The Akita is a large breed of dog originating from the mountainous regions of northern Japan.
There are two separate varieties of Akita: a Japanese strain, commonly called Akita Inu (inu means dog in Japanese) or Japanese Akita, and an American strain, known as the Akita or American Akita.
In 1931 the Japanese government designated the breed as a “natural monument.”
It was employed as a hunting and fighting dog and is now trained for police and guard work.
The Akita is a powerful, muscular dog with a broad head, erect, pointed ears (small in relation to head size), and a large curved tail carried over the back or curled against the flank.
Males stand 66 to 71 cm (26 to 28 inches) and weigh 38.5 to 59 kg (85 to 130 pounds). Females stand 61 to 66 (24 to 26 inches) and weigh 31.5 to 50 kg (70 to 110 pounds).
Akitas are bred in a variety of colors and markings, including all-white, brindle, and pinto.
There are two coat types in the Akita, the standard coat length and the long coat.
This breed in the 1600s was involved in dog fighting, which at the time was popular in Japan. From the 1500s into the 1800s, the Akita served as companions for samurai.
During the early 20th century the Akita was in decline, as a result of being cross bred with the German Shepherd Dog, St. Bernard, Mastiff. As a result, a lot of specimens started to lose their spitz characteristics and instead took on drop ears, straight tails, non-Japanese color (black masks, and any color other than red, white or brindle), and loose skin.
A native Japanese breed known as Matagi (hunting dog) was used along with the Hokkaido Inu breed to mix back into the remaining Akita Inu to bring back the spitz phenotype and restore the Akita breed.
The modern day Japanese Akita have relatively few genes from western dogs and are spitz in phenotype after the reconstruction of the breed took place, however the larger American breed of Akita largely descends from the mixed Akita before the restoration of the breed, and thus American Akita are typically mixed and not considered true Akita by the Japanese standard.
The Akita were used during the Russo-Japanese War to track prisoners of war and lost sailors.
During World War II the Akita was also crossed with German Shepherds in an attempt to save them from the wartime government order for all non-military dogs to be culled. Some were used as scouts and guards during the war. The ancestors of the American Akita were originally a variety of the Japanese Akita, a form that was not desired in Japan due to the markings, and which is not eligible for show competition.
The Japanese Akita and American Akita began to diverge in type during the Post World War II era. Helen Keller is credited with bringing the Akita to America after being gifted two Akitas by the Japanese government in 1938. A breed standard by 1939 and dog shows began to be held but then World War II began. It was during this time, that US servicemen serving as part of the occupation force in Japan first came into contact with the Akita, the breed so impressed them that many service members chose to bring an Akita back home with them upon completion of their tour.
The story of Hachikō, the most revered Akita of all time, helped push the Akita into the international dog world. Hachikō was a Japanese Akita dog remembered for his remarkable loyalty to his owner, Hidesaburō Ueno, for whom he continued to wait for over nine years following Ueno’s death. He was born on November 10, 1923, at a farm near the city of Ōdate, Akita Prefecture. In 1924, Hidesaburō Ueno, a professor at the Tokyo Imperial University, brought him to live in Shibuya, Tokyo, as his pet. Hachikō would meet Ueno at Shibuya Station every day after his commute home. This continued until May 21, 1925, when Ueno died of a cerebral hemorrhage while at work. From then until his death on March 8, 1935, Hachikō would return to ShibuyaStation every day to await Ueno’s return.
The Akita is a descendent of a Spitz breed.
DNA analysis shows Akitas are in the branch that includes the shar-pei, shiba inu, and Chow Chow and are distinct from the lineage of all other dogs.
Usually, the average cost of purchasing a pet quality puppy from a reputable breeder is about $1,000 to $2,500. However, for an Akita puppy with top breed lines and a superior pedigree, you may need to pay between $3,500 and $5,500.