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  One of the seven breeds native to Japan, the Akita is a natural monument in its homeland. While its earliest origins are something of a mystery, it is likely the dog has existed in the mountains of northern Japan since ancient times. There, the ancestors of the modern Akita, called Odate dogs, were used as guardians, hunters and dog fighters. Much of the Akita’s history has been marked by the efforts of breeders to discourage such traits as large size, pinto patterning and a black mask; however, as Japan opened its doors to the West in the late 19th century, crossbreeding with large European breeds such as the Mastiff and Great Dane began to accentuate those very traits.

Concerned that the long revered Akita would be lost or changed beyond recognition, Japanese breeders founded the Akita-inu Hozankai Society in 1918 in an attempt to preserve the breed. This effort was successful, and coincided with a renewed national respect for the traditional Akita. In 1932, the story of an Akita named Hachiko was featured in a Japanese newspaper, fanning the flames of the dog’s popularity: Hachiko met his master at the train station every day after work, and when his master died suddenly at work one day Hachiko continued to return to the train station every day until he himself died nine years later.

Helen Keller brought the first Akita to the United States in 1937, and servicemen returning from the Pacific theater after World War II also brought the faithful Akitas. The Akita was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1972 and enjoys moderate popularity in the United States today. The Akita is still used as a police dog in Japan.

SKILLS: Sled dog and family pet.

SIZE: The shoulder-height is about 64cm (25 1/4in) for dogs and about 58cm (22 3/4in) for bitches.

COAT: The Alaskan Malamute has a thick, coarse outer coat with a greasy and woolly under-coat. The normal colors are wolf-grey, or black with white - always with white on the stomach and a white face or top of the head. Other colors are permitted but white is the only plain solid which is accepted.

CARE REQUIRED: This breed's coat does not need much in the way of grooming. When it is shedding use a coarse comb with a double row of teeth to remove loose dead hairs.

CHARACTER: This is an affectionate dog which is intelligent, friendly, loyal, and noble, but can have a mind of its own. It will never slavishly follow your whims. The Alaskan Malamute learns quite quickly and has tremendous stamina

TRAINING: Despite its friendly nature, this dog needs a firm hand in its training. The Malamute calls for a handler with plenty of confidence who understands the character of this dog. With such a handler these dogs can learn a great deal even including agility skills, although they will be outperformed in competition by one of the sheepdogs.

SOCIAL BEHAVIOR: Alaskan Malamutes generally get on well with children. They are friendly with everyone which makes them, of course, unsuitable as watchdogs. They can occasionally try to dominate other dogs of the same sex, but that's exceptional. If they have been introduced to cats when young there is no problem with them.

EXERCISE: Exercise is probably the most important element in an Alaskan Malamute's life. This breed needs copious amounts of exercise and if at least an hour each day of hard exercise with this dog is impossible get another type of dog. In some places there are sled dog organizations which arrange competitions these dogs can enter with a wheeled cart in place of a sled where there is no snow. Malmutes are happy whether they are indoors or outdoors but they do not like to be alone. Keep this dog on the leash whenever it is taken out because it may try to run away.



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