Japanese history, both verbal and written, describe the ancestors of the Akita, the Matagi dog, as one of the oldest of the native dogs. Today’s Akita developed primarily from dogs in the northernmost region of the island of Honsh? in the Akita prefecture, thus providing the breed’s name. The Matagi’s quarry included wild boar, Sika deer, and Asian black bear. This swift, agile, unswervingly tenacious precursor dog tracked large game, holding it at bay until hunters arrived to make the kill.
The breed is also influenced by crosses with larger breeds from Asia and Europe, including English Mastiffs, Great Danes and the Tosa Inu, in the desire to develop a fighting dog for the burgeoning dog fighting industry in Odate, Akita Prefecture, Japan in the early 20th century. During World War II the Akita was also crossed with German Shepherd Dogs in an attempt to save them from the war time government order for all non-military dogs to be culled. The ancestors of the American style Akita were originally a variety of the Japanese style Akita, a form that was not desired in Japan due to the markings, and which is not eligible for show competition.