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The Akita's ancestry dates back to 500 B.C. when they migrated from the mainland of China to the islands of Japan. It was around 1900 when the Akita became more recognised. Since there were no firearms the dogs would down the prey and the hunters would spear or club it. While the dogs had always been used to hunt ducks, birds, small fur bearing animals, deer, antelope, monkeys, boar, or bear, (including the 800 pound Yezo bears!), their owners began to see other ways in which their intelligence could be utilized. They eventually came to be used as cattle hearders, seeing-eye dogs, sled and draft dogs, and as police dogs. Because their webbed feet made them powerful swimmers and their thick coats made them able to withstand cold waters, they became useful to fishermen. Fishing has always been a major Japanese industry with the thousands of miles of coastline on the islands. Akitas were also found to be particularly good as baby-sitters and many children could be left with the family dog while the peasant woman went out into the fields to work. Early on, the Akita was also considered to be a symbol of good health. Even today, when a person is ill, or a baby is born, many Akita owners in Japan will send a small Akita statue to ensue their good health or a speedy recovery from illness of any kind.
In 1931, after three and a half centuries of selective breeding toward an ideal working dog, the Japanese government proclaimed the Akita the National Dog of Japan and thereby declared a National Monument. Also referred to as the Royal Dog of Japan, Akita champions have more recently been regarded as national art treasures and are subsidized by the government if their owners suddenly are unable to feed or care for them properly.
The Story Of Hachiko
There have been many stories about the loyalty and devotion of the Akita, one of the most famous is the story of Hachiko.
Hachiko was an Akita owned by Dr, Eisaburo Ueno, a professor at Tokyo University. Each morning the dog walked with his owner to the train station and each afternoon at 3pm came back to meet him at the Shibuya Station platform. On May 21, 1925, the doctor boarded the train, as usual, but did not return. He suffered a stroke and died at the University, and that evening the dog sat among the priests and mourners. But the faithful Hachiko continued to return to the station each morning and each afternoon to wait for his master. Everyone came to know the dog and fed and cared for him while he kept his vigil. On the evening of March 7, 1935 they found Hachiko dead at the very spot where he had waited so long for his owner to return. In 1943 a small bronze statue of Hachiko was erected at the place where he had waited so patiently for ten years. But shortly after it was put in place, the government confiscated all statues to be melted down for arms during World War II. In 1948 a son of Tru Ando, the sculptor who created the orginal statue of Hachiko, was then commissioned to do another statue which was eventually erected in the same location. It has since become a meeting place for lovers, as well as an attraction, and meeting place for dog lovers. It's a most fitting tribute that lovers meet there, since Hachiko was waiting for someone he loved.
It would be difficult to overlook an Akita when seeing one, the size alone of some of them can be intimidating. Barney, our male Akita is large, powerful and heavy boned with a massive teddy bear head, and when people first see him their first reaction is probably to run for their lives! Once they get to know him though, they realise there is nothing to be afraid of, he is a big softie and usually takes to stangers pretty quick, so long as they are fussing over him, complimenting him and letting him lick them to death, he is anyone's best friend (so it's a good job we don't use him as a guard dog, as he would be useless). Like I said, he is one of the friendliest dogs you will ever meet, but that doesn't mean he can't still be dangerous, with his size and weight, if he gets a little overexcited and decides to jump up on you, you will hit the ground with a very hard bang (don't forget, large Akita dogs were used to knock down 800 pound Yezo bears!), so we still need to be careful when around him. I have a four year old niece, and Barney loves her to bits, (unsurprisingly as it is well known Akitas love children), she can sit on the floor and play with him, but you can't take your eyes off them for a second, Barney would never hurt her, but there is always the danger of him rolling over on top of her.
