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Akita

Dog from the movie «Hachi: a Dog`s Tale». This pet is a symbol of protection in Japan. It is an affectionate dog with a proud personality of a samurai.

Energy level
Level of affection
Level of friendliness
Intelligence
Health
Independence
Popularity
Care
Aggression
Noise
Weight
Weight:
female: 35—45 kg
male: 40—50 kg
Height
Height:
female: 61—66 cm
male: 66—71 cm
Hair
Hair:
smooth
Care
Care:
requires little time
Lives
Lives:
inside
outside
Gives birth to
Gives birth to:
5—7 puppies
Origin
Origin:
Japan
in 16 century
Life span
Life span:
10—12 years

Personality

Akita Inu are very different dogs. They are faithful, but also like being independent. They like people, but do not get on well with other dogs. These pets can be aggressive, but also remain emotionally vulnerable. They are compared to samurai: it is hard to make these pets get attached to something, but if you succeed in it, Akita Inu will give their lives for those who they love.

These dogs are very active and will not sit in one place. They are interested in everything that happens around. Akita Inu are not afraid of height and like jumping. These pets enjoy participating in family activities, watching all family members. Without interaction with people, they might develop depression. It is one of the most faithful dog breeds. That is why this breed is not for busy people.

Akita Inu do not get on well with other animals. They like being dominant. These pets are especially aggressive to animals of another gender: males are aggressive to females, females — to males. That is why it is crucial to teach your dog how to socialize with other animals starting from a young age. Meanwhile, Akita Inu love children. They will be playing, running, jumping and protecting the kid from danger, especially if they grew up together. These dogs react calmly to guests in the house. They need some time to get used to strangers.

Akita Inu are smart guards. They will be protecting their territory and owners from danger. However, you cannot use these pets for guarding purposes only. It is important for them to be close to people, not to be enchained in an aviary. This fact should be considered before purchasing a dog. Attacking people with much aggression is not about Akita Inu. These pets will only warn the owner with barking about possible danger.

Training

Akita Inu are smart dogs. They understand people and quickly learn new commands. However, they need to be trained, taking their independence into consideration. The earlier the training process begins, the better it is. It is hard to teach an adult dog to do something in a different way. Akita Inu will never listen to people who it does not respect. That is why persistence, respect and insistence are key instruments for training a pet.

The first thing the puppy needs to understand is who is the leader in the house. Akita Inu need a leader. That is why it is important to demonstrate your authority to the dog as early as possible. Otherwise, it will be hard in the future. The puppy has to understand how to behave in the house, and how not to be intrusive. It is crucial not to forgive these dogs` misbehavior, but to punish them for it. 

After the dog gets used to living in the house, you can start working on its socialization. That is how it will know how to behave with other animals and people. This process should be done gradually. Start from street walks lasting for 10–15 minutes. Before you take your pet outside, make sure it got all the needed vaccines.

Before an Akita Inu turns 4 months old, its basic model of behavior, personality and attitude to other animals and people get formed. For that reason, it is crucial not to skip this period in your dog`s life. The puppy has to interact with its family and know basic commands like «sit down», «go to your place», «no», «come here», «stay close». You need to train the dog for 15–20 minutes every day. Repeat each command 3–4 times. Use a reward method to work with your pet: give it treats for completing commands. It is important not to beat an Akita Inu, and not to show any aggression. Do not forget that these dogs are proud. They will not tolerate bad attitude and will lose respect to those who hurt them.

It is important to teach a young Akita Inu that you can take something from it, and then give it back. It is needed so that an adult dog does not react aggressively when someone takes its thing.

Appearance

Akita Inu are large dogs. The body of pets is muscular and graceful. Dogs grow and develop up to three years old. The Akita Inu has a close relative — American akita. Outwardly, they are similar, but they are two different breeds.
Color
Color
Hair
Hair
Head
Head
Eyes
Eyes
Ears
Ears
Neck
Neck
Paws
Paws
Paws
Tail
Can be short and long. However, standard of the breed accepts only shorthair Akita Inu. Hair feels stiff, a thick undercoat is present.
Such colors are acceptable for Japanese Akita Inu: white, red with white patches and a mask, tiger and red with black tips. American Akita Inu can be of any color.
Big and wide. Head of Japanese Akita Inu looks similar to the one of foxes. Head of their American relatives — to bear`s head.
Of medium size, deeply-set, triangular-shaped. Their color is brown.
Small, erect-type, triangular-shaped. Puppies have floppy ears at first, and after they lose their baby teeth, their ears become of erect type.
Long and muscular.
Straight and strong.
Of medium length, upright, carried over the top of the back in a curl. Puppies under the age of 2 months have a straight tail, and then it starts becoming curled. 1  

Basic Care

Akita Inu do not require much amount of time to be groomed. Their thick hair has to be brushed once a week. During the molting period — in spring and fall — every day, using a comb for hair and a slicker for the undercoat. Then pet your dog with wet hands to take off left hairs. 

You do not need to give Akita Inu a bath very often. These dogs lick themselves just like cats do. They need to be given a bath either once in half a year, or when they get dirty with something that cannot be licked off, using a shampoo for thick hair. Then use a hairdryer. Check dog`s eyes and ears every week and clean them when needed, using cotton pads and swabs soaked in a special solution. Clean their teeth 1–2 times a week, using a zoo-paste and a brush that can be put on a finger. You should trim your pet`s claws once a month.

