Hachiko 忠犬ハチ公

 

 Hachiko the most famous of all Akita's, he was brought to Tokyo in 1923 by his owner, a college professor named Hidesamuro Ueno. Each day, when Ueno left for work, Hachiko would stand by the door to watch him go. When the professor came home at 4 o'clock, Hachiko would go to the Shibuya Station to meet him.

Though this simple act alone shows a tremendous amount of loyalty, that's not the end of it: The following year, Ueno died of a stroke while at the university. Hachiko didn't realize that he was gone, and so the dog returned to the train station every single day to await his master. He became such a familiar presence there, in fact, that the station master set out food for the dog and gave him a bed in the station. Even so, Hachiko never shifted loyalties – every day at 4 o'clock, he hopefully waited by the tracks as the train pulled in, searching for his best friend's face among the people getting off.

Hachiko's love for his master impressed many people who passed through the station, including one of Ueno's former students, who became fascinated by the Akita breed after seeing Hachiko. He discovered that there were only 30 Akitas living in Japan, and began to write articles about Hachiko and his remarkable breed, turning the world's most loyal dog into a household name, and creating resurgence in popularity for the Akita.

Hachiko died in 1935, after 10 long years of waiting for his master. But the dog would not be forgotten – a year before his death, Shibuya Station installed a bronze statue of the aging dog, to honor its mascot. Though the statue was melted down during World War II, a new version was created in 1948 by the son of the original artist. Go to the station now, and you'll be able to see the bronze statue of hachiko still waiting as ever for his masterHachiko, Japan's most Faithful Dog, Tokyo to return home.   

Akitas are the largest of the Japanese breeds. Originally, they were bred to hunt fowl, large game, and even bears. A pair of Akitas could hold at bay a Yezo bear, one of the fiercest bears known. Due to their hunting skill, these dogs were called matagi inus -- matagi being a title given to esteemed hunters in Japan and inu meaning dog. The breed slowly evolved from a solely hunting capacity to include guarding and companion capacities as well. Akitas were often left in charge of the children while the parents worked. As their role changed so did their name. They came to be called Akita inus for the Akita area where they came from. Unfortunately, the sport of dog fighting grew in popularity in Japan, and Akitas were bred and used for this sport. This practice has since been abolished but has left its mark on the breed causing dog aggression to become a common attribute among Akitas. Helen Keller is credited with bringing the first Akita to America and the breed grew in popularity until it was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1973. The Akita Club of America is the parent club of the Akita and was responsible for bringing the breed from its beginnings in America to its AKC recognized status. Akitas have continued to evolve as a breed. There are now two distinct styles of Akitas -- the American and the Japanese -- that has been split into two breeds in FCI countries with the Japanese style Akita remaining with the name Akita Inu and the American style Akita being called the  American Akita. 

 

THE AKITA LOOK

Akitas today are large, powerful dogs that epitimize loyalty and dignity (though they do have their silly times). They stand from 26 to 28 inches for males and 24 to 26 for females. Weight is between 85 lbs and 120 lbs. Being a Spitz type breed, Akitas have curly tails ranging from three-quarter curls to double curls, erect ears, and double coats that blow, or shed completely, twice a year. The Akita head has been described as a bear head being broad and relatively short. The Akita coat consists of a short, harsh outercoat and a wooly undercoat. There is a recessive trait in the Akita breed for longhair. This is not a desirable trait and such Akitas should be spayed or neutered. Longhair Akitas are, however, Akitas with all the associated characteristics and make wonderful Akita companions. The American-style Akita can be any color as well as combinations of colors, and most have some white on them somewhere. The black mask is a common feature among American-style Akitas although by no means do all American-style Akitas have a black mask. The Japanese-style Akita is more limited in its color options -- white, red, and brindle -- and the black mask is not desired. The differences in these styles in much more than just color with the Japanese style being lighter boned and more refined than the American style,see below a long coat Akita even though you can't show them they make super family pet's and companion's so if you are looking for a pet please think of taking a long coat Akita.

 

Posing for the camera

                                                                                                              THE  MIND OF THE AKITA

Akitas are extremely intelligent dogs and having amazing powers of discrimination. They are, however, also independent and self-thinking dogs. This combination makes it a definite challenge to train Akitas. They are highly trainable but traditional training methods of dog-will-do-anything-for-food don't always work. Owners must become flexible and inventive in their training techniques. Most Akitas have a stubborn streak and all have a great sense of humor. They like to act up in training. So uptight owners soon learn to laugh or they go crazy. This combination of independence and intelligence make Akitas not the ideal dog for everyone. A lot of work is required to raise an Akita puppy into a well-mannered adult. While it is possible for the Akita to do well as a first dog, they are not recommended as a first dog breed. Some previous dog experience is invaluable in raising the Akita puppy and dealing with the Akita adult. That said, there is no breed that is more rewarding to own. The work put in is far surpassed by the rewards.

