The Akita Inu is the national breed of Japan. It is named after the province from which it originates,
i.e. the province of Akita, in the north of Honshu (Japan). As much of the work it performed was of an aggressive nature it was trained as a bear hunter and fighting dog. In the era before the Japanese Samurai the Akita was an unfaltering companion. His strong affection for his owner has given the Akita Inu a place in Japanese mythology, and pictures of Akitas are still given as tokens of friendship and prosperity to this day.
The Akita is also seen as a bringer of good fortune. Just how faithful these dogs can be is illustrated by the legend of ‘Hachiko’. The Shibuyu Railway Station has a statue of a very faithful Akita by the name of ‘Hachiko’. Every day Hachiko would accompany his owner, professor Ueno of the University of Tokyo, to the station where he would wait until the train departed. At 3 o’clock
he would return to the station to collect his owner again. One day, Hachiko was waiting for the train as usual, but his owner never arrived. He had died of heart failure at the University. From that day forward, Hachiko went to the station every day at 3 o’clock to wait for his owner. The people who knew him would feed him and take care of him if he was wounded in a dogfight on his travels. He did this for ten years until his death. After he died a statue of Hachiko was erected outside the Shibuyu Station in Tokyo. Hachiko’s fur has been preserved in the Ueno museum and
he himself appears in the stories of many Japanese children’s books.
Throughout its history the Akita Inu has had many ups and downs, such as the debate over Japanese and American types. This was resolved on 1 January 2000 when the FCI recognized two.
The Akita Inu has other family members, including the Tosa Inu, Kishu Ken, Shikoku Ken, Ainu Ken, Kai Ken, Hokkaido Inu, Koshi-no-Inu and the smaller Shiba Inu. The words ‘Inu’ and ‘Ken’ both mean ‘dog’.
Like most dogs the Akita molts twice a year. This process is fairly short, but heavy. At this point an Akita must be brushed and combed frequently.
If the Akita’s coat is too dirty it can be washed with a good dog shampoo. Akita’s enjoy this very much. Washing too frequently, however, is not good for the coat, so it
is best to wash only when really necessary.