The Circle of Life Goes On

Steven took several trips to Japan to attend AKIHO shows and to meet breeders in 2017. While most of the Europeans and South Americans spend a huge amount of money on Meiyosho and Tokuyuu winners, and a lot of uninformed Americans buy from what can only be considered puppy farms from overseas, we actually prefer our branch members to look at the smaller kennels. They are the backbone of AKIHO and often do not spend time or money on advertising their kennels. They breed with intention, not to make money, but to improve the breed. Most of them do not breed more than one or two litters a year so they do not inundate the breed fancy with popular sire lines that so often carry illnesses. We encourage our friends and branch members to consider the smaller kennels and not get caught up in the commercial enterprises of the bigger names. Steven traveled Japan, visited several kennels and brought back lots of Akita-related gifts. He somehow resisted Judy’s hints to bring back another puppy.

In addition to Steve’s trips, Judy spent a lot of time traveling domestically to attend AKIHO and JACA events. If there’s a regional or local cherry blossom festival, meetup, Pet Expo, or picnic where either or both clubs are involved, Judy is there. From Seattle to Nashville to NorCal to SoCal, Judy always enjoys catching up with friends and club members but also gets to see the Akitas, some of whom came from Junketsu Kennels. So it often ends up being a family reunion of sorts. As a breeder and cabinet member in both clubs, she is also a great ambassador for people who want to learn about Japanese Akitas.

Apart from accumulating frequent flyer miles, the Junketsu family sadly lost three dogs this year. Fathead and Yumi both made it to their 15th birthdays in July. But Fathead left this world a few days later. We think he stayed around just for the party as a gift to his humom Judy. Remember that Fathead was adopted into the Junketsu family late in his life. Judy and Steve more than made up for his previously precarious living situations. He had his own bed, his own room, adventures to parks, the beach, restaurants, university campuses for walks and came to club events as well. But it was his time to go and he went on his own terms when he was good and ready, which is exactly what all who knew him wanted for him.

In late November, Waka also departed this world at just 10 years of age. No one knew that Waka had a hidden medical problem that proved to be deadly, not even her vet. There was no indication that she was ill, especially since she had just been to the vet a few weeks prior for a routine check up and all was good. So it was a shock that she died suddenly from an undiagnosed hemangioma sarcoma (a tumor) near her heart that had ruptured. It all happened so fast and no one was prepared to say goodbye. Maybe Waka was meant to be like a glamorous starlet who went before her time. The truth is, the older she got, the better Waka looked. Her coat was plush in texture and rich in color, her eyes had a sparkle, she still enjoyed jumping up to get persimmons from the tree, going out for walks and meeting admirers at educational events. Waka was as sweet as can be. Because Waka was the dam and grand-dam to a few litters, the extended Junketsu family was heartbroken. Waka’s passing leaves a huge hole in the household, not just for Steve and Judy but for her best buddy Kita and all the other dogs too. It is not an exaggeration to say that Waka was the heart of Junketsu Kennels. It’s comforting to know she leaves a legacy behind.

If Waka was the heart of Junketsu, we can say that Yumi was the genesis for everything. Yumi’s passing occurred just a couple of weeks ago. Yumi outlived her littermate Fathead by a few months; she surprised everyone and even outlived Waka. Usually, the life expectancy average for an Akita is 10-12 years. Anything beyond that is truly a blessing. Yumi was Judy and Steve’s very first Japanese Akita, so naturally she holds an exceptionally special place in the Junketsu family, but even beyond that, Yumi is the reason why the Takamatsus became active in AKIHO North America and JACA. We all owe the lovely and mild-mannered Yumi a debt of gratitude and love. All three of our dogs will be sorely missed.










But it’s not all sad news as we end one year and begin a new one. It’s the Year of the Dog in the Lunar Calendar. What better way to start it than puppies? Our beautiful foxy Mikan whelped a litter of two little girls (that seems to be a trend around here these days). Their current call names are Kocha and Mugicha, which means red tea (which is what the Japanese call black tea or English breakfast tea, and if you really think about it, black tea is not black—it’s actually red) and barley tea. We think those are very appropriate names given their color. 

