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Emilia Puustinen


The Breed

Akita has achieve respected status in Japan. Akita in a family is a symbol of healthness, prosperity and good luck. Breeds origin is Japan, Honsu island. Previously the breed was known as Odate inu or Kazuno inu of its origin. Akita was developed to be a hunting dog and guarding dog. Now days dogs are members of family and it is rear to see these as hunting dogs. As a hobby “nose jobs” suits best.
There are about 300 japanese akitas in Finland and 20 – 30 puppies are born each year.


About the history of the breed Lene Moellgaard


Akita has a strong will. It is calm, one mans dog. Akita guards its territory closely and defends its owns. You will get troubles if you do not train your dog as a puppy. Akita is also very dominant breed so this type of dog has to have owner who knows how to handle it right. Even the character is though, right trained dog will be a wonderful companion and easy to handle. Usually Akita do not get familiar with other dogs so it is very important that a young dog is showed how to behave correctly. Obedience trainings are very good for this. Even your Akita wouldn’t accept other dogs his friends you still can have him behave correctly with them. And you should require it! When co-operation works Akita is the most loving dog you can have.

Akita is usually quiet. It howl rather then barks. Akita is suitable for a kennel dog (living outside) but it doesn’t mean that it can be left alone back of your yard. Akita has worm coat, but it is not an arctic breed. He must have warm house to live in.

Akita likes do have something to do, but it is not similar then example German Shepherd. Akita has mind of its own. He will do when he please. Akita is smart breed but get easily bored. You can have almost any hobby in the world with Akita, but the best are hobbies with nose involved.


  • erected ears that are forwarded ahead
  • curly tail
  • body is large and powerful, masculine
  • directive size: females 58-64 cm, males 64-70 cm
  • appearance should express strength, determination and dignity
  • gender marks should be clear: male’s face is masculine and female’s is soft and gentle look (glance) should be both hard and friendly at the same time appearance of the dog should express dignity, certain warmness and generosity and at the same time it should express strength of the character and courage (reaction is aggressive under attack) coat’s colour and quality are the most important elements of the Japanese dog’s
  • Red: coat colour is red with urajiro*
  • White: clear white, no yellow marks, the top of the nose can be flesh coloured, dogs with good pigment have a black nose
  • Brindle: coat colour is black with grey or reddish stripes. Dog should have urajiro* but the face can have few white hair over the muzzle, no white mask, legs’ inner surfaces do not have to be white, white colour has to occur in chest, stomach and tips of the paws

*URAJIRO: white (light) marks on head, stomach, under tail, chest, muzzle and legs

Texture of the coat differ a little in each colour
  • Brindle: longest and furriest coat, texture like fleece
  • Red: second longest coat, outercoat longer and harder than undercoat
  • White: softest, outercoat almost same length that undercoat

Double coat: Undercoat is thick and cottonlike(called watage), outercoat is harder (called harige). Color of the coat should merge with Japan countryside colours. Colours should be like in water paintings - not oil colour -type. All the colours should look mat. There were once also sesam color Akitas, but real sesam are no longer shown in anywhere.



Color inheritance

Every color (red, brindle, white) carries its own color genes in its inheritance. Brindle and white can carry all the three colors, when red can only carry red and white. Every color can also contain only its own color.

White color is resessive (ee), brindle and red are dominant (Ee or EE). When you put two white Akitas together, you get only white puppies. Red can have red puppies together with any color, and brindle can have brindle puppies together with any color.


Sebaceous Adenitis, SA

SA is an inheritable disease that causes skins sebaceous glands to wither (seborrhea). In the SA dog’s own defence organism attacks to hair’s follicle and skin’s sebaceous glands and causes an autoimmune inflammation. The consequence is that the sebaceous glands withers away and hair follicle dies. When the development of the sickness has proceeded, dog’s sebaceous glands die and dog looses all its hair. The disease is inheritable and there is no cure for it. When a dog gets sick to SA it has to have sick gene from both of its parents. Carrier of the sick genes can never get sick but can inherit the bad gene to its offspring. Some SA-sick dogs can live many years with this sickness. It depends on the individual how well it can cope with the heavy nature of the SA.

