Akita colors

akita colors

My Observations on Coat Colors in the Akita Dog

I was asked to discuss coat colors in the Akita dog.

The Akita dog lacks the uniformity of coat colors that are seen in the foreign dog breeds. I will discuss the coat colors that I have observed in my breeding programs, and on information from my friends and acquaintances with many years of breeding experiences with the Akita dog.

The White Coat

The white coat color has been seen in Japanese dogs from ancient times. The Akita dog lost its purity when it was crossbred with the Tosa fighting dog. No white dogs from overseas were seen in Japan at that time. Therefore, any Akita dog that produced white dogs from that period of time were looked upon as being dogs of higher purity, and were valued highly. Pure white dogs bred to pure white dogs will produce only white dogs.

In my personal experience, I have found that it takes about five dog generations to produce an all white litter. I believe that I was the only one who was involved with the breeding of white Akita dogs at that time.

Mr. Hideo Dan was the owner of Shin-no-o ( photograph 1 ) the white male. He bred Sin-no-o to more than 100 white females. He has told me that litters from his breedings eventually produced only white dogs.

For those who have reported about having a litter that did not have all white dogs out of breedings between a white male and a white female, closer inquiries reveal that the pedigrees of these dogs were incomplete or breeding was accidental.

Mr. Tsuneji Iwahashi, who is an authority on the Kishu dog, has reported, in an article that I have read that breeding a white Kishu dog to a white Kishu female produced white litters except for the appearance of a black dog on one occasion. He attributes this exception to mutation.

In general, white dogs out of red dogs have coats with reddish tinge. Breeding white Akita dogs to a red Akita dogs can result in dogs with lemon or light red coats.

When one bred the so-called established line of white dogs out of the Akikyo line of red dogs, the litters had coat colors that were intermediate in color intensity. Some of the common terms applied to such coat colors are danboru (corrugated cardboard), karegusa (dry grass), fuaran? (fawn? light grayish brown?) and cream. These coat colors are not the primary colors and are seen oftener today.

Akita dogs with such color coats should not be bred to white dogs. The chances of producing dogs with the primary colors by breeding such dogs to white dogs are slim.

Should one face difficulties producing Akita dogs with the clear white coat from white dogs, breeding a white dog to a brindle dog may produce dogs with the desirable white coat.

Pure white females with the dark nose color seen in dogs of the Shinhakuho line ( photograph 2 )) bred to white males (from the Kumomaru line) ( photograph 3 ) of Akiho that won the Meiyosho Award did not produce any dogs with the white coat. Nose color of these dogs were lighter. Breeding these dogs to brindles resulted in dogs with excellent white coats. White dogs of the 1945 era (20th year of Showa) out of Tamakumo ( photograph 4 ) had nose colors that were light. Coat colors on these dogs were not pure white. Kita-no-o ( photograph 5 ) had a dark nose and a pure white coat as a wakainu (10 to 18 months of age). However, one began to see hints of light red in his coat in his later years. Kita-no-o's grandson Shin-no-o ( photograph 1 ) showed the influences of brindles from his maternal line with Tanigumo ( photograph 6 ) and Daiunme ( photograph 7 ). Shin-no-o had a black nose during his wakainu (10 to 18 months of age) days. This amazed the judges in Akita. This was an example of a white dog from the Akikyo line during Akikyo's best years with the white dogs. In later years, Akikyo excluded the brindles. This resulted in the narrowing of the gene pools. This led to inbreedings. This resulted in the lack of any outstanding Akita dogs. However, the brindle has been again included in Akikyo's breeding program recently.

The Red Coat

The red coat can range from dark red, light red and red goma. The ideal red is said to be the red with tinge of yellow. On the way toward producing the ideal red coat, one may encounter dark red to faded red. ( page 1007 ) As I have mentioned before, breeding red to red may result in dogs with darker red, but one may also be surprised by the appearance of medium red. This may occur when red is bred to a brindle. This may be due to homozygous or heterozygous factors. The red color of today when compared to red dogs of the past may contain mutated genes. In the past, brindles did not produce any red dogs in general. However, this is common today. When Tetsuyuki (a red dog) ( photograph 8 ) was used for breeding, some of his offspring with the slightly dark or black coat began to show the red coat as they matured. I have observed Tetsuyuki

from the time he was a puppy. He had a dark saddle brown coat then. I was then curious as to how his coat color would turn out. (His parents were brindles). His coat color turned into a so-so red when he was more than a year and a half old. He is regarded as the ancestor of the red Akita dogs of today.

