Animals - Akita
Akita History and Domestication
The Akita is a medium sized domestic Dog breed, first bred in Japan in the 1600s. The Akita originates from the Akita Prefecture in the north-east of Japan, hence it's name. The exact reason for their initial creation is still disagreed upon, as to whether or not they were first bred as hunting or as fighting Dogs. Despite this, many favour the theory that this large breed was bred to aid local people with the hunting of Deer and Wild Boar and to possibly protect them from large carnivores like Wolves and Bears, with the fighting of them becoming popular, before people began to fortunately lose interest in the sport. Today, they are mainly used to assist their owners when hunting and are also a popular foreign breed in western households.
Akita Physical Characteristics
Like a number of other Japanese working breeds, the Akita has a plush double-coat of fur, consisting of a medium length top layer and a soft undercoat to keep them warm. This double-coat of fur can vary in colour, and is actually also water-resistant, preventing the Akita from developing hypothermia. The Akita has a strong, muscular body that is longer than it is tall. They have a heavy triangular head, with dark, triangular eyes that are deeply set into the Dog's face. The thick, strong limbs of the Akita allow it to move with vigorous precision particularly when hunting, and it's slightly webbed paws make this Dog an excellent swimmer. The most distinctive features of the Akita are their small, pointed ears and curved, upturned tail which almost sits on the Dog's back.
Akita Behaviour and Temperament
Due to the fact that the Akita has been historically bred as both a hunting and a fighting Dog, they are naturally aggressive and very dominant animals. Akitas have changed very little since they were first produced, with household individuals still having strong hunting instincts today. They are therefore, not for the inexperienced owner as they require firm and consistent training with lots of positive reinforcement. The Akita is also known to respond badly to harsh treatment. They are incredibly intelligent and loyal Dogs though, and are loving, devoted and gentle towards their master and family. The Akita is also known to be a good guard Dog as it is very suspicious of any person or animal that it doesn't know.
Like many other domestic breeds, today the Akita can be found in a variety of colours and with a milder temperament than it's ancestors. They are however, still bred as working and hunting Dogs in their native Japan, assisting their master in catching food, as well as being an increasingly popular choice of guard Dog in the west. There are few health problems however, that are associated with this breed including hyperthyroid, hip and knee problems, which are all common ailments of larger Dogs particularly. They generally live for between 9 and 15 years, and females can have anywhere from three to twelve puppies per litter.
Akita Interesting Facts and Features
In the 1930s, the Akita was so rare in Japan due to the increasing popularity of non-native breeds, that only the very rich could apparently afford one. They were declared as a "national treasure" in Japan in an attempt to conserve the country's native breeds, and having an Akita in a household is said to symbolise good health, good fortune and prosperity. Due to their long, thick coat, Akitas shed heavily twice a year, for about 2 weeks at a time, meaning that they must be brushed every day to prevent their fur from matting. Possibly due to their natural hunting nature, household Dogs are known to enjoy carrying objects in their mouths.
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