Japanese Akita Standards
*The JACA Standard was the first Japanese Akita standard written for the breed in the United States and served as the prototype for the UKC Japanese Akita Standard.
To current fanciers, the Japanese Akita is well known for its faithful and loyal companionship and is recognized as a symbol of courage and luck to the Japanese. An arrogant pride is clearly visible and his courage comparable to the Samurai warrior. Once used as a hunting dog, the Japanese Akita today is a devoted companion.
This square upright dog, one of two large breeds in Japan, is well balanced, with well-developed muscles and tendons. The skin is free of wrinkles and not loose. The male and female are clearly distinguishable from each other. Japanese Akitas are dignified, quick, and agile. Balance is very important in the overall picture of the dog. Because of efforts made to restore the breed to its origins, upon first glance, an oriental look must be evident, as well as an expression of intelligence and air of aloofness.
The head is in proportion to the body with no loose skin or wrinkling. When viewed from the front, the head should look as though it would fill a circle. The fullness of the cheeks as well as the coat on the cheeks and neck contribute to this look. The forehead is broad, flat with a distinct furrow extending from the stop toward the top of the skull.
The ears of a Japanese Akita are pricked and rather small in size, equally triangulated, thick and slightly cupped, and correctly angulated forward off the back of the neck. They are rounded at the tip and should be wide set.
Eyes should be relatively small, equally triangular in shape and slightly raised at the outside corners. They should be deep set, and dark brown in color – the darker the better. Eye rims should have very dark pigment, almost giving the appearance of eyeliner.
Muzzle and Nose
When viewed from the top of the head, the muzzle should be round and full tapering to a blunt triangle but not pointed. Nose should be black with flesh or liver color permissible on white dogs only. Lips should be tightly drawn with no looseness and with dark pigment.
Teeth should be strong and powerful and have a scissor-bite with no missing teeth.
Neck should be short, thick and muscular with tight skin and no dewlap. Neck has proper angle in balance with the head.
Chest and Body
Well developed deep chest, with full rib cage and a well drawn up tuck up in abdomen. Back is strong and level with a broad and muscular loin. Males are square 10 to 10. Females may be slightly longer in proportion than males.
Shoulders are very moderately sloping forward and developed. Forearms are straight and elbows tight, neither turning in nor out. Adequate bone is essential for the proportion of dog. Pasterns are slightly slanted with 15 degrees the ideal.
The hind legs are thick and well developed with a powerful grip, thrust and stance. Back legs are moderately angulated with hocks neither turning in nor out.
Feet are cat-like, thickly padded, round, well knuckled and tight with a firm grip.
Tail is set high with a strong thick root. Thick and well curled over the back. When let down, it nearly touches the hock. Types – acceptable tails are: single curl, double curl, three-quarter curl, left or right curl.
Tight, clean and dark in color.
Triple coated. Outer coat is a coarse, straight guard coat. The other two coats are as follows: One is thicker and somewhat soft and generally enhances the coat color. The other is closest to the skin and is generally thicker and wool-like in texture.
Acceptable coat colors are red, brindle and white. All colors except white must have urajiro (light cream or white markings or shading) on the sides of the muzzle, on the cheeks, the underside of the jaw, neck, chest, body and tail, and on the inside of the legs. Colors should be clear and bright.
Males, preferred is 24 ½ and over. Females, preferred is 22 ½ and over.
Brisk, powerful, and agile with the impression of stamina. Light on the feet. The dog will single track as speed increases.
Independent and reserved, especially around strangers, the Japanese Akita can give the impression of being aloof. Confident, smart and docile, it is a loyal and highly protective companion to its family members.
Round eyes, light eyes, short flat coat. Missing teeth, over or under shot bite, spotted tongue, straight erect ears, flat splayed feet, any dewlap or loose skin, over all poor condition.
Long coat, pinto markings, hood, mask, dropped ears, sickle or uncurled tail, cryptorchid or monorchid, butterfly or speckled nose, and overly aggressive or timid temperament.
The “Perfect” Japanese Akita
The following illustration shows the correct measurement and proportions of the considered “perfect” Japanese Akita. It clearly shows the Japanese Akita to be a square, 10–10 dog. This is the diagram used by the Japanese in all the seminars.
All illustrations above are used by permission from the Japanese Akita Club book Akita.
UKC Japanese Akita Breed Standard
© Copyright 2013, United Kennel Club, Inc.
Effective January 1, 2013
The goals and purposes of this breed standard include: to furnish guidelines for breeders who wish to maintain the quality of their breed and to improve it; to advance this breed to a state of similarity throughout the world; and to act as a guide for judges.
