to be something untouchable and be sure that it will not disappoint you. If you have any questions or if you think I’ve missed anything please let me know on the comment section down below.