UNDERSTANDING THE AKITA

Akitas are natural guards. They live to protect their family from harm. Thus, it is essential to teach them early in life what are normal parts of life and what are truly threats. So it is imperative to socialize, socialize, socialize the Akita. Obedience classes cannot be recommended strongly enough for the Akita puppy nor can trips to public places and puppy socialization classes. Akitas also carry the "mental baggage" of their dog fighting ancestors; therefore, most Akitas are dog aggressive. ALL Akitas need to be closely supervised with strange dogs. And Akitas were never intended to coexist in large groups. Same sex aggression is widespread problem with Akitas and maintaining large households of Akitas is tricky at best, disasterous at worst. Some owners manage to do this very well, but they will be the first to tell you it is hard work. Akitas can do a lot of damage in a short amount of time so it is imperative to avoid an Akita fight with any dog much less another Akita. Akitas are also natural predators. Small animals are considered prey and that includes the family cat. Some Akitas are worse than others in this regard but it is wise to supervise any Akita in the presence of cat(s). This drive also leads to squirrel, rabbit, bird, and rodent chasing. This may or may not be a problem where you live but be advised that it is a STRONG impulse to the Akita to chase these animals and, in so doing, run off in the woods further and further away from home and you. So use caution if you decide to ever let an Akita off-leash in a non-enclosed area.

Much has been said about Akitas and children. Part of the Akita history is one of a family guard and babysitter. So, it stands to reason that Akitas have the potential to be child's best friend and guardian. However, some Akitas seem to display this tendency more than others. It is NEVER, NEVER, let me repeat NEVER wise to leave any dog alone with a young child. That said, many Akitas seek out children to be with especially children of their family. Problems can arise when visiting children play rough with family children since an Akita may think that "its" children need protecting and attack the visiting children. Supervised introduction to a child is a must for the Akita.How the relationship progresses from there is up to the individual dog and child.How much freedom is given to the dog around the child is based on the particular child-dog interaction, but it is always best to err on the side of caution.Remember that this is a breed that requires respect,from family,friends and strangers,a hard concept for some people to grasp.This does not mean that they do not respect their owners or see them as leaders.If trained properly,they will and should see every member of the family as a leader,above them in the pack order.Unfair or abusive treatment and training will lead to an Akita that resents you.
In addition, friends and strangers should wait to be properly introduced.Akitas are not given to indiscriminate friendships and do not need or want attention from every person that crosses their path.This does not mean that people should be afraid of an Akita.This does mean they should treat them as the beautiful, noble breed they are, giving them their space and respect, not forcing themselves on the dog as they will seek you out, when they get to know and trust you.

 Grooming The Akita

 

The Akita has a beautiful medium length coat with a soft undercoat. The Akita's coat should be brushed on a weekly basis. It is important to use a grooming comb and a slicker, steel Pin brush to groom your Akita's coat effectively. You can also use a firm bristle brush.

Akita dogs do not need to be trimmed or shaved. They do, however, "blow" coat which means that their undercoats shed completely. As you can imagine this can be a very messy time period for any owner. It is good to know that this period typically only lasts a few weeks and this shedding period usually only takes place heavily two times a year. In addition, when your Akita is shedding brushing its coat on a daily basis is recommended in addition to using an undercoat rake. Akita dogs that live indoors or cooler climates typically shed less.

It is important to know that you should not bath an Akita too frequently. If you do, you can potentially remove the waterproofing properties that are a natural part of the Akita's full coat.

 Grooming Tip's for The Showring Akita

 

 The Akita has been called a “wash and wear” dog and, compared to many breeds that require extensive scissoring, etc., this is a true analogy. A healthy, clean Akita will require little additional grooming to look his or her best in the ring.

Nothing you will learn in grooming replaces good nutrition, health, and breeding. When these three essentials are in place, your job will be simply to enhance what is already there.

Before beginning, compile the items you will need for grooming: a grooming table with attached arm, towels, a blaster and a hair dryer, a quality pet shampoo, slicker brush, pin brush, wide tooth comb,bristle brush, chalk, block chalk, scissors, Vaseline or dry oil spray, body volumizing spray.

For best results, you should bathe and comb out any dog you are campaigning once a week to remove dead hair and promote healthy new hair growth.

From the time your Akita is young, you should begin table training so that your Akita will stand on a table confidently while you are working on him. This will make your job easier and your Akita will learn to enjoy these grooming sessions and the attention they receive.

Begin by brushing through your Akita’s coat with a slicker brush to remove excessive dirt and foreign matter. Next, grind or cut the nails. Most Akitas will tolerate a nail grinder better than the conventional nail clippers. Both will do the job equally well it is just matter of personal choice. Upon completing this task, you are ready for the bath.

