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THE AKITA.

The Akita is a large breed of dog which originated from the mountainous regions of northern Japan. There are two varieties of Akita, the Japaese Akita and the American Akita, in all other countries apart from the U. S they are considered to be two separate breeds, in the U. S they are considered to be one breed, with differences in type.

HISTORY.

The Akita originates from native Japanese dogs, from the Akita area of northern Japan and go back up to a thousand years. They were used for hunting bears, wild boar and deer, they would be used to flush out bears and keep them at bay until the hunter would come and kill it. A powerful dog it was also used for dog fighting which was really popular in Japan, especially during the 17th century.

THE MODERN BREED.

During the early 20th century the Akita breed was in decline, as a result of being crossed with other dog breeds including the German Shepherd, the St Bernard and the Mastiff. This had caused to lose their Spitz characteristics, and instead have drop ears, straight tails, different colours and loose skin.

A Japanese hunting dog known as the Matugi, along with the Hokkaido Inu breed were used to mix back into the remaining Akita, bringing back its Spitz phenotype and restoring the Akita breed. The modern Japanese Akita have relatively few genes from western dogs and are now Spitz in phenotype after this reconstruction, however the larger American breed still descends from the mixed Akita from before the restoration, as such American Akita are typically mixed and not considered true Akita by the Japaneses standard.

The Japanese and American Akita began to diverge in type during the World War II era, Helen Keller (an American author, political activist and lecturer), is credited with bringing the Akita to America after being gifted two Akita dogs by the Japanese government in 1938.

During World War II, the U. S servicemen serving as part of the occupation force in Japan came across the Akita, they were so impressed by the breed that on completion of their tours they brought the dogs home with them. The servicemen were especially impressed with the larger fighting Akita rather than the smaller Akita Inu, this was reflected in the dogs they brought back with them.

When it was first recognised by the American Kennel club in 1955, it was placed in the miscellaneous class, but eventually in 1972 it was moved in to the working dog class, where it as remained to this day.

APPEARANCE.

The Akita is a large sturdy dog with heavy bones, being of the Spitz breed its appearance reflects cold weather adaptions essential to their original function. Characteristic physical traits include a large bear like head, with erect triangular ears set at a slight angle, the eyes of the Akita are small dark, deeply set and triangular in shape. The tail is carried over the back in a gentle or double curl down the loins.

A thick double coat protects it from the harsh conditions it was originally bred to endure. The Akita can have two types of coat, the standard short coat and the long coat, the long coat is considered a fault in show dogs. The long coat, also known as the Moku is the result of an autosomal recessive gene and can only occur phenotypically if both parents are carriers. The American Akita is accepted in any colour, where as the Japanese Akita by standard is limited to red, fawn, sesame, brindle and pure white, all with white markings on the muzzle, cheeks, under side of jaw, neck, chest, tail and the inside of the legs.

Male American Akitas typically stand 26 to 28in (66 to 71cm) at the withers, and will weigh 100 to 130lb (45 to 59kg), females stand 24 to 26in (61 to 66cm) and weigh 70 to 100lb (32 to 45kg). The Japanese Akita are slightly smaller and lighter.

TEMPERAMENT.

Generally seen as territorial about its property the Akita can be reserved with strangers.it is one of the most dominant dog breeds, and for these reasons its best for training and socialising to start early, around seven to eight weeks is ideal. The Akita is sometimes described as feline in its actions, it is not uncommon for an Akita to clean its face after eating, and to preen its kennel mate. It is known to often be intolerant of other dogs of the same sex, as stated in the American Kennel club standard. A loyal dog, the Akita can make a good family pet, but it is not recommended for a first time dog owner, they are usually good around children, but not all Akitas have the same temperament.

HEALTH.

There are certain autoimmune diseases ( a condition arising from an abnormal response to a normal body part) which can affect the Akita, these include, vogt-koyanagi harada syndrome, also known as uveo dermatological syndrome, this affects the skin and the eyes. Sebaceous adentis anemia which is a blood disorder and pemphigus foliaceus a skin disorder thought to be genetic.

Hereditary conditions include, hypoadrenocortcism, also known as addisons disease, this affects the adrenal glands, essentially the opposite to cushings syndrome. Diabetes mellitus or type 1 as its known, this affects the pancreas and hypothyroidism which affects the thyroid gland.

michael simpson

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