The Japanese Akita is one of Japan’s largest ancient spitz breeds. Originally bred for bear hunting, the Japanese Akita makes a good guard dog and family companion today. Akitas tend to be reserved and serious, but they are incredibly loyal dogs to those they’re close to.
Illustration courtesy of the Swedish Kennel Club
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Perhaps the most famous Japanese Akita is Hachikō, sometimes called the most loyal dog in the world. Hachikō greeted his owner at the train station every day, and continued to wait there for nine years after his owner’s death.
The Akita Inu or Japanese Akita is recognized as its own breed, distinct from the American Akita, in most countries. In the United States, the American Akita and Akita Inu are both considered the same breed — Akita — but there is recognition that the breed comprises of two strains. While both types of Akita have their origins in Japan, they diverged after the breed nearly became extinct during World War II when Japanese soldiers were forced by the government to relinquish their dogs for resources. Some dedicated Akita owners and breeders preserved the breed by focusing on the Dewa line of dogs, while others focused on the Ichinoseki line. These became the American and Japanese Akita breeds respectively.
Today, due to different breeds being added in each strain’s foundational stock and differences in the breed standards, the American and Japanese Akitas look very different from each other. Both are large, powerful dogs, but they come in different coat colors, heads, and structures. The Japanese Akita tends to be smaller and less muscular, with a more fox-like head and smaller triangular ears. They come in red, brindle, and white, often with “urajiro” (cream or white countershading). This breed has a triple coat. The topmost layer is coarse and straight, with two under coats below it. The top under coat is soft and colorful, while the third is the thickest and almost woolly in texture.
Like their American cousins, the Japanese Akita should be considered a serious working dog. They’re not generally a good breed for first-time dog owners as they are naturally suspicious and may be aggressive toward other dogs, especially of the same sex. It’s very important to socialize your Japanese Akita with many people, situations, and animals from a young age. Akitas are remarkably smart and can be stubborn where training is involved, so use a lot of rewards and make it fun for them — they want to know what’s in it for them. As adults, Japanese Akitas are clever, docile, and protective of their family.
Akita Inus on Embark
Explore some Embark dogs that share Akita Inu ancestry.
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The Akita is a large breed of dog originating from the mountainous northern regions of Japan.