The Akita’s coat is made to withstand the elements so, be sure that you have completely wetted the dog down before applying the shampoo. Use a good quality pet shampoo working it into the coat well with your fingers, rinse, and repeat. When rinsing, be sure that all the soap is removed from the coat and the water runs clear. If staining at the elbows and hocks is not removed by the shampoo, make a paste out of white vinegar, lemon juice, and cornflour. Apply to the stained area, wait ten minutes, and rinse. Now apply a small amount of cream rinse and again, rinse well. Towel dry and you are ready to complete the drying process with the hair dryer or forced air blaster{the forced air blaster does not have excessive heat and is much better for the coat than a hair dryer made for humans}. While you are blowing the coat dry, use the pin brush to pick up the hair and ensure that you are completely drying the dog. Clean inside the ears with an ear wash solution and cotton balls. Next, with a wide toothcomb, completely comb through your dog’s coat. This helps the coat to stand out and keep it even during “blowing coat” periods. While you are combing, you should mist the dog with a spray bottle of water to which you have added a small amount of bodifer or coat dressing. Begin at the rear legs working upward and then forward towards the head. The hindquarters are brushed up and out to suggest a wide, powerful rear. If your dog is a little weak in topline, you should also apply a small amount of mousse to the hair at the withers and using the dryer and comb, lift this hair up. The tail should also receive a little mousse and with a pin brush and the dryer, blow out and then back brush the tail until it is bushy.

Now for the legs, scissor the hair between the pads to help create the tight cat foot and any long hairs sticking up and out between the toes.If your dog has white stockings, you will also want to apply powdered chalk or whitening spray with a soft bristled brush,do this well in advance so that it has time to dry.

Whiskers are a matter of personal preference.You can leave them on puppies and remove them from adults,this generally gives a cleaner look to the head. Finally, rub some Vaseline or dry oil spray into your hands and rub across the face, nose, and back of the ears to give a sheen. Do not use too much or you will get a greasy look instead of the desired shine. After making sure that you have removed all chalk residues, apply a light misting of the bodifier/volumizing spray formula and you are ready to head to the ring.Bring a slicker and comb with you for final touch ups before your dog enter's into the showring.

 Exercising The Akita

 

While it is a subjective matter as to how much exercise the Akita needs, having a large yard with a fence is considered the ideal living situation for this type of dog. Akita dogs are strong and can typically, easily handle sledding and weight pulling activities. However, it is important to keep in mind that any Akita puppies less than 18 months should not try to pull any large amount of weight as their bones and joints are not fully developed yet.

It is also best to allow Akita dogs to exercise on their own. Akita dogs love to jump, run and play when they want to. It is recommended that the best exercise for the Akita is with another dog. You can play with your Akita with dog toys that will encourage them to run and play. Allow small Akita puppies to rest when they need to rest and their exercise should be contained to a fenced in area. If this area is not sufficient for adequate exercise, walking and jogging with an Akita puppy is a good daily exercise.

An Akita is an ideal hiking or walking dog and they are large and sturdy enough to handle even very difficult and challenging terrain. They are also very willing to play with kids and run and explore all day. A well exercised and fit Akita is calm and docile in the house and will typically not engage in any kind of destructive behavior, but they do need regular, lengthy exercise periods per day if kept indoors.
Akitas, like any other dog, like to have a variety of options for exercise and not just complete the same routine everyday. While they are excellent swimmers they sometimes have to be coaxed into the water at least the first few times, but will soon enjoy a refreshing swim or paddle about on a hot day. Avoid allowing the Akita to swim in cold weather as their coat is very hard to completely dry when temperatures are cooler.

 Akita Inu Breed Standard

 

General Appearance
Large, well-balanced, sturdily built dog of Spitz type. Very slightly longer than high.

Characteristics
Dignified. Broad head with relatively small eyes. Thick, triangular ears pricked and inclined forward. Distinctive tightly curled tail and markings.

Temperament
Aloof, docile and faithful.

Head and Skull
Head appears as a blunt triangle when viewed from above. Broad skull, free from wrinkle, with cheeks moderately developed. Defined stop with a distinct furrow. Muzzle straight, of good depth, tapering gradually. Lips tight. Nose large and black, except in white dogs where flesh coloured nose is acceptable.

Eyes
Relatively small, almond-shaped, moderately set apart and dark brown. Eye rims dark and tight.

Ears
Relatively small, thick, triangular, slightly rounded at tips. Set moderately well apart, pricked and inclining forward.

Mouth
Jaws strong, with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws.

Neck
Thick and muscular, of moderate length, without dewlap. Pronounced crest blending with back of skull.

Forequarters
Shoulders well developed, moderately laid back. Elbows close to chest. Well boned. Forelegs straight when viewed from the front.

Body
Length from point of shoulder to point of buttock slightly greater than height at withers. Level back. Chest deep, forechest well developed, ribs moderately sprung. Well tucked up. Loin broad and muscular.

Hindquarters
Strong, muscular with moderate angulation. Well developed thighs. Moderate turn of stifle. Strong hocks, well let down, turning neither in nor out.

Feet
Round, arched and tight with thick pads. Turning neither in nor out. Dewclaws on hindlegs customarily removed.

Tail
Set high. Thick, full and of good length. Tightly curled over the back. Uncurled tail highly undesirable.

Gait/Movement
Vigorous and powerful with moderate length of stride.

