The origins of the American Akita follow that of the Akita Inu, in the region of the Akita prefecture in northern Japan. They originally were medium sized dogs used for hunting bears and guarding homes. This was around the early part of the sixteen hundreds, this type of Akita was known as a Matagi Akita. Then as the years progressed some Japanese owners began to use their Akitas to fight other dogs, as a result of this the Akita was cross-bred with the Tosa and Mastiff resulting in an increase in overall size. For detailed information about the American as well as the Japanese Akita, Akita Inu, visit the Akita dog breed page.
In 1908 dog fighting was prohibited, and this changed the outlook for the Akita as the Japanese breeders wanted to bring back the original characteristics lost by cross breeding the Matagi Akita. As a result superior examples of the breed were designated as natural monuments in 1931.
Another significant factor in the history of the Akita was the second world war. During this period Japanese Akita breeders were ordered to hand over all their dogs(with the exception of the German Shepherd, which was to be used for military purposes) to be used as a source of military garments. Some Akita breeders then started to cross breed with German Shepherds in order to save the Akita from certain extinction. So by the end of the war there were at least three different type’s of Akita in Japan. In 1937 the renowned Helen Keller is credited with importing the first Akita into the United States and after the war American service men of the occupying forces admired the Akita and adopted them and the breeds popularity increased in the United States. Most of these Akitas were of the larger type (Dewa line). As the breed grew in popularity the Akita Club of American was established in1956 and the American Kennel Club accepted the breed in October 1972.
However at this time the American Kennel Club and the Japanese Kennel Club could not agree on a common pedigree, consequently resulting in no new blood lines being introduced from Japan. Therefore the breed in the United States started to differ from the breed in Japan, which was being bred back to the Matagi Akitas with the objective of restoring the original Akita. It is true to say that even in Japan they were not certain of what version of the Akita, was the true one so there were different organization’s set up with their own breed standards but the dominant organization today is known as AKIHO and breeders largely through the efforts of this club recognize the Matagi Akita to be the true Akita and the larger type (Dewa line) Akita was incorrect, because of all the cross breeding.
The American Kennel Club and the Japanese Kennel Club did not recognize each other until 1992, and by this time the breed in Japan and America was so different that problems started to arise when judging them. The F.C.I. which is the show organization for most countries decided to go with the standard of the country of origin which is Japan. Other countries like America, UK and a few others kept their own breed standards when the F.C.I. recognized the JKC standard. This was a problem for the Akita breeders who were breeding the Akita that we now know as the American Akita because they could not receive the grade excellent because of the difference between them and the Akitas bred in Japan. Eventually in 2000 the FCI decided to split the breed, and initially the breed was called the Great Japanese Dog. This did not go down well with the countries outside the FCI, and as time passed the breed was recognized as the American Akita so now we have two breeds of Akita. One called American Akita and the other called Akita Inu. In the UK, which unlike Ireland is not FCI affiliated the breeds are also split one is called the Akita and the other is called the Japanese Akita. However in America the breed is not split and all are referred to as Akita.