Suggestions for Import Puppy Buyers
Simply put, there are very few reputable and preservationist Akitainu breeders in North America but there are a lot of backyard breeders. None of our breeder members are high volume breeders, several keep a lengthy waiting list and all are selective of their future puppy owners. That means quite a few prospective owners look to overseas breeders to purchase a puppy. While we will always advocate that North Americans find a puppy from a domestic reputable breeder in the US or Canada or adopt from an Akita rescue, we know sometimes people do not want to wait. So for those of you considering an import, we’ve assembled a list of recommendations. These suggestions are based on real-life incidents from US and Canadian buyers who imported their Japanese Akitainu. It is A LOT to take in, so please read carefully. **Much of this information may be applied to domestic buying as well.**
- Ask for full body photos showing all sides of the puppy as well as video footage showing the dog in motion. If it’s an older puppy or an adult dog, ask to see photos of the teeth and bite as well. Obviously, you’ll need to know what to look for. If you don’t already know, we suggest you study the breed standard carefully, attend local shows, befriend someone knowledgeable from the breed club who is willing to guide you, or speak to domestic reputable breeders. Video footage is a good way for a potential buyer to see the movement of a puppy or dog (you could also ask to see video of the sire and dam). Make no mistake–it is not just important for show owners and breeders but for pet people as well because poor movement could be an indication of joint problems. Also, there’s this thing called photo editing. Some breeders definitely edit photos to enhance the colors of their puppies. Keep it in mind. Very often we hear complaints from people who believed a good sales pitch and pretty photos advertising litters and when they pick up their puppy from the airport, the puppy is not what they expected.
- Ask to see official health test documents and results for the sire and dam. This does not just mean a simple vet check, commercially available DNA screening for diseases that the breed is not even prone to, and a vaccination record. Ask the breeder to provide proof of scores for x-ray evaluations of hips, patella, elbows, eyes, thyroid and Amelogenesis Imperfecta/Familial Enamel Hypoplasia. But keep in mind that different nations have different requirements and that no matter what, there is always a risk to importing a dog.
- Ask what the breeder will do if the puppy in question develops a heritable (or is diagnosed with a congenital) health illness or condition. Reputable breeders will usually offer a health guarantee of sorts for 18-24 months and may partially refund what you paid to help defray vet costs or pay a percentage of vet fees (which should be specified in negotiations and/or contract), or they may offer a free replacement puppy but the transportation will be at your expense. You could be at a disadvantage if your foreign breeder does not support you and the puppy they sold you. Some high volume overseas sellers are counting on you not wanting to send a puppy back to them at your expense (why would you when you’ve fallen in love with the pup and it’s already part of your family?), so they may try to sell you another puppy at half price, or they may offer a dog of lesser quality. Sometimes a breeder will offer you a puppy from a different breeder altogether because they have some sort of arrangement or partnership. Proceed with caution. Do you want another puppy from the same breeder, especially if it’s from the same lines as the first one you imported? Would you want a replacement puppy from a breeder you’ve never heard of? Be wary of breeders who do not offer health guarantees for genetic or congenital conditions once the puppy has left their care.
- If you are unable to visit the breeder in person, ask to see the breeder’s home and/or kennels, the dam (and sire if possible), the litter and the puppy in a videochat call (Skype, Facetime, Line, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Zoom, etc.). A breeder should have no problem showing buyers what sort of living arrangement they have for their dogs. Look for a clean and safe environment. Ask to see their kennels and whelping room. And they should definitely be interested in seeing what sort of environment you are able to provide for their precious puppy. Ethical breeders want to know they are sending their puppies (or dogs) to responsible owners.
- Familiarize yourself with breed health issues as much as possible. There are certain lines that seem to carry more risk than others in terms of autoimmune health and/or joint problems. Common autoimmune problems in Japanese Akitainu are SA and UDS (VKH) but there are others such as pemphigus, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI), thyroid issues, etc. Joint problems usually relate to hips and patellas. Also ask to see the sire and dam’s pedigrees on the Akita Pedigree Database site in addition to scans of the paper pedigrees. Go back at least six generations (a more thorough search would be eight or nine generations when possible). Consider how detrimental popular sire syndrome has been on the breed. If one ancestor sire appears more times than you’re comfortable with, voice your concern, but keep in mind that the earliest generations are, more often than not, highly inbred. These are important considerations especially if you think you might want to get into breeding someday.
