American Akita is a breed derived from Japanese Akitas, a strain bred by Americans. It differs from Japanese Akita among others stronger build, slightly different head proportions and greater color diversity. The character remains similar. She is extremely attached to the owner – but if she thinks she knows better, she will do her own thing. He tolerates strangers and even befriends them if the owner is friendly towards them.
Akita is a balanced dog with medium temperament, very attached to the owner. He likes petting, but he is not obtrusive. It tolerates short-term loneliness, so it can easily stay home alone.
Brave, noisy and not very excitable, he reacts only when something suspicious really happens. He rarely draws attention to ordinary pedestrians or cyclists.
He tolerates strangers and even befriends them if the owner is friendly towards them.
Although American Akita is not recommended as a companion to children, it usually gets along well with them if it is brought up properly. Due to the strength and size, however, this dog should not be left alone with the kids, because it may accidentally hurt them.
Relations between the four-legged friends in their own herd must be supervised by the owner, because it can happen that left alone fight with each other. Akita gets along with the other dog if he is submissive and balanced. Most representatives of this breed will accept a domestic cat, the presence of which is best accustomed to them from a puppy, but a foreign frisk may fall prey to them.
Males are more dominant, bitches awake faster. Akitas can be aggressive towards foreign quadrupeds. The strong hunting instinct of these dogs means that they will willingly follow an interesting trail, so it’s better not to unleash them.
Akita is an active and durable dog. He does not like idleness, so in addition to walking, it is worth providing him with additional activity, e.g. practicing dog sports: agility, canicross, dogtrekking, weight pulling, bikejoring, tracking or sled competition.
He will feel best at home with the garden, but he can also live in the apartment, as long as the owner takes care of his physical condition.
Originally, Akitas were used for hunting big animals, they were also draft and companion dogs. Later they worked in the police and army and as avalanche dogs. Today they are primarily friends of the family. Some, after special preparation, work well in dogotherapy.
American Akita. Training and education
The dog of this breed is intelligent and clever. He learns quickly, but he only eagerly commands when he sees their meaning. It is independent, can make decisions independently, which is not always met with the approval of the owners. It responds less well to commands issued from a long distance, so it’s better to always have it under control.
During the training, proper motivation, the ability to focus the dog’s attention and varied exercises, which cannot last too long, is important. Use only positive methods, do not use force. It should also be remembered that Akita usually performs commands much slower than other commonly trained breeds (e.g. Sheepdogs).
Puppies require consistency and firmness from the very beginning. Akita has a strong character, with a tendency to dominate, so you can not wait with education and training until he grows up. You need to ensure proper socialization – the pupil should learn about new places, situations, people and other dogs. Dog nursery school classes are recommended.
Who is this race for?
Akita is not a dog for everyone. The owner must be firm, consistent and devote time to proper socialization, training and working with the dog.
American Akita. Advantages and disadvantages
- molts abundantly
- sometimes aggressive towards foreign dogs
- tends to dominate
- has a strong hunting instinct
- faithful and attached to the family
- can play some sports
- intelligent, learn quickly if handled correctly
- very clean, coat with normal structure does not absorb dirt
Although Akita is resistant by nature, it is susceptible to eye diseases: cataract, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and retinal dysplasia (RD), manifesting as partial or complete detachment, which leads to blindness. Hip dysplasia (less often elbow joints), stomach dilatation and torsion, as well as food allergies, can occur.
Sometimes there is a tendency to autoimmune diseases, characterized by the destruction of the body’s cells and tissues by the body’s immune system. The most common diseases of this type include: pemphigus, sebaceous adenitis (SA) – in this disease sebaceous glands are destroyed, Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada syndrome (VKH), manifesting itself among others depigmentation, alopecia, claw loss, and autoimmune hypothyroidism.
One should also remember about the hypersensitivity of some individuals to anesthesia.
Once every few days it is worth checking your eyes and ears, and if you tend to build up tartar, regularly give your dog a teether or get used to toothpaste and a brush.
Akita tolerates large frosts easily. However, it doesn’t like wind and humidity, as well as heat, so in summer it should be protected from strong sunlight.
Akita uses food perfectly, that’s why – for a dog of this size – he doesn’t eat much. It is not particularly demanding either. However, you need to pay attention to the protein content in food – it can’t be too much, because Akita is prone to food allergies. It is most convenient to give well-balanced ready-made foods for large breeds with glucosamine and chondroitin. Products with lamb and fish work great.
If we decide on homemade food, we must remember to supplement it with calcium and vitamin preparations.
During the molting period, it is worth giving the dog-specific regenerating hair and skin. Some Akitas respond well to the diet (natural, raw foods). We divide the daily portion into at least two meals.
Akita molting lasts about three weeks, is very abundant and usually repeats twice a year. During this time, the dog mainly loses a soft undercoat, which – although there is a lot of it – is easy to clean.
The method of molting is a characteristic feature of this breed – the hair does not fall out evenly from the entire surface, but in fragments – similar to wolves. First, they molt the thigh highs, then the limbs, torso and orifice, and finally the tail. You can then comb your dog even every day (usually enough once a week), but you have to do it gently, because the skin becomes sensitive and prone to irritation.
It also happens that during the replacement of the coat the dog is nervous and may even give the impression of being sick. Sometimes in the summer a small amount of casing hair falls out, but it is usually not bothersome.
