The Great Japanese Dog
The Akita dog, with its thick, fluffy coat and distinct features such as its triangular eyes, was recently discovered—thru DNA analysis—to be one of the most ancient dog breeds.
The Akita is considered to be Japan's national dog, native to the island of Honshu in a region called Akita, where it worked for centuries as an Imperial guard dog, a police dog and a working dog for the army, among other things. One of the few dog breeds to survive World War II, the Akita was first brought to the United States by Helen Keller, the famous deaf blind author and political activist, who considered the breed to be "gentle, companionable and trusty."
Today, the Akita is a popular family pet in the United States, known for its loyal and docile disposition and gentle nature toward children.
With their hunting abilities bred into them centuries earlier, Akitas are very protective of their families, their homes and their food and or toys. While they make excellent guard dogs, they are not known to bark excessively.
Typically clean and quiet, Akitas are well suited as house pets, but need a family who can shower them with much-wanted attention and also some consistent guidance and training. While known to be easily potty trained at a young age, Akitas will respond well to owners who are not submissive and are willing to walk them daily and mentally stimulate them on a regular basis.
Extremely loyal to their families and friends, Akitas are wary of strangers and are known to be particularly aggressive and dominant toward other dogs and pets.
Akitas are well suited as house pets, but need a family who can shower them with much-wanted attention and also some consistent guidance and training.
On average, a female Akita will grow to be 65 to 110 pounds, while male Akitas can weigh between 85 and 130 pounds. This breed is large, sturdy and muscular, with a "double coat"—a coarse, straight outer coat that stands slightly away from the body, and a thick, soft undercoat that hugs the dog's body. Their thick coat and webbed paws make them excellent water dogs as well.
Two different types of Akita dogs began to emerge in the later part of the 20th century: while the Japanese Akita fanciers focused on restoring the breed as an work of Japanese art, American Akita fanciers bred larger, heavier-boned dogs. The diversity in Akita appearances and breeding techniques led to two separate breeds within the breed: the Japanese Akita Inu and the American Akita.
While Akitas can come in a variety of colors, including pure white, red, fawn, sesame, and brindle, the Japanese Akita Inu—except those with solid white fur—must have whitish hair on the sides of its muzzle, on the cheeks, neck, chest, body and on the tail. The American Akita typically has a "black mask," which does not have white on its muzzle. In addition, only the American Akita has the "pinto" brindle coloring.
At this time, only the American Akita breed may be registered with the American Kennel Club.
Akita Health Concerns
As with any pet, it is always wise to be aware of any potential health conditions for which your pet may be routinely screened during bi-annual veterinary examinations.
Akitas have a life expectancy, on average, of 10 to 12 years of age. The breed also has a few known hereditary predispositions to health problems that you should be aware of:
- Atopy: an allergic disorder that causes itching, hair loss and infections of the skin and ears a strain of the herpes virus that happens to affect canines.
- Gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV): a condition associated with stomach bloat. Akita dogs are particularly susceptible to this condition, when the stomach twists (also known as volvulus or "torsion") due to a variety of reasons. This condition is severe and requires immediate, emergency veterinary treatment. Akita owners should be alert to the symptoms of GDV and know the location of the nearest emergency veterinary facility.
- Pemphigus: an autoimmune disorder, this condition results from the immune systems attack on the dog's skin causing ulcerations and pustules.
- Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA): an adult-onset condition which gradual degeneration of the retina leading to blindness.
- Cataracts: an opacity of the lens of the eye. May cause blindness if not treated surgically.
- Uveodermatological Syndrome: an autoimmune disorder that causes uveitis and depigmentation of the nose, lips, eyelids and foot pads.
- Sebaceous adenitis: this autoimmune condition attacks and destroys the dog's sebaceous glands of the skin.
- Canine hip dysplasia: a malformation of the hip joints that causes arthritis.
- Hypothyroidism: low production of thyroid hormone that results in hair loss, weight gain, infertility and other chronic metabolic conditions.
- Hyperkalaemia: As a breed, Akitas have abnormally high blood potassium concentrations compared to other breeds.
- Von Willebrand’s disease: a common bleeding disorder seen in many breeds of dogs.
While any dog may have the tendency to develop breed-specific medical conditions, this does not mean your Akita will necessarily be diagnosed with them.
One of the best things a pet owner can do for his dog is to visit a veterinarian regularly to monitor his health and take preventive measures to ensure his well being.
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An hour after going out for their potty breaks, Pepper and Ginger both started throwing up violently. Their parents soon realized they had ingested poison meant for a pesky gopher.