There are two popular types of Akita breeds today. One is the American Akita brought to the United States after WWII by GI’s who have grown to love them. They are bigger in size due to cross breeding and they have a variety of colors. The more traditional type is the Japanese Akita. Well preserved and maintained to show the characteristics of the original Akitas centuries ago.
The Japanese Akita came from the Matagi dog, one of the oldest of Japan’s native dogs. After centuries of selective breeding from the Matagi dogs in the upper regions of Honshu in Akita prefecture the Japanese Akita was born. They became the dog of choice for aristocracy and the highest commanding officers of Japan’s forces. No one but nobility and shoguns possessed this marvelous dog. They were extremely skilled hunters with their keen sense of sight, smell and hearing. They were unsurpassable. They tracked large preys like elk, antelopes, boars and even large Yezo bears and rallied them until hunters arrived. They were moved rapidly, alert and audacious in the face of large animals. This made them best companions for hunting.
Through the centuries, the Japanese Akita maintained the physical characteristics that they had. Their strict breeding and compliance to how the original Japanese Akita looked like allowed this breed to exhibit the same features as their ancestors.
- The breed stood proud at 60 – 70 cm
- The females weight ranges from 70 – 100 lbs
- Males would weigh in from 75 – 180 lbs
- They come in 5 colors: red, fawn, sesame, brindle and pure white
- They would have whitish hair on the sides of the muzzle, on the cheeks, neck, body and tail
- Black masks are not allowed for Akita
- Bear-like appearance
- The tails curls over their back
- They have cat-like feet which are webbed
- Solid muscular body
- Slightly longer than tall
- They have a double coat. The outer coat is harsh and straight while the inner is a soft dense coat.
The loyalty and love they show to their masters are heart-warming. A popular Akita story in Japan tells a tale about a dog who escorted his master everyday to the train station and back. His name was Hachi-ko. For 18 months he did that with his master but on sad day his master suffered a fatal stroke at work. Hachi-ko, as he did everyday, waited at the train station for the 4 o’clock train to arrive. His master never came back. He was cared for his master’s relatives but for 9 years he continued his walk to and from the train station still waiting for his master until his death.
This story touched the hearts of millions around the world. Shortly after, a bronze statue was made to honor Hachi-Ko. It stands tall, till this day, at the Shibuya Train Station in Tokyo. And whenever a family member is sick it is tradition to give them a small bronze statue of the Akita. No wonder that the Akita was declared the Japanese National Monument and a national treasure.
The Japanese Akita. Everything You Need To Know
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