UK Lawyer Wants to Ban Japanese Dog
Thursday, December 14, 2006 Posted: 12:31 PM JST
A lawyer in the UK has called on a ban of the Japanese Akita breed, after some Akitas were involved in attacks on children. In an article in the Western Mail, Paul Rowland describes Akitas as having "a tendency towards violence, particularly towards young people."
Rowland quotes Cardiff lawyer Imperato as asking, "Is there any need for people to own a dog which can bring down a bear in the Japanese forests?"
The article, and Imperato's demand for a ban surprised me enormously. I see dozens of Akitas daily and they are all extremely friendly, playful as well as intelligent. They are also gentle and considerate. I can't recognize the Akitas I know from Rowland and Imperato's descriptions. I know lots of parents who leave their children with their Akita without ever encountering problems. My impression has always been that the Akita is seen as the perfect family dog in Japan.
Although Wikipedia is not always dependable, it does have an excellent article on the Akita breed that also mentions the dog's friendliness and "easy-going temperament":
Although the American Kennel Club has put the Akita in the Working Group, several different breeds contributed to the modern Akita, some hunting dogs and some dogs used as competitive fighting dogs. The Akita is very laid back, and has an easy-going temperament.
Akitas are a large breed, not a giant breed. They are excellent house dogs. They require only a moderate amount of exercise. Akitas are known to be very quiet dogs, only barking "when there is something to bark about". One of the most famous things about Akitas is that they make people feel calm and relaxed so an Akita is an ideal dog if you have stress problems.
The two most outstanding characteristics of the Akita as a house pet are that they are very clean and that they are very easy to house break. Akitas have been described as almost "cat-like," as they are clean and odorless. This may also be one of the reasons why they housebreak so easily. Most Akitas respond so well to housebreaking that they are trained in a matter of weeks, although it may take longer if other "slower learning" dogs are present.
As far as the family children are concerned, there are few worries. Akitas are devoted, patient friends and protectors of children. Akitas are typically very gentle with children, and it is said that Japanese mothers often left their children with only the Akitas to watch over and protect them. Remember, however, that young children should never be left unattended with a pet. When raised indoors with children, they can be excellent companions.
Left unattended in the backyard or in a kennel, they tend to develop "personality" problems and become very destructive to the yard, which is due to boredom. They are highly pack oriented, thus, isolating them from the pack (i.e., the owner) causes them great stress.
Akitas tend to be stubborn and require a firm but loving education where "no" always means "no" and never "whatever".
The Akita is a dominant dog who may expect other dogs to be submissive. If they fail to live up to the Akita's expectations, incidents can happen.
Akitas have a high and well-developed prey drive, particularly to small animals, including cats. An Akita is not likely to shower affection on someone that is not a member of his family or a close friend that he sees frequently, and can be extremely aloof. Akitas properly socialized and raised with other animals usually accept them as members of the family.
The loyalty and devotion displayed by an Akita is phenomenal. The typical pet Akita will follow you from room to room, yet has the uncanny ability not to be underfoot. Your Akita lives his life as if his only purpose is to protect you and spend time with you. This trait is evident in the tale of Hachiko.
The site of the US based Midwest Akita Rescue Society however, mentions some disturbing experiences with Akitas.
I have separated a child once from the jaws of an Akita, but it was a playful mistake and not all serious. I never hear of Akitas attacking children in Japan. This could be because dogs are almost always walked on a leash here and in the big cities children tend to be cautious of strangers. In the countryside children are more aware of animals and because of the tightly knit aspect of rural society will often know the disturbed dog to stay away from.
Still, the apparent huge difference in experiences with the Akita breed in Japan and in the West surprises me immensely. Is the Akita breed abroad different from the one in Japan, I wonder, is it cultural, is it upbringing? Or am I somehow missing the news about problems with Akita dogs in Japan? The articles have really made me curious.
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