There's archaeological evidence that dogs similar to the Akita existed in Japan thousands of years ago. They served as guard dogs in Feudal Japan and were sometimes used to hunt wild boar, black bear, and deer. In the 1800s, European traders brought Akitas to Europe and in 1937, Helen Keller brought the first Akita to the United States—her pup Kamikaze-Bo, who she called an “angel in fur.” The breed became even more popular in the U.S. after WWII, when many American servicemen who fell in love with the breed during the war brought an Akita home with them.
When Akitas arrived in the U.S. the breed split into two distinct types—the American Akita is about 30 pounds heavier and has a broader head and triangular eyes. The smaller Japanese Akita has a more fox-like head and almond-shaped eyes. American Akitas can be any color and many have a black mask; Japanese Akitas only come in red, white, and brindle.