Hachiko was a famous Akita immortalized for being supremely loyal to his owner, even after he died. I won't give away too much for fear of spoiling the story (though it's common lore amongst Japanese schoolchildren). There's a statue at the Shibuya station in Tokyo commemorating this faithful dog.
I haven't seen the American version, but I did see the Japanese version a while back. I'm kind of a sucker for animal movies, and the Japanese tend to churn out some rather amusing ones (Milo & Otis, anyone?). Kind of lukewarm about this one, though.