Breeding a white dog to a red dog may produce offspring with the desirable red coat. Instead of having a dog with the bright dark red coat, one should strive to produce a dog with the deep red coat.

The Brindle Coat

The brindle coat may be divided into the black brindle, yellow brindle and red brindle. The current trend is to breed toward the black brindle, shimofuri-tora (pepper-and-salt brindle) and the red brindle. When a white dog came from a black brindle, red brindles were also expected. Black brindle was used to produce Akita dogs with better coats. However, this was not always possible. Although Tamakumo ( photograph 4 ) produced white dogs, his granddaughter Daiunme (producer of many outstanding Akita dogs) ( photograph 7 ) that resembled Tamakumo in coat color and coat quality, did not produce any white dogs. The brindle Tanigumo (sire of Ungo-go) ( photograph 6 ) produced some excellent brindles. However, when Mr. Seinosuke Yoshida once bred Tanigumo to a female brindle, all seven dogs in that litter were white.

The female brindle that I am now raising has been bred to two white males and one red male. None of their litters had white dogs.

I have recently seen litters with clear red coats out of brindles. However, red dogs out of Tamakumo had the dark and dull red coat that is more desirable.

The Black Coat

When the black Iwatsukasa ( photograph 9 ) of a generation ago was bred to a red female, all of the litters inherited Iwatsukasa's black coat. His grandchildren were classified as having the primary coat colors. Dogs with black coats out of red dogs had the burnt look and were not desirable. Would one be able to produce excellent black dogs from a homozygous source?

The Goma (Sesame) Coat

The black goma coat color that is seen in dogs of other breeds were also seen in dogs of the Dewa line. These dogs had a strong hereditary influence on the Akita dog. Among the many offspring of Kongo ( photograph 10 ) that did not have the black goma coat was Kin-no-Fuji-go ( photograph11 ). Kin-no Fuji-go is the only Akita dog out of Kongo that had a red goma coat that I am aware of.

Our goal is to replace that undesirable goma coat of the Dewa line and to restore the original goma coat of the Japanese dog. However, this seems to be a difficult task today. The goma coat out of the brindle is not desirable. Many of these dogs have the color of the saddle and their goma coat tends to disappear in these dogs as they mature.

An Akita dog with the name of Horyu ( photograph13 ) ) with a goma coat and a black mask lived about twenty years ago. I also produced Aranishiki ( photograph 14 ) with the goma coat from the Arawashi line ( photograph 12 ). I was also acquainted with Mr. Kiyoshi Komatsu's ( 1989 Los Angeles Akiho Branch's Winter Show judge ) Akita dog with the goma coat. Another Akita dog with the goma coat was the female Matsumi ( photograph 15 ) out of dogs with the goma coat. This dog was shown by Mr. Masayoshi Go about fifteen years ago. I have not seen any Akita dogs with the goma coat since that time. I have often wondered if it would be possible for one to revive the Akita dog with the original goma coat.

I have discussed the coat colors in the Akita dogs that were of interest to me. Breeding the same parents again and again does not always produce the same results. Should one then go to the grandchild, a certain feature may reappear in the fourth generation in one of the dogs of the collateral lines. It is important to probe into the pedigree of each dog to study to see if it has a homozygous or heterozygous background.

An Akita dog may produce dogs of different coat colors during their younger years when compared to those of their older years. My red male Akita dog produced many white dogs during his younger years. However, he did not produce any white dogs as he aged.

The satisfaction that comes from success after many failures is unforgettable.

My hope is that dog breeders throughout the world will continue their researches into the Akita dog.

Reference: Okada, Mutsuo, “Breeding of Akita Dogs Based on Their Coat Colors,” Aiken no Tomo, pp. 1006-1007, January, 1991, Seibundo Shinkosha, Tokyo. Japan.

Word in italics added by the translator.

Pages in bold italics correspond to pages in the Japanese text.

Translated by Tatsuo Kimura with permission from Mutsuo Okada for educational purposes.

Comments by the translator: Translation is an ongoing process. Should any reader find any errors or omissions, their input will be appreciated

Translated on 1/16/2005. Edited on 9/11/2008

Category: Akita

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