Smiling Akita

Year of the Dogs: Akita

Continuing this year of the dog let’s learn about another breed! 

Today its the turn of the Akita.

Akita on a porch

The Akita also goes by the names Akita Inu, Japanese Akita, and Great Japanese Dog. They are named for the Akita Prefecture where the vast majority of the breed originated. “Inu” is the Japanese for dog, making their name “Akita Dog”.

The Akita is a large dog, with adults reaching as much as 70cm in height and 60kg in weight. Their short double layered coat is thick and comes in a variety of colours. Japanese Akitas can be red, fawn, sesame, brindle, or pure white. There is also the American Akita, considered a separate breed everywhere except in America and Canada. The American version typically features a black mask around its face. All Akitas feature curled tails and pointed ears, bearing more than a little resemblance to a giant Shiba Inu.

Shibas & Akitas
Shibas & Akitas together

The modern Akita originated in the northernmost section of Honshu Island, in the area that is now the Akita Prefecture. Ancestors of the Akita were hunting dogs, helping to bring down deer, wild boars and even black bears. Later they were mixed with many of the larger European dog breeds to create powerful fighting dogs. They were also mixed with German Shepherds during WWII to attempt to save them from a cull of all non-military dogs.

Akita’s are a fiercely dominant dog, and need early training to be tamed. They are also capable of extreme loyalty however, such as in the case of the most famous Akita, Hachiko. Hachiko lived with his owner, a university professor, in Shibuya in the 1920s, greeting his owner at the station every evening. In 1925 his owner died while lecturing and never returned home. Hachiko never stopped waiting for him though, meeting his train at the station every day for next nine years, nine months and fifteen days. His vigil came to an end in 1935 when he too passed away, his ashes interred with his beloved owner.

Do you have a favourite breed you want to see featured next?