Why the world is experiencing an Akita dog boom | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Why the world is experiencing an Akita dog boom

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The Akita is highly regarded in Europe for its intelligence, well-balanced physique, and beautiful coat color.

Did you know that the world is currently experiencing a boom in Akita dogs?

According to the Akita Inu Preservation Society, the number of dogs registered with the society overseas in 2010 was 73 (*number of pedigrees issued). In 2005, however, the number of dogs registered overseas alone increased 500-fold to 3,967, exceeding the number registered in Japan by 2,704. This is just the number of animals registered with the preservation society, and the number will increase if other organizations are included. Why on earth is there such a boom?

The association is headed by Representative Takashi Endo, 53, a member of the House of Representatives who belongs to The Japan Innovation Party. Mr. Endo, who is also the chairman of the party’s national committee, won four elections for the House of Representatives and appeared on a special election program with his dog. He appeared on the special election program accompanied by his beloved dog, whose adorable looks drew many comments on the Internet that it was “too cute.

Her fur is fluffy and she has this cute face.

The Akita dog has also played a major role in diplomacy, connecting with VIPs around the world, including being presented to President Putin in 2012 and figure skater Alina Zagitova in 2006. We spoke with Mr. Endo about the current state of the Akita dog boom, what’s behind it, and what challenges lie ahead in terms of preservation.

HACHI” and Zagitova

It is said that the recognition of the Akita dog spread around the world because of the movie “HACHI: The Promised Dog” starring Richard Gere, which was released in 2009. In addition to that, celebrities such as President Vladimir Putin, Ms. Zakitova, and former yokozuna Asashoryu started owning Akita dogs, which also contributed to the increase in the number of “owners” overseas.

Masaru,” an Akita dog presented to figure skater Zagitova in 2006.

When I presented Masaru to Ms. Zakitova, I was informed through the Skating Federation that she wanted to get an Akita dog, and I was there to witness the presentation. Seeing Zakitova’s happy face made my efforts as the president of the Akita Dog Preservation Society worthwhile, and as a politician, I felt it was a major diplomatic event. In fact, the presentation of Masaru was covered by many major international media outlets.

Zagitova’s Akita dog has become a “special envoy” to VIPs around the world.
Zagitova has always wanted an Akita dog.
Akita dogs attract a lot of attention from the international media.

The popularity of Akita dogs is particularly high in Europe. At one time, there were more Akita dogs in Italy than in Japan. I’ve been to many fairs around the world, and the Akita is very popular in Poland, Russia, and the Netherlands. Many people keep Akita dogs because of their low body odor, their unique gesture, and the color of their fur that evokes a sense of wabi-sabi.

In Italy, I heard a comment from one of the owners that I still remember to this day. When I asked him why he kept an Akita dog, he replied, “I hear that many Japanese people buy clothes and ornaments just because of the name of a brand that is popular overseas. But Italians choose clothes based on the quality of the leather and whether it fits their body rather than the brand. It’s natural that Akita dogs are well-liked in Italy. They just love what they think is good for them,” I was told. I realized that they may have a better grasp of the essence of the Akita Inu than the Japanese.

The Akita is highly regarded in Europe for its intelligence, well-balanced physique, and beautiful coat color.
I want people who can give them plenty of time and love to keep them.

I have lived with Akita dogs for more than 40 years, from the time I was in the fourth grade of elementary school to the present. Back then, Akita dogs were plentiful and inexpensive. After I saved up my annual allowance to get an Akita, I became completely fascinated by them. Now I have a family of five dogs, including a “little one” (a puppy). They are also called “one-owner dogs,” and the more you love them, the more they become attached to their owners.

The reason why people say at overseas exhibitions that “no other breed of dog has such friendly expressions and gestures” is probably because of their loyalty and cleverness, which is also known as “Loyal Dog Hachiko. This is why I personally want people who can devote a lot of time to their dogs to keep them.

Times have changed since 40 years ago, and the number of people owning large dogs in Japan is on the decline, probably due to the increase in the number of working households, as well as problems with space, food intake, and walking. In the case of Akita dogs, the number of registered Akita dogs has decreased from 42,444 in 1971 to 2,312 in 2020. As the only dog in Japan to be designated as a natural monument, the Akita Inu Preservation Society has been working to preserve them for future generations and to eliminate the need to kill them.

The Akita Dog Preservation Society has been working hard to preserve the Akita dog, but the number of Akita dogs in Japan is not increasing.
As president of the Akita Dog Preservation Society, I’m very happy to see Zagitova happy.

One interesting piece of data is that the behavior of people who keep dogs is changing between urban and rural areas. In metropolitan areas such as Tokyo and Osaka, the number of members who own Akita dogs is actually on the rise, while the number of owners is decreasing the further you go into rural areas where it would normally be easier to keep an Akita.

Especially serious is the city of Odate in Akita Prefecture, the home of the Akita dog. Akita is now breeding Akita dogs as part of its tourism business, but the number of Akita dogs is decreasing as breeders age. However, from the viewpoint of preservation, there are still not enough of them. However, from a preservation standpoint, there are still not enough Akita dogs to go around.

Since 2016, the boom in Akita dogs has been extraordinary and has created some problems. In China, the price of some Akita dogs soared to over 10 million yen each. The Akita dog is said to be characterized by its uniquely curly tail, slightly rounded triangular ears, and almond-shaped eyes, but it is also difficult for the general public to distinguish it from other Japanese dogs. To take advantage of this, fake pedigrees have been found, and we have heard of vicious cases where dogs that appear to be mongrels have been sold at high prices.

In the past, Akita dogs were only bred by neighbors. This is why Akita dogs were never sold in pet stores, but the boom has changed that. There are some cases that cannot be overlooked, such as when a mother dog gives birth to an unthinkable number of puppies in the natural birth rate. I believe that the morals of buyers and breeders of Akita dogs are high, but some of them are becoming more and more business-like. That is very unfortunate. In the preservation society, we are going to do our best to protect the traditional culture.

If I had to, I would want to be with my dog every day (laughs). (laughs) I’ve been walking my dog all my life, but I’ve been able to work as a politician because I’ve been surrounded by older dog friends since I was a child, and that’s where I learned to get along with people. As the chairman of the national committee of The Japan Innovation Party, I was able to learn how to negotiate with other parties thanks to these “dog friends.

That’s why I always go back to my hometown every weekend and spend time with my dog. It’s my reason for living. Again, I want people to know that Akita dogs are loved and valued throughout the world. I believe that this awareness will lead to a future with zero killings.

  • Composition Fumiaki Kurioka

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