Breeders and judges have the responsibility to avoid any conditions or exaggerations that are detrimental to the health, welfare, essence and soundness of this breed, and must take the responsibility to see that these are not perpetuated.
Any departure from the following should be considered a fault, and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.
The Japanese Akita is one of the largest of Japan’s native breeds. It is a member of the Spitz family and was originally used for bear hunting. However, at the end of the 19th century, the Japanese Akita was crossed with the Tosa-inu and European Mastiffs to increase the breed’s size and value as a fighting dog. When the Japanese prohibited dog fighting in 1908, the Akita was preserved and improved as a large Japanese breed. During World War II, the breed was nearly lost with very few Japanese Akitas surviving. After the war, an effort was again made to preserve the breed, focusing on dogs found in the Dewa and Ichinoseki lines. Akitas of the Dewa line found their way to the United States and became the foundation for what is known as the American Akita, while the Ichinoseki line remained mostly in Japan and formed the foundation and restoration of the Japanese Akita. After decades of separate development and preservation efforts, today’s Japanese Akitas are recognized worldwide, yet they maintain close ties with their country of origin.
The Japanese Akita breed was recognized in the US by the United Kennel Club in 2012.
A large, well-balanced, sturdily built dog of the Spitz type.
Males and females are clearly distinguishable from each other. The ratio of length (from the point of the shoulder to the point of the buttocks) is slightly greater than the height (measured at the withers). Females are slightly longer; with males being more square.
Disqualification: Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid. Viciousness or extreme shyness.
Serious Fault: Overall poor condition. Loose skin.
The Japanese Akita is known as a dignified, quick and agile breed. Overall balance is very important. The striking coat color, coat color patterns, angled ears, eye shape and deep coloration of irises define the exotic look of this breed.
The Japanese Akita, is independent, smart and docile. It is also reserved, especially around strangers, which can give the impression of aloofness. They are loyal and highly protective of its family members.
The head is proportionate to the body. Skin is tight and not wrinkled. When viewed from the front, the head must look as though it would fill a circle. The fullness of the cheeks, as well as the coat on the cheeks and neck, contribute to this look. The forehead is broad and flat, with a distinct furrow extending from the stop to the top of the skull.
When viewed from the top of the head, the muzzle is round and full, tapering to a blunt triangle. The lips are tightly drawn and have dark pigment.
Serious Fault: Spotted tongue.
The Japanese Akita has a complete set of good-sized, evenly spaced, strong white teeth meeting in a scissors bite.
Disqualification: Overshot bite. Undershot bite.
The nose is black. Flesh or liver-colored pigment is acceptable only on white dogs.
Disqualification: Speckled nose.
The deep-set, triangular shaped eyes are relatively small and slightly raised at the outside corners. They are dark brown in color, the darker the better. Eye rims have thick, dark pigment, almost giving the appearance of eyeliner.
Serious Fault: Round eyes. Light eyes.
The wide-set, triangular ears are pricked and rather small in size, and rounded at the tip. They are thick and slightly cupped. Correct ears are angulated forward off the back of the neck, and area an extension of the angle of the neck.
Disqualification: Dropped ears.
The short, thick, muscular neck has a tight skin, and is in proper angle in balance with the head.
Serious Fault: Dewlap.
The shoulders are very moderately sloped forward, and developed. Adequate bone is essential.
Forearms are straight, Elbows are tight, turning neither in nor out. Pasterns are slightly slanted, with 15 degrees being the ideal.
The chest is well-developed. The rib cage is full. The tuck-up is well-drawn up. The back is strong and level. The loin is muscular.
The hind legs are thick and well-developed, with a powerful grip, thrust and stance. The back legs are moderately angulated. The rear pasterns are straight when viewed from the side and rear.
Serious Fault: Cow hocks. Hocks turned out.
The feet are round (cat-like). They are tight, well-knuckled, and have a firm grip.
Eliminating Fault: Flat, splayed feet.
The high-set, thick tail has a strong, thick root. It is well-curled over the back, When let down, it reaches almost to the hock. All of the following tail curls are acceptable: single, double, left, and right.
Eliminating Fault: Sickle tail. Uncurled tail (determined while the dog is in motion, not at rest).
The Japanese Akita is triple coated. The outer coat is a coarse, straight guard coat. The other two are under coats. One is thicker and somewhat soft, generally enhancing the coat color. The third is closest to the skin and is generally thicker and wool-like in texture.
Serious Fault: Short, flat coat.
Eliminating Fault: Long coat.
