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  • Temperament: Dignified, Alert, Reserved
  • Height: 25-27 1/2 inches (male), 22 1/2-25 inches (female)
  • Weight: 65-75 pounds (male), 55-65 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 10-12 years
  • Group: Foundation Stock Service

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Breed Standard
Japanese Akitainu standing in the forest.
©Guo jin Kyle Lin
Japanese Akitainu head portrait outdoors.
©Noriyuki Kaneko
Japanese Akitainu standing on a pebble beach.
AlynJ/Getty Images Plus
Japanese Akitainu head portrait in winter.
©Julia Didenko
Japanese Akitainu hiking in the snowy mountains.
©Bekki Leu
Japanese Akitainu head portrait outdoors.
©Sean Nollan
Japanese Akitainu standing in profile outdoors.
©Karolina Kardasz

About the Japanese Akitainu

Descending from regional hunting dogs, the Japanese Akitainu was initially restored and preserved by dedicated breeders in the Akitainu Hozonkai (Akita Dog Preservation Society; AKIHO). The breed is known for its striking appearance and its physical and mental agility.

Japanese Akitainu Club of America

Email: info@akita-inu.com

Japanese Akitainu puppy playing in the grass.
©Akitainu Hozonkai

Find a Puppy: Japanese Akitainu

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Care

NUTRITION

The diet of the Japanese Akitainu depends on the individual dog’s activity level, health needs, and owner preferences. This breed is prone to allergies so finding the right food ingredients/sources is important as well as ensuring the food is of high quality. Feeding three times a day for puppies and twice a day for adults is suggested.

GROOMING

A slicker brush may be used during grooming sessions during normal times. However, the Japanese Akitainu blows its undercoat twice a year. Profusely. So expect tufts of hair everywhere during that time. A bath, followed by cold forced air dryer and a comb out will help expedite the natural process of blowing coat. Nails should be kept trimmed using clippers or a nail grinder. Regular teeth brushing and maintaining ear cleanliness are essential not just for appearance but for health.  To maintain healthy and luxurious coats, gentle brushing every few days is recommended (depending on activities); for long coats, more frequent brushing will help to avoid matting.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Occasional Bath/Brush

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

The breed has a high prey drive and may be dog-aggressive; therefore, it is recommended to keep the Japanese Akitainu on leash in public spaces or around other animals and unfamiliar people. Regular walks and mental exercise are highly recommended for the breed. With proper training and precautions, they also make fine companions for outdoor activities such as hiking and camping.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

The Japanese Akitainu responds best to positive training and methods that utilize their natural intelligence. They bore quickly with repetition, so short and varied sessions are more effective. Daily mental challenges and enrichment are necessary to keep dogs of this breed engaged. Because of their hunting background, Japanese Akitainu tend to enjoy using their natural instincts in nose work, barn hunt, and lure coursing.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Independent

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Alert/Responsive

HEALTH

Autoimmune disorders, for which there are currently no genetic tests, such as sebaceous adenitis, uveodermatalogic syndrome, pemphigus, discoid lupus, food and environmental allergies, etc., affect this breed. There have been cases of amelogenesis imperfecta which can be screened for.

The national breed club requires testing of hips and eyes and strongly recommends screenings for patella, thyroid, and amelogenesis imperfecta/enamel hypoplasia issues.

Japanese Akitainu sitting on the beach.
©Dogs - stock.adobe.com
Japanese Akitainu and puppy laying down.
Japanese Akitainu standing outdoors.
Japanese Akitainu laying down in the grass

History

The Japanese Akitainu’s history parallels that of the other five existing native Japanese breeds, shifting from the brink of extinction to becoming a source of national pride. Over centuries, five major eras of the breed history may be identified, some of which overlap:

Hunting – In the mountainous terrain of the Tōhoku region, where Akita Prefecture is located, traditional village hunters called Matagi developed the Matagiinu (Matagi dog), a slightly larger than medium-sized dog to hunt large game. The Matagiinu is considered the ancestor of the modern-day Akitainu.

Guarding – Due to civil unrest in the Ōdate area, noblemen began to use their hunting dogs to also guard their homes.

Fighting – Across various historical periods (Edo to Meiji and Taisho), some Akitainu were crossed with larger western breeds such as Mastiffs to yield winning results in dog fight rings.

Restoration – By the Meiji era, the Japanese agricultural department deemed the breed as existing in a state of impurity. In 1927, Akitainu Hozonkai (AKIHO), the world’s first and most influential Akitainu registry and organization, was established in the city of Ōdate, ushering in a concerted effort to restore and preserve the characteristics of the original native Akita dogs. The Akitainu was officially designated Tennen Kinen Butsu (Natural Monument) of Japan in 1931; however, continued restoration efforts were interrupted by WWII. It is believed that only 16 Akitainu existed by war’s end and some were said to have been crossbred to military German Shepherd Dogs while a few pure specimens remained in a remote village in Tōhoku. Japanese Akitainu breeders again began to restore the breed away from the transitional mixed Akita dogs to their native origin.

Preservation – Throughout the post-war decades, breeders have made great strides restoring and preserving the Akitainu. With encouragement from Japan, the first overseas AKIHO club was officially established in 1970 in the US. With encouragement from AKIHO North America, the Japanese Akitainu Club of America was formed in 1997.

Did You Know?

The Japanese Akitainu has been recorded in the Foundation Stock Service since August 2020.
The oldest Akitainu breed preservation society in the world, Akitainu Hozonkai (AKIHO), has its headquarters and museum in the city of Ōdate, Akita Prefecture.
Of the six native Japanese breeds, the Akitainu was the first to be designated a Japanese Natural Monument by the government.
At one point, the Akitainu was crossed with foreign breeds such as the English Mastiff, St. Bernard, English Bulldog, and even Pointers.
Chūken Hachiko, born in 1923 in Akita Prefecture, renowned for returning to the Shibuya train station to wait for his master who passed away, was red with urajiro (white underside pattern).
In the Kuzuwara region of Ōdate, there is a shrine to an Akitainu called Chūken Shiro who became known for his faithfulness to his hunter-master in the 1700s.
Wasao, a moku (long coat) Akitainu, became famous throughout Japan. Abandoned in 2007 but taken in by a town assembly member in Aomori Prefecture, Wasao visited people in areas devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, became the local tourism train station master, and even starred in his own movie. Wasao passed away in 2020.

The Breed Standard

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Brindle Check Mark For Standard Color 057
Red Check Mark For Standard Color 140
White Check Mark For Standard Color 199

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
White Markings 014
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