Akita

Other names       Akita Inu, Akita Ken, Japanese Akita, American Akita, Great Japanese Dog
Origin    Japan,  United States of America
FCI Group 5, Section 5 Asian Spitz and related breeds ##255 (Japanese), #344 (American) Akita Inu
American Akita standard
AKC Working Group standard
ANKC Group 6 (Utility) Japanese
American standard
CKC Group 3 – Working Dogs standard
KC (UK) Utility Japanese
American standard
NZKC Utility Japanese
American standard
UKC Northern Breed Japanese
American standard
Notes National dog of Japan,
Prefecture animal of Akita

The Akita is a large breed of dog originating from the mountainous northern regions of Japan. There are two separate varieties of Akita: a Japanese strain, commonly called "Akita Ken" in Japan, "Akita Inu" ("inu" means "dog" in Japanese), or "Japanese Akita"; and an American strain, known as the "Akita" or "American Akita". The Japanese strain called the Akita Inu comes in a narrow palette of colors, with all other colors considered atypical of the breed, while the American strain known simply as the Akita comes in all dog colors. The Akita has a short double-coat similar to that of many other northern spitz breeds such as the Siberian Husky, but long-coated dogs can be found in many litters due to a recessive gene.

The Akita is a powerful, independent and dominant breed, commonly aloof with strangers but affectionate with family members. As a breed, Akitas are generally hardy, but they have been known to suffer from various genetic conditions and be sensitive to certain drugs.

In all countries (except the United States and Canada) the Japanese and American strains of Akita are considered two separate breeds. In the United States and Canada, however, the two strains are considered a single breed with differences in type. For a while, the American strain of Akita was known in some countries as the "Great Japanese Dog". Both forms of Akita are probably best known worldwide from the true story of Hachikō, a loyal Akita who lived in Japan before World War II.

Breed

There is debate among fanciers whether there are two separate breeds of Akita. To date, only the American Kennel Club, and the Canadian Kennel Club consider American and Japanese Akitas to be two varieties of the same breed, allowing free breeding between the two. The United Kennel Club, The Federation Cynologique Internationale, The Kennel Club, the Australian National Kennel Council, the New Zealand Kennel Club, and the Japan Kennel Club[citation needed] consider Japanese and American Akitas as separate breeds. Some countries refer to the American Akita as simply the "Akita" and not the American Akita. The issue is especially controversial in Japan. For the FCI's 84 countries, the breed split formally occurred June 1999, when the FCI decided that the American type would be called the Great Japanese Dog, later renamed the American Akita in January 2006.

History

Japanese history, both verbal and written, describe the ancestors of the Akita, the Matagi dog (Japanese:マタギ犬)(hunting dog, Bear hunting dog, Deer hunting dog), as one of the oldest of the native dogs. Today's Akita developed primarily from dogs in the northernmost region of the island of Honshū in the Akita prefecture, thus providing the breed's name. The Matagi's quarry included wild boar, Sika deer, and Asian black bear.[citation needed] This precursor dog tracked large game, holding it at bay until hunters arrived to make the kill. The breed is also influenced by crosses with larger breeds from Asia and Europe, including English Mastiffs,[citation needed] Great Danes, St. Bernards, and the Tosa Inu,[14] in the desire to develop a fighting dog for the burgeoning dog fighting industry in Odate in the early 20th century. During World War II the Akita was also crossed with German Shepherd Dogs in an attempt to save them from the wartime government order for all non-military dogs to be culled. The ancestors of the American Akita were originally a variety of the Japanese Akita, a form that was not desired in Japan due to the markings, and which is not eligible for show competition.

The story of Hachikō, the most revered Akita of all time, helped push the Akita into the international dog world. Hachiko was born in 1923 and owned by Professor Hidesaburō Ueno of Tokyo. Professor Ueno lived near the Shibuya Train Station in a suburb of the city and commuted to work every day on the train. Hachikō accompanied his master to and from the station each day. On May 25, 1925, when the dog was 18 months old, he waited for his master's arrival on the four o'clock train, but Professor Ueno had suffered a fatal brain haemorrhage at work. Hachikō continued to wait for his master's return. He travelled to and from the station each day for the next nine years. He allowed the professor's relatives to care for him, but he never gave up the vigil at the station for his master. His vigil became world-renowned when, in 1934, shortly before his death, a bronze statue was erected at the Shibuya train station in his honor. This statue was melted down for munitions during the war, but a new one was commissioned after the war.[17] Each year on April 8 since 1936, Hachikō's devotion has been honoured with a solemn ceremony of remembrance at Tokyo's Shibuya railroad station.[18][19] Eventually, Hachikō's legendary faithfulness became a national symbol of loyalty, particularly to the person and institution of the Emperor.