- Ask if the breeder will offer advice and support for as long as the dog lives. We have heard stories of overseas breeders who become unresponsive to owners of dogs they bred when the dog develops a health or behavioral issue precisely when the breeder’s emotional support and expertise is needed most. A good breeder will not abandon the owner or neglect their responsibility to the welfare of the dog or the overall breed.
- Ask what the breeder will do if a catastrophic event occurs in your life and you can no longer care for your dog. Reputable domestic breeders will often take back a dog or help to re-home it. Obviously, you may be at a disadvantage in this situation due to distance, so please be extra cautious in rehoming and most definitely notify your breeder. Sometimes breeders overseas are friends with domestic breeders who may also be able to assist. You could also consider reaching out to a regional Akita rescue for advice if your dog should ever need to be re-homed. They are willing to offer their own suggestions of what to do, what not to do, how to screen for a new home, etc. Most importantly, have a secure plan in place that is known to your friends or family in case you become incapable of making decisions making sure they notify the breeder of your situation. Jenna Stegin of Georgia Akita Rescue Division offers this advice: “Foreign breeders should ask the reputable Akita rescues if they’ve ever received any dogs from the potential buyer. And vice-versa to a buyer–a buyer should ask reputable Akita rescues if they’ve ever received a dog from the foreign breeder.”
- Ask the breeder if the litter is from “champion show lines” or are actually from champion show dogs themselves (the latter is preferred). This is true of domestic breeders as well. You will often see backyard breeders advertising litters as “champion show lines” because their sire and dam have not been shown or earned any titles. Why is this important? For one reason, it could mean the breeder is breeding dogs that do not conform to the standard. It could also mean there has been no third-party assessment of the dogs being bred by someone who is very familiar with the breed standard. A poorly constructed dog could potentially mean health problems down the line. There is a meme that states: “Saying ‘I don’t need a dog from a breeder who shows’ is like saying, ‘I don’t need a house from a builder who builds to code’.”
- Familiarize yourself with the breed standards (AKIHO, FCI, UKC and AKC will do) so you know what to look for (see tip #1) and attend or watch footage of shows. Some breeders advertise “show quality”, “platinum lines”, or “top bloodlines” and will charge more–exciting terms to attract and entice buyers. Or they may say “rare” blue brindle. But what do such terms mean? Is a platimum line better than a gold line? What is a top bloodline versus a bottom bloodline? Did you know that “blue” brindle is an advertising term and not in any breed standard? Sometimes, when the puppy arrives, it may not be competitive in the conformation ring and it may not even be from particularly exciting lines. Try to learn what to look for as much as possible before sending money. A more honest claim is “show potential” or “show prospect”. Part of your responsibility is to study the standard and see if the breeder you intend to support is breeding dogs that conform to the standard. Some FCI nations have strict policies regarding health and confornation in place for breeders which is a good thing.
- If you are interested in owning an AKIHO-registered dog, ask if the sire and dam are actually AKIHO-registered dogs with permanent AKIHO registration numbers or if they are merely from “AKIHO lines”. Buyers have mistakenly thought they were getting an AKIHO-registered puppy but were disappointed to discover their puppy is not actually registered with AKIHO and is ineligible to be so. Make sure you are aware of the difference before you buy.
- Ask the breeder to double and triple check that all the paperwork is in order as far as registration and pedigrees are concerned BEFORE they send the puppy. We know of a breeder who (possibly unintentionally) confused puppies from different litters, so upon arrival, the papers that came with the pup in question did not match up with the pedigree or papers that the buyer had been shown. This mix-up caused extra work to clear up the confusion. There have also been instances when buyers were forced to wait an extreme amount of time (as in a year or more) for official documents to arrive from overseas.
