The Akita is bred for snow. These beautiful dogs thrive in snowy terrain and were originally bred for hunting wild game. Over time they became beloved as both pets and protectors.
Akitas helped people survive and secure a stable food supply by assisting hunters in rural areas. Their rise to prominence in hunting was later coupled with a role as protectors of the home which came about in the 1800s. During that time, rural areas were faced with rising populations and the accompanying challenges that come with higher densities of people.
They became valued as guard dogs as a result and served to help protect families, as well as help hunters, bring sustenance back to their homes.
What you should know
Once termed as, “snow country dogs,” this loyal breed proved themselves as exceptional trackers on the hunt. One thing you should know right off the bat is the difference between Japanese and American Akitas.
Akita Inu – the Japanese variety
The Japanese region of Odate in the Akita prefecture is where the breed is thought to have originated. These dogs are extremely ancient as a breed however, making the exact origins difficult to trace. A Japanese Akita Inu can range up to 122 pounds and 26 inches tall.
The American Akita
Despite its name, the American Akita is a completely different breed than the Japanese variety. They are not related other than the fact that both breeds technically originate in Japan. American Akitas can grow to around 130 pounds and up to 26 inches tall.
Like the Japanese Akita Inu, American Akitas are also extremely protective and loyal dogs. To those first meeting them, Akitas can be imposing, even foreboding but underneath it all, they’re very calm.
What sound do they make?
The Akita breed is fiercely protective, strong, dominant, and territorial. Ever loyal, these dogs hail from the Spitz family. Akitas can be very attached to their owners to the point that they become highly averse to sharing their owner with other people.
How many are there?
Similar to the decimation of the Alaskan Malamute, WW2 was unkind to Japanese Akita Inu when the Japanese government ordered that they be seized to provide the military with fur. Fortunately, a handful of American soldiers brought Akitas back to the United States and founded the American Akita Club.
While they have recovered to an extent, WW2 left a lasting impression on the Akita population in Japan.
Watch a video
To learn more about Akitas, you can watch these videos.
The American Akita
The Japanese Akita
Akitas have been given a generous role in pop culture with heroic dogs like Hachiko being mentioned in Japanese manga comics and other media. The tale of Hachiko is as heartwarming as it is tragic. In the 1920s, the faithful dog was the companion of Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor at the University of Tokyo. Hachiko would meet his owner at the train station after work every day without fail until one day, Mr. Ueno died from a cerebral hemorrhage.
Loyal to the end, Hachiko waited for him at that train station for nine years, nine months, and fifteen days surviving on treats and scraps given to him by folks passing by. The dog was hailed by the Tokyo community as a hero and became the subject of the film, Hachiko Monagatari.
Inspired by the same noble traits, Akitas have had been featured in books and another notable Japanese film titled, The Snow Prince.
American contributions to the renown of the Akita trace back to the likes of Helen Keller. She was purportedly the first to introduce an Akita into the United States.
An important thing to know about American Akitas as a group is that they usually give no warning whatsoever before they attack. While impressive, folks should always remember to be careful around this fierce breed of dogs.
You may be interested to know that the Akita was once called by an entirely different name, the Odate dog. The name hearkens to their proposed place of origin mentioned previously and it stuck until they were renamed Akitas in the 1930s.