Coat colors are clear and bright. Acceptable coat colors include: red; brindle, and white. Brindle is defined as a fine streaked or striped effect or pattern of black or tan hairs with hairs of a lighter or darker background color.
Brindles have the following basic colors in them: red, black, gray/silver, and white. All colors, except white, must have Urajiro (light cream or white markings or shading) on the sides of the muzzle, on the cheeks, on the underside of the jaw, neck, body and tail, and on the inside of the legs.
Disqualification: Pinto markings. Black mask.
Preferred height for males is from 24 to 27 inches. Preferred height for females is from 22.5 to 25.5 inches.
Gait is brisk, powerful and agile, conveying stamina. They are light on their feet. The dog will single track as speed increases.
(A dog with an Eliminating Fault is not to be considered for placement in a conformation event, nor are they to be reported to UKC.)
- Long coat.
- Sickle tail.
- Uncurled tail (determined while the dog is in motion, not at rest).
- Flat, splayed feet.
(A dog with a Disqualification must not be considered for placement in a conformation event, and must be reported to UKC.)
- Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid.
- Viciousness or extreme shyness.
- Overshot bite.
- Undershot bite.
- Pinto markings.
- Black mask.
- Dropped ears.
- Speckled nose.
Akita Inu Hozonkai Standard
The Akita Dog Standard
Akita-Inu Preservation Society, Inc.
Copyright © AKIHO North America 1996
Possesses composure, strong courageous character, loyalty, obedience, dignity, keen senses and agility.
The balanced body is solid. The muscles and tendons are well developed. The skin is tight. The male and female are clearly distinguishable. The height: body length ratio in the male is 100:110; in the female, the body length is slightly longer in proportion than the male. The height of the male is 66.7 cm (2 shaku 2 sun, 26.3″), the female, 60.6 cm (2 shaku, 23.9″), with a variation of 3.03 cm (1 sun, 1.2″) either way as acceptable. The height: chest depth ratio is 2:1.
The head is large and the top of the head is somewhat flat. The forehead is wide without wrinkles. The groove is distinct with the proper amount of stop. The cheeks are well developed.
The neck is thick and sturdy with tight skin and has the proper angle.
The erect ears are rather small, thick, triangular, and slants forward at a proper angle with adequate space between the ears.
The eyes are somewhat triangular, deeply set and properly spaced from each other. The outer corners of the eyes are somewhat raised, the iris are yellowish dark brown.
Muzzle and Nose
The bridge of the nose is straight, the muzzle is full. The base of the mouth is wide. The tip is not pointed sharply. The nose appears firm, and the lips are tightly drawn.
The teeth are powerful and have the proper bite.
The chest is deep. The ribs are full. The forechest is well developed. The abdomen is drawn up properly (moderately).
Shoulder and Hip
The back is straight and the hips are powerful.
The shoulder have proper angulation in relation to the forelegs which are well developed.
The hind legs are thick and well developed with a powerful grip, thrust and stance. The hocks have the proper angulation.
The tail is thick and well curled. The tip of the tail almost reaches the hock joint. The type of the tail curls are left, right, single and double curls.
The outer coat is coarse and straight. The undercoat is soft like cotton and thick. The coat at the withers and the hip are slightly longer. The tail has longest coat.
White, black, red, goma (sesame), and brindle.
1. Acquired injuries and obvious effects of dietary deficiency.
2. Coat color unbecoming of an Akita dog.
3. Undesirable combinations of coat color and light iris of the eye.
4. Missing tooth or teeth, irregular teeth and even bite.
5. Spotted tongue.
6. Timid or violent.
7. Lack of other distinguishing features of an Akita dog.
1. Dropped ear(s).
2. Uncurled tail.
3. Excessive long or short coat.
4. Undershot and overshot jaws.
5. Nose color not matching coat color (red nose permitted in white dogs).
6. Cryptorchidism (undescended testicles).
7. Other features lacking distinguishing features of an Akita dog.
FCI Japanese Akita Standard
FCI-Standard N°255/ 02. 04. 2001 / GB
ORIGIN : Japan.
DATE OF PUBLICATION OF THE ORIGINAL VALID STANDARD : 13.03.2001.
UTILIZATION : Companion dog.
CLASSIFICATION F.C.I. : Group 5 Spitz and primitive type.
Section 5 Asian Spitz and related breeds. Without working trial.
BRIEF HISTORICAL SUMMARY : Originally Japanese dogs were small to medium in size and no large breeds existed. Since 1603 in the Akita region, Akita Matagis (medium-sized bear-hunting dogs) were used as fighting dogs. From 1868 Akita Matagis were crossed with Tosas and Mastiffs. Consequently, the size of this breed increased but characteristics associated with Spitz type were lost.