Coat
Outer coat coarse, stand-off and straight. Slightly longer at withers and rump. More profuse on tail. Undercoat soft and dense. No indication of ruff or feathering.

Colour
Red-fawn; sesame; brindle; white. All the foregoing colours except white must have whitish coat on the cheeks, the sides of the muzzle, the inside of the legs and also the undersides of the jaw, neck, chest, body and tail (Urajiro).

Size
Height at withers: dogs 64-70cms (25 ¼-27 ½ ins); bitches 58-64 cms (22 ¾-25 ¼ ins).

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.

Note:
Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

American Akita Breed Standard

Large, powerful, alert, with much substance and heavy bone. The broad head, forming a blunt triangle, with deep muzzle, small eyes and erect ears carried forward in line with back of neck, is characteristic of the breed. The large, curled tail, balancing the broad head, is also characteristic of the breed.

Head
Massive but in balance with body; free of wrinkle when at ease. Skull flat between ears and broad; jaws square and powerful with minimal dewlap. Head forms a blunt triangle when viewed from above. Fault-Narrow or snipey head. Muzzle-Broad and full. Distance from nose to stop is to distance from stop to occiput as 2 is to 3. Stop-Well defined, but not too abrupt. A shallow furrow extends well up forehead. Nose-Broad and black. Liver permitted on white Akitas, but black always preferred. Disqualification-Butterfly nose or total lack of pigmentation on nose. Ears-The ears of the Akita are characteristic of the breed. They are strongly erect and small in relation to rest of head. If ear is folded forward for measuring length, tip will touch upper eye rim. Ears are triangular, slightly rounded at tip, wide at base, set wide on head but not too low, and carried slightly forward over eyes in line with back of neck. Disqualification-Drop or broken ears. Eyes-Dark brown, small, deep-set and triangular in shape. Eye rims black and tight. Lips- and Tongue-Lips black and not pendulous; tongue pink. Teeth-Strong with scissors bite preferred, but level bite acceptable. Disqualification-Noticeably undershot or overshot.

Neck and Body
Neck-Thick and muscular; comparatively short, widening gradually toward shoulders. A pronounced crest blends in with base of skull. Body-Longer than high, as 10 is to 9 in males; 11 to 9 in bitches. Chest wide and deep; depth of chest is one-half height of dog at shoulder. Ribs well sprung, brisket well developed. Level back with firmly-muscled loin and moderate tuck-up. Skin pliant but not loose. Serious Faults-Light bone, rangy body.

Tail
Large and full, set high and carried over back or against flank in a three-quarter, full, or double curl, always dipping to or below level of back. On a three-quarter curl, tip drops well down flank. Root large and strong. Tail bone reaches hock when let down. Hair coarse, straight and full, with no appearance of a plume. Disqualification-Sickle or uncurled tail.

Forequarters and Hindquarters
Forequarters-Shoulders strong and powerful with moderate layback. Forelegs heavy-boned and straight as viewed from front. Angle of pastern 15 degrees forward from vertical. Faults-Elbows in or out, loose shoulders. Hindquarters-Width, muscular development and bone comparable to forequarters. Upper thighs well developed. Stifle moderately bent and hocks well let down, turning neither in nor out. Dewclaws-On front legs generally not removed; dewclaws on hind legs generally removed. Feet-Cat feet, well knuckled up with thick pads. Feet straight ahead.

Coat
Double-coated. Undercoat thick, soft, dense and shorter than outer coat. Outer coat straight, harsh and standing somewhat off body. Hair on head, legs and ears short. Length of hair at withers and rump approximately two inches, which is slightly longer than on rest of body, except tail, where coat is longest and most profuse. Fault-Any indication of ruff or feathering.

Color
Any color including white; brindle; or pinto. Colors are brilliant and clear and markings are well balanced, with or without mask or blaze. White Akitas have no mask. Pinto has a white background with large, evenly placed patches covering head and more than one-third of body. Undercoat may be a different color from outer coat.

Gait
Brisk and powerful with strides of moderate length. Back remains strong, firm and level. Rear legs move in line with front legs.

Size
Males 26 to 28 inches at the withers; bitches 24 to 26 inches. Disqualification-dogs under 25 inches; bitches under 23 inches.

Temperament
Alert and responsive, dignified and courageous. Aggressive toward other dogs.

DISQUALIFICATIONS
Butterfly nose or total lack of pigmentation on nose. 
Drop or broken ears. 
Noticeably undershot or overshot.
Sickle or uncurled tail.
Dogs under 25 inches; bitches under 23 inches.

 

 Please take a look at the video below, as it will give you the distintive difference's between the Akita Inu and the American Akita.

 

Hip Dysplasia

What is hip dysplasia and how is it caused?

