The Akita is a big and strong canine variety with ferocious and imposing appearance. It was initially bred in feudal Japan as property guardian and large game hunter. Once properly socialised this affectionate and brave dog makes a great companion animal for families and individuals alike.
The development of the Akita-Inu began in northern Japan many hundreds years ago and primarily took place on the Japanese island of Honshu in the rough, hostile, mountainous Akita prefecture. It’s generally accepted that the breed came to existence as the result of crossing various Spitz-type dogs. Although it was finally named after its place of birth, originally this dog was mainly referred as the matagi or the matagi-inu that is translated as the «respected hunter». It demonstrated exceptional prowess in hunting such dangerous game as black bear, wild boar and elk. A couple of Akitas would operate in sync with the male trying to grasp the wild animal from the front and the female attacking it from the rear end. Their responsibility was to hold the beast back until the hunters came and finished it off. This dog possesses unsurpassed toughness, great power and indefatigable persistence that allows it to be successful in this style of hunting.
Apart from being a popular sporting dog the Akita’s strength and gameness earned it a fine reputation in a dog-fighting arena where it can be commonly seen during the XVII, XVIII and even the XIX century. Once this cruel entertainment was outlawed, the dogs’ many-sided talents found an application in police work, guarding task and conformation ring. Eventually this breed was praised as an excellent companion animal.
The present-day Akitu-Inu slightly differs from its early version by more impressive size but it still retains its intrepid nature and supreme hunting drive. In July of 1931, the Japanese government awarded the breed with the status of a National Treasure.
Unluckily, the Second World War caused the dramatic reduction of the Akita-Inu’s population since lots of its specimens were slaughtered for food and its gorgeous coat. But sufficient amount of dogs outlasted the war and the breed was fairly quickly reconstructed. At that time the puppies of this dog were brought to the U.S. in numbers by military men. Nonetheless the American fanciers learned about the Akita already in 1937 when writer Helen Keller attended Japan and was granted with its puppy.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognised the Akita-Inu in 1973. In Australia, Canada and the United States the dogs, which are bred in America and in Japan, are reckoned to be the same breed. In the rest of the world they are perceived as separate canine varieties. Nowadays vast majority of Akitas are kept only as family pets but this dog is still perfectly capable of playing the role of a hunting companion.
The Akita-Inu was initially created as a guard and hunting dog and it still stands out by fearless, confident and somewhat independent personality. Nonetheless it can become a wonderful pet for those who are ready to put in enough time and efforts in its socialisation. The dogs’ invariable loyalty and handsome appearance endear it to lots of canine fanciers. On the other hand the Akita-Inu can’t be reckoned as a proper choice for a novice dog owner because of its complex character and relatively poor trainability. This breed is prone to fits of anger when someone is messing around its food or toys. Such possessiveness means that it should never be left alone with small children. The well-socialised specimen does get along with older kids who don’t invade in its personal space too harshly.
The Akita usually behaves itself very reservedly in the presence of strangers and intently observes their actions noticing slightest indications of possible threat. Although it’s rarely openly vicious it can switch from friendly to aggressive mode at a moment’s notice. It will not only keep watch over your property but it won’t hesitate to sacrifice its life in a fight with an unwelcomed guest. This breed had a reason for its huge popularity as a guard dog with Japanese royalty.
Authoritative nature of the Akita-Inu is the main reason of its animosity to its counterparts. This dog is notoriously famous for its propensity to attack without further notice. It certainly does best as an only dog although it can be successfully kept with one or several dogs of the opposite sex. The Akita also perceives all street cats and other small animals as potential prey and must always be kept securely leashed while being walked. However, this dop commonly treats the domestic cat as the part of its pack if the animals had a chance to get to know each other in an early age.
The most common problems for the breed include:
· bloat (gastric dilatation and volvulus);
· hip dysplasia;
· elbow dysplasia;
· eye problems;
· myasthenia gravis;
· sebaceous adenitis;
· uveodermatological syndrome;
· von Willebrand disease.
The Akitu-Inu demands very ordinary maintenance. Weekly brushing is commonly enough to keep its coat in a neat condition. Nevertheless lots of owners prefer to brush their pets on a daily basis in order to reduce the amount of canine hair in their houses. This dog sheds moderately all the year around but it blows its entire coat twice a year.
As a rule, the breed can’t stand such grooming procedures as nail trimming and ear cleaning so start training your pup to them as early as possible.
The training of the Akita requires lots of both patience and determination. Be prepared that this dog will regularly challenge your authority by refusing to follow your orders. As an independent thinker it sometimes simply chooses to do its own things rather than to perform your commands.
The breed is also notable for keen intelligence and can learn a great deal when its successes are encouraged by praise and delicious incentives. Physical punishments are absolutely ineffective in the work with this dog as they only make it even more obstinate and self-willed.
The Akitu-Inu is strong but rather calm dog that has relatively low exercise requirements. Two or three vigorous walks per day usually suffice its need for physical outlet. Of course it will be thrilled to bits from an occasional chance to roam and play in a securely enclosed area.
The Akita won’t become a good companion animal for an apartment dweller since this large dog needs lots of space for comfortable life. Such behavioural issues as aggressive outbreaks, hyper activity and excessive barking are commonly observed in those Akitas that lack daily physical exercise.