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If you have heard of or seen the movie “Hachiko: A Dog’s Story”, then most likely, you know what an Akita is. Coming from the Land of the Rising Sun, this Japanese breed is considered the National Treasure of the country, as well as a new breed in America.
Akitas are best known for their bear-like appearance, standing like a proud, noble and loyal dog and companion. They have triangle-shaped ears, thick coats that draw attention to many people, and their tails are usually curled up. The average weight for the breed is 100 pounds for adult males and 80 pounds for adult females, while the average measure / length is 25 inches (63.50 cm) for adult males and 23 inches (58.42 cm) for adult females. They were first officially recognized in 1973 by the American Kennel Club due to their extraordinary aura, unique physique, and the fact that they are Asian dogs – which you don’t always see every day when you are living in Western countries.
According to Japanese history, culture and heritage, the Akita is a very old breed, dating from the times of the Shogun, who owned them. They were first seen in the Akita Prefecture, in Honshu, Japan. Their specialty and purpose involves hunting, guarding and herding. They were used to hunt down game and help out hunters by tracking their prey. Species that these dogs often hunt include boars, antelopes, elks and the so-called Yezo bear. Aside from that, they also have keen and sharp senses, perfect for their tasks. Akitas can also be trained efficiently since they are naturally very quiet and obedient. When it comes to herding, they have proven their worth by guarding livestock and animals from predators and trespassers in the Akita Prefecture.
The breed also made an impact in the country in certain major events. The first one was, of course, the story of Hachiko, the loyal dog of Japan whose owner (Prof. Eizaburo Ueno) unexpectedly died of a heart attack and was never able to return to the train station where Hachiko always waits for him. Because the Akita didn’t understand what’s going on, he decided to wait – and he kept vigil for 9 straight years, hoping that his master would come back. After his death, he was recognized not only by Japan, but the whole world as well, and a statue was made commemorating him.
The second one was involving Helen Keller’s interest in Akitas. When she went to Japan in 1937, she brought back with her two Akitas – the first two to enter America. They became her loyal companions.
The Akita of today is a very loyal buddy that watches over his master and family members. However, they can get defensive when it comes to unfamiliar people, places, and animals, so proper socialization is necessary. They are also fast learners and can be trained easily, but they also get bored just as fast, so a good training program should be developed.
Unlike many other dogs, Akitas are also more bound to work in pairs or solo, instead of packs or groups. They also do not like to bark unless something goes wrong. And also, their thick undercoat is something that should be regularly managed, since they are big dogs.
An Akita’s average life span is 12 years. The training efforts can be exhausting, but in the end, the results may be rewarding, as your loyal companion will give back the necessary love, care and protection you need as his master.