Akitas are large, strong dogs known for their independence and thick double coat. The akita is known for being loving and loyal to family members, and is a great watchdog. It was first bred in Japan and was a popular and much revered member of society. Akitas come in two types: the Japanese akita, known as the akita inu, and the American akita.
The Japanese akita, or akita inu, was a popular dog in Japan for many years before its introduction into America. The akita inu was used as a guard dog and as a hunter, and is one of only seven breeds designated as a natural monument in Japan. The akita found its way to America when it was brought back from Japan after World War II with servicemen returning to the United States. The American akita began to evolve, as did the Japanese akita, which caused a breed "split" that is hotly debated among enthusiasts. Some view the two dogs as entirely different breeds. In fact, only the United States and Canada list the dogs as the same breed, while kennel clubs in all other countries list them as two distinct and separate breeds.
The American and Japanese akitas differ in their coats and masks. American akitas can be found in all colors, according to breed standards. Japanese akitas, however, are permitted only in limited colors: red, fawn, sesame, white and brindle. In addition, they are not permitted to have specific mask colors, while the American akita may have a black mask. Both the American and Japanese akitas have coarse, heavy coats that are shed twice a year and require much brushing to avoid matting.
American and Japanese akitas differ significantly in appearance. The American is generally a heavier dog, larger in stature. Males weigh 100 to 130 pounds, while females weigh 70 to 100. They are characterized by a bear-like head. Japanese akitas, on the other hand, are more fox-like in appearance, with a smaller head and body type. Both Japanese and American akitas feature the same double coat, erect ears and tail that flips over the dog's back.
The American and Japanese types are both loyal and loving dogs known for their protectiveness of their family. The akita is an intelligent dog who can be willful and may attempt to be pack leader if not grounded at an early age with dog training. The akita requires moderate exercise and can be a great family pet if trained properly and early.
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