The Akita: Imperial Family Only


One of seven designated breeds of dogs considered to be a national monument in their native country, the Akita was first bred as a fierce hunting dog in the northern mountains of Japan. Intelligent and courageous, they would soon come to be known not only as hunters, but as loyal companions and protectors of the home. In fact, the Akita is so highly regarded as a companion animal that it became customary that a small statue of an Akita be gifted to the family that had just celebrated a new birth. The Akita is considered to be a symbol of happiness, good health, and wishes for a long and prosperous life. Additionally, friends will often send small Akita statues to ailing friends; the gesture symbolizing their wishes that the friend get better soon.

For some time, the ownership of an Akita was restricted to just the Imperial family and those who belonged to various facets of the ruling aristocracy. Even tending to the royal Akita was awash with ceremony; the care and feeding of the dogs detailed out in elaborate rituals, and the Akita sporting special leashes that denoted, not only his owner’s standing, but the dog’s own personal rank within the kingdom as well. Fortunately, however, this practice was changed and the Akita was allowed to be enjoyed by all.

It is Helen Keller, of the Miracle Worker fame, who is credited with bringing the very first Akita into the United States, back in 1937. The breed would then grow in popularity after the end of WWII, presumably when servicemen, impressed by the dog’s intelligence and loyalty, brought them home after the war. By 1956, the Akita Club of America was formed and they would officially be recognized by the American Kennel Club, and listed in their stud book by 1972.

With males standing more than 25 inches at the shoulder and females no less than 23 inches, the Akita is a fairly large dog, powerfully built, and extremely courageous. While they are exceptionally affectionate with their families, they tend to be rather suspicious of outsiders, protective of their own territory, and aggressive towards other pets, particularly dogs. Most will agree that, if you choose to keep an Akita as a pet, it is probably safest that he be the only pet in the home or that he be raised with other animals from the time he is a puppy.

Few will mistake an Akita for anything else, once they know what they look like; the broad wedge-shaped head, small eyes, and tightly curled tail, coupled with the massive form and the dense, double coat are all characteristics of the Akita and help to make this animal a unique breed, all its own. They come in all colors, including white, brindled, and what is known as pinto (white with large, patches that cover the head and at least one third of the rest of the dog’s body). Additionally, the Akita’s undercoat may be a completely different color than his outer coat, giving him the appearance of being frosted or ticked.

The Akita is a beautiful dog and a wonderful companion for the right home. Loyal and affectionate towards the family, they are gentle around children and protective of their home, making them ideal family pet. For more information, contact your local breeders to learn more about this fascinating breed of dog and whether or not he’d be the right pet for you.

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