Dog Breed Is Japanese Treasure

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

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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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