Showsight August 2020


characteristics and restore the breed. In 1931, before the outbreak of World War II, the Akita Inu was declared a Japanese National Monument. World War II dealt yet another blow to the breed, as the wartime government had ordered the culling of all non-mil- itary dogs. Without adequate food for themselves or their dogs, concerned owners turned their Akita Inu loose in remote moun- tainous areas to fend for themselves, rather than be killed. There they crossed back with their ancestors, the Matagi. During this wartime, some American soldiers returned from duty with Akita Inu. During the occupation, the breed began to thrive again. It is thought that the American Akita descends from the pre-restora- tion efforts as well as these later imports. The post-World War II era brought a divergence in type between the Japanese Akita and the American Akita. The Ameri- cans who brought back Akitas focused on the larger, more sub- stantial and intimidating dog, while the Japanese were dedicated to restoring the Akita Inu with its finer features and fox-like head to national monument status. The Akita Inu’s acceptable colors are white, red, or brindle and no mask, whereas the American Akita is allowed to be white, brindle or pinto, as well as having a black mask. Today, the Akita can be found participating in many canine performance events, although none is type or breed-specific. It has been hundreds of years since Akitas were used as a fighting dog; however, it still remains the faithful and watchful companion of its family members, much as it was with samurai. Since the AKC allows the different types of Akita (Japanese and American vari- ants), fanciers and adjudicators must be aware of these differences in their considerations. In FCI countries, the two are bred and judged as separate breeds, with obvious differences in type. Three Spitz breeds in the Working Group are considered Nor- dic sledge dogs; the Alaskan Malamute, the Samoyed, and the Siberian Husky. Originally bred for their strength, endurance, and to pull the heavy, packed-up camp materials over snow and ice, the Alaskan Malamute helped its nomadic owners move between hunting and fishing grounds around the Norton and Kotzebue Sounds of Alas- ka’s coast. The breed predates the emergence of modern breeds in the 19th century. The progenitors were known almost 1,000 years ago and the breed is thought to have been bred by the indigenous Malamuit people of the Norton Sound and the Inuit of the Kotze- bue Sound regions of Alaska. The parent club in the United States recognizes various lev- els of breed-specific competition encompassing sledding work, including working lead dog, pack dog or team dog, and weight pull. The breed is known for its ability to pull heavier loads at a slower pace over long distances. The breed is still in use as a rec- reational sled dog as well as being used in skijoring, bikejoring, carting (dryland), and packing. The drafting of sled dogs by the United States Army during World War II had an impact on the number of dogs remaining in the breed. In addition to the original Kotzebue strain, two addi- tional strains (M’Loot and Hinman) were admitted to the stud book in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Between these additions (and the natural differences in leg lengths and coats due to geo- graphical separations among the nomadic Inuit of the Arctic area) there is some drift in type styles, but not in working ability. Differences in appearance between show dogs and working dogs are driven primarily by coat presentation. The working dogs, be it for pleasure, competition, or actual work, are not bathed and forcefully dried as frequently as the show dog. These dogs usually

The purpose of Schutzhund is to identify dogs that have or do not have the character traits required for these demanding jobs.

Some of those traits are a strong desire to work, courage, intelligence, trainability, a strong bond with

the handler, perseverance, protective instinct, and a good sense of smell.

(Herding, Sheepdogs). The Portuguese Water Dog falls into FCI Group 8 (Retrievers, Flushing, Water dogs). Neither the Chinook nor the Boerboel are classified or recognized by the FCI. Five of these breeds (Cane Corso, Doberman Pinscher, Giant Schnauzer, Rottweiler, and Boxer) are subject to working trials. For these breeds, their working ability is commonly demonstrated via IPO/ Schutzhund. Internationale Prüfungs-Ordnung (IPO) is the FCI name for sport Schutzhund titles. Within the Working Group, the Black Russian Terrier, not named in FCI as subject to working tri- als, also participates in IPO/Schutzhund. The purpose of Schutz- hund is to identify dogs that have or do not have the character traits required for these demanding jobs. Some of those traits are a strong desire to work, courage, intelligence, trainability, a strong bond with the handler, perseverance, protective instinct, and a good sense of smell. The various levels of Schutzhund working trials encompass tracking, obedience, and protection. There are various Schutzhund associations within the United States, some focusing on one or multiple eligible breeds. In this installment of the series, the Spitz type dogs (Akita, Alaskan Malamute, Samoyed, Siberian Husky) will be explored. Originating from native dogs of the Japanese Akita prefecture, the Akita was known as far back as 1,000 years ago. During the 17th century, the breed was used in dog fighting, and from the 17th through the 19th centuries as a companion to samurai (Japa- nese military nobility). The Akita, as recognized by the AKC and in the US, is a vari- ant of the original Japanese Akita. The FCI and Japan Kennel Club recognize them as two different breeds; the American Akita and the Akita (also known as Japanese Akita, Akita Inu), whereas the AKC recognizes them as one breed. There is a noticeable dif- ference between the two, however, especially in size, substance, acceptable coloration, and type properties. This is due in part to a steep decline in numbers in Japan in the early 20th century and its cross-breeding with German Shepherd Dogs, St. Bernards, and Mastiffs. This caused a loss of the spitz type characteristics. A native Japanese dog, the Matagi, along with the Hokkaido Inu, were used to breed back into the Akita and regain its Spitz type


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