The origin of the Akita Inu
The Akita Inu is named after Akita prefecture in northern Japan, which is believed to be the origin of the breed. Akitas appeared at least 2,000 years ago and were once noble dogs, only raised by the Imperial Family and other noble families for hunting purposes. Their most common prey is birds. The largest and most powerful Akita dogs are used to hunt large preys, including wild boars, deers and bears. After 1600, instead of hunting, they were used as a symbol of power and prosperity for the Imperial House of Japan.
Akita Inu History
Akita Inu before 1945
For almost 2000 years since its first appearance, the Akita has been known only in Japan. Akita exports are strictly forbidden as they are considered Japan’s national dog and the symbol of the Imperial Family. Despite their absence outside of Japan, their reputation spread throughout the world in the 1920s thanks to a dog named Hachiko.
Hachiko’s owner was a professor. Everyday, when he returned home at 3 p.m, Hachiko would be always standing at the train station waiting for him. Until one day, the professor died and never returned. Hachiko remained at the train station at 3 p.m everyday awaiting his owner, and kept doing so until Hachiko passed away almost a decade later.
The story of Hachiko was widely spread throughout the world, becoming the subject of many films and literary works. Dog lovers all over the world, especially in the United States, longed for the day when they could own an Akita. However, the Emperor of Japan insisted on export restriction.
After World War II, American troops occupied Japan and brought the first Akita dogs to the United States as trophies, creating a new branch of the Akita – the American Akita. In 1950s, under the pressure of the United States, Japan was forced to loosen the ban on Akita exports, which led to more and more Akitas in America. During that time, the number of Akitas in the US growing rapidly, with distinctive features compared to the original Japanese Akita. American Akitas are bigger, stronger than their ancestors, while Japanese Akitas are believed to be loyal and brave.
Today, the Akita is available worldwide, but the number is still very limited due to Japan’s Akita export restriction, which have been maintained since 1950. Therefore, Akitas seen on the streets nowadays are mostly American Akitas.