The Akita is a large breed dog of the Spitz type. It originates from the mountainous northern regions of Japan. Two separate varieties of the strain exist; the Japanese strain (commonly called the “Akita Ken”, and the American strain (“Akita” or “American Akita”). In most countries the American strain is considered a separate breed, however, in the U.S. and Canada, they are considered to be a single breed with some differences in type. The ancestors of the Akita are the Matagi dog and is one of the oldest of the native dogs. Today’s Akita was developed mainly from dogs in the Northmost region of the island of Honshū in the Akita prefecture, therefore providing the dog’s name. This ancient dog would track large game such as wild boar, Sika deer, and Asian black bears, and hold them at bay until hunters arrived to make the kill. The breed was also influenced by crosses with larger breeds such as English Mastiffs, St. Bernards, Great Danes, and the Tosa Inu, in an effort to develop a fighting dog for the rising dogfighting industry in the early 20th century. The American Akita was originally a variety of the Japanese strain, a form that was not desired in Japan due to its markings which made in ineligible for the show.
The mature American Akita male stands 26-28 inches tall at the withers and weighs between 70-100 pounds. The female Akita stands 24-26 inches and weighs between 70-100 pounds. The breed has a large, bear- like head and has erect triangular ears. The ears are set at a slight angle and follow the arch of the neck. The eyes of the Akita are deeply set, triangular in shape, and are small and dark. The tail is carried over the top of the back in a double curl down the loin. The Akita has a thick double coat and its feet are tight and well knuckled and cat-like. Breed standards allow for all dog breed colors to be seen in the America Akita, while the Japanese Akita is restricted to fawn, red, sesame, brindle, and pure white. There are two coat types for the Akita, the standard length, and long coat. While the long cat is considered a fault in the show ring, ones with such coats are known to be sweeter and the genes are believed to have come from the now extinct Karafuto-Ken. The long coat, known as ‘Moku’ is a result of an autosomal recessive gene, and may only occur if bot the dam and sire are carriers.
The Akita can be reserved with strangers and is generally seen as territorial about its property. They are known to be intolerant of other dogs of the same sex. Due to its power and size, the Akita is not recommended for the first time dog owner. It has been targeted by some countries breed-specific legislation as a dangerous dog. This is a large, strong, dominant, and independent dog, and one with the correct temperament should be accepting of non-threatening strangers, yet should be protective of their family if faced with a threatening type situation. This breed is usually aloof, calm, and docile in new situations, and as a breed should be good with children; as it is said they have an affinity with them. However, Akita temperaments vary.
Some autoimmune diseases that are sometimes known to occur in the Akita are Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada syndrome, Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia, Sebaceous Adenitis, Pemphigus Foliaceus, and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. There are also some immune-mediated endocrine diseases associated with the breed, they include Addison’s Disease, Cushing’s Syndrome, Diabetes mellitus, and Hypothyroidism. Non-immune specific conditions include Gastric Dilation, Microphthalmia, Primary Glaucoma, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Hip dysplasia, Elbow dysplasia, and Von Willebrands Disease. Two breed-specific conditions include an immune sensitivity to vaccines, drugs, insecticides, anesthetics, and tranquilizers, and Pseudohyperkalemia.