Hip dysplasia is a deformity of the coxofemoral (hip) joint that occurs during the growth period. Certain dogs are genetically predisposed to developing hip dysplasia.  Other contributory factors are overweight and overfed puppies and excessive exercise in a young immature dog's.As the dog grows the joint malforms, arthritis may develop or the hip may even become dislocated. This all causes pain in the hip joint. The degree of lameness that occurs is dependent on the extent of arthritic changes in the hip joint.All dog's should be HD tested when they are over 12 month's and if there is any sign's of HD that dog should not be bred from ,as it is passed on to offspring.Alway's ask the breeder if they have tested the parent's of a puppie you may be buying.

 

Is this found in certain breeds of dogs?

Most breeds of dogs can be affected with hip dysplasia although it is predominantly seen in the larger breeds of dogs,and can  be a problem in smaller breed's too. There is equal distribution of the disease between male and female dogs.

 

What are the clinical signs, and when do they occur?

The typical clinical signs of hip dysplasia are lameness, weakness and pain in the hind legs, lack of co-ordination, and a reluctance to rise. Wasting of the large muscle groups in the hind legs may eventually develop. Most owners report that the dog has had difficulty in rising from a lying position for a period of weeks or months. Clinical signs can occur as early as 4-6 weeks of age, but most dogs start to show signs of lameness at around 1 to 2 years of age. Dogs with mild hip dysplasia and minimal arthritis may not become lame until 6-10 years of age.

 

How is it diagnosed?

Tentative diagnosis of hip dysplasia is made on the basis of history, breed, and clinical signs. Because the clinical signs may mimic other diseases, final diagnosis of hip dysplasia can only be made by radiographing (x-raying) the hips. To obtain an accurate  radiograph the dog must be anaesthetised or heavily sedated to enable the correct positioning for the hips to be evaluated.  On examining the radiographs we look for an abnormal shape to the hip joint and for degenerative changes (arthritis).

 

 

POPPING HOCK This condition is usually not painful but can affect one or both hocks. It is caused by loose supporting structures around the joint and will impair the dogs drive and agility. Dogs with straight rear end angulation are prone to this disease. In puppies early treatment may reverse the condition. This involves total immobilisation using splints and cage rest.

SLIPPING OR LUXATING PATELLAR (KNEECAP) Dislocating kneecap can be inherited or acquired through trauma. Small toy breeds are more prone to this than large breeds but it is now also commonly seen in the Akita. Signs of a slipped kneecap are difficulty in straightening the knee, pain in the stifle and an obvious limp. The dog is reluctant to put weight on the effected leg and hold the leg high. Diagnosis is confirmed by manipulation of the stifle joint or X-ray. Treatment involves surgery.

 






 

 Other Problem's To Be Aware Of In Your Akita
 

THYROID DISEASE and HYPOTHYROIDISM This disease, which slowly destroys the thyroid gland’s tissues over a period of years, leads to a reduction in the production of thyroid hormones. Incidents of the Akita developing this disease are extremely high. In searching for the causes we must never ignore possible relevant factors, including those of an environmental nature. Where we house our dogs in relation to toxic substances eg. Pesticides, fertilisers, industrial pollutants could all be a contributing factor. What we put into our dogs eg. Polluted food & water, drugs orally or intravenously are all environment hazards, which must be considered together with heritability.

The degree of symptoms varies with each animal and not all symptoms may be evident. Skin and coat problems such as, hot spots, dry flaky skin, dull broken coat, lack of coat, itching and chewing are all common symptoms of the disease. Usually misdiagnosed as "allergy" then incorrectly treated with a course of cortisone injections, the treatment is never successful. Although it may appear to offer the animal some relief, it masks the true cause and this often leads to other more damaging problems.
Besides skin problems, other symptoms include weight variations, seizures, intolerance to cold temperatures, loss in appetite, fatigue, lethargy, reproductive irregularity (in both sexes) and most commonly behavioural changes eg. Aggression. Liver, kidney and adrenal disease, susceptibility to infections, anaemia and bleeding can also be added to the list of Thyroid dysfunctions.
Thyroid disease cannot be cured but it can be effectively controlled once correctly diagnosed. Thyroid hormones usually administered in tablet form and given daily will help the animal maintain a relatively happy and normal life. This must be continued for the duration of its life. This disease is rarely found in young dogs and usually presents itself during middle age. Unfortunately, by the time the dog has been diagnosed it has usually already been used for breeding purposes.

PEMPHIGUS FOLIACEUS (PF) PF is another type of autoimmune skin problem found more often in the Akita than any other breed. Unlike thyroid disease this skin problem is where the antibodies attack the skin itself. It is seen as small red spots that rapidly become blisters, then pustules finally forming deep crusts on the footpads, nose, ears and around the eyes. In extreme cases crusts are found over the entire body and loss of pigment may occur.

The dog may appear to be lethargic and depressed and may be stiff gaited or jointed showing lameness. In rare cases in the abdomen and/or legs swelling will occur. Most frequently, thyroid disease is found in addition to PF and this can affect dogs of both sexes at any age. There is no cure but treatment with large doses of steroids or combinations of drugs have been used with some success. These dogs must be monitored regularly and remain on these drugs for the balance of their life.

