Japanese dog breeds

Japanese dog breeds

The Japanese respect their dog breeds; And not one but six of them have been considered as a national monumental treasure. The nation honors and honors its native dog breeds and has been committed to them since time immemorial.

While there are many admirable aspects to Japanese culture, the six great Nihon-ken dog breeds; Akita Inu, Shiba Inu, Kai Ken, Kishu Ken, Hokkaido Ken, and Shikoku Ken, are all in the limelight. And, these are not the only puppies in Japan!  (1)

Get ready to learn more about each of the six giant Japanese dog breeds and additional luxurious dogs.

The 10 most popular Japanese dog breeds are:

1. Shiba Inu

Japanese dog breeds
Shiba Inu
  • Lifespan: 12-15 Years.  (2)
  • Temperament: Fearless, alert, confident, loyal, stubborn, trainable. (3)
  • Color: Black and Tan, Red Sesame, Black Sesame, Sesame, Cream, Red, Black Sesame. (4)
  • Height: 13-17 inches. (5)
  • Weight: 16-22 pounds

The Shiba Inu is the smallest of the Nihon Ken breeds and is arguably the most popular. Meaning “brushwood” in Japanese, Shiba Inu breeds are named after areas where they hunted birds and wild game.

In addition to being the most popular of the spitz breeds, this fella is also the most ancient Japanese breed, dating back over 3,000 years, having survived two great world wars and near-extinction!

The Shina Inu is adorable, with fox features including prickly ears, curved tail, deep almond eyes, wedge-shaped muzzle, athletic build, and long orange and white coat. It is also stubborn, although you can curb this behavior through early training.

Despite the muscular and wild characteristics of these pups, the Shiba Inu is confident, feline agility, intelligent, affectionate, loyal, and can be a mischievous breed that can be fun to keep in your home.

2. Japanese Akita Inu

Japanese dog breeds
Japanese Akita Inu
  • Lifespan: 10-13 years
  • Temperament: Calm, loyal, loyal, stubborn, willful, sweet, confident,
  • Color: Black, White, Chocolate
  • Height: 24-28 inches
  • Weight: 70-130 pounds

Similarly, the famous Akita Inu Nihon is the largest and largest of the kennes. It is also an ancient breed, popular and respected in Japan for being a symbol of happiness and longevity among new parents.

While breeders developed the Akita as stocky hunting pups in the early 17th century, they are more of a family pet these days. They are brave, loyal, courageous, affectionate but generally can be aloof and territorial at times.

The Akita can also be a bit moody although it can be loving and loyal to family members if you train and socialize with it.

As part of the Spitz family, Akitas have a dense double coat and long fur to fight off cold conditions. You can distinguish these dogs by their bear-like features- almond eyes, sharp ears, broad head and large bony physique.

3. Shikoku

Japanese dog breeds
  • Lifespan: 10-12 years
  • Temperament: Brave, energetic, agile, loyal, intelligent, docile
  • Color: Sesame, Black Sesame, Red Sesame
  • Height: 7-21 inches
  • Weight: 35-50 pounds

Also known as the Kochi-ken, the Shikoku is a wolf-like Japanese dog breed that originally aided in hunting. Hunters used them to track wild game, especially boar. It is rare to find these breeds today, but they are still a national treasure in Japan.

Shikoku dog breeds tend to be intelligent, alert and easier to handle than Akita and Shiba breeds. However, they can be submissive to their owners.

4. Kishu

Japanese dog breeds
  • Lifespan: 9-13 years
  • Temperament: Intelligent, impulsive, active, brave, noble, docile, energetic
  • Color: white,red,bridle,sesame
  • Height: 17-22 inches
  • Weight: 30-60 pounds

Originally from the Kishu region in Japan, the Kishu Ken is a rare hunting breed despite having been around for centuries. Some Japanese legends suggest that these predators originated from wolves.

They are monumental animals and would help hunters track and hunt boar and deer, although hunters preferred white kishu dogs for visibility purposes.

Kishu Ken dog breeds are energetic, love to be kept busy, brave, independent, intelligent, and can be impulsive and annoying runaway artists.

5. Hokkaido Inu

Hokkaido Inu
  • Lifespan: 12-15 Years
  • Temperament: Polite, bold, alert, loyal, dignified, brave
  • Colours: white, black, red, black and tan, halter, teal
  • Height: 18-20 inches
  • Weight: 44-66 pounds

Also known as the Hokkaido Cane, this purebred breed has the oldest bloodline compared to other Spitz breeds. The Hokkaido Inu is intelligent, strong and devoted to their owners, making them great family pets.

It is a muscular breed with a dense outer coat, large paws, remarkable stamina and stamina. Their coats and small ears help them deal with the cold better.

Breeders developed these dogs for hunting purposes and can differ from wild boars and bears thanks to their strong bones and strong-willed instincts. They also get on with other pets and strangers as long as you train them and socialize with them.

Hokkaido breeds love attention and can reward love through kissing, cuddling, and eagerness to play.

6. Kai Keno

Kai Keno
  • Lifespan: 14-16 years
  • Temperament: Secure, loyal, intelligent, brave, affectionate, alert, agile, stubborn
  • Color: Black Bridle (Kuro Tora), Red Bridle (aka-Tora), Bridle (Chu-Tora)
  • Height: 17-22 inches
  • Weight: 22-45 pounds

The Kai Ken is the most recognizable of the six native breeds because of its tiger-like characteristics. The Japanese also call it “Tora”, which means tiger.

