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Akita - A Dog's Tale
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© Christine Till
There are two types of Akitas, the original Japanese Akita breed and now a separate designation for American standard Akitas. In the US and in parts of Canada, an Akita may originate in Japan or not. In Japan, however, any dog that is mixed outside the gene pool of the traditional Akita bloodline is not considered "pure," and it is usually classified differently. The name comes from the Akita Prefecture, the particular area where the dog is supposed to have originated.
American author Helen Keller imported the very first Akita dog to the United States. Soon after, military officers who were returning from World War II brought more of this breed. These dogs, however, were considered fighting dogs, and were quickly mixed with other fierce dogs like the German Shepherd and the Rottweiler. By 1973, the American Akita had evolved quite differently from its Japanese ancestors. Large, powerful and alert, the American Akita has a heavier build, and denser bone structure than its Japanese counterpart.
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, 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 intelligent, courageous, fearless, careful and sometimes spontaneous, a large strong powerful dog with a regal bearing and a sense of its own superiority. He needs a firm, confident, consistent pack leader, without which the dog will be very wilful and may become very aggressive to other dogs and animals. With the release of the Richard Gere movie, "Hachiko," too many people may assume all Akitas are of the same temperament. The truth is that Akitas often are that loyal, but they are not a breed for all families and many of them are not good with children. It is certainly not a pet for the faint hearted first-time dog owner.
April 8th, 2013
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