In 1908 dog fighting was prohibited, but this breed was nevertheless preserved and improved as a large Japanese breed. As a result, nine superior examples of this breed were designated as « Natural Monuments » in 1931.
During World War II (1939-1945), it was common to use dogs as a source of fur for military garments. The police ordered the capture and confiscation of all dogs other than German Shepherd Dogs used for military purposes. Some fanciers tried to circumvent the order by crossbreeding their dogs with German Shepherd Dogs.
When World War II ended, Akitas had been drastically reduced in number and existed as three distinct types; 1) Matagi Akitas, 2) fighting Akitas, and 3) Shepherd Akitas. This created a very confusing situation in the breed.
During the restoration process of the pure breed after the war., Kongo-go, a dog of the Dewa line, which exhibited characteristics of the Mastiff and German Shepherd.
However, sensible learned fanciers did not approve of this type as a proper Japanese breed, so they made efforts to eliminate the strain old foreign breeds by crossbreeding with Matagi Akitas for the purpose of restoring the original pure breed. They succeeded in stabilizing the pure strain of large sized breed as known today.
GENERAL APPEARANCE : Large-sized dog, sturdily built, well balanced and with much substance ; secondary sex characteristics strongly marked, with high nobility and dignity in modesty ; constitution tough.
IMPORTANT PROPORTIONS : The ratio of height at withers to length of body ( from the point of the shoulders to the point of the buttock) is 10 : 11, but the body is slightly longer in bitches than in dogs.
BEHAVIOUR AND TEMPERAMENT : The temperament is composed, faithful, docile and receptive.
CRANIAL REGION :
Skull : The size is in proportion to the body. The forehead is broad, with distinct furrow. No wrinkle.
Stop : Defined.
FACIAL REGION :
Nose : Large and black. Slight and diffuse lack of pigment accepted in white dogs only, but black is always preferred.
Muzzle : Moderately long and strong with broad base, tapering but not pointed. Nasal bridge straight.
Jaws/Teeth : Teeth strong with scissor bite.
Lips : Tight.
Cheeks : Moderately developed.
Eyes : Relatively small, almost triangular in shape due to the rising of the outer eye corner, set moderately apart, dark brown : the darker, the better.
Ears : Relatively small, thick, triangular, slightly rounded at tips, set moderately apart, pricked and inclining forward.
NECK : Thick and muscular, without dewlap, in balance with head.
Back : Straight and strong.
Loin : Broad and muscular.
Chest : Deep, forechest well developed, ribs moderately well sprung.
Belly : Well drawn up.
TAIL : Set on high, thick, carried vigorously curled over back ; the tip nearly reaching hocks when let down.
Shoulders : Moderately sloping and developed.
Elbows : Tight.
Forearms : Straight and heavy-boned.
HINDQUARTERS : Well developed, strong and moderately angulated.
Feet : Thick, round, arched and tight.
GAIT : Resilient and powerful movement.
HAIR : Outer coat harsh and straight, undercoat soft and dense ; the withers and the rump are covered with slightly longer hair ; the hair on tail is longer than on the rest of the body.
COLOUR : Red fawn, sesame (red fawn hairs with black tips), brindle and white. All the above mentioned colours except white must have « urajiro ».
(Urajiro = whitish coat on the sides of the muzzle, on the cheeks, on the underside of jaw, neck, chest, body and tail and on the inside of the legs).
Height at the withers :
Dogs : 67 cm.
Bitches : 61 cm.
There is a tolerance of +/- 3 cm.
FAULTS : Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.
- Bitchy dogs / doggy bitches.
- Undershot or overshot mouth.
- Missing teeth.
- Blue or black spotted tongue.
- Iris light in colour.
- Short tail.
ELIMINATING FAULTS :
- Aggressive or overly shy.
- Ears not pricked.
- Hanging tail.
- Long hair (shaggy).
- Black mask.
- Markings on white ground.
Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.
N.B. : Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
JACA’s Official Guide to Judging the Japanese Akita
We strongly encourage judges, handlers, breeders, owners, and newcomers to the breed to study the breed history and conformation standard. JACA has published its own judges education guide based on the AKIHO interpretation of the UKC and FCI standards. We consulted with AKIHO, FCI, UKC and even AKC judges in the writing of our book. It is our hope that the Japanese Akita breed will improve in movement, structure and temperament in addition to adhering to the country of origin’s aesthetics on breed appearance. Please consider adding it to your collection.