In 1931, the Akita was officially declared a Japanese Natural Monument. The Mayor of Odate City in Akita Prefecture organized the Akita Inu Hozonkai to preserve the original Akita as a Japanese natural treasure through careful breeding. In 1934 the first Japanese breed standard for the Akita Inu was listed, following the breed's declaration as a natural monument of Japan. In 1967, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Akita Dog Preservation Society, the Akita Dog Museum was built to house information, documents and photos. There is a tradition in Japan, that when a child is born they receive a statue of an Akita. This statue symbolizes health, happiness, and a long life.

In 1937, Helen Keller travelled to Japan. She expressed a keen interest in the breed and was presented with the first two Akitas to enter the US. The first dog, presented to her by Mr. Ogasawara and named Kamikaze-go, died at 7 1/2 months of age from distemper, one month after her return to the States. A second Akita was arranged to be sent to Miss Keller: Kamikaze's litter brother, Kenzan-go.[25] Kenzan-go died in the mid-1940s. By 1939 a breed standard had been established and dog shows had been held, but such activities stopped after World War II began.

Just as the breed was stabilizing in its native land, World War II pushed the Akita to the brink of extinction. Early in the war the dogs suffered from lack of nutritious food. Then many were killed to be eaten by the starving populace, and their pelts were used as clothing. Finally, the government ordered all remaining dogs to be killed on sight to prevent the spread of disease. The only way concerned owners could save their beloved Akitas was to turn them loose in remote mountain areas, where they bred back with their ancestor dogs, the Matagi, or conceal them from authorities by means of crossing with German Shepherd dogs, and naming them in the style of German Shepherd dogs of the time. Morie Sawataishi and his efforts to breed the Akita is a major reason this breed exists today.

During the occupation years following the war, the breed began to thrive again through the efforts of Sawataishi and others. For the first time, Akitas were bred for a standardized appearance. Akita fanciers in Japan began gathering and exhibiting the remaining Akitas and producing litters in order to restore the breed to sustainable numbers and to accentuate the original characteristics of the breed muddied by crosses to other breeds.[30] U.S. servicemen fell in love with the Akita and imported many with them upon their return.

Appearance

As a spitz breed, the appearance of the Akita reflects cold weather adaptations essential to their original function. The Akita is a substantial breed for its height with heavy bones. Characteristic physical traits of the breed include a large, bear-like head with erect, triangular ears set at a slight angle following the arch of the neck. Additionally, the eyes of the Akita are small, dark, deeply set and triangular in shape. Akitas have thick double coats, and tight, well knuckled cat-like feet. Their tails are carried over the top of the back in a gentle or double curl down the loin.

Mature American type males measure typically 26–28 inches (66–71 cm) at the withers and weigh between 100–130 lb (45–59 kg).[citation needed] Mature females typically measure 24–26 inches (61–66 cm) and weigh between 70–100 lb (32–45 kg) The Japanese type, as stated in the breed standards, are a little smaller and lighter.

Temperament

The Akita is generally seen as territorial about its property, and can be reserved with strangers. It is sometimes described as feline in its actions; it is not unusual for an Akita to clean its face after eating, to preen its kennel mate, and to be fastidious in the house. They are known to be intolerant of other dogs of the same sex, as stated in the AKC breed standard.

Since it is a large, powerful dog, the Akita is not considered a breed for a first time dog owner. The breed has been targeted by some countries' breed-specific legislation as a dangerous dog. The Akita is a large, strong, independent and dominant dog. A dog with the correct Akita temperament should be accepting of non-threatening strangers, yet protective of their family when faced with a threatening situation.[citation needed] As a breed they should be good with children; it is said that the breed has an affinity for children. Not all Akitas will necessarily have the same temperament.