So lately, it’s like that “Circle of Life” earworm song from the Lion King–a bit bittersweet. We miss Kuma Fathead, Yumi and Waka horribly, but we are grateful and happy about Kocha and Mugicha. And life goes on for our other dogs as well. Kita is still his happy-go-lucky and friendly self, Emi and Kaki are both living the life of luxury as all ladies in their mid-life should be, and Gobo is still our bratty boy who loves his mama. Gouya continues to do very well in nose work class. He is so happy with himself when he finds what he’s meant to be looking for but he gets impatient waiting for his treats so he can move onto his next search. Mikan is presently taking a break from nose work class at this time, as she is much too busy being an awesome first-time momma!

That’s it for now. We have the JACA Nihon Ken Invitational and AKIHO North America shows coming up so if you decide to attend, please feel free to say hello!

Meet Goya!

We’re so excited! The latest member of the Junketsu Kennel family arrived in September from Miyagi Prefecture in the Tōhoku region. We named our new little guy Gouya-Go which, according to the kanji characters we’re using, means strong arrow, but his call name is Goya (same sound) which is the Okinawan word for bitter melon. Given that we have a Kaki, a Mikan and a Gobo in our pack, we thought it was a cute idea (with all due respect to the Spanish artist and the company that sells Latin American food products which are both also called Goya).

Our newest Japanese Akita Goya has been a charmer from day one. He’s got a sweet disposition and, like most healthy puppies, he loves to play, play, play! We’ve been taking him to puppy daycare a couple times a week. As soon as he arrives in the parking lot, his tail starts wagging like crazy and he can’t wait to walk through the door to see what adventures await him. The good thing is we know he is just as happy with dogs outside of our home as he is with his Junketsu family. We’ve also been taking Goya on outings to get him used to being in different environments. He is eager to experience new places and meet new faces. Goya will be making his show debut in February of 2017. Come say hi!

Japanese Akita Puppy from Tohoku to California

Adorable Goya just before we brought him back from Japan.


The Alphabet Soup of Japanese Akitas

One of the most confusing aspects of information related to dogs, but more specifically to the Japanese Akita in the United States, can adequately be described as alphabet soup. There’s JACA, AKIHO, UKC, FCI, JKC, AKC, two different CKCs, OFA, CERF, and so on. Since hubby is the president of AKIHO North America and wifey is the vice-president of JACA (and we’ve shown in several kennel club show rings), we figure we’re in a pretty good position to explain what all these initials and acronyms mean as they pertain to our breed.

AKC – American Kennel Club. The AKC was founded in 1884 and is probably the most well known purebred registry in the US. It is unfortunate that many people mistakenly believe that an AKC pedigree or papers lends legitimacy to their dog and that unscrupulous, or perhaps ignorant, backyard breeders and puppy mills will use the AKC to overvalue their litters. However, many reputable American Akita breeders show their dogs and register their litters under the auspices of the AKC. Unfortunately, unlike the majority of national kennel clubs in the world, the AKC, like the Canadian Kennel Club, does not recognize the Japanese Akita but rather lumps the breed together with the American Akita. In time, we expect that will change, but for now, you won’t be able to fairly show a Japanese Akita in the AKC ring since your dog will be judged against the American Akita standard.

AKIHO – Akita Inu Hozonkai (translated into English, means Akita Dog Preservation Society). Established in 1927, AKIHO is the oldest Akita breed club in the world and acts as a registering body. The organization only deals with what most nations refer to as the Japanese Akita and does not consider the American Akita as part of their mission. AKIHO is a stand-alone organization and has no affiliation whatsoever with JKC, AKC or FCI; therefore, they are able to pursue their preservation and improvement efforts without influence or interference from other breed or national kennel clubs. An AKIHO pedigree is considered the gold standard in Japanese Akita enthusiast circles. Although headquartered in Odate, Akita Prefecture, Japan, there are several overseas AKIHO branches, the oldest of which is AKIHO North America (AKIHO N.A., formerly known as AKIHO LA), established in Los Angeles in 1970.

Members of AKIHO N.A. adhere to a strict Terms of Membership Agreement. Some people may view AKIHO as merely a club for breeders, but that isn’t the case at all. AKIHO N.A. hosts one official show, an educational seminar and two picnics in the Los Angeles area and also takes part in Japanese cultural festivals and pet exhibitions as well as informal meet-ups throughout the US where members can enjoy socializing and spending time with their dogs along with our sister club JACA.

