Gigantic Dogs - Akita Inu

The Akita, is a large spitz breed of dog originating from the mountainous northern regions of Japan. There are now two seperate types, the American type and the Japanese type. Known in different parts of the world respectivly as Akita or American Akita and Akita inu or Japanese Akita.The American style come in all dog colors, however the Japanese style come in selected colors only, with all other colors considered untypical of the breed. The Akita has a short double coat, similar to that of many other northern Spitz breeds, e.g., Siberian Husky, but long coated dogs can be found in many litters due to a recessive gene. The American style Akita is now considered a separate breed from the Japanese style Akita in many countries around the world, with the notable exceptions of Australia (where there are no current breeders of the Japanese style dog), the United States and Canada. In the US and Canada, both the American style Akita and the Japanese style Akita Inu are considered a single breed with differences in type rather than two separate breeds. During a short period of time the American style of Akita was known in some countries as the "Great Japanese Dog". Both styles of Akita are probably best known worldwide from the true story of Hachikō, a loyal Akita dog who lived in Japan before World War II.

American Akita or Akita or Akita Inu?

Debate remains among Akita fanciers of both types whether there are, or should be, two distinct breeds of Akita. To date, the American Kennel Club (AKC), Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) and Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC), guided by their national breed clubs, consider American and Japanese style Akitas to be two types of the same breed, allowing free breeding between the two. The Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI), The Kennel Club (KC) (UK), New Zealand Kennel Club (NZKC) and Kennel Clubs of some other nations, including Japan, consider Japanese and American style Akitas as separate breeds. However all excpet the FCI refer to the American style Akita as simply the "Akita" and not American Akita. Indeed, the issue is especially controversial in Japan. Formally, for the FCI, the breed split occurred June 1999, when the FCI voted that the American type would be called the Great Japanese Dog, this was changed in January 2006 to American Akita.


As a northern breed (generically, Spitz), the appearance of the Akita reflects cold weather adaptations essential to their original function. The Akita is a substantial breed for its height with heavy bones. Characteristic physical traits of the breed include a large, bear-like head with erect, triangular ears set at a slight angle following the arch of the neck. Additionally, the eyes of the Akita are small, dark, deeply set and triangular in shape.Akitas have thick double coats, and tight, well knuckled cat-like feet. Their tails are carried over the top of the back in a graceful sweep down the loin, into a gentle curl, or into a double curl.

Mature American type males measure typically 26-28 inches (66–71 cm) at the withers and weigh between 100-130 lb (45–59 kg). Mature females typically measure 24-26 inches (61–66 cm) and weigh between 70-100 lb (32–45 kg). The Japanese type are a little smaller and lighter.

Breed standards state that all dog breed coat colors are allowable in the American style Akita, including pinto, all types of brindle, solid white, black mask, white mask, self colored mask, even differing colors of under coat and overlay (guard hairs). This includes the common Shiba Inu coloring pattern known as Urajiro. The Japanese style Akitas are restricted to Red, pure white, fawn, sesame, brindle, all with "Urajiro" markings i.e. Whitish coat on the sides of the muzzle, on the cheeks, on the underside of jaw, neck, chest, body and tail and on the inside of the legs.

Coat Types

There are two coat types in the Akita, the standard coat length and the long coat. The long coat is considered a fault in the show ring, however, they still make good pets.The long coat, also known as 'Moku' is the result of a autosomal recessive gene and may only occur phenotypically if both sire and dam are carriers. They have longer (about 3-4 inches in length) and softer coats and are known to have sweeter temperaments.It is believed that this gene comes from the now extinct Karafuto-Ken 樺太犬 (extirpated in Japan, anyway) Dog of Russia.


The Akita today is a unique combination of dignity, courage, alertness, and devotion to its family. It is extraordinarily affectionate and loyal with family and friends, territorial about its property, and can be reserved with strangers. It is feline in its actions; it is not unusual for an Akita to clean its face after eating, to preen its kennel mate, and to be fastidious in the house.They are however known to be intolerant of other dogs, as stated in the AKC breed standard.

Since it is a large, powerful dog, the Akita is not considered a breed for a first time dog owner. The breed has been targeted by some countries' breed legislation as a dangerous dog. The Akita is a large, strong, independent and dominant dog. A dog with the correct Akita temperament should be accepting of non-threatening strangers, yet protective of their family when faced with a threatening situation. They should be docile, aloof and calm in new situations. As a breed they should be good with children, it is said that the breed has an affinity with children, just as retrievers have an affinity with sticks and balls. However all care and caution should be taken with children and large dogs. Not all Akitas, nor all dogs, will necessarily have a correct temperament.

The Akita was never bred to live or work in groups like many hound and sporting breeds. Instead, they lived and worked alone or in pairs, a preference reflected today. Akitas tend to take a socially dominant role with other dogs, and thus caution must be used in situations when Akitas are likely to be around other dogs, especially unfamiliar ones. In particular, Akitas tend to be less tolerant of dogs of the same sex. For this reason, Akitas, unless highly socialized, are not generally well-suited for off-leash dog parks. The Akita is docile, intelligent, courageous and fearless, careful and very affectionate with its family. Sometimes spontaneous, it needs a firm, confident, consistent pack leader, without which the dog will be very willful and may become very aggressive to other dogs and animals.