Akitas tend to take a socially dominant role with other dogs, and thus caution must be used in situations when Akitas are likely to be around other dogs, especially unfamiliar ones. In particular, Akitas tend to be less tolerant of dogs of the same sex.[citation needed] For this reason, Akitas, unless highly socialized, are not generally well-suited for off-leash dog parks. The Akita is said to be careful, courageous, fearless, and intelligent.[citation needed] Sometimes spontaneous, it needs a confident, consistent handler, without which the dog will be very wilful and may become very aggressive to other dogs and animals.

Health

Autoimmune Diseases

There are many autoimmune diseases that are known to sometimes occur in the Akita. These include, but are not limited to:

Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada syndrome, also known as Uveo-Dermatologic Syndrome is an auto-immune condition which affects the skin and eyes.

Autoimmune hemolytic anemia, which is an autoimmune blood disorder.

Sebaceous adenitis is an autoimmune skin disorder believed to be of autosomal recessive inheritance.

Pemphigus foliaceus is an autoimmune skin disorder, believed to be genetic.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), or lupus, is a systemic autoimmune disease (or autoimmune connective tissue disease) that can affect any part of the body.

Immune-mediated endocrine diseases

In addition to these there are also the immune-mediated endocrine diseases with a heritable factor, such as:

Hypoadrenocorticism also known as Addison's disease, it affects the adrenal glands and is essentially the opposite to Cushing's syndrome.

Diabetes mellitus, also known as type 1 diabetes. It affects the pancreas.

Hypothyroidism, also known as autoimmune hypothyroidism. This is an autoimmune disease which affects the thyroid gland.

Non immune specific conditions

Other non-immune specific conditions known to have occurred in the Akita include:

Gastric dilation is also known as bloat; may progressive to gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV), in which the stomach twists on itself.

Microphthalmia, meaning "small eyes", is a developmental disorder of the eye, believed to be an autosomal recessive genetic condition.

Primary glaucoma, Increased pressure in the eye.


Progressive retinal atrophy[66][68] progressive degeneration of the retina (portion of the eye that senses light and allows sight).

Hip dysplasia a skeletal condition where the head of the femur does not fit properly into the hip socket. Leads to osteoarthritis and pain.

Elbow dysplasia a skeletal condition in which the components of the elbow joint (the humerus, radius, and ulna) do not line up properly, leading to osteoarthritis and pain.

Von Willebrands disease, a genetic bleeding disorder caused by a deficiency in Von Willebrand factor.

Cushing’s Syndrome also known as hyperadrenocorticism, it affects the adrenal glands and is caused by long-term exposure to high levels of glucocorticosteroids, either manufactured by the body or given as medications.

Breed specific conditions

There are two breed specific conditions mentioned in veterinary literature:

Immune sensitivity to vaccines, drugs, insecticides, anesthetics and tranquilizers

Pseudohyperkalemia, a rise in the amount of potassium that occurs due to its excessive leakage from red blood cells (RBCs) when blood is drawn. This can give a false indication of hyperkalemia on lab tests, hence the prefix pseudo, meaning false.[60] This occurs because many eastern Asian breeds, including Akitas and Shiba Inus, have a higher level of potassium in their RBCs than other dogs.



Black – This is a bit rarer than others.  With most, there is some shading or the undercoat will be of a different hue.











 
Black Brindle – This dark coat will have striping.  Some are so dark that the dog will be labeled as a solid.













Blue Brindle - -Technically labeled a fawn brindle, this pattern is when the base coat is a very pale fawn and the stripes are a beautiful pastel greyish blue. It is very rare.














Brown – Deep chocolate hue…If much lighter, the dog would be fawn.















Brown Brindle -  This term refers to an Akita that has black stripes on a solid brown base.  When the brindling is very heavy, it can cause the brown to appear to be black.















Brindle – This describes a pattern  - It is striping against and on top of a solid color.  When both are very dark, it may be hard to notice unless looking close.
















Fawn – This covers a range of tones in the tan spectrum…from pale to light.




















Fawn Brindle – Black stripes on a fawn basecoat.













Pinto – This is actually a term that describes certain placement.  The body will be a primary color and the dog will white that covers no more than 2/3’s of the dog.  For a very correct pinto, there will be large, evenly placed patches over the head and more than 1/3 of the body.  If the head is the same as the  markings, this is called “self masked”.  There is often some freckling as well.








Red – A brown/tan with deep, rich reddish tint and tone.












Silver – A shiny grey









White – May be solid, but most often mixed.  Pure with no additional is linked to hearing impairment, deafness in 20% (this includes other breed as well such as the Boxer)