March 8th is Akita Day! These big, fluffy dogs have some very devoted fans, and are definitely worth celebrating. In fact, Japan has declared the Akita a national treasure. A local vet discusses this extraordinary pooch below.
Akitas originated as hunting dogs in the mountains of northern Japan. Nowadays, these smart, loyal dogs are mostly kept as pets, but they are sometimes found working as therapy dogs or as guard dogs.
A Close Call
The Akita came very, very close to extinction during World War II. In fact, the government issued orders that all of them were to be killed! Fortunately, many loving and worried owners instead released their pets, who then bred with wild dogs. The breed was revived in large part due to the efforts of a man named Morie Sawataishi. If you’re interested in learning more, there’s a fascinating book about Sawataishi, which is called Dog Man: An Uncommon Life on a Faraway Mountain.
Akitas are big dogs with big personalities. These pups are amazingly loyal, and are renowned for being quite clean. They are good with kids, but not so much with other dogs … particularly those of the same sex. Because these pups can be bossy and reactive, they are really not the best matches for inexperienced dog owners. Needless to say, proper training is an absolute must here!
Are you wondering why March 8th was chosen as Akita day? It’s to commemorate the death of the most famous Akita of all, Hachiko. You may have heard the story of this amazing pooch, or perhaps seen the movie based on his story. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale starred Richard Gere as Hachiko’s owner, Professor Ueno. The bond of friendship between these two is quite literally the stuff of legend. Hachiko became known for waiting faithfully at the train station for his owner every day. The devoted pup 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 may want to consider visiting Odate, Japan, where there’s an entire museum devoted to the Akita. While you’re there, you could also 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!