Akita is coming from Japan, directly from the mountainous regions of the northern part of the country. There are two separate Akita strains today, one is an American strain – Akita and the other one is Japanese strain – Akita Inu. Of course the American strain is more popular in the United States than Japan. The main difference is the color, while the American Akita comes in all common dog colors, the Akita Inu must only have selected colors. This dog breed became world famous thanks to a true story of a loyal Akita dog named Hachiko that happened during World War II. Akita is a strong, dominant and largely independent dog breed which puts rather high requirements on their breeders. When handled properly, the dogs are affectionate with its family members and very loyal with both the family and friends.
My blog about the Akita’s will give you the basic information about this breed, including some info from the history as well as advice on how to keep this beautiful dogs. When I find a nice photo or video of an Akita, I will post it here too. In case you are an Akita owner, please send me a photo of your dog and I will gladly post it on this site for other to see. And in case you own a site devoted to Akita’s, send me a link and I will publish it too. Thanks.
Hachiko is probably one of the most famous Akita dogs that has done much to bring the popularity to the Akita breed that it has today. He was a golden-brown Akita Inu that was born on November 10, 1923 on farm in the vicinity of a city Odate in the Akita Prefecture. The dog’s name refers to the fact that he was the eight puppy in the litter – hachi meaning eight, and ko meaning duke.
Since 1924 he was a pet of one Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor in the University of Tokyo’s agriculture department. Since Hachiko became his pet it was traditional for him to wait and greet his beloved master at the train station when he was coming back from his lectures. This tradition lasted for a year, until one day the owner didn’t return. It was reported that he had suffered from cerebral hemorrhage, and subsequently died.
This sad turn of events didn’t deter the faithful dog who would return to the Shibuya train station every day for the next nine years and wait for his master to return from work. People who saw the dog with professor got attached to him and would feed him for long after the professor was gone.
One of the professor students noticed the dog and decided to follow it to his home, where he learned the complete story. The student was at the time making a study of Akitas and Hachiko became one of thirty dogs that entered into the Akita census that the student was putting together. He published a number of articles on the dog, and one of them eventually caught the public’s eye and made Hachiko famous all over the nation.
People were impressed by the dog’s devotion and faithfulness. These qualities made him a powerful symbol, which prompted the erecting of a statue in his likeness that was located in the same station were his vigil endured. The statue was erected in 1934 and Hachiko was present at the event. One year later, the faithful Hachiko was found dead in the street, the cause of death was determined to be cancer.
The statue honoring him was melted for bullets during the World War II, but another one, built by the son of the artist who have built the first one, was built in 1948 and stands to this day reminding us of this incredible dog.
Akitas are majestic and dignified dogs with beautiful lush coats that might require quite a bit of grooming. Their double coat is quite thick and sheds profusely twice a year, grooming the dog will help him shed faster, and make your apartment look less like the aftermath of an extremely ferocious cat fight. They are quite clean animals and you can often see an Akita cleaning himself just like a cat would, but they still need some help in this regard.
The first part of the grooming is reserved for brushing his dense coat. You should use a firm bristle brush. If your dog is of the short-haired type you shouldn’t have too much trouble with this part, but if his fur is longer you might want to pay extra attention. Longer fur can easily become matted and entangled. If you see that your dog’s fur is difficult to brush you might want to apply some kind of a conditioner on it, as that will make it much easier for you to brush it. Brush your Akita’s fur slowly and gently in downward motions. If you notice that the brush is getting stuck pull it out and untangle the hair, taking good care not to pull too hard. While you’re brushing your dog you should keep an eye out for parasites or irritations on the skin. You’ll want to cover this with antibiotic ointments, and any parasites should either be removed if possible, or reported to the vet if not.
You might want to occasionally give you Akita a bath. Don’t do this too often as a) they are usually quite good at keeping themselves clean and b) bathing removes the water resistant oils that their hair naturally produces. If you do decide to give him a bath take great care that none of the water gets in his ears, nose and eyes. People often insert cotton balls into dog’s ears to prevent them from filling up with water. Find a mild shampoo that you need to just gently pour over the dog, not rub or massage it in. Once it has been left to sit in the fur for a while carefully remove all of it. If there is any shampoo left in the fur it might cause skin irritation.
