Dog fighting is a brutal and cruel activity that we won’t even deem to call a “sport,” but, sadly, it was a presence in several cultures. It became so popular in the early part of the 20th century in Odate province, Japan, for instance, that it became a societal problem with connections to crime and violence (to say nothing of the horrors facing the dogs). Dog fighting was eventually banned by the local government in 1909, but the toll it took on the Akita breed was costly as crossbreeding with foreign breeds had resulted in a serious degradation of the breed. When the Emperor held an exhibition for Odate Inu dogs in Tokyo in 1914, Odate residents saw the damage being done to traditional Japanese breeds because of cross breeding with imported breeds done to create a better fighting dog. The original strains of the modern Akita’s ancestors, Odate Inu, had all but disappeared, a tragedy at many levels.
A year later, the Odate mayor went into action to preserve Japanese breeds. He launched a movement to stop interbreeding, and that lead to legislation in 1919 legislation to protect Japanese dogs in the Akita province and declare them to be national monuments of the country. It took another twelve years before nine Japanese breeds were declared to be such monuments, but the year 1931 was when the Odate Inu was named the Akita Inu for the first time.
As an aside, dog fighting remains a problem in several societies, including our own, and don’t think it can’t touch you. A portion of the dogs (and cats) stolen in this country end up in dog fighting operations. This overview (which is safe to read, no graphic accounts or pictures) offers tips on how to spot a dogfighting operation which should be reported immediately to law enforcement. Dog fighting is a felony crime in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Image: Mid-Century Modern Akita Dog Okimono Sculpture, Japan