- Ask the breeder how many breeding dogs they own, how many are on their immediate property, how many litters they have produced annually for the past five years, and how many puppies they sold in the last year (you can take a close look at their websites and social media to get an idea). Your conscience should be okay with the amount of puppies a breeder produces. At high volume kennels, quality of dogs in terms of health and temperament may be inconsistent because the breeders often do not have enough time to sufficiently interact with their adult dogs and litters to ensure proper care is provided. Some breeders overseas who make their livelihood on puppy sales may have multiple kennel properties because they have so many dogs while other breeders have commercial kennels (some with hired helpers). One member of JACA imported a puppy from a large overseas kennel and discovered upon pick-up at the airport that the puppy arrived with osteomalacia indicating a lack of care and monitoring on the part of the breeder. In fact, the breeder stated that the puppy had been kept at a different property and he was unaware. While the condition is treatable, it may be painful for a growing puppy.Breed advocate, JACA/AKIHO member and potential future breeder Rio Romero makes an excellent point: “On paper, they health test but with kennels who produce lots of puppies, you can’t expect intimate support due to [them] being a commercial breeder.” Their twin Naomi Romero, also a breed advocate, JACA/AKIHO member and potential future breeder, adds: “And also with 30+ dogs, what kind of life do they have? Dogs can be aloof but dogs are still animals bred for human companionship. Are they loved and played with? Or do they all have just 10 minutes a day of human affection?”
There are a lot of ethical breeders overseas but many of the Japanese Akitainu we see in US shelters or with Akita rescues came from high volume overseas kennels or are progeny of lines from high volume overseas kennels that sold to backyard breeders in North America.
- Be especially cautious when finding foreign (or domestic) breeders on third-party websites (e.g., Puppy Find, Kijiji, Next Day, Craigslist, EuroPets, etc.) and even social media groups or pages. Breeders on third-party sites tend to be high volume breeders, backyard breeders or puppy millers who breed for the purpose of profit (for some, it is their main source of income) rather than preserving and improving the breed in terms of health and conformation or having the breed’s overall welfare in mind. There are also a lot of scammers on Facebook and Instagram posing as breeders taking deposits for non-existent puppies from innocent victims. Sometimes they even steal adorable puppy photos from legitimate breeders.
- If any warning signs or red flags are raised in your interaction with a breeder, do not proceed. Sometimes you have to go with your gut instinct. A few complaints we have come across has to do with breeders becoming incommunicado with buyers. It can be a nerve-wracking process. If you’re not comfortable, feel free to bow out. Important to note: If you’ve already sent money, you may only receive a partial refund return due to transaction fees or the breeder’s reservation fee being non-refundable.
- Extensive research on breeders will help you avoid disappointment. You could run a search for your breeder on the Akita Pedigree Database site and look up the dogs they have bred. Some entries will note illnesses and have contact information of owners. You can try to contact the owners to see if the breeder handled the situation to their satisfaction. If you only rely on a breeder’s website or social media accounts, you may not be getting the full picture. Again, due diligence is important.
- Discuss every aspect of the sale openly and in detail. Your overall price will usually include the cost of the puppy or dog (inclusive of registration and a pet passport), an airline-approved kennel, cost of shipping or transport, cost of vet check for travel, etc. Some breeders deliver their puppies in person, some send puppies with a hired transporter, some send via cargo, etc. and these different modes of transport may affect the pricing. If a breeder keeps raising their prices or adds extra fees before shipping, feel free to ask the reasons why. We highly recommend getting the name and number of the veterinarian who has been caring for the litter as well as the airport vet if there is one. We strongly suggest that all imports be microchipped and registered with contact information for the breeder prior to shipping (contact info can be changed to your info after arrival).
- Consider how you will pay. Learn what options you have and what payment services will best protect you as a consumer. For example, payment via the Friends and Family option on PayPal will not offer you purchase protection coverage (it protects the breeder from having to pay a service fee); however, payment via PayPal for goods and services offers the purchaser some protection. Western Union, Zelle, MoneyGram, and Venmo do not offer consumer protection for live animal sales; however, if you feel you have been the victim of a scam, you can file a fraud report with them and the FTC. The Better Business Bureau actually recommends that you use a credit card.
The truth is there are many excellent breeders everywhere. We hope our suggestions to protect yourself, as well as the general welfare of the breed, will lead you to the most ethical of them. The inspiration for these suggestions reflects our commitment and love for what we believe is the best breed in the world.
