This strong, powerful dog is perhaps the most famous of the Japanese line of working dogs. He was largely unknown to the Western world until 1937 when Helen Keller brought an Akita to America…The Akita is a serious dog, and should be taken seriously by his owners. In Japan of centuries long ago, he was used for hunting large game but most prominently used as a fighting dog to entertain Japanese royalty. In 1931, the Akita was chosen as one of Japan’s national monuments. Hachiko is the most honored Akita in Japan’s history; so loyal to his master, he continued to wait for his master to return from work long after the man had died until Hachiko himself died nine years later. A tribute to the Akita’s devotion, today in Japan Hachiko is hononred with an annual ceremony. The Akita was recognized by the AKC in 1972.
Akita means “large” in Japanese, and so he is! He is a powerful dog with an enormous sense of presence. Since he is a “lot of dog,” he is not recommended for families who don’t know the history of this breed. He is not an “apartment” dog and dislikes the distractions of city life. He does best in rural areas where he is an “only dog.” The Akita has a tendency to fight other dogs for supremacy.
In temperament, the Akita is bold, aggressive, stubborn and independent. It takes a strong owner’s hand to keep this dog socialized. He doesn’t like strangers and is a superb watch dog with high protective instincts. Although he is devoted to his family, he needs to be supervised around young children that may provoke his aggressive quality. The Akita does not get along well with other dogs because of his fighting instinct; he needs to be an “only pet.” He loves long walks and runs, but isn’t overly energetic or playful.
The Akita isn’t appropriate for a first-time dog owner because of his power, dominance, and need for supervision. Although he is extremely loyal to his family, his use in modern Japan as a guard and police dog should alert potential owners that this is not a dog to take lightly. In some American states, the Akita has been a target for Breed-Specific Legislation, making it illegal in some cities to own an Akita. Yet in the right hands, he is an outstanding companion dog. His intelligence makes him a quick study in obedience training.
The Akita’s primary health problem is hip dysplasia, although gastric tortion, ligament rupture and thyroid problems may be seen. His striking gold, yellow and black face mask makes him an attractive dog with a tail that curves over his body. He is very cold-tolerant, but not heat-tolerant.
When you gain an Akita’s devotion, it will last forever. These are deeply devoted and sensitive dogs despite their aggressive streak. Training must be firm, but also fun; the Akita doesn’t like being bossed around! With the right owner and family, the Akita makes a loyal and valuable addition to the home.