March 8th is Akita Day! These big, fluffy dogs have some very devoted fans, and definitely deserve recognition. In fact, Japan has declared the Akita a national treasure. In this article, a local vet discusses this extraordinary pooch.
Akitas originated as hunting dogs, and were bred for hunting boar and deer in the mountains of northern Japan. Nowadays, these smart, loyal pooches are mostly kept as pets, but they are sometimes found working as therapy dogs or as guard dogs.
Akitas are big, poofy dogs with big, poofy personalities. These pups are amazingly loyal. And, despite all that fur, they are renowned for being quite clean. Fido is usually very good with kids, but not so much with other dogs … particularly those of the same sex. Because Akitas can be bossy and reactive, they’re not necessarily the best matches for inexperienced dog owners. Needless to say, proper training is an absolute must here!
A Close Call
Did you know that the Akita almost went extinct during World War II? In fact, the Japanese government issued orders that all of them were to be killed! Fortunately, many loving and worried owners instead released their pets into the mountains, where they then bred with wild dogs. The breed was saved and revived in large part due to the efforts of a man named Morie Sawataishi. If you’re interested in learning more, there’s a book about Sawataishi and his efforts. It’s called Dog Man: An Uncommon Life on a Faraway Mountain.
If you were wondering why March 8th was chosen as Akita day, it’s to commemorate the death of the most famous Akita of all, Hachiko. You might have heard the story of this amazing pooch, or perhaps seen the movie that was based on his story. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale starred Richard Gere as Hachiko’s owner, Professor Ueno. (Spoiler: it’s a tearjerker.) The amazing bond of friendship between these two is the stuff of legend, literally. Hachiko became known for waiting faithfully at the train station for his owner every day. The devoted pooch kept returning to the station even after Ueno’s passing, and continued to do so until his own death in 1935.
If you love this special breed, you might want to consider visiting Odate, Japan, where there’s an entire museum devoted to them. While you’re there, take time to visit Hachiko’s statue. That’s in Shibuya, Japan, near the train station where the super-faithful pup waited for his beloved master.
Do you have questions about Akita health or care? Contact us today!