And if you import a puppy, we wish you a long, healthy and happy life together!
Importing a Japanese Akitainu by
AKIHO North America President Steven Takamatsu
Since more members are importing dogs to the United States, I thought I would write about the risks that may be involved when bringing Japanese Akitainu (JAs) from outside the country. I will relay some stories that the Board has come across over the years, in addition to my own experiences. It may sound like I am discouraging imports but I am not. I just want to prevent newer members from making the same mistakes and assumptions longtime members have made and to avoid buyer’s remorse before proceeding to import Japanese Akitainu, either from Japan or any other country. I will also briefly relay how other members have imported dogs in the past.
It has been reported from overseas that show quality adults have been sold for as high as $75,000.
If you are thinking about importing a dog, the most obvious thing you should know is that it is not cheap, especially if you want a show quality AKIHO-pedigreed Japanese Akitainu. The price for a show quality puppy starts around $3000 USD and goes up from there. That does not include the additional costs for shipping, crate, vet checks and customs fee. You can always buy a pet quality dog for less, but keep in mind, a pet quality dog is not meant for breeding and you will incur the additional costs anyway. A pet quality dog typically means there are faults in the dog that could result in automatic disqualification (at the judge’s discretion) from or large point deductions in the AKIHO ring. It can also mean that there are health issues. Many AKIHO breeders will not give an official AKIHO pedigree if a puppy or adult dog is sold as a pet. So if you do not have an AKIHO-pedigree JA, our North America Branch will not recognize any litters you intend to whelp (and if you are not breeding AKIHO to AKIHO, your membership may be revoked). If you add in the cost of shipping a pet quality dog to the US, then it may cost the same as a show quality JA bred and sold domestically. Adult show quality Japanese Akitainu can cost even more than a puppy. This is because the Japanese Akitainu is very popular in Europe, South America and China, so people are spending top dollar to get these adults into their breeding programs. Unfortunately, in some countries, Japanese Akitainu may be seen as a status symbol. It has been reported from overseas that show quality adults have been sold for as high as $75,000. Here in North America, the breed is becoming more popular and backyard breeders are popping up. So if you happen to look through breeder or broker websites and find an inexpensive puppy or dog, odds are, it is not intended for breeding or showing but will make a fine companion. Of course, there are exceptions to these examples; for instance, if you have a good rapport with a breeder in Japan, then it can be considerably less expensive for a show quality prospect, but it is not the norm.
HEALTH + SHIPPING
Risks are higher when importing due to lack of health testing in Japan.
The next thing you should know is that there are no health checks in Japan like checking hips and eyes as breeders do in the US. Unfortunately, health tests for every single disorder do not exist, but we do encourage the breeders in the North America Branch to run tests that are available for common ailments that affect JAs. Because of the lack of testing in Japan, members have unknowingly imported dogs with bad hips, which may be fine for a pet but if you plan on breeding, then it is unethical to breed them. We also have had imports diagnosed with autoimmune disorders such as sebaceous adenitis, pemphigus, and VKH syndrome, which can be costly, heartbreaking, difficult and time consuming to take care of. In addition, we have had reports of possible infertility in a couple of imports. So if you are thinking about making money by breeding (which is absolutely not the right reason to breed in the first place) and spent a lot of money importing a dog, this is the triple whammy of disasters because you just spent a lot of money for the dog, you can’t breed the dog and you have to spend a lot of money taking care of the health problems for the import. A few breeders in Japan and Europe will offer to replace a JA with health problems but you generally still have to pay for shipping.
Shipping includes airfare from overseas to the US, but for example, if you’re importing from Japan, can also include the costs of transporting the dog from the breeder in Japan to the nearest international Japanese airport; it is important to note that not all breeders live close to one of the three major international Japanese airports that serve airlines that fly to the US. Also, you may have to pay for the vet exam to import, as well as the crate and customs fees for your original import (and replacement dog if necessary). Keep in mind that many overseas breeders do not offer guarantees if there are health problems, so “buyer beware.” Again, there are exceptions, but it is a gamble. Naturally, health problems like the ones I mentioned can occur with domestically bred Japanese Akitainu as well, but at least the breeder is relatively nearby to replace your dog (or offer a previously agreed upon refund to buy back the dog) according to each breeders’ sales contract, and the cost is significantly cheaper.
