Since ancient times, the Japanese have had their own dog breeds. These dogs have, throughout history, been entrusted with many missions. They were outstanding hunters, but also provided company to members of Japanese high society, who liked to show off with their dogs.
In this article, we invite you to discover the most famous Japanese dog breeds, as well as their characteristics and history. Most of them continue to be appreciated and loved in their country of origin as well as all over the world.
The Shiba Inu
In Japanese, Shiba Inu is translated as “bushwood“. This breed of dog is more than 3,000 years old. The Shiba Inu was originally bred for hunting birds and other small game. Occasionally, he would accompany his master when hunting big game, such as deer, bear or wild boar.
The Shiba Inu is a small size dog, with harmonious proportions. The males measure 35 to 43 cm, females 33 to 41 cm. They weigh between 8 and 12 kgs.
The Shiba Inu is distinguished by his strong personality and character. Very independent, he is also a Japanese dog that is very devoted and loyal to his master, whom he is ready to defend in any circumstance. Because of his character, he is not easy to train and doesn’t often obey. If he does, it is more out of affection and to please his master.
This small Japanese dog is distinguished by its specific bark, the “Shiba’s cry”, which shows his excitement. The Shiba Inu is a dog that does not require too much time, as he enjoys excellent health and is easy to care for.
The Akita Inu
The Akita Inu is probably the most famous Japanese dog in the West: the story of Hachiko waiting for years for his deceased master touched many hearts. The film based on this true story has contributed to the reputation of this Japanese dog breed.
The Akita is a long-haired dog, whose coat can be black with brown or red patches, cream or white on the belly. This Japanese dog is also distinguished by his creamy or gray undercoat.
The Akita Inu is a brave, loyal and affectionate dog. In Japan, but also in the West, he is a very popular family pet. He is a large dog that can weigh up to 50 kgs and requires careful grooming because of his double coat.
This Japanese dog was smuggled by plane into the United States after the Second World War. This quiet, independent dog is wary of strangers, but is happy to share his playful, affectionate side with family and friends.
The Japanese Spaniel
The Japanese Spaniel is considered to be a Japanese dog, although experts believe that he originated from Korea or China. It was, however, the Japanese aristocracy that made this dog breed more popular, appreciated, if not venerated, among the wealthier classes of society.
The Japanese Spaniel is a small dog that does not weigh more than 5 to 6 kgs. It was customary to offer this type of dog to foreign diplomats and important personalities as a souvenir of their service in Japan.
He is an indoor dog, an adorable companion with an oriental look, which is very popular in Japan as well as in the West. He is characterized by his large head and short muzzle, his abundant mane around the neck and his tail in the shape of a curved feather duster.
The Shikoku (or sometimes called the “Shikoku Inu” or “Kochi-Ken”) is a Japanese breed specialized in hunting. He was once highly valued by hunters for his ability to chase game, especially wild boar.
Intelligent, enduring, alert, the Shikoku is also a docile dog, who obeys his master willingly. He weighs between 18 and 30 kgs, making him a rather large Japanese dog.
The Shikoku has well-developed muscles, strong and well-defined bones, pointed ears and a fairly long, sickle-shaped tail. His coat is smooth and rough on the outside, providing protection from the elements, while the inside layer is soft and dense. This Japanese dog has a reddish, black, brown or sesame color coat.
The Kishu is a white Japanese dog, also called Kishu Ken. He is native to the mountainous regions of the country. He is distinguished by a plain coat, generally white or cream. He is a Japanese dog that seduces with his elegance and noble appearance.
The Kishu weighs about 20 kgs and measures 50 cm. He is a quiet dog, ideal for families and as companion dog. He is more obedient and docile than many other Japanese dog breeds. However, he is also energetic, and likes to play and exercise.
To develop all his qualities and docile character, the Kishu must be properly socialized. His kindness and intelligence allow him to adapt to the demands of family life. He can very well live in the city and in an apartment, provided he gets many opportunities to walk.
The Hokkaido looks like a Japanese husky. He is considered one of the oldest and wildest Japanese dogs. Athletic, brave, muscular, the Hokkaido is a guarding and hunting dog, which can also be trained as a sleigh dog. This Japanese dog is very rare outside the Land of the Rising Sun.
The Hokkaido is loyal, noble and very enduring. He is docile, but also very lively. He generally tries to please his master. To accept strangers, the Hokkaido must be carefully socialized from a young age.
This Japanese dog weighs between 20 and 35 kgs. He is characterized by his long, thick hair, broad chest and small ears. He has a double coat, with a protective outer layer. He will shed his fine, thick down during the warm season.
The Kai Ken
The Kai Ken is one of the six indigenous breeds of Japanese dogs. He was traditionally used to hunt various species of game in the mountains of Japan. This very intelligent and determined breed has become quite rare today. The Kai Ken is a Japanese wolfhound regarded as a dedicated and trustworthy guardian.
The Kai Ken is athletic and has a strong hunting instinct. He has been known to climb trees and swim in rivers to pursue his prey. He weighs between 10 and 20 kgs.
The Kai Ken is a Japanese breed with a black or red coat. The brindle coloration gives him a unique appearance. In any case, it is his coloration that allowed him, for centuries, to go unnoticed in the forests during hunting parties.
The Tosa Inu
The Tosa Inu is a rare Japanese dog breed, which has unfortunately been bred and selected to become Japan’s ultimate fighting dog. His origins lie in the Tosa region, where dog fighting was once an important and solemn sport. The Tosa Inu is also known as Tosa Ken, a Japanese fighting dog or Japanese Mastiff.
The Tosa Inu is a muscular, athletic and lively Japanese dog, but he is also very devoted to his master. He stands out among Japanese dogs by his impressive weight, which can reach up to 100 kgs. He is therefore a massive dog, selected for his physique designed to intimidate. He is banned in many countries.
Today’s Tosa Inu can be affectionate with his family. However, he is also capable of being very aggressive towards other dogs, if he considers them to be intruders. The Tosa Inu is the largest of all Japanese dogs. He has short, dense red, black or brindle coat. Sometimes white markings can be seen on the chest or feet.