Akita Inu are not picky in what they eat. They can be fed with either high-quality dry or natural food. Dry food of premium quality contains vitamins and minerals, needed for your dog`s health. Such natural ingredients can be given to the dog: not greasy meat — rabbit meat, beef and veal; grains — rice and buckwheat, vegetables that do not contain starch — carrot, beet, cabbage, broccoli, green peas; fat free dairy products — kefir, cottage cheese and baked milk. Taking Japanese origination of dogs into consideration, it is no wonder that they like sea fish. You can give it to Akita Inu twice a week. It is recommended to beat up fish and its bones in a blender. Dry and natural food can change one another. However, it is important not to mix them into once portion. A puppy under the age of 3 months needs to eat 4 times a day, from 3 to 6 months — 3 times a day, after it turns 6 months old — twice a day.

Akita Inu need much free space for comfortable life. Perfect conditions for them are a private house with a spacious yard. These dogs can also live in a flat. But then you will need to walk your pet. You need to take into consideration the fact that Akita Inu are active dogs. It is important for them to have a way to spread their energy. Walk your dog for 30–40 minutes twice a day. Always use a leash. It will make the walk safer. You should walk your Akita Inu both in quiet and loud places, where many dogs are present. The more often your dog interacts with other animals, the better it is.

Health and Illnesses

Akita Inu can live up to 12 years if treated well. In 60% of cases, females live 2 years longer than males. These dogs have a strong immune system. However, just like most dogs, Akita Inu are prone to some hereditary health problems.

Hip dysplasia is a common pathology that disrupts structure of the acetabulum, making it flat. Because of it, femoral bone starts rubbing against the joint, destroying its structure. The pet starts feeling pain while moving. It is impossible to cure dysplasia. However, if it is diagnosed at early stages, its development can be slowed down.

Glaucoma disrupts the drainage of fluid in the eye. Because of it, pressure in the eye rises, and it gets bigger in size. This damages retina and leads to blindness. Glaucoma can be of 3 types: congenital, primary and post-traumatic. If it is diagnosed at early stages, its development can be slowed down.

Cataract affects transparency of the lens in the eye, leading to loss of eyesight. The lens regulates vision, it lets us see what is located close by and far away from us. However, when it gets darker, it stops functioning and dies out. Cataract can be of 2 types: congenital and acquired. Most often, dogs suffer from the latter type of the disorder. Age, traumas and inflammations — all these factors might lead to development of cataract. The disorder can be surgically cured.

Retinal atrophy — a hereditary health problem that destroys cells in the eye and leads to blindness. The retina is made up of rods and cones. They let us see in the dark and recognize colors. Atrophy can be of 2 types: one disrupts formation of cells right after dog`s birth, the other affects already formed cells. The fewer cells are left, the worse is the eyesight. There is no cure for retinal atrophy.

Von Willebrand’s syndrome disrupts blood clotting, which causes the dog to have spontaneous bleeding. It develops due to poor secretion of a two-component protein in the blood. It sticks platelets and subendothelial cells together, creating clots. They stop bleeding at the site of an injury. The fewer proteins there are in the blood, the slower clots form, and, as result, bleeding, that is hard to be stopped, starts more often. The disorder can be inherited. It can treated by a blood transfusion with protein concentrate or drugs that stimulate its secretion.

Hypothyroidism is a disorder of the thyroid gland. It develops because of low secretion of thyroid hormones. They are responsible for development of brain, tissues and bones. They also regulate metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats in the body. The fewer hormones are produced by the thyroid gland, the worse is dog`s health: it starts losing hair, skin becomes dry, body temperature decreases, obesity and fatigue develop. Hypothyroidism is a congenital disorder. It cannot be cured. Secretion of hormones always needs to be stimulated by drugs with concentration of the T4 hormone.

Sebaceous adenitis is a skin disease that inflames and disrupts functioning of sebaceous glands that are responsible for secretion of sebum. It moisturizes skin and creates an acid barrier that protects body from microbes, bacteria and viruses. When sebaceous glands stop producing enough sebum, skin starts peeling off and losing its functions. It is impossible to cure sebaceous adenitis. The pet constantly needs to be give therapies: wash its hair with keratolytic shampoos, apply oils to the skin, reduce inflammation of glands with medications.

History of the Breed

Akita Inu is an ancient breed. There is no exact data of their origination. However, some archaeologists found skeletons of pets, buried around 2000 years BC. Matagi Inu were their ancestors. They appeared on the island of Honshu in Japan. These dogs were used for guarding and hunting large and fast animals: bears, macaques and boars. In order to save qualities of the breed, Japanese breeders established clubs of people who liked such dogs: they created instructions and recommendations about their breeding and training.

Matagi Inu were not large in size. However, because dog fights became popular in the 16th century, their appearance changed. Matagi Inu started being crossbred with fighting dogs — Tosa Inu. Because of it, they became bigger and more aggressive. In 1868, Great Danes, Mastiffs and Bullmastiffs were brought from Europe. Matagi Inu were crossbred with them, too. Because of it, this breed lost its distinguishing characteristics. In order to restore their initial appearance, Japanese dog owners from the city of Akita united in 1923 to create a community called Akino.

In 1932, Japanese newspapers told the story about a dog named Hachiko. It would come to the railway station every day for 9 years and wait for its owner, who died from heart attack. After Hachiko`s death, a monument was set for it, and a day of mourning was announced. Two movies were based on this story: Hachiko Monogatari (1987) and Hachi: a Dog`s Tale (2009).

In 1934, the first standard of the breed was established, and it was renamed to «Akita Inu». During WWII, many dogs of this breed died. Then, an epidemy started. Dogs all around the country started being killed. In order to save their pets, Japanese people let them go to the mountains. There, they hunted and mated. After the war, Japan was occupied by American troops. That is how these pets appeared in the USA. Soon, a new breed appeared — American Akita Inu.