Also, if you plan to import a JA from another country, do not expect the puppy or dog to be disease-free. Imports from Japan must have clearance from a veterinarian prior to shipping and be checked again at the airport; however, my personal experience is that it has been common for imports I have gotten to have giardia. Giardia is an intestinal disease caused by a parasite. It is usually transmitted through consuming feces or contaminated water, but it is easily treated with antibiotics and the prognosis is good. Other members have had this same problem from different breeders and different countries. So it might be the water at the airport or the lawn where dogs defecate at the airport, and not necessarily the breeder’s fault. I would recommend getting a fecal sample right away from your import and have your local veterinarian test the sample to begin treatment if giardia is present. Since we’re on the subject of toileting matters, do not be surprised if, upon arrival, your puppy is covered in its own urine and feces. Japanese Akitainu is usually a clean breed, but there is only so much space in a crate and the pup will have been stuck in it for hours before, during and after the flight.
SHOW QUALITY vs. PET QUALITY
Japanese breeders basically want to keep their best puppies for their own breeding programs and to show at their own AKIHO shows in Japan.
Another point you should know when importing a Japanese Akitainu is that you should not expect your show quality import will be better than a JA bred in the United States. Japanese breeders generally keep their best puppies for themselves, for other breeders they associate with in Japan or sell them to international buyers willing to pay exorbitant prices. They basically want to keep their best puppies for their own breeding programs and to show at their own AKIHO shows in Japan. If you have a good relationship with a breeder then you might be able to get the “pick of the litter” like our veteran branch and board member, Akira Miyabayashi who is very good friends with the a particular kennel in Japan. You can also offer large amounts of cash to an overseas breeder to get the pick of the litter. Any breeder will tell you that a breeder’s pick of the litter does not always pan out. Sometimes, the one you least expect as the pick turns out to be the best dog of the litter when they become adults. So it is possible to get a great dog from overseas, but it could be more by accident and upbringing (i.e., diet, exercise and grooming). Since demand for high show quality Japanese Akitainu are low in the United States, it is generally easier to get the pick of the litter from a North American AKIHO breeder. Long-time member Josie van Otterlo received the first pick when she got her Sachiko from veteran AKIHO breeder Kenji Kawasaki.
LOST IN TRANSLATION/CULTURAL MISUNDERSTANDINGS
We have one North American Branch AKIHO member who has managed to offend three different Japanese breeders due to a lack of cultural and linguistic knowledge.
In addition, anybody who wants to buy a dog or puppy needs to know about some cultural issues when dealing with Japanese breeders that I would like to categorize as the “lost in translation” point. I would strongly recommend using a Japanese translator who is knowledgable about dogs when expressing interest in a dog from Japan for various reasons. Buyers should be aware that Japanese breeders can be easily offended if you do not communicate clearly with them. We have one North American Branch AKIHO member who has managed to offend three different Japanese breeders due to a lack of cultural and linguistic knowledge. One such cultural issue that you should be aware of if you do not want to offend them is that the Japanese typically do not bargain or negotiate. If an esteemed Japanese breeder says their puppy is $4000, you should not say, “I’ll pay you $3000.” In effect, you are telling the breeder that something is wrong with their puppy, so it’s not worth $4000 (implying that the breeder lacks knowledge which is very insulting). Also, if a buyer wishes to purchase a show-prospect puppy with the intent to breed that puppy later, the buyer has to make it crystal clear to the breeder from the beginning. Failure to heed this advice may lead one to getting a pet-quality puppy. I would also recommend that you clearly state that you want the AKIHO pedigree in your name for your dog or puppy. Do not assume you will get one. A good translator who knows the Japanese culture can steer you away from these pitfalls. Google translator can be detrimental to communicate with a breeder due to its inaccuracies and limitations because no translator app can help you with cultural practices or the nuances of the Japanese language.
IMPORTING JAPANESE AKITAINU FROM OTHER COUNTRIES
One issue we have seen with new owners who have bought from kennels outside of Japan (and even a few in the US) is that their puppies are not eligible for AKIHO registration.
