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Did you know that March 8th is Akita Day? These big, fluffy dogs have some very devoted fans! In fact, Japan has declared the Akita a national treasure. A local vet discusses this extraordinary breed below.
The Akita originated in the mountains of northern Japan, where they were bred to hunt boar, deer, and bear. Nowadays, these smart, loyal pups are mostly kept as pets, but they are sometimes found working as therapy dogs or guard dogs.
The Akita came dangerously close to extinction during World War II. In fact, the government issued orders that all Akitas were to be killed! Fortunately, many loving and worried owners instead released their beloved pets, who then bred with the region’s wild dogs. The breed was revived in large part due to the efforts of an extraordinary man named Morie Sawataishi. If you’re interested in learning more, there’s a fascinating book about Sawataishi and his efforts to save the breed. The book is called Dog Man: An Uncommon Life on a Faraway Mountain.
Akitas are very loyal. Though they are quite furry, they are actually renowned for being quite clean. They are good with kids, but not so much with other pups … particularly those of the same sex. Because these pups can be rather bossy and reactive, they really aren’t usually the best matches for inexperienced dog owners. Needless to say, proper training is an absolute must here!
Are you wondering why March 8th is 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 based on his story. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale starred Richard Gere as Hachiko’s owner, Professor Ueno. The special bond of friendship between these two is literally the stuff of legend. Hachiko became widely 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 Akitas, you may want to consider visiting Odate, Japan, where there’s an entire museum devoted to them. While you’re there, you might also wanvisit 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!