Japanese Akita Dogs – also called Akita Inu – originated from the hunting dogs of Japan. They are named after the region where they were developed. Akita Inu were originally used for hunting large animals such as deer and wild boar. The official breed standard of Akita Inu was listed in 1934, after the breed was declared a Japanese Natural Treasure. Today, the breed is used primarily as a companion dog. However, Akita Inus are also used
as therapy dogs!
Appearance and Coat!
Japanese Akitas are tall, big dogs. A large head with small eyes and triangular ears, and a curled tail are the most salient features of an Akita Inu. They also have a thick double coat,with a range of colours including red, sesame, brindle, and pure white. They also have white patches (known as “white back markings”) on the underside of the body, and inside of the legs.
The Akita Inu is generally calm and quiet. But its desire to dominate, and also the consciousness of its own space, creates some problems. The Akita Inu is somewhat reserved when it comes to guests. Unless accustomed to having strangers around since young, they might be hard to restrain when guests are in the house. They are also aggressive to other dogs of the same sex. Cats and small animals too, can be at risk. It is advisable to keep children away from Akitas when they are eating.
Training an Akita Inu can be challenging. The Akita Inu gets bored if you try to train it too much. It is intelligent, but prefers to do what it wants to do instead of what you want it to do. The best method for training is to praise it often, and reward well. Teasing the dog – for instance, by not giving the expected reward – will make it ignore the trainer.
Having their origins in the cold regions of Northern Japan, Japanese Akitas love cold weather and snow. A large yard will best fulfil its need for light exercise. However, raising an Akita Inu in an apartment is no problem if exercise is provided using regular walks.
Height and weight!
Japanese Akitas are large dogs. The average height of a male Akita Inu is about 25-27 inches, while the females are 23-25 inches tall. The average weights range from 90 to 110 pounds for the males, and 80 to 100 pounds for the females. They can weigh up to 130 pounds in winters. Japanese Akitas are a little smaller and lighter than the American Akitas.
Life span and health problems!
The average life expectancy of the Akita Inu is 10 to 12 years. However, proper feeding and sufficient exercise can add an extra year or so. Over-exercising can put stress on the heart, hip and joints. Complete lack of exercise, on the other hand, can lead to weight gain, which again stresses the body. Passive smoking should be avoided, as it makes Akita Inu sick!
A few common illnesses for the Akita Inu are:!
- Hip dysplasia!
- Bloat/torsion of stomach!
- Gradual loss of sight!
The Akita Inu sheds twice a year. This means the owner has to spend a considerable amount of time and effort on grooming. Brushing once a week, however, can shorten the shedding duration resulting in saving time spent on housecleaning. since Akitas are double coated, it is recommended to use a slicker brush and an undercoat rake to remove the shedding hairs! Bathing the Akita Inu too often can remove the oils that protect the skin, resulting in dry skin, scratching and rashes. Unless you have a situation that makes bathing essential, two to four baths a year should be sufficient.
While many large dog breeds require a lot of exercise, the Akita Inu requires relatively less exercise. Long walks in colder weekends are with an occasional fast run, should keep it healthy. If you have time for daily walks, 20-30 minutes should be sufficient. However, exercise should be kept to shorter lengths and roads with shade, in hot weather.
My first encounter with an Akita Inu was with a statue. The statue of Hachiko is a famous meeting point near Shibuya station in Tokyo. Hachiko was owned by a professor who lived in Shibuya and commuted daily by train. The owner passed away while at work (which Hachiko did not know), and Hachiko dropped by the station and waited for him to come back everyday, for the next nine years. The story gave me a good impression about Akitas. Having read more about them, and also seen quite a few, that hasn’t changed.
To summarise, Akita Inu is a big dog but it is not for everyone who likes big dogs. If you want a big dog but have less time to make it exercise, an Akita Inu is a good candidate. However, its temperament makes it more suitable to be an “only pet” in a household with no small kids. If you are prepared to be patient when training, and spend time for brushing, an Akita Inu is a handsome, calm and faithful companion.