Furry immigrants - the Akita dog!

Narrated from: Dog Breeds

A lot of spectacular dog breeds have been bred in Japan during the country’s millennial history. However, one of the most distinguished dogs in the pack is the Akita.


Akita Inu is the original name of this Japanese breed developed in the province of Akita (what a surprise!). The Akita dogs have quite the pedigree - they have been used for hunting in the last 3,000 years! However, do not presume that the Akitas were mere hunting dogs – the breed is much respected in Japan. Each Shogun kept a kennel of Akita dogs and used them to hunt deer, boars and even bears. At one time it was even forbidden to speak about the Akita or to address the dogs themselves except in a special form of language – the so-called “dog words”.

Later on, Akita dogs were used as Imperial Guard dogs and since 1931 the breed has been considered a national monument of Japan.

However, Akita dogs suffered greatly during World War II. In those dark times food was scarce and all dogs except German Shepherds were to be used as a source of fur for soldiers’ uniforms. The breed faced extinction, but since the war, the Japanese have worked tirelessly to restore Akita dogs to their previous numbers. A symbol of the Akita dogs to this day remains the dog Hachico, whose tale of loyalty had a great influence on the preservation of the breed.

Coming to America

Akita dogs were introduced outside of Japan in 1931. Helen Keller is credited for introducing the first Akita puppy to the USA. Since then Akita dogs have gained great popularity. There are wide discussions whether a separate breed “American Akita” should be officially recognized, since Akita Inu and American Akita have distinctive differences. American Akita dogs are generally more powerful and reach greater size, while the Japanese try to restore the original archetype of the Akita dogs. Also, in the USA Akita dogs are recognized in various colors and could have face masks (colored fur along the muzzle), while in Japan such dogs wouldn’t be recognized as Akita Inu.

Modern day

Today, Akita dogs are safe from extinction. They are widely popular, with their long history and pure bloodlines – genetic research showed that the Akita is one of the 14 most ancient dog breeds! There are Akitas all over the world – Canada, Australia, Austria, Finland… genetic research showed that the Akita is one of the 14 most ancient dog breeds! There are Akitas all over the world

Akita dogs are large, reaching 28 inches in height (25 for females). They are ideal guard dogs, but also make loving pets and loyal companions.

There are several key things you should have in mind if you want to obtain an Akita for your household:

-    You must keep a grown Akita under control. These dogs are very protective, and if an Akita thinks that something threatens you or another member of the pack (meaning your family), the dog wouldn’t hesitate to act.

-    Make sure the dog recognizes you as leader of the pack. If you do not assert your authority over an Akita, you will face serious behavior problems. The dog wouldn’t love you less – but it would believe you have to follow its orders!

-    Introduce other pets at an early stage. There is a rumor that Akita dogs are highly aggressive against other animals – that is not exactly true. Akita dogs are just very territorial. Once an Akita has settled and recognized the members of the “pack”, there will be no warm welcome for any newcomers. However, there is no problem if you introduce an Akita dog to a household that already has pets, or if you bring in new pets in the first few years while the Akita is still getting to know you – in this way the Akita would just treat the other animals as members of the same pack!

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