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Akita

Life span: 10-15 Years

Height: 64-70cm(Male); 58-64cm(Female)

Weight: 70-130 pounds

The Akita is a dog breed commonly known for being loyal, with origins in Japan, it was originally used for defense and attack alongside Japanese warriors. Unfortunately, in Spain, it is considered potentially dangerous, whereas in Japan it is considered the best dog you could own, and can be given to the family if there is a sick person or when a baby is born. Thanks to the movie Hachiko, this dog breed also has a statue representing it!

Physical Characteristics

The Akita Inu is a large muscular dog with small pointed ears that lean forward slightly, small brown eyes and a wide triangle head. Their body is long and not as tall. They also have a broad nose that can be either black or brown, and of course, their curled and furry tail. Their undercoat is soft and abundant and has “guard hairs” that are not as soft and only dense enough to help them keep warm and dry, given their origins are in the mountains of Japan, these hairs can resist harsh conditions. As their name suggests, the guard hairs protect the undercoat. Their coat color can vary greatly, it can be red, grey, black, silver, white, tan brown, light brown, etc.

History

This breed has records from over 3,000 years ago, originating in the Akita region in Japan, from where its name comes from. Over the years, this dog has had many purposes, and with it came different variations of its name. In the 1600s this breed was known for hunting bears and as a fighting dog, guarding royalty as well. The first Akita dog introduced to America was one given to Helen Keller after she expressed her desire to own one when shown the Hachiko statue. After her puppy unfortunately died of distemper (a contagious disease with no known cause that can thankfully be prevented almost fully through vaccines), she was presented with its older brother. She then came to the conclusion that Akitas were “gentle, companionable, and trusty”.

During World War II, American soldiers stationed in Japan came back with Akita puppies eventually evolving into the American Akita, known to be more robust than the Japanese Akita. Because of this, however, a wide gap was formed between those who fancied the American Akita and those who preferred the Japanese Akita, that still affects Akita fanciers today.

In London Zoo, a tiger cub was orphaned and the Akita was chosen to be its companion, not only because its dense fur could withstand the sharp claws, but because they knew its loyalty would make him a fearless guardian of the cub. Years later, as the tiger reached near adulthood, the Akita happily retired from his guardian job, having done perfectly.

Personality

An excellent guardian that will always be loyal and extremely playful and affectionate with its family, this dog tends to be shy and keep to itself around strangers. It will remain calm for most of the day, even in stressful situations. However, it may become aggressive against dogs of the same sex and it’s better to be kept as an only dog within the household. Even though it is a calm dog, if it feels the situation demanding a bark, it won’t hesitate to do so, it will also grumble and moan frequently. With its strong character, this dog will not be easy to train, and needs an experienced dog owner to be able to handle it, and raise it properly so it doesn’t become an aggressive adult. The Akita needs constant exercise or it may result in a destructive behavior.

Health

The Akita Inu can be a very healthy breed, but it can most commonly suffer from:

Hip dysplasia, a hereditary disease in which there is an abnormal formation in the hip socket, that may eventually cause painful arthritis. It may also be affected by the environment they reside in.

Hypothyroidism, a disease that affects the thyroid gland, its symptoms are ear infections, skin infections, hair loss, lethargy, and depression.

Sebaceous adenitis (SA), a genetic condition that can be confused for Hypothyroidism, allergies, etc. This causes the sebaceous glands (which produce a fatty secretion to help the skin stay hydrated) to become inflamed and eventually destroyed. Its symptoms include: hair loss, scaly and dried skin, secondary skin infections, thickened skin, unpleasant odor, etc. These symptoms are shown in dogs up to five years old.

Gastric dilatation-volvulus, or bloat, is a mortal disease in which large chested dogs are affected by eating quickly, drinking lots of water and exercising after. This causes the stomach to inflate with gas and twist, making the dog unable to get rid of the excess air through vomiting, which impedes the normal blood flow to the heart. Its blood pressure then goes down and the dog goes into shock. Without proper, and immediate, medical attention, this could be fatal. Its symptoms may include: retching without vomiting, bloated abdomen, excessive salivation, restlessness, depression, rapid heart rate, weakness, etc.

Care

Although not especially fond of going outside, the Akita does need daily exercise. An hour or so of jogging/walking is enough for this breed, otherwise it could develop a destructive behavior. However, try to keep them from running into other dogs, given their aggressiveness towards them, meaning, preferably no dog parks. Being a family dog, it cannot be left alone for long periods of time, and thoroughly enjoys family activities. If left alone, procure no strangers come into its territory, although not normally aggressive towards human strangers, if its owners aren’t around to show them it’s okay, it will guard its territory in any manner it sees fit.

Akitas tend to grow very fast from four to seven months and need a high quality, low calories diet to keep them from growing too fast, along with a soft playground for them, and therefore preventing many bone diseases that may occur. Once its bones and joints are completely formed, it can handle tough playground surfaces such as pavement.

 

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