Description
The Shin Akita is better known for its contribution to the development and refinement of the Tosa Inu and Akita Inu breeds than anything else, but this fighting dog from Japan has enjoyed a moderate ammount of fame on its own and contrary to popular belief it is not extinct. When the once great fighter in its own right Akita Inu was being overshadowed by the newly created Tosa Inu, who proved a superiour combat animal, fanciers of working Akitas in the Odate region decided to cross their dogs with the much-dreaded competitor, thus establishing the Shin Akita, which existed in two main varieties, the heavier, longer-coated Odate Shin Akita type and the leaner shorthaired Kairyo Ken variant. While the dogs having fuller coats and more massive bodies differed from "regular" Akita Inu mainly in having drop-ears as opposed to fully erect ones, the shortcoated type closely resembled the Tosa Inu and eventually became assimilated into the Tosa breed. To this day, many Tosa fanciers trace the appearance of curled tails in some bloodlines to the introduction of the Shin Akita into the breed.

After the great rabies outbreak in 1899 and subsequent extermination of nearly 3000 animals, the numbers of pure Akitas, as well as Shin Akitas were decimated, leaving the breeders no option but to use the remaining populations of both breeds for reconstructing the Akita, with regional and personal preferences playing a part in the direction of what type was actually being salvaged from oblivion. With the true Akita Inu being assigned the title of Japan's national treasure, the public popularity of the Shin Akita slowly dropped, but quite a few of these dogs were still around and regularly fought until after the 2nd World War, when the German Shepherd was introduced into the breed by American soldiers, who were more impressed with the Shin Akita than the true Akita Inu breed. Due to the GSD blood, the erect ears became common in the breed, bringing the Shin Akita closer to its older cousin, but it was also the greater mass and improved agility, trainability and non-traditional colourings that made this new variety of Shin Akita the dog of choice for the Americans, who took many of these dogs with them back to the United States, where the Shin Akita served as the foundation for the establishment of the "American type" of the Akita breed, today known as the Great Japanese Dog to distinguish it from the official Akita Inu of Japan, which was reconstructed using old Matagi hunters, with very little influence of the Shin Akita variety.

Although the Shin Akita breed is unrecognized and said to no longer exist, it has never fully disappeared from Japan, where the population has been maintained in fairly humble numbers by dedicated fanciers and fighting enthusiasts. While a number of older bloodlines still exist, the majority of modern dogs found today are reportedly 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation working crosses, comprising of mostly Akita Inu and Tosa Inu blood, as well as having some other fighting breeds in their ancestry, such as the American Pit Bull Terrier and the Korean Jindo, but such crossdogs aren't as valued as the traditional Shin Akita by the breed lovers. On top of being a capable fighting dog, the modern Shin Akita is also a capable property watchdog and family companion, but it requires early and broad socialization and training due to its aggressive nature and great physical strength. A more refined dog than its ancestors, this is an agile and powerful Molosser, having broad shoulders, deep chest, long legs and a fairly broad head, with drop ears, strong muzzle and well-developed jaws. Although a curled tail is preferred, other types are common.

The coat is short, thick and flat, coming in a variety of colourings, both solid and particoloured, with the solid fawn, red, brown, black and brindle shades being the most popular. Average height is around 26 inches, but taller examples exist.

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  •  harkyakita: 
     

    Thanks for writing this. I just found it today 3463 days later. It explains why I was looking at a Shin-akita on Ripleys believe it or not Tosa segment hosted by Jack Palance years ago. Wish I was able to find that one on the internet. After watching that show I was thinking the Shin-akita was a Tosa until I saw a photo of a Tosa in a dog book. After seeing the power of the Shin-akita against an aggressive Rhodesian ridgeback on Ripleys believe it or not, I still have that image in my mind. That must have been close to thirty years ago.

     
     18.08.2012 
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