Apart from importing from Japan, we have had some incidents of members buying JAs from other countries outside of Japan that have had some issues. One issue is that you cannot expect pedigrees and ownership transfers to occur quickly. It took one member about a year to get a pedigree and ownership transfer from a non-Japanese breeder. We, in the North America Branch, have a great relationship with AKIHO Headquarters, thanks to our longtime board members and breeders such as Kenji Kawasaki. Some international breeders have poor translators, are inexperienced in AKIHO protocols and may advertise Akitainu from AKIHO lines rather than AKIHO-registered Akitainu, so proceed with great caution when importing from breeders in other nations.
One issue we have seen with new owners who have bought from kennels outside of Japan (and even a few in the US) is that their puppies are not eligible for AKIHO registration. We then explain the difference between AKIHO lines versus AKIHO registered. Although the sire and dam might both have been imported from Japan, the breeder may not have registered their kennel or their litter with AKIHO Headquarters. Remember, AKIHO Headquarters in Odate controls the pedigrees and registrations for the Japanese Akitainu. Some non-Japanese breeders outside the US do not see the value of an AKIHO pedigree, so they do not bother to register through AKIHO. Often, they find the process a hassle or just want to save money though we know that some European and South American breeders pass the cost onto buyers by charging significantly more for AKIHO-registered puppies (often more than the cost of the registration that they incurred). These international breeders are finding out that buyers, in fact, do want that AKIHO pedigree. So, what many of these non-Japanese breeders are doing is going back to the Japanese breeders they bought their Akitainu from and having the Japanese breeder register their litter under the Japanese breeder’s kennel. That way these non-Japanese breeders can get an AKIHO pedigree for their buyers, even though the Japanese breeder did not whelp the litter. What this activity amounts to is basically fraud and AKIHO Headquarters has been cracking down on this process, leading to penalties for breeders. Now if you just want a pet, then it is no big deal. But, if you intend to import a dog to breed and register with AKIHO, then your import MUST be AKIHO-pedigreed and registered if you want to breed that dog and remain a member of our branch. According to our Terms of Membership, one of the few rules that can lead to expulsion from the club when broken is you may only breed AKIHO to AKIHO-registered Japanese Akitainu (we are a preservation club so our goal is to preserve the breed). So, don’t be misled; make sure that the puppy you get will be registered through AKIHO and that you will get an AKIHO pedigree BEFORE any transfer of funds. I would ask the following questions: 1) Is the breeder an AKIHO member? 2) Is their kennel registered through AKIHO? 3) Will they register their litter through AKIHO? 4) Will they complete the ownership transfer paper work? According to North America Branch member, Thomas Osinski, there are non-AKIHO JA breeders in Japan also, but most people who are well informed about the breed know that a dog with an AKIHO pedigree is much more sought after than one without.
SO WHY BOTHER?
So if your sole purpose for importing dogs is to make money, then it is definitely not worth it.
If you take into account all the risks involved while importing a Japanese Akitainu, it sounds like the members who have done so are crazy. Perhaps we are. I would recommend importing Japanese Akitainu if you truly love the breed and are interested in helping the AKIHO preserve and improve the breed in the United States. If you want to import Japanese Akitainu merely to make money, which I truly hope you are not, then be aware that it is equivalent to gambling. You will be praying the whole time that your import is free of diseases, defects, and infertility, then you will be praying that you can sell your puppies into caring homes, and then you will be praying that your buyers’ puppies will not have health issues because if they do, as a responsible breeder, you should be willing to offer a replacement pup or issue a refund and take back the dog. This is on top of all the money that is needed for health checks (hips and eyes at the least), plus the time and financial expenditure it takes to care for your dog(s). So if your sole purpose for importing dogs is for profit, then it is definitely not worth it. I would recommend you take your money and invest it in the stock market or an index fund because it will be safer; there will be less worrying and fewer headaches. But if you are crazy like us, then read on.
OUR BEST ADVICE
It is up to each buyer to do their due diligence and research when importing a JA.
