History and origin: The Japanese Akita were named after the Akita province in Japan on the island of Honshu. This breed was initially developed as a versatile hunting dog with power, size, a good sense of smell, insulation against the cold, and a dominant, aggressive nature that enabled him to deal with bears, deer, and wild boars. Over the centuries the Akita came to be revered as a noble breed and a spiritual symbol of loyalty and beauty.
The Akita is still considered a “natural treasure” of its native country of Japan, the “natural treasure” was originally bred as a highly adaptable hunting dog in the mountainous region of Northern Japan.
The Akita was dangerously close to extinction in the 1800s, which with foresight forced the Japanese to make a concerted effort to rescue the remaining seven native breeds from extinction. The Akita was and is the largest breed of the seven native dog breeds.
Description: The Akita stands 24 to 28 inches at the shoulder and weighs between 80 and 110 pounds. He is thick-boned and has a large, powerful body. The harsh, shedding coat is of medium length with a thick, dense undercoat. This dog breed sheds year-round and requires daily brushing. Colors include white, brindle, white with tan patches, and other combinations.
The Akita breed possess heavy bones with a body that is large and is longer bodied than is tall. As the Akita is very strong in body, enabling it to hunt easily through snow and extremely rough terrain. The individual Akita is considered energetic with an alert gait. An excellent hunting and guarding companion, The Akita breed possesses a strong hunting and guarding instinct combined with a coat that is weatherproof protects them from the harshest weather conditions.
About the breed: This is an intelligent, strong, athletic, personable dog breed that is extremely faithful and affectionate to his owners. Although the Akita is usually easygoing in the home, he may exhibit marked territorial instincts, showing a reserved, suspicious nature with strangers. This dog will constantly contend for the dominant position and will use his body and mouth to exert control over those in the family who have not yet established dominance. Aggression toward family members is common when leadership is not established. Do not roughhouse with this breed. He can be very dog-aggressive and has a high prey drive toward small animals. This breed may not do well with small children. Obedience training, socialization, and handling must start early and must be firm, precise, and patient. He is very stubborn and may occasionally throw a tantrum when resisting.
The Akita is one of the more difficult dog breeds to train. Both sexes are susceptible to urinary tract infections when young and are hard to housebreak. They can also be prone to hip dysplasia. If you decide on a male, have him neutered by the seventh or eighth month. This will make training easier, will reduce aggression and dominance problems, and can prevent marking in the house. Do not buy litter mates, they will bond more closely to each other than to you, making control a major issue. They will also exhibit more territorial aggression. This breed loves cold weather and likes to play in the snow. Do not get one if you live in a warm climate. Avoid jogging with this breed, as he is big-boned and heavy and might develop arthritis later in life.
Feeding: Recommended feeding for the Japanese Akita is 1 ½ – 2 ½ cans (13.3oz) of high-quality meaty product with biscuit added in equal amount or 5 cupfuls of complete, dry dog food.
Ideal home: The Japanese Akita needs a house with a fenced yard. The owner of this breed must be a natural leader and should desire an affectionate, independent dog that will be a challenge. Overbearing, submissive, nervous, and cautious people should avoid this breed, as should those with small children. The owner must be up to the physical challenge as well, as these dogs are very large and powerful. Because of this, he is not recommended to the elderly and the disabled. The owner of an Akita must find the time to train, socialize, handle, and groom the breed and must not keep him exclusively in the yard, where he will become noisy, territorial, and destructive.
Personality and Temperament: Especially when trained to an acceptable and recognized standard, the finest attribute of the Akita is the obedience towards his master and remarkably is always alert. Another attribute being independent and courageous in nature, which means the Akita functions perfectly as a hunter and guard dog, although the individual has been proved to be stubborn and if allowed dominating. With guidance from a dedicated trainer the Akita will be perfectly behaved. However, there are some Akita’s who show unpleasant signs of aggression and intolerance towards other dogs and can show detectable signs of nervousness in the company of strangers and visitors.
Care: The Akita dog breed will be at their best when left indoors with free access to an enclosed backyard. It is imperative in order to keep this breed obedient, regular cognitive and physical exercise is vitally important. The ideal exercise will involve either or both, running in an enclosed yard for at least a few hours – a short walk around the block will not be sufficient, or many long hours of pace walking. The Akita’s weatherproof coat requires regular and thorough brushing in order to regularly removing the ‘dead hair’, the shedding season requires more frequent combing.
Health: The average lifespan of the Japanese Akita is between 10 and 12 years, the Akita breed occasionally suffers from microphthalmia, patellar luxation, epilepsy, renal cortical hypoplasia, VKH like syndrome, polyneuropathy, entropion, and cataract. It is imperative to prevent a number of major health problems specifically associated with this individual breed such as canine hip dysplasia, and progressive retinal atrophy. The breed is also susceptible to some minor health issues, including gastric torsion, hypothyroidism, elbow dysplasia, cruciate ligament rupture, pemphigus, lymphosarcoma, osteosarcoma, and sebaceous adenitis. The veterinarian will need to run a series of tests on your Japanese Akita, including thyroid, hip, eyes, and elbow tests on your dog to determine the diagnosis and relevant treatment.
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