For the care of fur, a powder brush and a medium-thick metal comb are best suited. We bathe Akita as needed in shampoos emphasizing the contrast of color, intended for hard hair or increasing its volume.
The representative of this breed does not need specialist preparation for the exhibition or corrections of the coat. Because the coat should stand slightly away from the body, do not use cosmetics weighing the hair, but rather those that stiffen and lift it at the roots. After bathing, dry the dog thoroughly using a dryer, modeling the coat with a brush.
American Akita does not require special positioning in the ring, because it should be presented in a natural attitude. This dog is displayed on a ring or a thin chain.
It is best to take it for walks in a chain or clamp collar – it can easily be released from the usual collar, because the neck circumference is similar to the head circumference. This is a very strong dog, therefore leashes should be solid – sewn, non-riveted; you can also use long lines.
The best toys for a small representative of this breed are thick cords, hard balls and natural teethers. Plush and squeaking mascots will not be a good choice because they can easily be chewed and swallowed. You also need to teach the puppy that the toys belong to the owner – the dog gets them at a certain time, and then they are hidden.
Both Akitas – American and Japanese – have the same ancestors. The name of the breed comes from the Akita prefecture in Japan (the city and port in the northeast of Honshu are also called the same). These dogs are considered part of the Japanese cultural heritage. They embody health, strength and well-being. To this day, their figurines are a symbol of happiness – they are given to newlyweds, parents of newborn children, as well as the sick, thus wishing them recovery.
The oldest images of Akita-type dogs come from the 2nd century BC. They are clay figurines found in tombs. The first preserved drawings of these quadrupeds are dated to the 12th century. Initially, they were medium-sized dogs. From 1603, dog fights began to be organized in the Akita Prefecture, in which the so-called Akita Matagi, used for bear hunting.
In the 1860s, in order to obtain a stronger structure and larger size, they began to be associated with mastiffs and tosas, which lost their characteristic spitz characteristics. In 1908, fighting was banned, but the breeding of large dogs continued to develop. In 1931, several of the best copies were selected, which the Japanese government recognized as natural monuments.
During World War II, Akitas were killed and their garments were sewn for soldiers. All four-legged pets were endangered except German Shepherds, which were considered military dogs. Akita owners, wanting to save their quadrupeds from extinction, began to cross them with shepherds.
After the war, it turned out that the Akitian population decreased significantly. In addition, they were available in three types – matagi (former type, most desirable), Akita for fighting (mixed with blood, tosa) and sheep-akita.
In 1947, the first exhibition after the war was organized, mainly showing dogs from the Dewa and Ichinoseki lines, i.e. akit crosses with German Shepherds or Mastiffs. American soldiers returning to the United States took many of them with them.
In 1956, the American Akita Club (ACA) was founded. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1972. The lack of agreement between the Japanese Kennel Club (JKC) and the AKC resulted in a ban on importing akita from the breed’s homeland. Without a supply of fresh blood, American Akitas began to differ significantly in appearance from those bred on the Japanese islands – they were larger, more massive, they differed in color and proportions.
In Japan, the former, lighter akita matagi (hunting dog) was preferred, and in the United States shepherd-akita and akita-fighting dogs reigned supreme. In 1992, JKC and AKC reached an agreement, which allowed them to import quadrupeds from Japan. However, it turned out that for years the differences between the varieties became so large that combining them was no longer advisable.
In 1996 at the Tokyo conference, it was decided that American-type Akita and Japanese Akita were two separate breeds that must not be crossed or exhibited together. At the end of 1998, at a world conference in Germany, it was decided that American-type akita would be called – for political reasons – a large Japanese dog and placed in group II FCI (schnauzers, pinschers, dogs and Swiss shepherd dogs). In 2006, the breed again found itself in Group V FCI (Spitz and primitive) under the old name – American Akita.
American Akita – group V FCI, section 5, reference number 344
- Country of Origin: Japan; development of the breed: United States
- Size: height at the withers of dogs 66-71 cm, bitches 61-66 cm
- Coat: double – topcoat simple, stiff, slightly
protruding from the trunk, the undercoat thick, soft, thick; short coat on the head, lower limbs and ears; on withers and on the rump it is about 5 cm long, on the tail it is the longest
- Color: uniform, pied or brindle; clear colors, even markings, with or without a mask or arrow; solid white dogs do not have a mask; spotted dogs have
evenly distributed patches on a white background (on the head and on more than 1/3 of the torso); the undercoat may be in a different color from the topcoat
- Maturity: 3-4 years
- Lifespan: 10-12 years
- Weather resistance: very high
The most famous story related to the breed concerns the dog Hachiko, who has become a symbol of loyalty. Every evening he would come to Tokyo train station for his master. One day the owner did not return home as usual – he died suddenly at work. For the next nine years, Hachiko waited every day at the same time for his return. When he ended his life in 1934, the residents of Tokyo erected a bronze statue for him, which can be seen today at the entrance to Shibuya Station.
Another story is about the expedition to the South Pole organized by the Japanese in 1957. The polar explorers took 20 akitas with them to pull the sleigh. Due to bad weather conditions, the expedition was interrupted, and equipment and dogs were left in Antarctica, which was condemned by animal rights defenders around the world.
When the expedition resumed after three years, researchers found 12 of the 20 dogs left there in the former camp. They survived in extreme conditions, were healthy and in good condition. Emperor Hirohito ordered to erect a monument in their honor – 12 silhouettes of life-size bronze dogs cast near the Tokyo Tower.