Akitas are one of the oldest dog breeds with a pedigree stretching back millennia. They originated in Japan where they were used to guard Japanese royalty and hunt larger game such as bear and boar in the mountainous areas just like their early ancestors. It is believed that the Akita, named after the northwestern area of the island Honshu, and various other Asian Spitz breeds such as the Shiba Inu, Chow Chow, and Chinese Shar-Pei descended from the now-extinct Matagi Inu dogs that were brought to Northeastern Japan. During the late 1800s, the ancestors of the Akita were used more for guarding and dogfighting than they were for hunting, which led to many of the dogs being bred to European and Asian Mastiffs to achieve a larger size and more strength. American soldiers that were introduced to the breed during World War II preferred the larger, "bear-like" Akitas over the smaller Matagi types. These large, powerful dogs established the Akita breed in America.
A member of the working group, the Akita is known for their strength, muscularity, and massive-sized head that is balanced out by their large tail. The combination of size and elegance makes these dogs truly distinctive. The breed has a thick, dense, yet soft undercoat while the topcoat is straight and harsh, which provides water and weather resistance when hunting in varying conditions or terrain. Akitas have dark brown triangular-shaped eyes that are deep-set, giving them their alert and intimidating appearance, and small, erect ears. A widely known characteristic of the breed is its fluffy tail that curls over on itself to sit on the lower back.
The Akita is powerful, fiercely loyal, and very protective of their family, especially children. Unlike their Spitz breed cousins, they tend to be quiet and keep to themselves, but these faithful giants can make an excellent watchdog. They may seem a little aristocratic, since not only are they elegant and long-pedigreed, but the breed can be difficult to train and requires an equally strong-willed owner who uses plenty of positive reinforcement such as praise and food rewards. Despite their bold and independent personality, the Akita is an intelligent working dog that can learn quickly, but on their own terms. This particular breed is generally not recommended for first-time dog owners or if you are unwilling to take full charge during obedience training. Bred to be a hunter and guardian, Akitas are strong, athletic, and best suited for homes with a large backyard to receive enough daily exercise. Even though they are protective and fond of their humans, this breed is prone to developing intolerant or aggressive behavior towards other dogs, especially between ones of the same sex. With proper training and strict socialization from puppyhood, the Akita can result in an obedient, well-mannered adult that is eager to please.