AKITA F I R S T I M P R E S S I O N S T H E
BY NANCY AMBURGEY
T his is my routine when judging the Akita. If there are multiple entries in a class, I bring them in and line them up, looking for balance and proportions as they come in and set up. While most exhibitors are aware of this, keep in mind that a little space between dogs is the norm. I send them around together, looking at each dog’s side gait (moderate and powerful) and level topline. When they come around to the designated stopping point, I am ready to go over my first dog. INDIVIDUAL EXAMS The dog has been set up and I stand back so that I can look at general propor- tions. The tail is curled over the back and should balance the head. The topline is level. Akitas are longer than tall. (In dogs, as 10 is to 9; in bitches, as 11 is to 9). Sometimes an Akita will come in the ring with its tail down. It’s usually a young puppy, a bitch coming into her first season or any dog on a 100-degree day in August. Never fear, most will come up when they are moved. We’ll talk more about this later. I have adopted a 3/4 approach when walking up to dogs for the initial exam. Here I’m within their vision and they know I’m approaching. As I approach, I usu- ally give a good morning with a smile to the handler but I’m actually addressing the dog. A quick glance of the head and I’m able to take note of head shape, ears, eyes, and length of muzzle. I don’t bend over the dog; I approach with confidence, neither too fast nor hesitantly. His head is massive but in balance with the body. When viewed from above, it looks like a blunt triangle. It will be free of wrinkle when he is at ease. Don’t be fooled by markings. The skull is flat between the ears. The ears are carried slightly forward, strong, thick, and well-furred, with slightly rounded tips. From a side view, they are in-line with the neck. From the front, they look triangular. Our first DQ is here (DQ #1); drop or broken ears are to be disqualified. The eyes are also triangular in shape; small, tight, black rims, and dark brown in color. The muzzle is broad and strong. The distance from his nose to his stop as to the distance from stop to occiput is 2 to 3. His nose is broad and black, although a lighter nose with or without shading of black or gray on a WHITE Akita is acceptable. Our standard states that “partial or total lack of pigmentation on the nose surface” is a disquali- fication (DQ #2). We have started seeing dogs that are liver. They are also called chocolate. A liver or chocolate dog WILL NOT have a black nose. Their nose as well as their lips and eye rims will be liver-colored. While our standard doesn’t specifically address liver pigment at this time, the dog does not meet our standard and must be heavily penalized to preclude it from being placed. Although this was all taken in quickly as I approach the dog, clearly, the head is important to the overall balance and appearance.
SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, APRIL 2022 | 185
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