Dog Breed Is Japanese Treasure

Hailing from the Far East, the loyal Akita embodies dignity and strength.

The house was quiet. Sophia Kaluzniacki was soaking in the tub when she heard a noise outside. Within seconds, 3-year-old Merlin nosed his way into the bathroom and stationed himself between the tub and the door. “He lay there like a sphinx, silent and alert,” recalls the Green Valley, Ariz., veterinarian, breeder, and American Kennel Club judge.

It was a false alarm, but a typical Akita reaction without overreaction. The largest of the dog breeds native to Japan, Akitas were originally used to hunt and protect — jobs they still perform masterfully. A heavy bear-like body, upright ears, and a sweeping curl of tail carried high on the back give Akitas sufficient presence to keep troublemakers at bay.

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