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Dog Breeds: Akita
The Akita is a breed that generates some controvery around the world. There are really two types of Akitas. The American Akita, whose breed standard allows a black mask, is most common in North America. The Akita Inu is the original breed of Japanese origin and does not allow for a black mask. In most of North America, these are considered to be one breed with differences in type. In some other areas of the world, however, they are considered different breeds. For the purposes of this article, I will use "Akita" to refer to the North American standard, which means both breeds with just a slight variation between the two.
This large and sturdy breed has a well defined head with a solid color nose. The ears are strong and erect, but rather small in relation to the massive head. The rims of the eyes and the lips are black, but the tongue is pink. The tail is large and curled, straight and full, and often carried over the back. When extended, the tail would reach down to the hock. They may not look it, but a mature Akita can weigh as much as 120 pounds.
The Akita has a double coat with a thick, soft, and dense undercoat. The outer coat is straight, harsh, and standing somewhat off the body. The Akida may be of any color, including white, pinto, or bridle. The colors should be rich and distinctive and the markings well balanced. Some Akitas have a mask or markings, some do not. The markings mostly depend on the lineage of both parents. Some Akitas have longer hair, but only if both parents carry the recessive longhair gene.
An Akita can be very vocal, but they're not really barkers. Instead they make a variety of odd sounds. This breed is very social and makes a wonderful family pet. They feel an intense need to be with their family. They are intelligent, docile, and friendly, which makes them easy to train. But they are also courageous, almost fearless, and will go to any lengths to protect their family. They are willful and need a guiding hand to remain calm. Without this guiding hand, they can become aggressive, usually to other dogs and small animals. The Japanese version of this breed is so protective that Japanese mothers would often leave their children in the care of the family's Akita. I don't endorse this practice, but it was common in Japan for many years. Akitas, however, are attached just to their own family. Don't leave unfamiliar children alone with any Akita.
The Akita is unfortunately prone to hip dysplasia. Hypothyroid and autoimmune thyroiditis, immune diseases like VKH and Pemphigus, skin problems like SA, eye (PRA, Micro, entropion) patella, problems with the knee also seem to affect the breed. Look for a reputable breeder and ask about any health problems.
Akitas are great family dogs and remain loyal to their family. Bear in mind, however, that they are a large breed and can be quite stubborn. They benefit from an organized obedience class and a strong human pack unit.
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