Goettingen University in Germany has a laboratory where SA disease is studied. The study is funded mainly by Japan kennel club. Studies have shown that SA is recessively inheritable disease that is controlled by two genes. When the dog has fell sick to this disease it means that the dog must have inherited one or more sick genes from its both parents. It seems that the dog’s It seems that the dog’s whole gene pool affects dog’s vulnerability to fell sick.

The environment has also an effect on felling sick. Stressing and too hygienic environment can also expose dogs to the SA disease. Dogs’ organs must produce immune response against its environment microbes. Feeding appears to step in a big role in this issue.

The Akita is not the only breed that suffers this bad disease SA. SA has been identified also amongst other breeds, American Akitas, Great poodles and Vizla.

Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada - VKH = UveoDermatological Syndrome - UDS

Dog's decease UDS is similar to human decease VKH. So commonly Akita's decease UDS is said to be VKH.

UDS is autoimmune disorder decease like SA. Skin infections are shown around skin and mucous lines like lips, eyes and anus. Sometimes these areas develop abscessed infection and usually skin looses its pigment and gets bold. UDS affects also to eyes. Almost every infected dog with UDS gets eye problems like pressure in eyes, infections and uveitis. At worst the dog blinds. Also nails dropping can be a mark of this sickness. Whole body can be affected to UDS or just parts of it. But usually it shows at face an autoimmune infection.

Typical symptom to UDS is loss of pigmentation at nose, lips and eyelids. Infection at head causes swelling, peeling and thick RUPIMAISTA KARSTAA. UDS is autoimmune disorder decease where its own body attacks itself. Infections are very common and dangerous. You have to take care that dog won't get any wound. Sometimes sick dogs have blue in the middle of their eyes. This situation is usually painful to dog and it must see a vet immediately.

UDS can be very painful to dogs and there is no cure to it. There is also no way to test dogs. Affected dogs can have litters before they get ill, because we can't test them. UDS is similar to SA, but more serious.

UDS is inheritable disease. It has not proven how UDS is inherited but it is believed to be similar to SA: both parent of the sick dog are carriers. Sick dog must get bad genes from both parents. A carrier never gets ill. Because there are no tests to UDS or SA and the best way to avoid these sicknesses is to research dog's pedigrees. It is not smart breed with a dog that has infected decent. If you use a dog with UDS decent to breeding, you must be very careful.

Finnish Akita club's list of SA or UDS affected dogs


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Inherited eye deceases

Genome and environment influences to the origin of the sickness. Some diseases shows already at puppy but others appear later, older age. Akitas don't have many eye problems but some anyway.

Inherited Cataract, HC

There are two kind of cataract: inherited and by age coming cataract. Young puppy's cataract is a sickness of eye's generation disorder or mother's infection during gestation. Cataract can stay "still" or decrease and lead to blindness. Medicines won't help the treatment. Changed lens can be surgically removed. If operation succeeds eyesight returns normally. Read more here.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy, PRA

PRA is inherited disease which is recessively inherited. The disease is nonpainful, but dog will go blind. There is no cure to it. Read more here.

Retinal Dysplasia, RD

RD is inherent retina's fault generation progress. RD means that the eye's back retina is not smooth like it should be. RD is not a forwarding disease. Normally changes keep the same the whole dog's lifetime. There are three different types of RD:

Total RD (TRD)

Covers the whole retina area, or nearly whole area. That leads to retina's detach and blindness even as a puppy. TRG dog is not a breeding dog.

