Japanese dog breeds: 13 historical breeds from Japan

Japan is known for its delicious sushi and its magnificent cherry blossom trees, to name a few. Japan is not, however, known for its dog breeds. With the exception of a few, Japanese dogs rarely make it into the top 50 breeds of a kennel club. In this article, however, we will find that they are among the most beautiful, loyal, and protective dogs in the world, very underrated.

Lots of Japanese dogs have added the words “Inu” and “Ken” to the end of their name that simply means dog in Japanese, and they are often used interchangeably. There are 6 official Japanese Spitz breeds, the most popular Akita, Shiba Inu, Kai Ken, Shikoku, Hokkaido, and Kishu Ken. There are 7 other non-Spitz breeds that we’ll look at as well.

Many of Japan’s dog breeds look pretty similar simply because they are Hunting dogs that came from certain districts, and they are inherently protective of their estates and families. So let’s take a closer look at 13 of the most popular and rarest Japanese dog breeds.

Japanese chin

This little flat-faced guy is the shortest on the list, but his lively personality certainly makes a great impression. He is often described as more of a cat than a dog, and you will often see him climbing to the higher levels in the room, like tables or even shelves. He is described as graceful and charming, and it’s easy to see why he was preferred by Japanese royalty. He is a very good dog who loves everyone he meets!

The Japanese chin has the classic look of the small Asian races. His eyes are far apart, with a big smile and a flat face, and although many people think this is a cute look (and it is!), He suffers from Brachycephalic Syndrome which is problematic and very much dangerous to his health. It will measure somewhere between 8 and 11 inches in height and it will weigh somewhere between 7 and 11 pounds in weight.


Japanese Akita

The Akita is often divided into two types (and they are recognized as such in some parts of the world), the American and the Japanese. However, the AKC only recognizes him as one, the Akita Inu. However, there are two different looks, and the one supposed American Akita is square and stocky, and the Japanese look slimmer and more pointed.

It was originally bred to protect the Japanese royalty as well as for hunting wild boars and black bears, and he is a very powerful dog. The Akita Inu’s most distinctive feature is its curly Catherine wheel tail. It is available in a variety of colors and markings. The Akita Inu measures between 24 and 28 inches from paw to shoulder and weighs between 70 and 130 pounds, making this big boy unsuitable for apartment living.

He is from Northern Japan and is a symbol of luck, good health, and long life, and in Japan, he is hailed as the most loyal dog a master could have. He is described as brave, dignified, and deeply loyal, and he takes his role as a family protector seriously, but he’s a silly fool with his family. The most famous dog in Japan was an Akita named Hachiko who, after the sudden death of his master, waited at the same train station every day for nine years until his master came home until his own death. He’s doing an interesting one too Parental mix.

Shiba Inu

Japanese Shiba Inu

The Shiba Inu measures between 13½ and 16½ inches tall and he weigh between 17 and 23 pounds. Its fur is a rich orange color with a white underbelly and the same distinctive curly tail. With its small triangular upright ears and fire-colored fur, it looks very much like a fox. These guys are just getting popular, and we can see why. Shiba Inu DailyInstagram account for your daily dose of everything Shiba has to offer.

In 2019 the Shiba is the most popular breed in his homeland, but in America, he is recognized as the 44thth most popular dog breed. He was first bred as a hunting dog, but today he is often hidden in the arms of his master and family instead of looking for his master’s next meal. He is a very intelligent dog, but one that has the attention span of a goldfish. So expect it to be quite difficult to train. He is also known to have his toys and food, although this can be done with rigorous training, be sure to keep an eye on him around other dogs and young children.

Japanese Spitz

Japanese Spitz

The Japanese Spitz is one of the newer Japanese breeds on this list, and it is a descendant of the German Spitz that was brought to Japan in his early 20sth Century. It’s a tiny marshmallow fluffball, or “ground cloud” as some people call it, that measures between 12 to 15 inches in height, and he weighs 10 to 15 pounds in weight. Its white fluff is very easy to care for and it sheds a lot. So expect a mauve sheen on your furniture. It has the typical pointed triangular pointed ears and a narrow snout with intensely dark eyes.

He is described as loyal and very clever who loves nothing more than to spend his whole day with his human being. Therefore, he has to be placed with a family that guarantees that he will be with him for most of the day. This smiley face dog clown will fill your day with laughter and fun, and so will he makes a great companion dogSo there really is no excuse to leave it at all!