ARBA – American Rare Breed Association. ARBA was formed in 1991 to register uncommon dog breeds in the United States. They also hold conformation shows and obedience trials. In addition, they offer seminars for judges, public awareness and educational services. ARBA allows for Japanese Akitas to be shown as a separate breed from the American Akita.

CERF – Canine Eye Registry Foundation. CERF was established by breeders who were concerned by heritable ocular diseases. Veterinary ophthalmologists test potential sires and dams to determine whether or not they are carrying any diseases of the eye. In both breeds of Akitas, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and entropion are common enough to warrant ocular testing to prevent passing on these disorders to future generations. CERF has joined up with another health-related organization called the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA); you can find more information about testing and tested sires and dams on the OFA website.

CKC – Canadian Kennel Club. The CKC was founded in 1888 and is the primary registry, although not the only registry, for purebred dogs in Canada. The CKC confers titles for conformation, obedience and field work. Like its American counterpart, the AKC, the Canadian KC does not recognize the Japanese Akita as a separate breed.

CKC – Continental Kennel Club. Founded in 1991, the Continental KC is a registry which is used primarily by puppy mills and backyard breeders to lend their breedings a sense of legitimacy to buyers who believe that pedigree papers from any source is important. Beware of any dogs with pedigrees from this club and do not confuse it with the other Canadian Kennel Club.

FCI – Fédération Cynologique Internationale. The FCI was founded in 1911 by dog societies in five Austria, Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands. The current FCI encompasses dog enthusiast organizations and kennel clubs in five regions: Africa, the Americas and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East. As of this writing, 344 breeds are recognized by the FCI and each breed’s standard is written by the representative club of the country of origin. Each member nation holds conformation shows, agility, coursing, racing and obedience competitions as well as hunting, herding and working trials. The FCI was extremely instrumental in the international recognition of the Japanese Akita breed.

IABCA – International All Breed Canine Association. IABCA began in the 1990s as an independent organization with the goal of holding international European-style conformation shows. IABCA shows are known for their relaxed atmosphere and more significantly for the individual attention judges pay to dogs in the ring; the judges even give a written critique of each dog. Since IABCA bases their conformation standards on the country of origin’s standards, the Japanese Akita has yet another place to compete in the IABCA ring. Apart from adult dog conformation, IABCA also holds other competitions and gives awards in areas such as rally, junior handling, and even national puppy titles.

JACA – Japanese Akita Club of America. JACA was founded in 1997 and its mission is “to preserve the purity of the Japanese Akita and to educate the public about the breed […] by engaging in activities which aid, promote, and foster the preservation and betterment of purebred Akitas.” JACA is a non-profit 501 3(c) organization and designated as the breed parent club in the United Kennel Club (UKC). JACA is also a member of the World Union of Akita Clubs (WUAC) and work very closely with AKIHO N.A. JACA maintains a calendar of events including but not limited to hosting the UKC Japanese Akita Specialty and UKC Nihon Ken (all Japanese breed) Invitational. In addition to the Japanese cultural festivals and pet exhibitions in Southern California with AKIHO N.A., members of JACA in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest are particularly active and hold a variety of outings as well as participating in regional pet and cultural events outside of SoCal. Members are also becoming more active in the Atlanta and Nashville areas, and Chicago and New York. JACA members are expected to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics.

JKC – Japan Kennel Club. The JKC was established in 1949 and is the primary registry for all purebred dogs in Japan. They became a member of the FCI in 1979 and helped found the World Union of Akita Clubs (WUAC). The organization holds conformation shows as well as obedience trials. They also certify dog trainers and groomers. In 1997, when head of the JKC at the time Mr. Toyosaku Kariyabu announced that the American and Japanese Akitas would be considered two separate breeds in Japan, he asked that all national kennel clubs follow the country of origin’s wishes, thus sealing his influence on the breed as well as that of the JKC. To date, only two national KCs have not yet honored the country of origin’s wishes to split the breed (Canadian KC and American KC). A JKC-registered Japanese Akita may be imported to the US and registered in the UKC as long as there is an accompanying pedigree.