Tara, the female, is a character. Unlike Barney, she doesn't have the teddy bear head, she looks more like a fox with a long neck and smaller body, and her coat is a gorgeous golden colour. She is the most intelligent and mischievious of the two, and she is the boss of Barney. When people come to visit, she lets Barney enjoy the attention, but doesn't take much interest, unless the visitors have food - then she knows how to turn on the charm! Although she is the quieter one, and takes a little longer than Barney to accept people into her affections, she is harmless. She is smaller than Barney but is heavy boned like all Akitas, and unlike Barney, she knows how to use it to her advantage! We keep the dogs in a huge yard at the side of the house with a really high fence, but Tara soon lead her and Barney to a way out. There we were, on our way home in the car, when we see Barney and Tara strolling down the street without a care in the world, and an old lady on the opposite side of the road looking like she was going to pass out. After getting the dogs back in the yard, we spent a full day building a higher fence.
At first, we thought it might be a problem taking the dogs out on the lead as we had read that male Akitas don't get along with other dogs, but we have never had this problem with Barney, and Tara was never a concern as she is so quiet. But every dog is different, so I would suggest training them to behave when out on the lead, and getting them used to other dogs while they are still small enough for you to handle them.
Grooming Your Akita
Ah, now this is where the fun starts. Barney and Tara both hate the bath. They will cry and look at you with big sad eyes making you feel really guilty as you bath them, but if you talk to them and reassure them, they will stand still and let you get on with it. It's getting them out of the bath, dried, and back outside with as little mess as possible that proves to be a problem. Once you open the bathroom door, they will bound out, giving themselves a good shake and if you forget to close a bedroom door they will jump on top of the bed and roll around until they feel dry, and trust me, there is no-one in the world with the strength to stop them. So before taking them to the bath you need to make sure all the bedroom doors have been shut tight, and keep them in the bathroom until you get them as dry as possible. As you try to dry them with a towel, they will run around, jump up on you, knock you over, shake water all over you and basically make as much mess as possible, so you emerge from the bathroom soaking wet, extremely disheveled and absolutely exhausted, but the dogs are clean for another day.
Buying An Akita
It is advisable that you become thoroughly acquainted with the breed before purchasing your Akita. If you are looking for a show-quality dog, plan to attend a dog show or two in your area at which you can view purebred dogs of just about any breed at their best in the show ring. Even if you are not interested in purchasing a show quality dog, you should be familiar with what the better specimens look like so that you will at least purchase a decent representative of the breed for your money. You will be expected to pay anywhere from £300 upwards for an Akita puppy (we paid £800 for Barney and Tara. £400 each.) so make sure you are getting the best dog for your money.
Overall, Akitas are a wonderful dog to have around. Loyal, protective, affectionate and loving. Although Barney and Tara can be a handful at times, I can't imagine life without them.
I have 3 Japanese Akitas. A bitch and 2 dogs. The Japanese Akita is the second largest breed of dogs which form up the Utility Group; powerful, athletic but surprisingly elegant and agile. It should always be remembered, when looking at the Akita, that he was bred, originally, as a hunting dog. Bear this in mind when judging the compact package that the Akita is; the power in all his appearance and the tightness of muscle, bones, skin and features are all aides for hunting large animals. Adult dogs should reach a minimum height of 26 inches (66cm) and a maximum of 28 inches (71cms). He should weigh in at around 110lb. The standard for adult bitches is 24 inches (61cm) to 26 inches (66cm). She should weigh around 85lb. Akitas have heavy, weighty bones. This ensures that the Akita is a ‘substantial’ and solid dog. The Akita has a head that stands out from the crowd in that it is large but tight; all his features fit together nicely; piercing, intelligent eyes; small, round-tipped ears, always perked forward and alert; a face that tells you he is the boss but does not need to shout about it. When the Akita stands to attention his attitude and stance is one of alertness, ready for action, fearless. The Akita is a dog to be proud of, as he stands proud of himself. He is dominating to other types of dog, but not because he challenges others but usually because he can’t let a challenge go by. However, the Akita makes a great family dog if you ensure that he knows you are the top dog. The respect he then has for you goes beyond mere dog and his family, but further, dog and his responsibility as protector to his family. The Akitas head and skull, as said above, are powerful in appearance and in substance. He has a broad forehead that juts down in a well-defined stop. His muzzle is short but not snubby or wrinkly, he has lips, which are not sloppy, nor do they hang down