VOGT-KOYANAGI-HARADA (VKH) & SYSTEMIC LUPUS ERYTHEMATOSUS (SLE) Alarmingly both these autoimmune disease are on the increase in Akitas. Symptoms for VKH include loss of pigmentation on the skin, sores on the nose, mouth and genitalia, red patchy skin progressing to hair loss, bloodshot eyes leading to blindness. SLE causes similar skin complaints together with inflammation of the connective tissues and internal organs such as lungs and kidneys. In many cases these diseases are combined with Thyroid disease. To date there is no cure for either disease and early diagnosis is important for any degree of success with treatment.

AUTOIMMUNE HAEMOLYTIC ANAEMIA (AHA) AHA is a particularly nasty disease where antibodies produced destroys the red blood cells creating uncontrollable anaemia and bone marrow destruction. Lethargy, pale mucous membranes and dark wine-coloured urine resulting in severe anaemia are the symptoms. Once again, there is a distinguishable connection between AHA and thyroid disease. Diagnosis is difficult and can only be made by extracting the dogs’ bone marrow for examination. Administering hormone therapy together with massive amounts of immune-suppressant drugs can reverse the reaction and control the disease. The disease may go into remission but a relapse is likely.

THROMBOCYTOPENIA This is a blood disease that could turn a simple routine surgical procedure into a struggle between life and death. The problem occurs when the blood contains too few platelets (Thrombocytes). Platelets are essential for the blood clotting so in effect the patient could bleed to death. Many Akitas with AHA also have thrombocytopenia. The antibodies that attack the red cells attack the platelets as well.

VON WILLEBRANDS DISEASE (VWD) VWD is another blood disease that affects the bloods ability to clot. It can either be a congenital (present at birth) inherited disease or acquired later in life as an autoimmune disease. Dogs suffer unexplained episodes of internal and external bleeding. Noticeable conditions are blood in stool and/or urine, nosebleeds or bleeding gums, intermittent lameness, stillbirths or neonatal bleeding and severe bleeding from puppy’s umbilical cord. Sadly, there is no treatment or cure.

LIVER DISEASE Liver dysfunction associated with other autoimmune diseases is quite common. Drugs used to treat other autoimmune diseases can trigger liver disease in susceptible dogs. Newer monthly heartworm preventatives, single or combination modified live virus vaccines and sulpha drugs can elevate liver enzymes and induce the disease. Dogs with thyroid dysfunction and VWD are more likely to be affected and females more so than males.

DEGENERATIVE MYELOPATHY (DM) Canine DM is relatively a new disease for the Akita. Only a few confirmed cases have been recorded. Canine DM is similar to Multiple Scleroses (MS) in humans. Both are degenerative neurological diseases of the nervous system. In canine DM the myelin sheaths, which surround the nerve fibres with a protective coating, diminish. Symptoms include weakness of the hindquarters, either recurring or progressive. DM is possibly an inherited autoimmune disease and affected dogs should not be used for breeding. However as the disease usually manifests itself on the older dog (between 5 & 14 years) many would have already been used for breeding. Misdiagnosis as premature old age crippling, arthritis. At this stage only experimental drugs and supplements have been slightly successful but there is no cure.

EPILEPSY Seizures of varying degrees caused by electrical disorders of the brain are better known as epileptic seizures. These seizures are usually preceded by behavioural changes, restlessness and anxiety. Seizures may be an early neurological sign of autoimmune thyroid disease. A dog suffering a seizure may collapse and lose consciousness for several minutes. They may foam at the mouth and have uncontrolled head shaking. Accurate diagnosis is essential as seizures can also be caused by allergic reactions to drugs, insect bites, stings, snake bites, heat stroke, low blood sugar, liver disease, infectious diseases, head injuries, brain tumours and poisoning from toxic materials. Epilepsy can be controlled or prevented by treating the primary cause.

SEBACEOUS ADENITIS (SA) SA also on the increase in the Akita, is more of a cosmetic problem than a physically debilitating one. SA is a skin condition usually effecting young adult dogs. Antibodies attack and permanently destroy the sebaceous glands (oil secreting glands that open into the hair follicles on the skin). The symptoms vary with each animal but usually include irreversible and progressive hair loss, thick scaly skin, secondary skin infections and crusty skin lesions. The animal has a strong musky odour. Diagnosis is only by skin biopsy and there is no cure. However, many SA Akita owners have found that by changing the dogs diet to a natural (raw) diet, radicle improvements in the condition of the coat have been noted.

 

SENSITIVITY TO DRUGS should be of concern to every Akita owner. Many Akitas die each year from over-sedation of tranquillising drugs and anaesthesia. Your vet should be made aware of this BEFORE he proceeds to sedate your Akita. Severe reactions to these drugs may be related to a liver metabolic defect commonly found in Akitas, which means the liver is unable to detoxify the drug. This liver dysfunction, believed to be an autoimmune condition, is similar to chronic active hepatitis and may also be linked to autoimmune thyroid disease.

