Sweden and Norway
years old (to the right)
with his son, Chibata Hima, as a puppy
probably introduced to the Akita breed for the very first time in April 1966
when the Swedish male ”Nero”, born in 1962 in Japan, became Best in Show at
NKK’s International Show in Sjølyst. He was a magnificent dog with a proud
presence who took the breath away from many of the spectators when he was
exhibited in the typical Japanese leash with a tassel.
The first Akita imported to Norway was Ivar A. Manum’s red male “Jiro”. He
arrived in the autumn of 1968 when the Manum family returned from a three- year
stay in Japan, and in 1972 he became the first Akita to be registered with the
NKK. In the early 70’s he was accompanied by Kikuhime, a red female also from
Japan. Jiro and Kikuhime had their first litter in 1974 and that was the
beginning of the breed in Norway but it would still take some years before the
breed was fully recognized in Norway.
Up until 1985
we had a joint Club in Norway and Sweden for the Akita but by now the population
of Akitas had increased in Norway and it was time to establish our own Club,
Norsk Akita Klubb (NAK). The Swedish/Norwegian co-operation concerning breed
related issues continued as before. NAK arranged their first exhibition in
Gudbrandsdalen in 1985 and 40 Akitas were exhibited.
Due of the little information that existed about the breed at that time it was
eg. long believed that an Akita should have wrinkled foreheads, wrinkles that
disappeared when he relaxed. The information we had came mainly came from the US
and from American books on the Akita, and there they had wrinkled foreheads. For
many years there existed no exchange of information with Japan so it was a bit
difficult to try to imagine what the breed looked over there. It wasn’t until
the late 80’s when breed enthusiasts began to travel to shows in Europe that we
started receiving information about the breed and were able to see the enormous
development the breed had gone through since the first imports came to our
An exhibition was held in 1990 at Hellerudsletta and the breed then was judged
by Akita breeder/judge/JKC contact Mr. Shinja Kuroki from Japan. His general
impression of the breed in Norway/Sweden was ”good bodies – chop off the heads!”
– he was probably came from a samurai family…
the Akita is mainly used as a combined companion dog. There has been an
avalanche rescue dog, a couple of agility dogs and a few that compete in
different Obedience Classes, but mainly the breeds tracking qualities have been
cherished and the Akita has been proven to be very suited as a game tracker as
well as a tracking dog for wounded game. He is superbly qualified to this type
of work as he has a couple of excellent qualities: he is very thorough, calm and
quiet during his tracking work.
After the split
in January the1st in 2000 the Akita in Norway once again became a numerically
small breed and the population decreased to approximately 150 individuals (to be
compared with 1993 when we had nearly 750 Akitas!). Due to our quarantine
restrictions it hasn’t been an easy task to import new dogs. The possibilities
exist with the open borders for dogs vaccinated against rabies and it is, in
theory, possible to travel to Europe with bitches in heat to expecting males,
but the possibility hasn’t been practiced in reality.
In the early 60’s
a handful of Akitas came to Sweden, including the earlier mentioned Nero who was
of the Dewa type, and it was also he who later on would come to contribute
to the breed in Sweden, when he, at then age of 11, had a litter with the
Japanese import Sakura-Hime (of Ichinoseki type).
The modern type Akita and the ”old”,
both from Japan, at an exhibition
in Malmö, Sweden, in 1974
In the early 70’s, in addition to Sakura-Hime, three more dogs from Japan
arrived. There were some serious discussions in those days when the first Akitas
of the ”modern” type arrived to Sweden in the 70’s. Some people could not
believe that what they saw where “true” Akitas but that they had to mixed with
In the early 70’s, in addition to Sakura-Hime, three more dogs from Japan
arrived before the possibility, to import dogs directly from Japan without
having to putt them in quarantine, came to an end (Japan was/is a rabies free
country but the problem was that Japan was being used as a ”transit country”,
also from countries with rabies). There were some serious discussions in those
days when the first Akitas of the ”modern” type arrived to Sweden in the 70’s.
Some people could not believe that what they saw where “true” Akitas but that
they had to mixed with Shibas!
In 1978 Nero’s and Sakura’s son, Chibata-Hima, became nr 2 in SKK’s “Golden dog
Competition” and the breed received a lot of attention and the register numbers
began to increase, for better and worse.
(AIS) was officially established in 1980 but had been active since 1976. At that
time the breed was considered to be “Swedish/Norwegian” and AIS acted as a joint
Club for both countries with joint exhibitions every year and a breed council.
The first exhibition, arranged by AIS, was in the outskirts of Stockholm in 1980
and 22 dogs were exhibited.
AKITAS OF THE 80'S AND THE 90'S
to the exchange of breeding material with Sweden through the years, including
that a couple of imported males had been over used who later on proved to be
carriers of an autoimmune disease called Sebacious Adenitis Folicularis (or SA) and, seen as a whole, it has become a very
narrow Swedish/Norwegian breed to work with. So, we were almost at a fresh start
but, since the split, hard work and new bloodlines have helped us.