You should use a towel to dry your dog off. Once you’re done with the towel you can either leave him to dry off completely on his own, or if the weather and your environment wouldn’t allow that, use a blow dryer set to low enough a temperature not to hurt your dog or cause him discomfort.
Now you’ll want to check the dog’s ears for parasites or filth, clean them as well as you can, just be careful not to push the q-tip too far in. There are a lot of antibiotic ear washes available on the market, they are great at preventing ear infections and need to be applied only once in a couple of months.
Akitas are generally sturdy dogs. Their history of hunting dogs that were often facing quite ferocious game has left them tough and hardy, but there are still a number of health problems that they might experience. Akita owners have to be aware of what those problems are in order to notice their development in time and stop it if it is possible.
Like most large, deep chested dog breeds, Akitas can sometimes suffer from gastric torsion, or as it is commonly known, bloat. This is a very serious condition that is often life threatening. People are not quite sure what causes it; there are some speculations that it can be prevented by giving your dog several small meals over the course of the day instead of just one, larger meal. It can also be caused by the dog eating too fast and taking larger bites. Some people also believe that feeding your dog soy beans based products might bring the condition on, as that type of food creates gases. Regardless of the exact cause, the stomach of the dog afflicted by bloat will start twisting and the passages in his gastrointestinal tract will become blocked, preventing the dog’s digestive system from functioning optimally. Symptoms of this condition include restlessness and anxiety, agitation, salivating and dry heaves. If you do notice the symptoms react immediately as it can progress rapidly and mortality rates from bloat are quite high.
Most dog breed can often suffer from some eye related condition and Akitas are not an exception. One of those conditions is cataracts. They usually appear as the dog ages, but there are also juvenile cataracts that can develop in puppies. You can notice them as white or cream specs in the dog’s eyes. At first they will just have a slight influence on the dog’s eyesight, but in time, they might make the dog completely blind. If you do notice the specks, cal your vet at your earliest convenience, surgical solutions that might save your dog’s eyesight are available.
Progressive retinal atrophy is another eye condition often afflicting Akitas. It is characterized by a slow but progressive (as its name suggests) deterioration of the dog’s retinas. At first it will only cause night blindness, but over time, it might make your dog completely blind. It can develop both in puppies and in adult dogs. It is characterized by the dog’s eyes first becoming somewhat shiny and in later stages they may become cloudy and opaque.
Another common condition, not just for Akitas, but most other larger, and sometimes even smaller breeds is hip dysplasia. This condition is hereditary and it causes improper development of hip bone socket and femur’s ball that is supposed to fit into that socket. Improper fitting of the two causes grinding and wearing of both bones and cartilage in between. In time this will seriously impede the dog’s movement. If you notice that your dog is having trouble with putting his weight on one or two of his legs, this might be the cause. Have a vet examine the dog, surgery is an option, and success rates are rather good.
Akitas make devoted pets that are very protective of their owners and homes, but that can also sometimes be a bit willful and thick headed. If you plan on buying or rescuing an Akita puppy it would be best if you didn’t have any other pets, as Akitas can be somewhat hostile towards other dogs or smaller animals.
Akitas are quite energetic and curious, meaning that they will rummage around your house at every chance they get. This means that you mustn’t leave around objects that they could swallow or that could hurt them in any way. They have thick fur that offers great protection from cold, so once they are a bit older you can keep them in the yard, just make sure that there are no poisonous plants around, and that you fence doesn’t have any holes. Akitas were used as hunting dogs and they still have strong prey drives, they could easily escape your yard in a pursuit of a small animal, which would expose them to quite a bit of risk.
You’ll need to vaccinate your little Akita as soon as you can. There can sometimes be complications during the vaccination, but your vet will be well aware of that. Before they are done with their sets of vaccinations, you should by no means place them in contact with other dogs, or even people who have dogs, this might pose a great risk to their health.
After all the vaccinations have been administered, however, you should try to have them socialize as much as you can with other dogs. This will help diminish the hostility they feel towards other dogs, but never forget that that hostility is in their blood and that no matter how well socialized they are, they might just snap and attack another dog, especially if that dog is of the same sex.