Long coated Akitas, or Woolies, are thought to be a throwback to a dog called the Karafuto, which was introduced into Akita bloodlines many years ago by Japanese breeders. Japan has a diverse climate and the northern prefectures are very cold, so to increase the coat density of a normally coated Akita, they introduced the bloodlines of this beautiful breed.
The long coat Akita is slightly bigger boned than normal, more eager to please, and has a very kind and loving disposition, making them the ideal family pet.
While the long coat Akita is not recognized by the AKC or accepted for show, they are unique, quite rare, and admired by everyone who sees them. Their coat is slightly longer than a normally coated Akita and takes a little more grooming and attention. The advantage is that they love to be groomed and will often preen you back.
This creates a loving, permanent bond between you and the dog.
The Karafuto size varies between 22” – 26” at the withers and range in weight from 60 – 80 lbs. The ears are small, pointed, sometimes slightly tilted forwards or sometimes falling. This breed comes in many colors, including, but not limited to, russet-red and black. The hair is fine and thick, with an undercoat of very dense hair.
Karafuto-ken breaks down as “Karafuto,” the Japanese name for Sakhalin, and “ken,” a Japanese word for dog; hence this provides the breed’s geographical origin. Sakhalin is a large island in the North Pacific. It is part of Russia and is its largest island, administered as part of Sakhalin Oblast. The indigenous peoples of the island are the Sakhalin Ainu, Oroks and Nivkhs. Most Ainu relocated to Hokkaidō when Japanese were displaced from the island in 1949. Sakhalin was claimed by both Russia and Japan in the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, which led to bitter disputes between the two countries over the control of the island.
This breed's claim to fame came from the ill-fated 1958 Japanese research expedition to Antarctica, which made an emergency evacuation and was forced to leave behind 15 sled dogs. The researchers believed that a relief team would arrive within a few days, so they left the dogs chained up outside with a small supply of food; however, the weather turned bad and the team never made it to the outpost.
Incredibly, nearly one year later, a new expedition arrived and discovered that two of the dogs, "Taro" and "Jiro", had survived and they became instant heroes. Taro returned to Sapporo, Japan and lived at Hokkaido University until his death in 1970, after which he was stuffed and put on display at the university's museum. Jiro died in Antarctica in 1960 of natural causes and the remains are located at the National Science Museum of Japan in Ueno Park.
The breed spiked in popularity upon the release of the 1983 film, Nankyoku Monogatari, about Taro and Jiro. A second 2006 film, Eight Below, provided a fictional version of the occurrence, but did not reference the breed. Instead, the film features only eight dogs: two Alaskan Malamutes and six Siberian Huskies.
The Karafuto-ken is rarely used now; therefore, few breeders remain in Japan.
We would like to thank Nosferatu Akitas, Susan Buttrick with Moonstone Akitas, Angie Strawmyer Miller with Cades Akitas, Western Great Lakes Akita Rescue, Wikipedia , and Akitas.blogspot.com for pictures and information!
Copyright Rakki-Inu Akita Rescue 2016