THE AKITA BY SYLVIA THOMAS
(A version of this article appeared in the September 2019 issue of SHOWSIGHT.)
I f it were necessary to describe the Akita in one word, “dig- nity” would suffice. All of the elements described in the AKC standard are designed to contribute to the impres- sion of a large, powerful, alert dog with much substance and heavy bone. At first glimpse, one is struck by the Akita’s proud stance, no nonsense demeanor, and somewhat aloof nature, but those of us who share our lives with this breed will speak about their gentleness, playful attitude, unwavering loy- alty, sometimes silly antics, independent thinking, and love that knows no bounds. Those who know me will tell you that I’m a “head person.” I’ll admit there is truth in this, but whether or not one thinks of the head as the hallmark of the breed, the importance of a cor- rect head as a core element of breed type cannot be denied and is reinforced by the standard. The broad and triangular-shaped head is complemented by the harmonizing, triangular shape of the dark eyes and ears that are strongly erect with slightly round- ed tips, carried slightly forward over the eyes in-line with the back of the neck. Taken together, the result is an alert and cou- rageous expression, which is present in both males and females. The Akita is a composition of balance, proportion, and mod- eration. The large head is balanced by a large, full tail, set high. It cannot trail behind the dog, nor be held up in the air as a waving plume. The tail can be carried over the back or rest against the flank in a three-quarter, full, or double curl, which always dips to or below the level of the back. The root of the tail is strong, and while the standard refers to the tail bone reaching to the hock when let down, the length of the tail can be assessed visu- ally without dropping or pulling the tail down to measure it. In the case where the tail is very tightly curled, it can be uncom- fortable for the dog if one tries to uncurl and drop the tail to measure it. An Akita can occasionally drop its tail for a number of reasons—hot day, in season, new to the show ring, or simple boredom or age. When in doubt about a possible disqualifica- tion for an uncurled tail, I would advise that you give the dog an opportunity to move around the ring. It is sufficient to see the tail touch the back or dip below the level of the back one time. If it does, the tail should be judged acceptable. Although you may still decide not to use the dog, a disqualification is not warranted. Akitas are at the bottom range of the large-sized breed cat- egory; the standard describes the ideal size of males between 26" and 28" at the withers and females between 24" and 26". Under 25" for a male and 23" for a female (including puppies) is a disqualification. An Akita’s size, obvious strength, and car- riage leave a lasting impression, but at the same time, there is no harshness in his appearance. The short, thick, lustrous double coat that stands off the body softens the rugged outline of muscle and bone, and creates an indelible picture of balance and beauty. As for color, we each may have personal preferences, but all coat colors are permitted, including white, brindle, and pinto. Colors are rich, clear, and brilliant. The standard speaks about well-balanced markings, with or without masks or blazes. Although I’ve always had a personal fondness for a well-marked pinto, some of my favorite Akitas of all time have not been pintos but have been distinguished by their unquestionable breed type, balance, proportion, outstanding movement, correct structure, and brilliant color.
188 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, APRIL 2022
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