Multifocal or Focal RD (MRD) and Geographic RD (GRD)

There forms are minor that TRG. MRD and GRD comprehend one or several folds in retina. Normally these won't cause any problems to dogs. About 10 crimps at retina is almost meaningless to dogs vision. GRD dogs have more crimps or an area at retina. Usually won't affect the vision. Some breeds with MRD dogs without any problems.


Puppy's eye develops that a blood vessel between lens and fundus slowly withers. Process is ready when puppy is 2 to 4 weeks old. Puppies with PHTVL/PHPV part of it won't wither. Disease is classified in to a 6 different states from small spots to changes that lead to blindness. Those cases the lens is changed into a abnormal by its built and the result is secondary cataract. States from 2 to 6 is not recommended for breeding.


Allergy is extending more and more with dogs. Allergy reaction is a chronic infection. The reaction comes when weaken body defends against the enviroment. These are commonly harmless. When organism produce antibody to irritating things (allergens) and then faces again the irritant, a allergic reaction starts to show. Most common symptoms are itching, redness and pain. Different symptoms are shown in a different areas. Skin can start make dandriff, ribs, armpits, stomach, groins, soles and/or tail is starting to turn red. Dog can also start vomit.

Research takes a lot of work. You have to dig up the reason what makes the dog itch. Look carefully what you feed your dog. Make sure that there aren’t any too strong shampoo used to wash dog’s bed etc. And if your dog has any medication going on, talk to vet can they be the reason for the symptoms.

Tendency to allergy is inherited. Check you dog daily, if there are any changes (behavior, skin etc.) and react to it. Think, is there something changed past two weeks (new food, washed bed, new shampoo etc.). Start a diary about the changes, symptoms, food… And you will see later what causes the problems. Make sure your dog’s breeder knows what is going on.

Allergy will never get well but it can be eased and with good care the symptoms will desepeard for good. Symptoms can still come back after years and suprise you. Cortisone medicines are effective for the skin problems but when using is continued it can be bad. Cortisone expose among other things to infections, lights skin, adds thirsty and also liver and stomach problems can appear. Also changes at behaviour has happened.

Fatty acid (omegas 3 and 6) adding to food is a big help. It is harmless to add these to food.

There are no 100 % reliable allergy test so you have to go on with trying slowly and making a diary.

My dog Juno had an allergy. I don’t know what is the main reason to start the symptoms but feeding right raw food) helps to remove the symptoms. First Juno’s skin start to itch and then few years goes on with no symptoms. I'm very happy because no vet is needed, but only Aloe Vera cream and spesific menu.

Hip dysplasy, HD

Hips dysplasy is a growth disorder what is hereditary polygenic through many geen. There are different state of sick dogs. Some dog’s C hips are much worse then others C hips. Hip dysplasia dog has got too low joint bowl so the femur’s head do not get enough support and looseness will appear to the joint. Looseness is a prestate and only when joint structure has changes in it, it makes the hip joint sick (dysplastic).

Genome, enviroment, exercise (amount and quality) and feeding effects to hip dysplasia. Although a dog with sick hips always owns sick/exposure genes from its family and can pass it on to its progeny. But it doesn’t always mean that you get healthy puppies when the parents are healthy. Consistently a dog with C hips can produce puppies with A hips. When dog has got C or lower hips the dog must be kept in a good shape. Healthy food, enough exersice helps. Dog must not be too heavy.

Hips are valuated with FCI international grading scalefrom A to E

A = healthy
B = good
C = minor dysplastic
D = medium sick
E = sick

Patella luxatio

Patella luxatio is growing disorder when thighbone's joint is not developing normally. When born, puppy can have patella luxatio. This is taken the hardest fault of patella luxatio. Minor states patella can be pressed to size, but it comes back where is shouldn't be. Usually dogs lasts to 4 or 5 years old until they start to limp. Read more: here.

Basic treatment

The coat of Akita is easy to take care of. Wash is needed only a few times in a year, although the wash is needed naturally when the coat gets dirty. Akita changes its coat two times in a year. When the coat is falling off it must be brushed often. It’s useful to wash the dog during the worst period of the coat changing. This helps to get all the dead hair off easily. Nails should be kept short all the time.

