“When breeding we feel responsible for creating the best specimens, making sure to always improve the breed standards. We carefully choose the matings that we believe will broaden the blood lines and create genetic excellence. Our main goal is to improve the characteristics of the breed, perfecting them, especially in terms of temperament, typicality, and structure.”
Akitas are smart, strong, dignified and brave dogs. Extremely loyal to their owners, they are quiet and intuitive, and very easy to train. They make sensitive and respectful companions, as well as being very helpful. In this section we will get into detail about the history, the characteristics and the behavior of this amazing and peculiar breed.
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It’s difficult to say exactly how old the Akita is, since the Japanese civilization has over 2,600 years of history and much of it has been documented without much discernment between what is myth and what is factual. Drawings from the Bronze Age already showed dogs with stand-up years and half-curled tails, and other distinct features of the Japanese type dog.
The evolution of breeds in Japan unfolded according to their habitat and geographic location, alongside pertinent culture developments, like wars and conflicts. Japanese dogs, which are considered natural monuments, have their origins in the country’s remote mountain areas, where they were safe and isolated for a long time, thus ensuring the breed’s purity. Out of the seven breeds regarded as natural monuments in Japan, the Akita is the largest, and it has its roots in the Odate area.
The name Akita-Inu was used for the first time in 1931; before that it was simply known as the “Odate Dog”, or “Nambu-Inu” during the feudal period. The current name comes from the Akita Prefecture, where the district of Date is located.
Going forwards in history, during the Meiji Era (1862-1912), a period known for is conflicts and cultural agitation, dog fighting became very popular, and the Akita sought after for that purpose. This practice lasted up until the Taisho period (1912-1925), until it was finally forbidden in Japan.
A while after, unfortunately, many Akitas died of hunger or were killed during World War II. As well as having to cope with the food shortage, the dogs were also captured for their fur, which was used for making winter clothes. One of the factors that contributed to the restauration and preservation of the breed was the touching story of the Hachi-Ko, which we will tell you soon. Up until then no other dog had touched the hearts of the Japanese people like him.
After the war, a lot of good specimens were mated, giving way to the process of restoration and preservation of the Akita. With the increase in popularity and the growth in numbers, the Akita lineage became a matter of great emphasis amongst respectful breeders. During this period two main lineages stood out from the others – Dewa and Ichioneski. It was also during this time that the differentiation between the Japanese Akita and the American Akita began to take place, as the breed started to establish itself in the 1950’s America.
Up until then predominant exclusively in Japan, the breed initiated its expansion process when a specimen was taken to the US in 1939. The development of the breed in American soil culminated with it being recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1973. Parallel to that the breed also spread to other countries, mainly European ones.
The Akita arrived in Brazil in the mid-1970s, brought by Japanese immigrants and Bras Dog Kennel. After existing only in this restricted circle for a while, it finally caught the locals’ attention, and is now a very well known and loved breed amongst Brazilians.
The Akita is a large and robust dog, with a well-balanced body and strongly marked secondary sex characteristics. Their behavior is noble, dignified and often modest, and they are extremely loyal to their owners. The body length ratio in the male is 10:11; but the female body is slightly longer in comparison. Their temperament is docile, loyal and very astute. The height of the male is usually around 66.7cm, while the female is 61cm in average, with a variation of 3.03cm being acceptable.
The proportion between body, head and forehead is harmonic, with a well-defined stop and a distinct groove, but no wrinkles. The cheeks are moderately developed and the nasal bridge is straight, with a long and black nose (in the case of white specimens, it can be called “meat”). The muzzle is moderately long and strong, with a wide base and narrow edges, but not pointy, and the teeth are powerful, with scissors bite. The lips are firm and tightly drawn. The eyes have a triangular shape, are deeply set and properly spaced from each other, and the iris is a yellowish dark brown. The erect ears are small, thick, triangular, and slant forward at a proper angle, with adequate space between them.
The neck is thick and sturdy, with no loose skin and a proper angle.
One of the Akitas most beautiful and prominent features is the tail, which is positioned high in relation to the body and is very thick and curled. When relaxed, the tip of the tail almost reaches the hock joint.
FORELEGS AND HIND LEGS
The shoulders are inclined and well-developed, with straight forearms and a strong bone structure, as well as firm elbows. The hind legs are strong, well-developed and slightly angular. The paws are thick and round, firmly closed and arched.
Powerful and resilient march – confident.
The back is straight and strong, wide and muscular. The chest is deep and well-developed, with moderately arched ribs and a well-defined abdomen.
The outer coat is coarse and smooth, while the undercoat is soft and dense. The withers and back are covered with slightly longer coat. The tail’s coat longer than the rest of the body’s. The main colors are red, tabby, sesame and white. Except for white, all other coat colors must have "URAJIRO". The term refers to the whitish coat around the muzzle, chest and abdomen, inside the tail and between the legs.
[You better go fetch some Kleenex tissues, because this story is as beautiful as it is sad. We're telling it the way it is written on the statue in honor of the dog, located in Tokyo.]
Hachiko was born in Akita in November 1923. He was taken to Tokyo in January 1924 and raised by Mr. Eisaburo Uyeno, who was a professor in the Department of Agriculture at the Imperial University.
Mr. Uyeno was always very kind and loving with Hachi, and in return of the special treatment he received they both became great friends. Hachi grew up to be an exuberant specimen of the line of great Japanese dogs. His coat was sesame, and he had pointed ears and a well-curled tail. He was about 70cm tall and weighed 46 kilograms.
Hachi used to accompany his owner every morning, rain or shine, the train station of Shibuya, and wait for his return in the afternoon, when master and dog returned together and joyously to the house where they lived This friendship lasted until a certain day in May 1925. On that day Hachi saw his owner disappear in the crowd at Shibuya station, never to return. His master had a sudden illness at work and died before Hachi could meet him again. The sad episode occurred when Hachi was only 16 months, but he never forgot his owner. The dog continued to go every day to Shibuya station, hoping to find Mr. Uyeno.
Sometimes he would stay at the station for days without returning home. This patient search ended on March 8, 1934, when Hachi died in the same place where he saw his master for the last time. However, even before the death of the dog, the people who accompanied the relentless pursuit of this faithfull creature, aging day after day, were so deeply touched by his attitude that they decided to erect a statue in honor of the noble animal.
In April 1934 a beautiful bronze statue, executed by famous sculptor Teru Ando, was erected in front of the Shibuya station. Unfortunately, in 1945 it was removed by the army and then melted to manufacture weapons for the war.
With the end of the war, a plan to rebuild the statue was made, and the task of building a new statue was entrusted to Takeshi Ando, son of Teru Ando, who had died because on an air raid.
The new statue is identical to the previous one both in size and shape and, without a doubt, it helps perpetuate the memory of the faithful Hachiko.