There are two types of Akitas - the original Japanese Akita (Akita Inu), and the more recent separate designation for American standard Akitas. The weights and sizes are different, and the American Akita breed standard allows for a black mask, whereas the Japanese Akita standard does not. In some countries, they are considered two separate breeds, however in the USA and Canada, they are considered a single breed with differences in type. The Akita originated from the island of Honshu in the Akita region of Japan, hence its name. The breed has had many uses, including police and military work, as well as being used as hunting dogs and sled dogs. The first Akita was brought to USA by Helen Keller in 1937, then after World War II many servicemen brought Akitas to the United States.
In Australia we more commonly see the larger American Akita. The American Akita is very large and powerful with a flat, broad skull. The head forms a blunt triangle when viewed from above, and the muzzle is broad and full. The nose is broad, with a black nose on white Akitas preferred under the breed standard, however a lighter coloured nose with or without shading of black or grey tone is acceptable. Ears are strongly erect, triangular with a rounded tip, quite small (in relation to the rest of the head), and set wide but not too low on the head. Eyes are dark brown, small, deep-set and triangular in shape. The large tail is coarse, straight and full, with no appearance of a plume, and is carried curled over the back or against the flank. The feet are well-knuckled with thick pads.
Bitches: Height 61-66 cm (24-26") Weight 34-50 kg (75-110 lbs)
Dogs: Height 66-71 cm (26-28") Weight 34-54 kg (75-120 lbs)
The Akita's double coat is made up of a short, thick, dense but soft undercoat, with an outer coat that is straight, harsh and stands off the body somewhat. Colours are rich, brilliant clear, with any colour including white, brindle or pinto, deemed acceptable. Markings are well-balanced, with or without the presence of a mark or blaze, however white dogs have no mask. Pinto has a white background with large, evenly-placed patches covering the head and one-third of the body. The undercoat may be a different colour than the outer coat. Though not acceptable under the breed standard, long coated, or "woolly" Akitas can be born to parents who both carry a recessive long coat gene. Like other arctic breeds, the Akita's coat requires considerable grooming and care.
The Akita is docile, intelligent, courageous and fearless. Although careful and very affectionate with their family, they can become wilful and aggressive to other dogs and animals if not given firm, confident, consistent leadership. They should be supervised with other pets, as well as with children. Although extremely loyal and usually very tolerant of children in their own family, Akitas prefer to be around children who have been taught to display leadership qualities and show respect towards dogs.
Akitas require moderate, but regular exercise and should be taken for long, daily walks. Obedience training requires a level of patience from the handler, as Akitas bore easily and will quickly become distracted. Not an excessive barker, the Akita will vocalise with a wide range of interesting, and sometimes hilarious, sounds.
With sufficient mental and physical exercise, a firm leader and the right owner, Akitas can make wonderful, loving pets.