OFA – Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. The OFA was founded in 1966 as a way to combat canine hip dysplasia but soon expanded its scope to “improve the health and well being of companion animals through a reduction in the incidence of genetic disease” (History, OFA website). The OFA maintains a database of health tested dogs accessible by submitting the name or registration of a specific dog on their website. Because certain breeds, both American and Japanese Akitas among them, are commonly considered at risk for the genetic component of hip dysplasia, reputable breeders have their potential sires and dams x-rayed as young adults before attempting a breeding. Ratings are POOR, FAIR, GOOD and EXCELLENT (Junketsu Kennels and our colleagues will not breed a dog with a poor ranking of hips, and some of us won’t even use a sire or dam ranked as fair). If you’re ever thinking of buying a Japanese Akita puppy, make sure to ask to see the sire and dam’s OFA rating.

UKC – United Kennel Club. The UKC was established in 1898 and “is the largest all-breed performance-dog registry in the world, registering dogs from all 50 states and 25 foreign countries” (About UKC) . Their motto is “Real Dogs for Real People” and they place an emphasis on the “Total Dog;” that is, the purpose of the dog is as important as conforming to the standard. Because the UKC recognized the Japanese Akita as a separate breed in 2013, the majority of Japanese Akita owners in the US now show our dogs in the UKC conformation ring (that includes Junketsu Japanese Akitas!). We appreciate the UKC for judging our breed according to our standard and not by the American Akita standard as much as American Akita enthusiasts appreciate being judged by their own standard and not ours.

WUAC – World Union of Akita Clubs. Established in 2000 when most national kennel clubs agreed it was time to acknowledge both breeds of Akitas, WUAC is a federation of Akita clubs in national clubs who are members of the Federation Cynologique International (FCI). Their main office is in Tokyo, Japan. The goals of WUAC are as follows (taken from their Articles of Union):

(1) Promoting of social and cynological activities with Akitas.
(2) Promoting of exact understanding of breed standard for Akitas.
(3) Improving of mental and physical health of Akitas.
(4) Educating of judges of Akitas.
(5) The WUAC shall take note of the independence of the members.
(6) The WUAC shall not be related to the political, economical and ideological issues among members.
(7) Cooperating with the FCI in order to develop Akitas.
(8) Other projects that are recognized necessary by the WUAC.

Only one breed club per nation is accepted by WUAC. For the United States, JACA is the designated breed club. It is interesting to note that WUAC refers to the Japanese Akita as simply the Akita and the American Akita is called the American Akita. More on the various names of the breed in another blog post. WUAC meets every two years with members representing clubs from a variety of nations.

Although this list of acronyms is fairly comprehensive in relationship to the breed, you may end up coming across something we’ve missed. If that’s the case, please feel free to let us know!

Well-rounded Japanese Akitas

At Junketsu, we try really hard to have a well-rounded kennel. Throughout the year, we stay heavily involved in two major Japanese Akita breed clubs and a Shiba Inu club, we occasionally help our buyers by offering “spa and boarding” services to the dogs we bred so that they may stay temporarily in a home environment they’re familiar with as opposed to being housed in a commercial kennel environment (which is not a bad thing in and of itself as long as the kennel is staffed by dog-loving and appropriately trained super conscientious people), we take our dogs on weekend outings, and we also get our dogs involved in things like nose work and barn hunt. But a few times a year, we like to compete in the conformation ring. Earlier this year, it was Kaedehime-Go’s (call name: Mikan) turn to be a show dog. When she first came from Japan, we had no idea how she would turn out, which is often the case with imports (more on why we import another time). With Mikan, we sure got lucky. And on her very first appearance as a show dog too!

On February 6th and 7th, Mikan had three Best of Breed wins at UKC shows which helped earned her Champion status in one weekend. At the UKC Japanese Akita Specialty Show on February 13th, Mikan took Best of Breed AND Best in Show, which is pretty impressive for a dog as young as she is. The following day at the 43rd AKIHO Los Angeles Annual Show, she took 1st place in the Wakainu Class. So Mikan, who has brattiness, brains and beauty, is fast becoming a well-rounded addition to the family. And most importantly, she’s got a very nice temperament.

Two other members of the Junketsu family also had big wins in February too. The owners of Junketsu-bred littermates Hiroki Go Junketsu (call name: Roki) and Cayenne Go Junketsu (call name: Caya) had some celebrating to do as well that weekend when Roki took the Tokuyuu Award (the highest AKIHO prize given at the branch level) and Caya won the Best of Winners at the UKC Japanese Akita Specialty show. Congratulations to Josie and Tom on Roki’s win and to Rich and Sandra on Caya’s win!

