This article also relates to: Japanese Shiba Inu
Hailing from the Japanese island of Honshu, the Akita was declared a national monument in 1931. The breed, primarily developed to hunt big game animals including bear, elk and boar, has enjoyed great popularity throughout its existence, both as a guard dog and versatile hunter. Taking its name from the Akita Prefecture mountain region from where it derives, the Akita Inu is still widely seen as a police and service dog in its native country, being highly prized for its willingness, trainability and loyalty. Sadly, during WWII many Akitas were slaughtered for food and their fur, diminishing numbers significantly. Fortunately, enough survived, with many being taken back to America alongside servicemen returning from a tour of duty in Japan. Officially recognised by the AKC in 1973.
Boasting the typical characteristics of the Spitz, the Japanese Akita Inu is a robust-looking breed with heavy bones, a large head, high-set, triangular ears and a tail held high over the back. The profuse double coat serves to protect the dog from extreme temperatures and sheds seasonally. Possessing a strong prey drive, the Akita is prone to chasing smaller animals, so consistent training and early socialisation is important. Inherently loyal and devoted to its master, the Akita has been highly revered ever since the story of Hachiko, an Akita that kept vigil for nine years at the railway station for its master to return, became widespread news. To honour Hachiko, every year a ceremony of remembrance is held at the Shibuya railroad station in Tokyo.
Unlike most Spitz breeds, the Akita is not a typical barker, remaining quiet unless provoked. Territorial and protective, the Akita is devoted to children and will act fearlessly to safeguard them if potential danger is perceived. Otherwise, the Akita will remain calm, gentle and affectionate, displaying a relaxed and mannered temperament that many owners find pleasing. Due to its inherent intelligence, the Akita benefits from both physical and mental enrichment, serving to keep it engaged and contented in everyday life. On average, a healthy Japanese Akita Inu will weigh 35-55 kg depending on its gender, with a life expectancy of 10-12 years. It is not uncommon for the breed to outlive this expectancy.
Generally healthy and resilient, documented cases of health affliction include optical disorders, skin complaints and von Willebrand's Disease, a rare bleeding disorder. Besides this, immune deficiency and hair loss are particularly common in the breed.