Akita or Akita Ken is a breed of large dog originating
in Japan, named for Akita Prefecture, where it is thought
to have originated. "Inu" means "dog"
in Japanese, although in practice this animal is nearly
always referred as "Akita-ken," based on the
Sino-Japanese reading of the same kanji (And also a
pun, as the word "prefecture" is pronounced
"ken" in Japanese).
The breed stands 24 to 28 inches at the withers (60
to 71 cm). Females weigh anywhere from 70-100 pounds.
Males are 85-120 pounds. In Japan, Akitas come in only
four colours: Red Fawn, Sesame (red fawn hairs with
black tips), Brindle, and White. All except white must
have whitish hair on the sides of the muzzle, on the
cheeks, the neck, chest, body and tail. The Pinto color
is not accepted as a Japanese Akita color, but only
as an American Akita color. In the U.S., however, some
breeders still interbeed the original Japanese type
with the heavier American type, which is larger, shorter
in fur, and allows more colors. It is felt by many that
combining the two types leads to improved appearance
and genetic health by increasing genetic diversity.
In the United States, there is only a single Akita breed.
Akitas from Japan and Akitas from the U.S. and other
countries are all registered with the American Kennel
Club as "Akitas." In many other countries
the breed has been separated into two breeds: the Akita
and the American Akita.
The Airedale's tail is usually docked (surgically
shortened) within five days of birth, but this is not
a requirement of breed standard authorities. However,
to show an Airedale in the United States, the tail is
expected to be docked. In the UK it is illegal to dock
dogs tails unless it's for the dogs benefit ie. the
tail is broken.
Although the American
Kennel Club has put the Akita in the Working
Group, several different breeds contributed
to the modern Akita, some hunting dogs and some dogs
used as competitive fighting dogs. The Akita is very
laid back, and has an easy-going temperament. Akitas
may be dominant over other dogs.
Akitas are a large breed, not a giant
breed. They are excellent house dogs. They require only
a moderate amount of exercise. Akitas are known to be
very quiet dogs, only barking "when there is something
to bark about".
The two most outstanding characteristics
of the Akita as a house pet are that they are very clean
and that they are very easy to house break. Akitas have
been described as almost "cat-like," as they
are clean and odorless. This may also be one of the
reasons why they housebreak so easily. Most Akitas respond
so well to housebreaking that they are trained in a
matter of weeks, although it may take longer if other
"slower learning" dogs are present.
As far as the family children are concerned,
there are few worries. Akitas are devoted, patient friends
and protectors of children. Akitas are typically very
gentle with children, and it is said that Japanese mothers
often left their children with only the Akitas to watch
over and protect them. Remember, however, that young
children should never be left unattended with a pet.
When raised indoors with children, they can be excellent
Left unattended in the backyard or in
a kennel, they tend to develop "personality"
problems and become very destructive to the yard, which
is due to boredom. They are highly pack oriented, thus,
isolating them from the pack (i.e., the owner) causes
them great stress.
Akitas tend to be stubborn and require
a firm but loving education where "no" always
means "no" and never "whatever".
The Akita is a dominant dog who may
expect other dogs to be submissive. If they fail to
live up to the Akita's expectations, incidents can happen.
Akitas have a high and well-developed
prey drive, particularly to small animals, including
cats. An Akita is not likely to shower affection on
someone that is not a member of his family or a close
friend that he sees frequently, and can be extremely
aloof. Akitas properly socialized and raised with other
animals usually accept them as members of the family.
The loyalty and devotion displayed by
an Akita is phenomenal. The typical pet Akita will follow
you from room to room, yet has the uncanny ability not
to be underfoot. Your Akita lives his life as if his
only purpose is to protect you and spend time with you.
This trait is evident in the tale of Hachiko.
Some of the health conditions known to affect
this breed include:
- Canine herpesvirus, a strain of the
Herpes virus that happens to affect canines
- Gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV), a condition associated
- Pemphigus, which causes the autoimmune system to attack
the dog's skin (leading to pustules)
- Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), an adult-onset
condition which gradual degeneration in the eye cells
(i.e. rods & cones)
- UveoDermatological Syndrome (UDS), known as Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada
(VKH) disease in humans
- Sebaceous adenitis, an autoimmune condition which
attacks and destroys the dog's sebaceous glands