Kaedehime Go (Mikan) at the
UKC Japanese Akita Specialty 2016
and at the 43rd Annual AKIHO L.A. Show.

The adventures of Ethel and Lucy – weeks 8, 9 and 10

It’s a bittersweet time as Yumi (f.k.a. Lucy) and Aiko (f.k.a. Ethel) have left the Junketsu den. Despite having all of our other dogs, there is something so special (and chaotic) about having puppies around. We’ll miss them very much but we’re confident that their new owners will shower them with love and attention. Let’s face it. Puppies know how to make their presence known just by being silly and cute!

As we said in a previous blog entry, we always want our puppies to go to the best owners possible. We’re grateful that Yumi and Aiko will be well looked after in their respective new homes in NorCal and Washington state. And we hope to receive regular updates about them as they grow up because they’ll always be a part of the Junketsu family.

We wish Aiko and Yumi a happy and long life with their new families.

Yumi the Younger Japanese Akita
Aiko the Japanese Akita puppy chews on a slipper
Japanese Akitas Kuma and Aiko playing

Sweet Aiko has a big brother named Kuma to play with. He’s
a brindle Japanese Akita.

Aiko and Kuma Japanese Akitas near Seattle

Aiko contemplating whether she wants to take a nap like her big brother or pounce on him.

Yumi will have no trouble training people to do her bidding because she’s just that cute!

Japanese Akita puppy playdate at the AKIHO LA Show 2016

Japanese Akita puppy ex-pen meetup at the AKIHO LA 2016 Show. Three different litters are represented here.

The Adventures of Lucy and Ethel – Weeks 6 and 7

Adult Japanese Akitas introduced to puppies through the baby gate
Japanese Akita puppies meeting full grown Japanese Akitas

Here are the girls meeting
THE BEST Japanese Akita
puppy sitters EVER!

Lucy and Ethel’s 7th and 8th weeks have been spent exploring, meeting a couple of our other dogs and going to the vet’s for their vaccinations. It’s been a very social couple of weeks for them. As we suspected, Ethel is a moku (Japanese word for long coat). Some people believe that moku Japanese Akitas are smarter than their regular coated counterparts. It’s hard to tell whether Ethel is smarter than Lucy, but she continues to be slightly more docile than her sister though she’s just as playful when she’s in the mood. Lucy is definitely more like Dora the Explorer. Even though Ethel looks much bigger, she weighed in at 10 lbs, while Lucy’s weight was 11 lbs. 1 oz. Of course, Lucy peed on the exam table.

This weekend will be a big weekend for the girls. They’re going to the 43rd Annual Akita Inu Hozonkai dog show where they’ll play in the puppy pen with other members’ pups. And next week, Lucy will be going to her new home in Northern California. We’re still looking for the right people for Ethel because bringing a moku into the home takes a special kind of commitment due to grooming needs. The good thing is both AKIHO and JACA have members who are more than willing to give excellent advice and share their experiences. If you’ve ever seen a well groomed long coat Japanese Akita in person, they’re strikingly beautiful. And they know it.


We’re really lucky that Kita and Waka have such amazing dispositions. They’ve been the first adult dogs that our litters meet (apart from their mommies), which proves for positive initial interaction. Socialization is one of the key aspects in our puppies’ early development.



Here’s Lucy looking for the mommy milk bar. Since Kita is a male, he’s not about to replace Kaki for feedings. In any case, the girls are on solid foods now (it’s just that old habits are hard to break).

The best male Japanese Akita babysitter
Kita the Japanese Akita with his adopted puppy

Hi Dr. Mardell Denney!
We’re coming to see yoooouuu!
Don’t hurt us, ‘kay???

Uh, excuse me?
You’re going to put the thermometer where?

Ethel: Move over, fatty.
Lucy: Shh, be quiet. I’m secretly peeing on the table.

Crated Japanese Akita puppies going to the vet
Japanese Akita puppy on the exam table at the vet
Ethel and Lucy on the vet's exam table
Japanese Akita Sailor Moon
Pretty in Pink Japanese Akita
JACA Cares puppy t-shirt
Yawning Japanese Akita puppy