The noble Akita Inu is an impressive dog. These large, dignified animals are so revered in their native Japan that they are considered national monuments, and owning one is said to bring good luck.
The breed takes its name from the Akita Prefecture, the mountainous region where it originated. They were originally hunting dogs, used to track elk, boar and especially the fierce, grizzly-sized, Yezo bear.
Helen Keller was responsible for bringing the first of these dogs to the US, when she received two Akita as a gift in 1937. The Akita Club of America was established in 1956, and worked towards AKC recognition for the breed. This was granted in 1973.
These magnificent dogs stand 22 to 27 inches tall and can weigh as much as 125 pounds. The coat is thick and comes in several colors including brindle, red, fawn, sesame and white. They shed a medium amount of hair, although heavy shedding occurs twice yearly.
Other defining features are a large head with fox-like features, and a thick, plumed tail that sweeps over the back.
These are generally healthy dogs with an average lifespan of 10-14 years. However, like all purebred dogs they are prone to a number of diseases, including hypothyroid disease, progressive retinal atrophy and hip and kidney problems.
These are very loyal and highly protective dogs. They bond strongly with their family, and are generally good with children and tolerant of other pets. They are known to have a trademark greeting when welcoming their owners. This involves a lot of squirming about and making happy grunting sounds.
They are also highly intelligent and therefore easy to train, although they can be strong willed. An Akita does not suffer fools lightly, and if you want to succeed, you’ll have to earn his trust and respect.
The Akita is a calm, self-confident dog, not demanding of attention or exercise. However, you will have to walk your dog every day if you want to keep him to his ideal weight.
Their high intelligence does mean that they bore easily. This can become a problem if they are not given regular physical and mental activity. They can become destructive and aggressive if they are bored, so training, early socialization, and a regular exercise regime are a must with this breed.
Don’t let that deter you from considering an Akita as a family pet though, because they are truly wonderful dogs.