History & Overview
Originally working dogs, Akitas were used singly or in pairs to hunt large game. In the Akita region, Japan, Akita Matagis (medium-sized bear-hunting dogs) were used as fighting dogs. From 1868 Akita Matagis were crossed with Tosas and Mastiffs. Consequently, the size of this breed increased, but characteristics associated with Spitz type were lost.
In 1908 dog fighting was prohibited, but this breed was nevertheless preserved and improved as a large Japanese breed. During World War II (1939-1945), it was common to use dogs as a source of fur for military garments. The police ordered the capture and confiscation of all dogs other than German Shepherds used for military purposes. Some fanciers tried to circumvent the order by crossbreeding their dogs with German Shepherd Dogs.
Akitas are incredibly territorial and possessive and have traditionally been prized not only as hunters but also as guard dogs. They have played an essential role in protecting family and property and in providing an early warning about the approach of strangers. Akitas look like warm, cuddly dogs but they are aloof with strangers. Obedience training is a must.
The Akita breed standard requires the outer coat to be harsh and straight, while the undercoat, soft and dense; the withers and the rump should be covered with slightly longer hair; the hair on tail longer than on the rest of the body. Colors are red fawn, sesame (red fawn hairs with black tips), brindle and white. All the above-mentioned colors except white must have “urajiro”. (Urajiro = whitish coat on the sides of the muzzle, on the cheeks, on the underside of jaw, neck, chest, body and tail and on the inside of the legs).
Akitas & Children
Akitas are large, naturally aggressive dogs; therefore, no matter how extraordinary your Akita is around children, you should never leave the dog alone with small kids. No matter how well you socialize your dog, he may not be so tolerant of strange children, especially if they become unruly and seem to threaten his children.
How can your dog be expected to understand that cousin Johnny isn’t really hurting six-year-old Susie when Johnny is chasing her with his toy gun, and she squeals for help? Your protective Akita may try to do just that! Instinct will take over, and he will try to stop the perceived attack by disciplining the unruly “puppy.”
On the other hand, some children may not have been taught respect for animals, and they may not understand that animals suffer pain. They may have only a stuffed toy, thus their experience is limited to the fantasy of television. Akitas, when properly socialized, will allow toddlers to climb and ride on them, but supervision is essential in every case. Akitas will eventually tire of rough play and seek relief or escape.
Be sure that other animals, such as small pets and cats are protected from Akita at all times.
At A Glance
Country of Origin:
FCI: Group 5: Spitz and primitive type
AKC: Working Group
Colors vary slightly in breed standards.
According to AKC standard, the acceptable colors are: “any color including white; brindle; or pinto. Colors are brilliant and clear and markings are well balanced, with or without mask or blaze. White Akitas have no mask. Pinto has a white background with large, evenly placed patches covering head and more than one-third of body. Undercoat may be a different color from outer coat.
FCI Standard colors: The FCI standard is based on the standard of the member club of the country of origin or patronage – Japan. The FCI standard’s colors include red fawn, sesame (red fawn hairs with black tips), brindle and white. All the above mentioned colors except white must have “urajiro”. (Urajiro = whitish coat on the sides of the muzzle, on the cheeks, on the underside of jaw, neck, chest, body and tail and on the inside of the legs).
10 – 12 years
Akita’s unusually thick coat has two layers and should be brushed weekly.
Heavy all year round
The temperament is composed, faithful, docile and receptive.
Akitas do not get along very well with other animals and can be very assertive and dominant. They were bred as hunting dogs and have a strong instinct to chase anything that moves. Without early socialization, they can be a severe risk to other animals.
Suitability for Children:
When raised indoors with children, Akitas are excellent companions. Problems can arise when the dog is older and protective of “his children” when their playmates are unsupervised. Roughhousing can be interpreted by Akita as a threat to her child and provoke aggression.
Medium to High. Akitas are strong and powerful dogs and need daily exercise for at least 90 minutes.
The Akita is very clean and adapts well to house break-in. He will try and dominate its owner, so you should be prepared to introduce strict discipline at an early age and maintain this throughout the dog’s adult life.