BLOOD ODDITY Some Akitas have unusually small red blood cells (microcytosis) and some have red blood cells have been found to have high potassium content, whereas most other canines have low potassium content. While not linked to any disease it can cause problems during routine blood tests if you vet is not familiar with this peculiarity. The presence of microcytosis has not been identified with any physical problem, though in general it is associated with certain anaemia’s.

 

CHONDRODYSPLASIA (Dwarfism) Dwarfism in the Akita is now steadily on the increase and is the result of a genetic recessive gene carried by BOTH parents. This can affect one puppy or an entire litter and is diagnosed by X-ray studies between 5 and 12 weeks of age. A dwarfed puppy’s forelimbs will show a definite bowing of the pasterns and bone malformation of varying degrees in shape and structure, not dissimilar to a puppy affected by rickets (lack of vitamin D) however X-rays quickly rule this out. A dwarf Akita’s life span is about 7 years with proper care. These Akita’s should never be bred with and parents that produce these puppies should never be bred with again.

 

Akita Teeth

ENAMEL DEFECTS While this problem is certainly not life threatening many Akitas are affected with this disease. Enamel hypoplasia and enamel hypocalcification are now well recognised in the breed. So widespread is this problem it is commonly referred to as "Akita Teeth" suggesting it’s strictly an Akita problem. This is however just a myth and all breeds can and do get this disease.

Enamel problems usually begin when the adult teeth are being formed. Enamel is made of crystals that mineralise into struts or rods. Cells that make enamel, stop production around 10 - 12 weeks of age and no more is ever produced. These cells are very sensitive to heat so any change in body temperature during this short period can produce adult teeth with enamel defects.

Enamel Hypoplasia is seen when there is a lack of enamel produced. Teeth look small in size and shape and are usually yellow-orange in colour. Pitting or furrowing of the tooth is evident with occasionally only the dentine present. Ringbarking or bands around the tooth can be seen if several episodes of disturbances were evident during times of enamel production. Genetic tendencies are where the entire enamel of all the teeth adult and baby are affected. The teeth are yellow-brown in colour, smooth glossy and hard. Their shape and size almost a miniature of normal teeth.

Enamel Hypocalcification is evident when the enamel is produced with little calcification or mineralisation of the struts or rods. These teeth are normal in size and shape, but their surface is chalky or opaque or brittle. Nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, fevers - gastrointestinal upsets or any disease that causes a higher than normal body temperature including certain chemical overloads during enamel production can cause this type of enamel defect. Genetic factors are characterised by normal amounts of enamel being produced with normal tooth shape however their surface would appear dull and the enamel opaque. With normal chewing behaviour parts of the enamel are lost. The teeth show irregularity and have a rough surface attracting plaque thereby leading to gum disease and tooth decay.

Akita Eye's 

 

PRIMARY GLAUCOMA (not caused by trauma or other eye diseases) may be an inherited immune-related disease, which causes intense pain as fluid pressure within the eye increases, leading to blindness. Dogs affected have runny eyes and excessive squinting. Daily eye drops to reduce pressure may be effective however in extreme cases removal of one or both eyes is necessary. These dogs should never be used for breeding.

ENTROPION & ECTROPION Eyelids that roll inwards (entropion) allow lashes to scratch across the cornea resulting in pain, intermittent infection and unrepairable damage to the cornea. They can affect one or both eyes top or bottom lids. Bottom eyelids that turn outwards (ectropion) are more commonly seen in dogs with loose facial skin such as hounds St. Bernard’s, Mastiffs, Shar-Pei’s etc. Ectropion exposes the soft eye tissue to irritations and infections and causes the dog discomfort and pain. These are hereditary diseases that if left untreated will ultimately cause blindness. Both entropion and ectropion can be corrected with surgery.

PROGRESSIVE RETINAL ATROPHY (PRA) This genetic problem is increasing in the Akita as well as many other breeds. PRA is a degeneration of the sensory retinal cells that line the back of the eyeball. This usually effects dogs in their prime (about 5 years) and can be either gradual or progressive but always ends in blindness. To date there is no treatment or cure.

MICROPHTHALMIA More commonly known as "Small Eye Syndrome" it is now seen in the Akita as well as many other breeds. Usually evident in puppies from 3 weeks of age the effected puppy will have unusually small cloudy eyes and will appear to lack normal visual activity. These puppies will be unresponsive to light and hold their heads down low moving slowly and with caution. In Akitas, cataracts often accompany microphthalmia. This is an inherited recessive trait and siblings and parents of effected pups should never be used for breeding as they have a 60% chance of being a carrier of this gene. There is no cure.

 

Bloat(Gastric Torsion)

By far one of the most serious disorders to strike an otherwise healthy Akita is Bloat (Gastric Torsion). This often fatal disease can strike swiftly at any time and at any age. There is usually very little time left to seek medical help and many Akitas die agonising deaths en transit to the Vet or on the Vets table.

Bloat is when the stomach fills with gas, liquid, solids or all three then twists and turns upside down cutting off blood supply to the spleen and other vital organs such as heart, liver, pancreas, lungs etc. Survival is only obtained by immediate surgery.

