you have good eyes

Akitas: American vs. Japanese

Hi Everyone! The “52 Weeks” project already seems like a hit! There were comments in my Flickr photostream about Champi being a Japanese Akita breed. Questions arose about the differences between the American and Japanese Akitas. I thought it would be worthwhile to start a discussion thread to hear all of your thoughts. And then blog about it of course!

To get started, our Akita, Champi, is a Japanese Akita pup in the right of the picture with an American Akita pup on the left.  At first glance, they look very similar, but if you look closely, you may notice some differences.  This is a hot topic among many Akita breeders including the breeders of our Japanese Akita, Champi.  It is my understanding that the AKC currently does not recognize the Japanese Akita and American Akita as separate breeds.

Please take a look at the following photos and let’s hear your thoughts about the breed.  In the end, we are casual pet owners and love our Akitas for who they are, but it is still fun to have a light conversation about characteristics of Akita dogs. Who knows? This may be the beginning a new breed recognized by the AKC. Today, you are the judge…Enjoy!

Tora, a male Japanese Akita (brindle coat)

My photo blog seemed to be the appropriate forum for me to place my views about this discussion.  I do want to repeat that our standing is that we appreciate dogs for who they are, and that any comments are to pose questions about the Akita breeds in a positive light.

Initially, when Dorothée and I were researching different breeds of dogs, (almost 2 years ago!!) we found a breed called a Shiba Inu.  We found many traits of this breed interesting, such as there quiet nature (no barking!) and somewhat calm and aloof demeanor.  Check out Suki a great fellow Flickr member. We thought this was the breed, but we still thought we wanted a breed of dog that could do more activities with us like running, and rollerblading. Then we discovered the Akita breed.  At this point, we had no I idea of any distinction of the breed, American or Japanese.  We saw this breed as a larger form of the Shiba Inu.

An American Akita

Lulu, a female Japanese Akita (Champi's sister!)

Dorothée is naturally an amazing researcher, and dove right into this topic of Akitas. With some internet research, book reading, and Animal Planet watching, we slowly started to see more documentation about Akitas that shows differences between Japanese and American Akita breeds.

I think the day that really made the distinction clear to me was when we first met our breeder’s Japanese Akita dogs.  These dogs did not look the same as the American Akitas we watched on T.V.  We noticed quickly that the American Akitas were often much brawnier or thicker than the Japanese, and typically were larger in size.  They seem to have a more guard dog look in stature and even broader shoulders.  Whereas the Japanese Akitas seem to be slightly smaller and possibly more slender.  It is all really hard to tell, it was all so new to us!!

A common Japanese Akita feature is the triangular shaped head from the top view.  It may be hard to see from the photos, but the tip of the ears to the nose should make a triangular shape. You probably can see this is somewhat mimicked on the front of the face as the fur pushes out to the side of the snout.  It’s very “fox” like!

We personally love the red coat, which is what Champi wears, and Lulu here to the right.  This is a notable feature of the Japanese Akita breed.  But, knowing this, you cannot deny the beautiful brindle coat that Tora wears in black, red and white.  He is a gorgeous dog!

So yes!  Dorothée and I obviously notice a difference between Japanese and American Akita breeds. I personally hope with time there will be more features that distinguish both breeds and will be recognized by the AKC.

The way is see it, the more “foxy” the look, the better!

Thanks for reading, swing by my photostream jayaxe04 to see more Akita photos.

And check out the discussion thread on “52 Weeks for Dogs.”




4 responses

  1. strawberriesgood

    My husband and I just love both, american and japanese akita’s! We have had an american akita for 6 years and just love him! We recently rescued a japanse akita. Personally, so far, I find no traits different, only their looks. We love EVERYTHING about an akita american, or japense! They are t he BEST dogs! Here is a link to our akita’s slideshow

    April 29, 2011 at 6:00 am

  2. Aiko

    Yoji is a “blend” of the American and the Japanese breeds, and my breeder is a supporter of the “one breed” idea here in Canada. Yoji is recognized as and has his CKC papers, so blends are also recognized as being purely Akita, I believe in North America and possibly the UK. Yoji generally looks more Japanese, but sometimes I can see the American in him! He also has an unusual coat length, longer than usual, but not as lionesque as long haired Akitas typically are. His tail is particularly long-haired, and the hair on his ears and neck is so soft it’s like touching a chinchilla! Like you, I think I will always have an Akita in my life, I love him so!

    October 26, 2011 at 9:23 am

  3. lauzwarby

    I have just recently bought an akita and i am try to see if he is an american or japanese akita, he is 12 weeks and very adorable so wouldn’t make a difference really what type he is, i am just more curious than anything. He seems to have more or a square head and is Black and White. Black all on the top with white under his tummy and legs. Could someone help me in answering my question. I would personally say that he is an american akita, as japanese akitas i think only come in certain colours?

    November 13, 2011 at 3:33 am

    • RN

      american akita has always a black mask, being inherited from the german shepherd blood line during its development…

      June 3, 2012 at 3:45 am

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