Akita is quite a big breed, but it doesn’t need extremely much exercise. Walks or other exercises are needed every day but the walks don’t need to be very long durable.

Leadership lessons

Teaching the Akita is very important! Dog owners must show to dog’s place in family.The place is always the lowest. There shouldn’t be any problems with the dogs if a trainer teaches clear rules for the dogs. This prevents the problems that a growing teenager dog might face up to.

A tip: The dog won’t be embarrassed! There’s no need for feeling sorry for the dog. For example, the dog is not allowed to come into the bedroom but it still wants to come in and that’s why looks like its sad. In this situation the owner must be strong and control his/hers feelings and tell the dog not to come in. If there happens slipping all the time in the rules, the dog won’t know anymore what the correct rules were.

Another example: the dog is near to dinner table and drools to get food. In that situation the owner must command the dog to go away. Remember: Not everyone in dinner table likes drooling and begging dogs! Try to think clear in these situations.


Akita eats very little considering its size. My opinion is that it is best to feed dogs two times in a day. My dogs and all the litters eat raw food. I feed raw meat, vegetables and fruits and meaty bones. I also give leftovers from our family food. Nearly all food people eat is usable but strongly spiced foods are not recommended. Occasionally I also give porridge to my dogs.

This type of feeding imitates the diet that wild dogs (wild animals) would eat; rabbits, voles etc. Vegetables and fruits are given that the food would dissolve easily in the stomach. For example wolfs get vegetables etc. from eating rabbits. Vegetables are also important because of the vitamins.

Read more with this feeding type from its own page

Dog shows

The Akita belongs in Finland to the group five (5) that consists of the Spitz and the primitive breeds. In the shows the dog breeds are divided into classes that are based on the age, success and gender. Naturally males and females compete in different class. If a dog could get the title “Finnish Champion” (FIN CH) it needs to have 3 certificates (CC) from three different judges. The dog has to be in an age of two or older to get the last CC.

One of my dogs is FIN CH (Juno in 2005) and two girls from Juno are almost FIN CH, only one CC is missing from both of them. They have also CACIB's.

Read more about dog shows from here.

Nature of my dogs


Jasmin is so called hillbilly. She is a calm bitch who is extremely good in learning new things. If I say to Jasmin what she is not allowed to do, she really doesn’t do this. For example when she’s staying inside the house she won’t eat ham or other food from the table. The usual thing she does inside the house is begging to go back outside. Jasmin has a long coat that is very warm indoors so she would rather lay in the balcony or in the kennel. One thing that I have noticed during years is that Jasmin loves to be alone. In the kennel Jasmin lies always on the roof of the kennel and keeps a lookout for movement in the near environment. She really keeps an eye on the yard. Another thing that I have noticed in Jasmin is that Jasmin is always a little separated from Juno and Martta. Overall it looks like Jasmin doesn’t do anything but just lay everywhere. Jasmin seems to be a little bit slow in everything she does but she isn’t stupid. She knows what to do and year after year she shows more and more dignity in her appearance.


Juno loves people more than anything. She wants to in close contact with people all the time. Juno is a big lap-dog and has a great appetite. Juno is silent that is a good character. Juno’s favourite hobbies are hunting rabbits and digging. Oh boy she loves digging! Sometimes Juno swims too.


Martta chases everything all the time. She is not so interested in people but likes people. Martta is usually pretty silent except when she sees that her food is coming. Then she bounces against the fence of the kennel and looks very enthusiastic. I have noticed that Martta can concentrate on things. That’s why I can teach her quite easily. It looks like Martta is growing to be a fine young lady who acts proudly when other dogs are near (which sometimes goes too far and Martta looks funny…).

page updated 16.11.2011
©: Emilia Honkanen
Text partly translated by Antti Puustinen