Whether you live in a country that considers the Japanese and American to be separate breeds or different types, there are clear differences in appearance and a bit in regard to behavior and temperament.
Except for the rare whites, there will be no solids…All will be at least a 2 part combination.
Sometimes, the difference will lie in the undercoat versus the outer coat of the thick fur, giving the American Akita the appearance of a solid color…but upon closer inspection one will notice the different hues.
The American Akita may have overlaying, mask and/or hooded patterns. Eyes are a deep, brown. It is desirable that the nose be black, some may have dark grey or brown noses.
Body Structure | Overall Appearance
Often compared to a Grizzly Bear, this is one large dog. Not quite in the “giant” category, he does come close.
Per AKC guidelines, the American Akita does not have a set weight range, but most will be between 75 to 130 pounds if male (34 to 59 kg) and between 70 to 100 pounds if female. (32–45 kg)
Height will range from 24” to 28 “ (60.9 to 71.1 cm) tall at the point of the withers.
An American Akita will grow for the first 3 years. The first year will be the one of the most rapid growth, but the dog will not reach full adult size until the approximate age of 3.
As they reach that age, weight will start to even out and the dog will grow out a bit more in height. Because of this long lasting phase, it is difficult to predict exact adult size.
Fur will be short on most (2 inches). There is a recessive longcoat gene present in all Akitas that produce longcoats once in a while. While they do not fit the breed standard and therefore would not place in show events, they are excellent pets and tend to be even friendlier with a more placid personality than those with short coats.
When one speaks about a dog’s personality and behavior, it is a generalization, since each dog is an individual. There are part of a canine’s disposition is genetic…However, one cannot expect all Akita’s to behave the same. The socialization that he receives as a young puppy, the environment that he lives in, the amount of time spent with or away from his owner, the type of training he receives…It all comes into play. So, with this said, the following is an overview of what one can expect with the American Akita:
They are protective – Bred as guard dogs for centuries, this breed has a natural tendency to be protective of himself, the people he considers to be family and what he considers to be his property. There are varying levels of intensity. One may stop at growling, others may be prone to bite if they sense a threat. All will keep an eye on strangers. All will not get along with other dogs, especially of the same breed and the same gender.
They are affectionate – While this may seem in contradiction to the aggressive nature, when with his human family, he is very loving and friendly. In general, they will act more serious when out in public and more relaxed and playful when at home. They like to stay in close proximity to their owners and when touched and picked up enough since puppyhood, they will willingly allow for grooming (baths, nail clipping, brushing, etc.)
They are very smart, but often do not show eagerness to learn. They have more of a laid back attitude with training… therefore they do best when taught at a young age and with short sessions done often.
There are a couple of elements specific to this breed:
Food - Due to their unique digestive system, they do best when fed a mix of dry and fresh foods, with a once a week fasting that consists of lighter meals. This should begin after the age of 4 months.
Grooming – Heavy shedders, the coat will go through dramatic changes 2 times per year. During this time, it is important to brush deeply with a raking tool to pull out loose hairs that have accumulated deep into the coat.
Health issue that this breed is prone to include blood disorders, eye issues, hip dysplasia and luxating patella. Their life span is 12- to 14 years, considered typical for a canine.
Why the Different Type
We know from Akita history that the American Akita differs in appearance (a bit in behavior) from the Japanese type for specific reasons. After WWII, Japan worked diligently to develop an Akita who had a “pure” appearance. Similar to the pure Japan dogs that existed before crossbreeding was done with dogs brought into their country.
Their goal was to produce a slightly smaller dog with very specific coloring.
At the same time, several Akitas were brought into the U.S. Breeders in the states were not even aware of any planned changes to the dog’s appearance that were being done overseas.
The AKC made a decision that if a breeder wanted recognition, they would agree to not import any dogs and only work with the ones that were presently in the country. For this reason, the gene pool in the U.S. was very small and therefore, the appearance of the American Akita did not change much at all. On the other hand, Japan had a larger selection of dogs to work with and bred with the goal of altering the size and coat color.
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