The build up of gas must first be expelled then the stomach is twisted back into its normal position. On many occasions a portion of the spleen or stomach must be sacrificed to enable recovery. Facts are, dogs that have suffered bloat once are prone to bloat again, usually within days of the first attack.

A surgical procedure to tack the stomach to the body wall to prevent reoccurrence is also common. This same procedure is becoming more common practice now as a preventative measure for dogs with known bloat problems down their ancestry lines.

Symptoms of Bloat include excessive salivation, drooling, attempts to vomit or defecate and abdominal distension and intense pain. The dog whines and groans and will be extremely restless. Pale coloured gums, rapid breathing and loss of consciousness are advanced stages of Bloat. If left untreated at this stage the dog will die within a short time.

Unfortunately there is very little known about the causes of this disease. Statistics show that deep chested breeds, such as Mastiffs, Boxers, Dobermans etc have a higher tendency towards developing this disorder, however it is becoming even more widespread and now affects many other breeds of all shapes and sizes.

Research into bloat is ongoing. Until a definite cause is confirmed, our only prevention to date is to rely on the many theories that various studies have obtained to help minimise the risks of an attack.

 

 

Management of the Dog with Torsion of the Stomach

This is one of the true emergencies in veterinary medicine, and treatment must be instituted immediately if the animal is to survive. If the dog cannot be treated immediately by a veterinarian, the owner may be forced to render first aid to his dog. This is difficult, and there is no uniformly successful method to relieve the distension. In some dogs, a stomach tube can be passed. This can be done by the owner. Unfortunately, it is not possible to do this in dogs with major torsion of the stomach since the entrance into the stomach is obstructed by the twist in the esophagus. Some owners puncture the stomach with a large-bore needle so that the gas will escape. It is probably best to do this on the right side of the dog over the point of greatest distension. Again, unfortunately, this is not always successful. The needle can become obstructed by stomach contents, and there maybe a leakage of fluids and gas into the abdominal cavity with risk of peritonitis. If the animal is severely affected, the owner may have no choice but to attempt one of these methods to relieve the distension.

The dog should be treated by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Unfortunately, there has been insufficient experimental work done by veterinarians on the treatment of torsion of the stomach, and opinions vary on the correct form of therapy.

Many veterinarians advise immediate anesthesia and surgery to relieve the distension and the twist of the stomach. If large volumes of fluids and electrolytes are given by intravenous injection before and during the operation, reasonably good results can be expected.

More satisfactory results have been obtained by a method in which the distension is relieved by a simple surgical procedure. This is later followed by correction of the torsion when the dog is no longer in shock and better able to withstand anesthesia and surgery. This is the method recommended by this author. A small opening is made into the stomach using a local anesthesia. The wall of the stomach is sutured to the skin so that leakage into the abdominal cavity with subsequent peritonitis cannot occur. Fluid and electrolytes are given by intravenous injection; surgery is performed later to close the hole in the stomach and reposition the stomach, if necessary.

Strict control of food and water intake for many days after surgery is needed to avoid a recurrence of the condition.

Prevention

The treatment of torsion of the stomach is unsatisfactory for two reasons. First, the condition develops so quickly that the animal can die in such a short time that many dogs die before treatment can be instituted. Second, it is not possible to save all animals with any of the presently accepted forms of treatment. Using the method in which the distension is relieved and the torsion corrected at a later date, it is expected that 75 to 80 % of dogs should survive. Some dogs are so close to death before treatment that they cannot be saved, and in others, the stomach wall is severely injured by lack of blood supply so that recovery cannot occur.

Therefore, we should direct our attention to prevention of this condition. Unfortunately, there are not generally accepted methods for prevention, and much investigative work is needed.

In some large populations of dogs, such as those in with certain feeding regimens. In many cases, the condition disappears when these dogs are given food ad lib., that is, the dogs have access to a large amount of food so that the dog may eat a small amount of food on many occasions during the day. Obviously, with this management system, the dog has no incentive to eat one large meal at any given time and he does not eat hurriedly.

The most common advice given to owners of large breed dogs is based on experiences such as the one described previously. If there is a high risk, it is best to avoid one large meal per day. The dog should be fed at least twice daily; he should be discouraged from eating rapidly, and he should not be allowed to play actively before and after feeding. The dog should have access to water continuously so there is less chance he will drink a large amount immediately after eating.

It seems there is a high risk of torsion of the stomach if the animal is given one feeding a day, the dog is allowed to drink and to indulge in vigorous exercise after eating. All these factors should be avoided.

Certain drugs that alter the mobility of the gastrointestinal tract have been advocated to prevent gastric torsion. There is no experimental or clinical evidence that any of the presently available drugs is useful. An operation known as pyloroplasty has been advocated by some to increase the size of the exit opening in the stomach. Again, there are no reports in the scientific literature that this procedure should be used.
e armed forces, a high incidence of torsion of the stomach has been seen


Make a Free Website with Yola.