Akita History

The Akita is one of Seven Breeds designated as a National Monument in his native country of Japan. Bred as a versatile hunting dog in the rugged mountains of Northern Japan, the breed is a wonderful combination of dignity with good nature, alert courage and docility.

There is a spiritual significance attached to the Akita. In Japan they are affectionately regarded as loyal companions and pets, protectors of the home and a symbol of good health, when a child is born, the proud family will usually receive a small statue of an Akita signifying health, happiness, and a long-life. If a person is ill, friends will send a small statue of an Akita to express their wish for a speedy recovery.

In the beginning, the history of the American Akitas is similar to the history of Japanese Akitas. Since 1603, in the Akita region, Akita Matagis (medium-sized bear-hunting dogs) were used as fighting dogs. From 1868, Akita Matagis were crossbred with Tosas and Mastiffs. Consequently, the size of Akitas increased, but characteristics associated with Spitz type were lost. In 1908 dog fighting was prohibited, but Akitas were nevertheless preserved and improved as a large Japanese breed. As a result, nine superior examples of Akitas were designated as « Natural Monuments » in 1931.

During World War II (1939-1945), it was common to use dogs as a source of fur for military garments. The police ordered the capture and confiscation of all dogs other than German Shepherd Dogs used for military purposes. Some fanciers tried to circumvent the order by crossbreeding their dogs with German Shepherd Dogs. When World War II ended, Akitas had been drastically reduced in number and existed as three distinct types : 1) Matagi Akitas 2) Fighting Akitas 3) Shepherd Akitas. This created a very confusing situation in the breed. During the restoration process of the pure breed after the war, Kongo-go of the Dewa line enjoyed a temporary, but tremendous popularity.
Many Akitas of the Dewa line, which exhibited characteristics of the Mastiff and German Shepherd influence, were brought back to the United States by members of the Military Forces.

The Akitas from the Dewa line, intelligent and capable of adapting to different environments, fascinated breeders in the United States and the line was developed with increasing number of breeders and a great rise in popularity.

The renowned Helen Keller is credited with bringing the first Akita into the United States in 1937. The breed's popularity in the United States following World War II may be attributed to American servicemen of the occupational forces, who so admired the noble dogs that they took them home to their families. They were attracted to the Akita because of the breed's intelligence and adaptability to different situations.

The Akita Club of America was established in 1956 and the American Kennel Club (AKC) accepted the breed (inscription into the stud book and regular show status) in October 1972.
However, at this time, the AKC and the JKC (Japan Kennel Club) did not have reciprocal agreements for recognizing each other’s pedigrees and therefore the door was closed for the introduction of the new bloodlines from Japan. Consequently, Akitas in the United States became considerably different from those in Japan, the country of origin.
They developed as a type unique in the United States, with characteristics and type unchanged since 1955.
This is in sharp contrast with Akitas in Japan which were crossbred with Matagi Akitas for the purpose of restoring the original pure breed.

Akita Did You Know?

• The Akita is one of seven breeds designated as a national monument in his native country of Japan.

• There is a spiritual significance attached to the Akita; when a child is born in Japan, the proud family will usually receive a small statue of an Akita signifying health, happiness, and a long life.

• Despite its large size, the Akita is extremely affectionate and good with families.

• At one time, Akita ownership was restricted to the Imperial family and the ruling aristocracy; caring & feeding of the Akita were detailed in elaborate ceremony and special leashes were used to denote the Akita's rank and the standing of his owner.


Akita Breed Standard

FCI-Standard N° 344 / 05. 01. 2006 / GB
ORIGIN :
Japan.
DEVELOPMENT :
USA.
DATE OF PUBLICATION OF THE ORIGINAL VALID STANDARD :
06.07.2005.
UTILIZATION
: Companion Dog.

CLASSIFICATION F.C.I. :
Group 5 Spitz and primitive types.
Section 5 Asian Spitz and related breeds.
Without working trial.


