Description: The Japanese Akita is a large, sturdy dog with characteristic alert ears and a fluffy tail curled over their back. They are more delicately boned than the American Akita, and, unlike the American Akita, are only allowed certain coat colors. While the American Akita can be pretty much any color combo, Japanese Akitas are limited to red fawn, sesame (red fawn with black tips), brindle, and white. All colors must have urajiro (whitish coat on sides of muzzle & cheeks, on underside of jaw, neck, chest, body, and tail, and on inside of legs). Pinto pattern and black masks are ground for disqualifying a Japanese Akita from shows. The Akita, whether Japanese or American, always has an alert, noble and dignified appearance.
Temperament: Japanese Akitas are like American Akitas in temperament. They are seen as aloof and weary of strangers, but extremely loyal and protective of their family. They can be head-strong and dog aggressive (especially same-sex). Like many spitz-type breeds, they exhibit a strong prey drive. Because of these characteristics, proper training and socialization is needed for a well-behaved Akita. Akitas need owners who are pack leaders. Without a firm hand, the Akita Inu has a tendency to take over and can become a danger. Despite this, the breed makes a wonderful family companion, and great watchdog.
Height & Weight: Males should be 25-27 inches and females 22-25 inches (at withers). Weight will range, depending on animal, but is generally between 75-110 lbs.
Living Conditions: Akitas tend to bond with their owners. They would rather be with their family, than left outside or in a kennel. Many Akitas adapt nicely to apartment living, but need long walks to keep them happy.
Exercise: The Akita Inu needs a moderate amount of regular exercise. While a secure yard is best for them to play in, exercise needs may be met by long walks. They are not an extremely active breed, but do need regular exercise or they may become destructive when left alone.
Life Expectancy: typically 10-12 years
Grooming: Japanese Akitas have a thick undercoat and require regular brushing to keep their coat healthy. Several times a year they will blow their coat; extra brushing will probably be required during this time.
History: Native Japanese dog breeds were small to medium in size, with none the size of the current Akita. In the 17th century, Akita Matagis were used as fighting dogs and began to increase in size (to give advantage in fighting ring). In the late 19thcentury, the native Akita was crossed with Tosas and Mastiffs, leading to a much larger, heavier boned fighting and hunting dog. The Akita was revered as a fighting dog, and in 1931, several Akitas were designated as National Monuments. Shortly after, in 1939, the Akita made its way to the US, where breeding practices eventually led to the separation of the American Akita from the Japanese Akita.During World War II, the police ordered that all dogs in Japan, except for military-use German Shepards, were to be confiscated. These dogs, especially the Akita, were used for meat & their fur lined the coats of military officers. In an attempt to preserve the breed, a few people crossed the Akita with German Shepards. By the end of WWII, the Akita breed was severely diminished, and had three distinct types- Matagi Akitas (the original hunting dog), fighting Akitas (Matagi Akita crossed with Mastiff), and Shepard Akitas (Matagi Akita crossed with Shepards). A dog that exhibited characteristics of all three types (Kongo-Go) became very popular, especially with British and US soldiers. The heavy-boned American Akita is a direct result of the popularity of Kongo-go. In Japan, however, many felt that this type of dog was not a proper representation of an Akita, and worked through selective breeding to purify the strain of any foreign breed influence. The result is the current Japanese Akita that we see today.
Group & Recognition:
AKC – Working Group
F.C.I. – Group 5 (Spitz & primitive types); Section 5 (Asian Spitz & related breeds)