INFORMATION ON THE AKITA
by THE PUBLIC ED COMMITTE
HISTORY T he Akita is native to Japan. Its exact origin is not clear, but this ancient breed dates as far back as 500 BC. The Akita in Japan holds a very esteemed, almost mystical reputation. In the early years, the Akita was restricted to royalty. The Akita was used as a palace guard and wore ceremonial leashes and collars that identified the rank or nobility of its owner. The people who attended to the dogs also wore ceremonial outfits and spoke in a separate dialect to the dogs. As the horrible sport of dog fight- ing gained popularity, the Akita’s size, strength and spirit made it an obvious favorite in the pits. For years Akitas were bred to cultivate size and aggres- sion. The Japanese government realized that the future of the breed was at stake, declared the breed a national treasure and outlawed the sport of dog fighting. But it was these centuries of breed- ing that created the dog aggressive tendencies you will still find today in varying degrees. In the twentieth century the Japa- nese government still guarded the Akita jealously. The dogs were rarely allowed out of the country and when they were, it was usually as a gift to a foreign dig- nitary. The first Akita in the United States was a gift from the Japanese For- eign Minister to the well-known Helen Keller. And as World War II ended, the returning soldiers began to bring the dogs back to the states with them. The Akita gained popularity quickly in the states and was recognized by the Ameri- can Kennel Club in 1956 in the miscel- laneous class. The Akita was allowed to compete for championship points in 1973. PHYSICAL APPEARANCE The Akita always makes a lasting first impression. Akitas are large, pow- erful dogs with substantial bone and musculature. The broad chest and neck serve as a solid base for the Akita’s
“THE LOYALTY AND DEVOTION DISPLAYED
BY AN AKITA IS PHENOMENAL.”
large head—the Akita’s most distin- guishing feature. The broad skull and the short muzzle form a blunt triangle when viewed from above. The massive head in combination with the small triangular-shaped eyes and small, erect ears give the Akita an intimidating, yet dignified, expression. The Akita is a very balanced look- ing dog, being only slightly longer than it is tall. The tail is curled and carried over the back, which serves to balance with the dog’s head. Typically, the male Akita is substantially larger than the female. The males range in weight from about 100-130 pounds and females from 70-100 pounds. The coat of the Akita has the appear- ance of the typical Northern breeds. The double coat is short to moderate in length, but very dense. The coat consists of two layers; the undercoat is very soft and is the primary insulator, while the outer coat, or the guard hairs, is slightly longer and coarser. The Akita is very well suited to the coldest of cli- mates and while they might not enjoy hot weather, their coat does lighten considerably in the warmer months to compensate for the heat. TEMPERAMENT The personality of the Akita is very complex. While temperaments vary, most would agree that the Akita is very intelligent, extremely loyal and can exhibit aggressive tendencies.
The aggressive tendencies are almost exclusively towards other dogs of the same sex. Typically, Akitas are not aggressive towards people, but do have a very well-developed guarding and protective instinct. Akitas also have a high and well-developed prey drive. An Akita is not likely to shower affec- tion on someone that is not a member of his family or a close friend that he sees frequently. The loyalty and devotion displayed by an Akita is phenomenal. The typi- cal pet Akita will follow you from room to room, yet has the uncanny ability not to be under foot. Your Akita lives his life as if his only purpose is to pro- tect and spend time with you. This trait is evident in a favorite tale told by Akita owners all over the world. This tale is the story of Hachiko. In Tokyo, Hachiko would accompany his master to the train station every morning and return to retrieve him every afternoon. Hachiko’s master was a professor at Tokyo University and one day he died at work. It is said that every day for the rest of the dog’s life, Hachiko returned to the train station twice daily looking for his master. The story was quite famous in Tokyo and the general public cared for the dog until his death. Hachiko is preserved in a museum in Tokyo and a statue stands at the train station in trib- ute to his undying devotion. To this day the statue is a popular romantic place for lovers to meet.
S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , J UNE 2017 • 259
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