General Appearance

Large, powerful, alert, with much substance and heavy bone. The broad head, forming a blunt triangle, with deep muzzle, small eyes and erect ears carried forward in line with back of neck, is characteristic of the breed. The large, curled tail, balancing the broad head, is also characteristic of the breed.



Head

Massive but in balance with body; free of wrinkle when at ease. Skull flat between ears and broad; jaws square and powerful with minimal dewlap. Head forms a blunt triangle when viewed from above.
Fault--Narrow or snipy head.

Muzzle--Broad and full. Distance from nose to stop is to distance from stop to occiput as 2 is to 3.

Stop--Well defined, but not too abrupt. A shallow furrow extends well up forehead.

Nose--Broad and black. Liver permitted on white Akitas, but black always preferred.
Disqualification--Butterfly nose or total lack of pigmentation on nose.

Ears--The ears of the Akita are characteristic of the breed. They are strongly erect and small in relation to rest of head. If ear is folded forward for measuring length, tip will touch upper eye rim. Ears are triangular, slightly rounded at tip, wide at base, set wide on head but not too low, and carried slightly forward over eyes in line with back of neck.
Disqualification--Drop or broken ears.

Eyes--Dark brown, small, deep-set and triangular in shape. Eye rims black and tight.

Lips and Tongue--Lips black and not pendulous; tongue pink.

Teeth--Strong with scissors bite preferred, but level bite acceptable.
Disqualification--Noticeably undershot or overshot.

Neck and Body
Neck--Thick and muscular; comparatively short, widening gradually toward shoulders. A pronounced crest blends in with base of skull.

Body--Longer than high, as 10 is to 9 in males; 11 to 9 in bitches. Chest wide and deep; depth of chest is one-half height of dog at shoulder. Ribs well sprung, brisket well developed. Level back with firmly-muscled loin and moderate tuck-up. Skin pliant but not loose.

Serious Faults--Light bone, rangy body.

Tail
Large and full, set high and carried over back or against flank in a three-quarter, full, or double curl, always dipping to or below level of back. On a three-quarter curl, tip drops well down flank. Root large and strong. Tail bone reaches hock when let down. Hair coarse, straight and full, with no appearance of a plume. Disqualification--Sickle or uncurled tail.

Forequarters and Hindquarters
Forequarters--Shoulders strong and powerful with moderate layback. Forelegs heavy-boned and straight as viewed from front. Angle of pastern 15 degrees forward from vertical.
Faults--Elbows in or out, loose shoulders.

Hindquarters--Width, muscular development and bone comparable to forequarters. Upper thighs well developed. Stifle moderately bent and hocks well let down, turning neither in nor out.
Dewclaws--On front legs generally not removed; dewclaws on hind legs generally removed.

Feet--Cat feet, well knuckled up with thick pads. Feet straight ahead.

Coat
Double-coated. Undercoat thick, soft, dense and shorter than outer coat. Outer coat straight, harsh and standing somewhat off body. Hair on head, legs and ears short. Length of hair at withers and rump approximately two inches, which is slightly longer than on rest of body, except tail, where coat is longest and most profuse.

Fault--Any indication of ruff or feathering.


Color
Any color including white; brindle; or pinto. Colors are brilliant and clear and markings are well balanced, with or without mask or blaze. White Akitas have no mask. Pinto has a white background with large, evenly placed patches covering head and more than one-third of body. Undercoat may be a different color from outer coat.

Gait

Brisk and powerful with strides of moderate length. Back remains strong, firm and level. Rear legs move in line with front legs.

Size
Males 26 to 28 inches at the withers; bitches 24 to 26 inches.

Disqualification--dogs under 25 inches; bitches under 23 inches.

Temperament
Alert and responsive, dignified and courageous. Aggressive toward other dogs.

Disqualifications
Butterfly nose or total lack of pigmentation on nose.
Drop or broken ears.
Noticeably undershot or overshot.
Sickle or uncurled tail.
Dogs under 25 inches; bitches under 23 inches.



Approved December 12, 1972