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Breeds 101

Japanese Akita

Japanese AkitaJapanese breeds are all classified according to their size – large (akita), medium (shika) and small (shiba). Although there are many medium size breeds, there is only one large size breed, the Akita.

This is an impressive dog with a powerful presence.

While many individuals are even tempered, some are difficult to handle. By nature the breed is undemonstrative and aloof, which means that obedience training can be difficult. Males, in particular, have a tendency to get into dog fights more frequently than many others breeds. However, well-trained individuals make excellent companions and effective watchdogs. Poised and regal, the Akita is best kept by experienced dog handlers.

The Akita, the largest of all Japanese breeds, was once bred for pit fighting. When this sport declined, it was used for hunting. Although by the 1930s numbers had declined to near extinction, the breed survival was assured by the formation of the Society for the Preservation of Japanese Breeds.

The largest of Japan’s seven native breeds, the Akita specialized in hunting and guarding. Beloved in Japan as loyal pets and companions, the breed was named one of the country’s national monuments in 1931.

Helen Keller brought the first Akita to the U.S. when she returned from a trip to Japan; American servicemen also brought back the dogs from World War II. Recognized by the AKC in 1972, the Akita continues to gain admirers.

They are large sized dogs: females 24 to 26 inches, 75 to 95 pounds; males 26 to 28 inches, 85 to 115 pounds.

It can be found in almost every color, including white, brindle, or pinto.

They have bold, dignified, and courageous temperament. Devoted and protective of family members, can be aggressive toward other dogs.

Experienced in obedience training and with time for daily physical exercise are the best owners for the Japanese Akita.

Needs: Daily outdoor runs (leashed or in a yard with a 6-foot fence), weekly brushing (more often during seasonal shedding) and cool climate.

Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years.