Ideally speaking, the best way to import a dog is to go to Japan directly and meet with a few breeders in the company of a good translator. Build up a positive rapport with the breeders, offer them a small gift from America in keeping with the Japanese cultural practice, meet their dogs and then eventually pick up or have a puppy shipped to the US. Although this method can be fun, it can be very expensive. Unless you speak Japanese or have a friend or relative with you who speaks fluent Japanese, you still have to pay for a translator on top of your flight and accommodations. Depending on the location of the kennel(s) you visit, you may have to pay for transportation (taxi, bus, train or even a car and driver if different from your translator), meals and accommodation for your translator as well. The next best thing is to have someone else pick your puppy and deliver or ship your JA to the US. If you are lucky, someone from the North America Branch can do this for you. For example, in my case, our branch members Akira Miyabayashi and Kenji Kawasaki were gracious enough to help me acquire two of my imports. Otherwise, you can have a reputable exporter bring or ship a puppy for you.
Some members from our branch have used a Japanese breeder/broker who has been exporting dogs to the US from other Japanese breeders and has been instrumental in securing the best JAs for high prices to other countries as well. He does virtually all the work for you, according to club and board member, Kathy Gima: getting the veterinarian travel certificate, meeting you at the airport or flying the pup in for you. The only thing you need to do if you are traveling yourself is make reservations through your airline for your import. The airline will ask for dimensions of the crate so you have to have that ready.
Also, our branch board member, Tae (Tim) Kim has used a Korea-based exporter to get Japanese Akitainu. This exporter knows many breeders in Japan and imports lots of Akitainu to Korea. He can acquire a puppy for you but you are responsible for shipping the dog out of Japan or picking up the dog yourself at the Japanese airport as he himself does not ship. He can send you pictures through email and you can decide if you want to purchase the puppy or dog. Once you decide you would like the puppy or dog, he can be paid via wire transfer like Western Union. Both of these brokers/exporters have decent English skills but neither are perfect. We know that some Japanese breeders have used a translator app in the past which confounded members who read their correspondence. That also means that they may be running their clients’ emails through the same app. In these cases of written correspondence, it is best to keep sentences short and simple to communicate effectively and avoid any confusion.
I hired a Chiba-branch AKIHO member as a translator while I was in Japan. His native language is English but he has lived in Japan long enough to have become fluent in the language and he knows Japanese customs. He used to find Japanese Akitainu for people, but does not do this anymore. He says it is too difficult to find a good show quality dog for breeding as a third party, but if you can find one for yourself, then he can help with the delivery of the pup or dog.
As President of AKIHO North America, I am not endorsing any overseas kennels, breeders, brokers, exporters or their services. I am merely describing how other members and myself have brought JAs into the US. It is up to each buyer to do their due diligence and research when importing a JA.
Furthermore, I would not recommend seeking assistance from some stranger on the Internet as a broker because you have no way of knowing what you’re going to get. We had an incident where a non-member buyer got a broker to get him a Japanese Akitainu. The dog came with an AKIHO pedigree but no signatures or seals on it. Usually, that will mean it’s a pet-quality dog. The American buyer was charged a flat fee, which had no breakdown of costs like the AKIHO ownership transfer fee or an AKIHO registration fee. The AKIHO North America Board contacted the broker who became defensive, so our suspicion is he may have been angling to get a larger profit margin by not including AKIHO fees and sent a pet quality dog for a show quality price.
I would urge any members considering an import to find a dog with different bloodlines from our other branch dogs. AKIHO board members Tim Kim, Bekki Leu and Sean Nollan would be the best resources if other members have questions concerning pedigrees and bloodlines. They pour over pedigrees like a kid studying baseball cards in the 1980’s. This action could potentially help our club diversify our own bloodlines if you intend to breed or stud your dog. Currently, some of our imports have come from the larger kennels in Japan, but there are many breeders in Japan that are not large or commercially available through the Internet, so there are alternative AKIHO kennels that I encourage members to consider. It would be nice if we could start importing dogs from these breeders in order to help diversify our bloodlines in the US.
Good luck if you decide to import a Japanese Akitainu, but please feel free to ask other members if you need advice.
(Thanks to AKIHO North America for giving us permission to republish this article from their July 2015 newsletter).