Pandora's Box of Noses


By Sherry E. Wallis

The AKC standard's description of the correct Akita nose seems pretty straightforward. It says: “Broad and black. Liver permitted on white Akitas, but black always preferred.” A “butterfly nose or total lack of pigmentation on nose” disqualify. Faced with the reality of an actual dog, however, people from novices to experienced dog-show judges have trouble reconciling what they see in front of them with the words of the standard.

The questions posed by them are actually complex :

  • What does the nose of a white Akita look like when it is not black?
  • Is “liver” an accurate description?
  • What is a butterfly nose
  • What is an unpigmented nose?
  • What is a white Akita?

Because the nose section of the standard causes so many problems, the same dog can be awarded a major one day and be disqualified the next. Worse, the correct decision on the part of a judge could have been made in either instance. This confusion can drive off all but the most stalwart fanciers. People who want to show honest dogs that conform to the standard often give up and those who want to win, continue but give in

This article is an attempt to clarify misunderstandings about Akita noses by putting pictures with the standard’s words. Because it has so many illustrative graphics and is long, it is available for download in .pdf format.

So many photos make this a long download. For those without high-speed connections, I've broken the article into four parts accessible below. All must be opened in Acrobat Reader.  If you do not have this on your computer, you can download it for free at the Adobe website

Please remember to check the magnification on your Reader.  Although a setting higher than 100% will make it easier to read, it will display the graphics poorly. 

Click here to download entire pdf file--high speed internet connection onlyIf you have a high-speed connection--DSL, Cable, etc. Click on this button to download the entire file.  
For slower connections and dial-up modems, the article is broken into four parts for ease of loading: Click on the part you want to read below:

1. Introduction - The typical nose of a white Akita

2. Liver - What is a liver nose?

3. Pigment Problems - Butterfly and unpigmented noses

4. Whites - What exactly is white color?

You can save these sections to disc if you want and then read them all together.  Then, you can refer to the sections more easily.  However, you must remember that this article is copyrighted by me and cannot be used without my permission.


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©2000-2007 Sherry E. Wallis.  All Rights Reserved.  

This article cannot be reproduced, printed, or duplicated without permission of the author.