On June the 23rd in 2000
an umbrella organization was established for Akita Clubs all over the world,
called the ”World Union of Akita Clubs” (WUAC) who has 20 membership
countries today. The purpose with the WUAC is to promote and improve the Akita breed
by arranging seminars, judge’s conferences and exhibitions for the Akita in
collaboration with the JKC, and also to work for a sound and healthy breed. WUAC
will also try to sort out any misunderstandings concerning the judgement of the
Akita which probably was caused by the little information that came from Japan
after the II World War about the development of the breed before we had the
meeting in Hamm, Germany, in 1991. WUAC has also, with financial aid from JKC,
started a research project on the SA which in a near future hopefully will give
us the answers as to how and why SA develops and how it is inherited.
The Akita around the World
The breed was established in 1960. The first imports were of the Dewa
type from Japan. Besides that they have had the same development of the
breed as we have in Sweden/Norway.
Today Germany has approximately 1.500 Akitas and 20 Great Japanese Dogs.
The breed came to Italy in 1970. Dogs were imported from Japan of the
Ichinoseki type. Italy now has approximately 3.000 Akitas and 30
The Akita arrived around in the 80’s. Imports: like Italy. Today France
has approximately 4.000 Akitas and 50 GJD.
In 1981 the first Akitas came to England, but already in the 30’s two
white Akitas from Japan had come from Japan without reaching much
recognition at that time. Imports from mainly USA but lately also
from Europe. Today they have approxiamtely 40 Japanese Akitas, 250
mixtures and 5.000 American Akitas (GJD).
Japan now has almost 80.000 Akitas. A small number of these are
registred with the JKC, but the majority (nearly 75 %) are registered
with the AKIHO.
Today the US has nearly 4.000 Japanese type Akitas, many are imports
from Japan but mainly they are mixtures, or what some call ”tweenies”.
In addition they have approximately 40.000 American Akitas. Up till 1974
Akitas could be registered with the AKC but the import registry was
closed when they decided not to acknowledge JKC’s Akita registry, which
at this time had Nippo, Akiho and Akikyo Akitas. In 1992 the AKC
register once again opened for registering Akitas Japan.
A male that really stood out during the 90’s was the italian/american Richard
Hellman’s Japanese import ”Seihoh of Juntaidoh”. He received this male in
exchange for 1 kg of Parmesan cheese!
They became quite well travelled and ended up as the most winning Akita ever.
4 WW-Championships (4 BOB, and 2 BOG placements) and 3 x EW-Championships (3
BOB, and BOG + BIS-placements). Championship titles in 20 countries. 26 Int BIS
in 10 countries, just to mention some of their achievements. In1999 he also
became BIS at the ”Collare d’Oro” competition in Italy.
Akitas special expression:
the head, the eyes and the ears form and placement, the coat’s structure and
density, proportions and angulations in it’s front and rear, including the
breeds calm and controlled composure exist in many Akitas today but also has
potentials of improvement. The co-operation between judges, breed clubs
and breeders go hand-in-hand in this work.
I hope that in
a near future that it will become easier to import dogs to Norway who can
contribute to the development of the breed. And that the research project going
on the SA, staged by the WUAC, hopefully will find the answer to the SA problem
which will widen the possibilities to find potential breeding material within
the breed. In addition, several have taken an interest in the breed and it’s
background as a ”matagi-inu” and the possibilities to use it as a game tracker
and a tracking dog for wounded game, the Akita is on it’s way back and the
future for the breed looks bright.
Hiroshi Saito, (Hirokichi,
Kokichi) et. al., "Zadankai: Nihoninu Wo Enryonaku Kataru (Symposium: A Candid
Discussion On Japanese Dogs)," Aiken No Tomo, p. 44-50, april 1954, Seibundo
Shinkosha, Tokyo, Japan.
Richard Storry, “Japan”, 1965.
F. Junko, “The Dogs of Japan”, published in “The East”, Vol.8 nr.3, March 1972
Joan M. Linderman og Virginia Funk, “The New Complete Akita”, 1983
Robert von Sander
“Personligheter och händelser under 1000 år i Japan”, part 1. in a series of
lectures about the Samuraiculture at the Ethnographic Museum in Stockholm in
connection with the exhibition “Japan-Living Tradition”, 1984
Keiichi Ogasawara DVM, Odate, Akita, Japan “The Akita Dog and It’s Origin” ("Akitainu
To Sono Yurai") published in
“Studies of The Natural Environment and Culture of The Prefecture of Akita,”
special edition, “The Akita University Research Bulletin”: p.101-116, 1987.
Mutsuo Okada, “The Akita Dog’s Roots in Southern Japan”, published in the Akita
Journal 1980 - 1981 and the Akita World 1994 – 1995, and translated by Tatsuo
Hiroshi Kamisato, WUAC/JKC, Japan