The Akita-Inu: The Most Popular Breed of Dog in Japan

An Introduction to the Akita

Among native Japanese dogs, the Akita is the largest and most popular of the
breeds.

The canine is a spitz-type dog which exhibits a square body, wedge-shaped head
and small ears that stand upright.

The dog's tail curls up over its back and the coat is typically thick yet short.

The Origination for the Name Akita-Inu

Characteristically composed and dignified, the Akita-Inu, also referred to as a Japanese deerhound, is named for the area from which it originates, or the Akita prefecture on the island of Honshu. (Inu means dog in Japanese). However, the term, Akita-Inu was not used until after the Akita was declared a national treasure in 1937. Before it was given the distinction, the Akita was referred to as an Odate dog - Odate referencing Honshu's main city at the time.

Some Details about the Dog

Bigger than its Japanese counterpart, the American Akita typically stands about two feet tall and weighs in at around 80 to 115 pounds. As it gets older, the dog has a tendency toward hip dysplasia and problems with the knees. Skin problems can be an issue for some of the dogs too. Maximum life expectancy for the Akita is twelve years of age.

Akitas are Divided into Two Breeds: The Japanese Akita and the American Akita

Akitas are only accepted by the Japanese in the colors of brindle, red, or white. Features, such as a black mask or extra flesh are unacceptable and considered a sign of crossbreeding. However, in the United States, differences in features are accepted and no distinction is made.

Akita History

The Akita, which was AKC-recognized in 1973, was originally bred for fighting. No one knows how the Akita came to be domesticated. Depictions of the dog can be found on scrolls dating from 898 to 1332 A.D. The dogs were also the noted companions of Shoguns in Medieval Japan. During the Second World War, the Japanese Akita almost became extinct as the dog was killed for its warm pelt and as a source of food.

Akitas are Used in Search-and-Rescue Work

Akitas are often used as service dogs, assisting in search-and-rescue missions and in police investigations. The dogs are also trained to help people who have impaired hearing and as therapy dogs.

Akitas Should be Obedience Trained

The Akita is not for everybody as it requires a good deal bit of attention and exercise. The dog should also be obedience trained as it tends to be rather obstinate at times. However, if you are patient in your training and show consistency in disciplining the dog, you'll find that the Akita will be a welcome addition to your family and household.

Akitas are Easy to House Train

One positive trait about the Akita, especially for anyone who lives in an apartment, is the fact that it does not bark a lot. In addition, the dog is easy to housetrain and can be compared to a cat in the way it cleans itself as it regularly cleans its face after eating. A proven hunting dog, the Akita also stalks its prey like a feline, staying low to the ground before moving in for the attack.

If You already own a Cat though, the Akita may not be the Right Pet to Choose

In Japan, Akitas have been used for hunting deer, wild boars or bears. However, even though the Akita's behavior can resemble a cat, you may not want to adopt this dog if you own a feline as the dog also likes to hunt small animals too, including the cat.