The Japanese Akita Inu is the largest of the Nihon Ken, originating from the Akita prefecture in Honshu. Originally used as a hunting breed to hunt bears, the Akita was also used as a fighting dog in Japan. The Akita was declared a National Treasure in 1931.

The breed experienced a huge decline during World War 2, when it was used for its meat and fur. Efforts were made to preserve the breed by crossing the remaining lines with German Shepherds to prevent extinction. The breed lost many of its original features due to this, and after World War 2, a huge effort was made to ‘recreate’ the original Akita Inu.

The Japanese Akita was made famous by the story of Hachiko, an Akita Inu who waited for his deceased master every day at Shibuya station, until he too eventually passed away. This story proves the loyalty that Akita’s have to their owners, and a statue to remember Hachiko stands where he once waited.

The Japanese Akita Inu is a completely separate breed from the American Akita, with the American Akita coming in a range of colours, and having its own breed standard. The Japanese Akita Inu is recognised by the UK Kennel Club.


The Akita is a large, double coated breed that sheds its coat twice a year. They have a waterproof, thick coat to protect them from cold weather and come in white, red, or brindle coats. They have wide heads, small almond shaped eyes and their tail should be curved. The Akita Inu has a sturdy build and copes well as a working dog, as well as a family pet. They are leaner than their American counterparts. They stand between 61cm-67cm tall at the withers, weigh between 40kg-59kg and can live for over 10 years.


The Akita Inu is known to be fiercely territorial, and incredibly loyal to its owner. They are sturdy dogs that are capable of long hikes and trekking, as well as being a watchdog. These dogs are very strong willed, intelligent, and will express love and affection with their owners, because of this, once a bond is formed, they can be very responsive to training. They are known to be wary of strangers and unknown dogs. Dog on dog aggression has been noted in the breed, so socialization at a very early age, and throughout life is essential. Due to their character, they are not recommended for first time dog owners.


The Akita Inu is known to suffer from a number of health issues. Due to their size they suffer from hip and elbow dysplasia. They are also known to suffer from entropion, progressive retinal atrophy, gastric dilation volvulus (which can be life threatening), a blood clotting disorder called Von Willebrand Disease, and a range of immune system problems that affect the skin, nerves, and hair follicles.

For more information on the Akita Inu, and in-depth information regarding health issues within the breed, please visit our sister site, the Nihon Ken Network.

If you have photos of your Akita Inu that you would be happy for us to feature here, please send us an email with your photos:! Photos need to be of good quality, taken outdoors, preferably without people in them. We would love to feature your dogs!