but are close to the jaw line, which is itself very powerful. The Akita is usually compared, head wise, to a bears in shape. Their ears add to this comparison. They are small and round-tipped, thickly muscled and point forwards and inwards. Like a teddy bear. Seen from above the Akitas facial features are all triangular, held within a main triangle. This is to do with the shape of each feature and also with their markings which enhance the triangle. The Akitas eyes, as has already been said, are intelligent and have an aloof look about them. The eye is almond shaped, fairly small and deep set into the head. As with all dogs it is always best not to stare deep into their eyes. It makes them uncomfortable and threatened. It has been said that the Akitas jaw power is equal to that of a lions’. Which would have been necessary as he was bred to help humans hunt bear and deer. The Akita has a strong neck, powerfully muscular, sprouting from strong and broad shoulders. This neck has an almost horse-like appearance in that it slopes down from the skull in a mane shape. The Akita shoulders continue with the powerful and strong appearance. Broad, wide shoulders ensure that the forelegs are well placed; knock-knees, splayed or feet that turn in would indicate less strong shoulders and are not desirable to the British Standard. The same applies to the hindquarters, which stem from the Akita trunk. The hindquarters should have chunky thighs ensuring that the legs naturally fall into a wide-legged stance. Seen from the rear, the Akitas tail should be held high and curl straight back and away from the dogs rear. Seen from the side the tail will curl in a three quarter, full or double curl and hug tightly to the dogs spine. It should be full furred, but not feathery or plumy. When the Akita shows himself off in the ring, he really lets his agility and elegance speak for itself. His gait is high-hea
ded, his step is firm and true, there should be no long-leggedyness stride, as in the German Sheppard nor the trip-tripping of the Terriers. From the rear his thighs should have a strong side to side movement with his tail held high. Stamina and endurance have been bred into this dog and his sure prance will show this off. The Akita coat is a highly regarded part of a show dog. Fur that is too long, as in long coated Akitas are not for showing. Fur that is too short again is undesirable. The Akita has a double-coat, meaning that he has a soft, downy undercoat over which grows the more hairy, bristly overcoat. This combination of fur ensures that the Akita is waterproof and can endure icy weather. The fur grows longest at the Akitas neck, back of thighs and, the longest of all, his tail. Finally, his colouring. Again as with everything to do with the Akita, his colouring is striking and pronounced. There should be no freckling or spotting of colour; it should be flashes or splashes of colour as in the pintos: white background with large pronounced shapes of colour splashed onto this background. Red dogs are usually red all over, but it is a strong fawn, no pale or washed out colour anywhere. Facial masks in the Akita is commonly black, it can be full facial or half masks covering the muzzle area. Self coloured masks i.e. fawn all over, would not be a detracting feature nor would white blazes or patches, so long as it symmetrical as there should be no detraction from the Akita expression. The above is basically what you would look for if you were looking for the perfect Akita showdog, however, not all dogs are perfect and are not necessarily for showing but are for family pets. Akitas make wonderful pets. They are friendly and loyal as has already been stated above. They need a lot of excersise though and tend to prefer to be outside than in, probably due to the thickness of their coats so a home with a garden i
s the kindest option for an Akita as a pet. It is probably best to keep your Akita on a lead if you are walking them in the park or other public places. Not because of them running off or because they would attack children (they don't) but because, again as has previously been mentioned above, other dogs do try to challenge Akitas and Akitas take that challenge up. They are not other dog friendly. Also, if you are thinking of buying an Akita (I would say this is true of all breeds as well) ensure that you see the puppy with its mother, and see its father if you can. Go for pedigree dogs, check its pedigree papers to ensure not too much in-breeding has occured as this is the main culprit for producing bad tempered dogs. Ensure that you go to a reputable dog breeder as they will have made sure that they find the best in their dogs to mix with the best of other top breeders dogs. Any old Akita mixed with any old Akita will produce any old Akita. You will not know what you are getting. Do some research before buying. Akitas are a lot of work but the effort is really so worth it. Please look at this site to see the relatives of my own dogs. http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~steelace/index.html Finally, the last word on Akitas is: The emperor of all dogs, hugely powerful but yet as stealthy as a cat, his aloofness often leads to his misunderstanding, but he is a thinker, he is a dictator, the hunter but also he is the ultimate giver of love, affection and respect.