It has a bristly coat with golden stripes over the dark fur. Originally bred to hunt wild game, this coloration helped them to camouflage during the hunting process. This intelligent, independent and quick-learning breed is also rare in Japan.

Although the Kai Ken is muscular, athletic, has a willingness to hunt, and is an active breed, it has the agility and numbness of a cat. It can cross the most challenging terrain just to win the hunt!

Be sure to take it out for walks and exercise, however, as its high energy levels can lead to destructive behavior, especially when it feels lonely.

7. Japanese Spitz

Japanese Spitz
  • Lifespan: 10-16 years
  • Temperament: Obedient, affectionate, proud, active, companionable
  • Color: Pure White
  • Height: 12-15 inches
  • Weight: 10-25 pounds

If you’re looking for a little cuddly family companion with a watchdog heart, try a Japanese Spitz. These lesions have a wedge-shaped snout, sharp ears, and droopiness. You might mistake this breed for American Eskimo dogs, white Pomeranians, or Samoyeds.

The Japanese Spitz has a lot of temperaments ranging from intelligence, trainability, low maintenance to being friendly to people. Although the American Kennel Club has not yet accepted this breed, the United Kennel Club does recognize it as part of the Northern breed.

8. Tosa Inu

Tosa Inu
  • Lifespan: 10-12 years
  • Temperament: Calm, laid-back, aggressive towards strangers, high prey drive, extremely loyal, intelligent
  • Colour: red, halter, apricot, fawn, black
  • Height: 22-26 inches
  • Weight: 84-132 lbs

The Tosa Inu or Japanese Mastiff is not of the Spitz type but a rare Japanese Mastiff-type. It is a hunting and fighting dog and the largest of all Japanese dog breeds.

The Japanese Mastiff has its roots in the Tosa region where dog fighting was and is still legal. Tosa are attentive, eager to please, can bond with family members, although they may choose to remain aloof.

They have short, smooth fur that is red, brindle or fawn. The intimidating size of the Tosa has led some countries to ban them.

9. Ryukyu Inu

Ryukyu Inu
  • Lifespan: 10-12 years
  • Temperament: Calm, trainable, brave, intelligent, confident, strong-willed
  • Colour: Red, white, brindle, liver or black, striped like a tiger
  • Height: 18-20 inches
  • Weight: 33-56 pounds

The Ryukyu Inu is now a rare breed, but it was once popular among boar hunters, who used it for tracking and baiting purposes. This is a courageous yet docile medium-sized hound from the Okinawa region of Japan. Although it is a “national treasure” of Okinawa Island, its history is blurred.

The dog has a short coat and can resemble a kai ken when it has stripes like a tiger. These dogs have an extra paw on the back of their paws, which enables them to easily climb trees and track game on steep terrain.

10. Japanese Terrier

Japanese Terrier
  • Lifespan: 12-15 Years
  • Temperament: Lively, quick, affectionate, alert
  • Colour: black and white, tri-color
  • Height: 8-13 inches
  • Weight: 5-9 pounds

The Japanese Terrier is a rare breed known as the Mikado, Nihon, Oyuki or Nippon Terriers. They are small breeds, with a thick coat of thin, coarse hair.

These hounds pose no bite risk, are cuddly, and bond with only one individual in a family. The Japan Kennel Club recognized the breed in the 1930s and was popular and spreading in Japan in the 1940s when World War 11 and other growing species nearly made them extinct.

They are avid boar hunters in addition to being great family pets today.

11. Japanese Chinese

Japanese Chinese
  • Lifespan: 10-14 Years
  • Temperament: Happy, affectionate, intelligent, sensitive, devoted, social
  • Colours: Black & White, Red & White, Black, White & Tan, Sable & White;
  • Height: 8-11 inches
  • Weight: 7-11 pounds

Also known as the Japanese Spaniel, this dog has the perfect oriental look – a large, broad head, a ruffled face, V-shaped floppy ears, far-distance eyes, and a full-bladed tail. Although these dogs are called Japanese Chin, they may have originated from Korea or the Chinese imperial court more than 500 years ago.

The Japanese aristocracy highly valued them and often gifted them to emissaries; It must have found its way to Japan when he gifted them to the Emperor of Japan. Although highly respected in Japan, these hounds remained unknown until 1853, when Commodore Matthew Perry traveled to Japan and began international trade.

This dog is an indoor breed and does not like being left alone for long periods of time. It is elegant, well-behaved, playful and friendly towards other pets and children. Weighing in at less than 10 pounds, this toy-sized hound has cat-like traits, including an ability to jump and a tendency to lick a dense coat filled with silky fur!

Characteristics of the Japanese dog breed

The five native Japanese dog breeds are “spitz type”, meaning they are double-coated, have long, thick fur, pointed ears and muzzles. These dogs also have curved tails that look like a spring.

Their double-coat helps them to withstand the cold temperatures, difficult terrain and any peculiar climatic fluctuations in Japan. Most of these breeds get their names from their place of origin. However, the other five breeds are non-native and were imported into the country.


If you desire an “Old World” dog, Japanese dog breeds are your go-to breed, as they are some of the most ancient puppies globally. They also come with healthy temperaments and are amazingly beautiful—have you noticed how most of them look like wolves?

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