He’s great with kids and other dogs, and he makes a useful watchdog with his pervasive bark, and while he’s not nearly as tall as some of the other Japanese dogs on this list, his bark makes him pretty daunting!

Tosa Inu

Japanese Tosa Inu

Here we have the largest Japanese dog who is often mistaken for one Mastiff mix and weighs anywhere between 100 and 200 pounds in weight and measures at least 21½ inches in size but bred outside of Japan for its sheer size, it is often found larger than this. This colossal guy is thick, muscular, and seriously powerful so you won’t want to step on the wrong side of him, but he is also a sensitive cute boy with his family. It has a wide neck, deep chest, and large drop-down ears, unlike most Japanese breeds.

He’s also known as the Japanese Mastiff and he has played a huge role in Japan’s long history of dogfighting. He was bred with former Japanese battle master Shikoku Inu and other larger breeds such as Bulldogs, Mastiffs, and Great Danes to create a stronger dogfighter. The Tosa Inu is on many of the banned breed lists in countries around the world. So if you are thinking of getting any of these types be sure to check your local laws. With that said, he’s in the family home docile and peaceful dog who is used as a watchdog and family companion. To see how cute and suitable he is for family life, check out Danny the Tosa Instagram page.

Japanese terrier

Japanese terrier

Also known as the Nippon TerrierThis guy is very rare even in his homeland so it is very unlikely that you will ever have met one. He is 8 to 13 inches tall and weighs between 5 and 9 pounds, which makes him the lightest dog on this list. So, if you are looking for a purse puppy, this might be the type for you. Its body is white, its head and half of its neck are black and dark brown. He is slim and you can often see his rib cage with the tail hanging between his legs.

The Japanese terrier is another of the newest breeds, with its ancestor, the Fox Terrier from England and the Pointer of Germany, believed to have been brought to Japan in the 17th century Century. From here he was bred to be much smaller, and despite his Terrier name, he was only bred to be a companion dog, never to hunt.

Shikoku Inu

Shikoku Inu

The Shikoku Inu is a different Japanese spitz dog Hailing from Shikoku Island, where he hunted wild boar, he is the original Japanese attack dog. This type is also known as the Japanese wolfhound because it has the typical Spitz stature but has the head of a wolf. He has thick fur that is available in three colors. black sesame, red sesame, and white and pointed triangular ears. It also has a distinctive curly tail like the Akita. He measures 17 to 22 inches and weighs 35 to 55 pounds.

He was often kept outside to make sure he maintained his primitive hunting skills, but now he can often be found on his family’s couches. Despite his need for cuddling, he is a very natural and active dog that needs to be housed in a large house with access to an even larger enclosed yard. Otherwise, he has been known to develop cabin fever and become quite destructive. If you can offer him this then he is an affectionate and sweet dog who will indeed make a very rewarding companion. Overall, he is described as energetic, alert, and enthusiastic.

Hokkaido Inu

Hokkaido dog

The Hokkaido Inu is described as being dignified, alert, and devoted who makes a wonderful family companion. He’s intelligent and one of the best problem solvers, which is one of the many lovable qualities of his canine C.V. Because of this, he likes to be busy with jobs or games, so don’t let him idle for too long or he’ll make you or your furniture pay for it with destructive behavior. It is also a whole Beware of strangers don’t expect him to be everyone’s best friend, but he is very loving with his family.

He has one of the thickest coats on this list. So, if you don’t like a dog who sheds, this guy should be last on your list of Japanese dogs. White is the most common coat color, but it often wears black, brindle, sesame, red, and wolf gray. He also sports smaller triangular ears and a curly tail. He measures between 18 to 20 inches from paw to shoulder and he weighs 44 to 66 pounds.

Ryukyu Inu

Ryukyu Inu Japanese dog

This is possibly the rarest dog on this list and in 2015 it was believed that there were only 400 left and unfortunately there is no information on how much its numbers have shrunk since then. He’s not even recognized by the Japanese Kennel Club! What we know about this dog is that he is confident and brave. It was originally bred to hunt wild boars on Ryukyu Island. At home, he is calm and docile and doesn’t bark much. He reaches a height of 18 to 19 inches and bears many of the pointed-like features such as the pointed ears and curly tail.

Because of his origins, he spent much of his time in the rain forest and as such, he has developed a unique dewclaw that is believed to help him climb trees. His wild temper is supposed to make him act like a pack, and if you are lucky enough to own one of these guys you have to be much stronger-willed than him or he will rule the quarters!

Kai Ken

Kai Ken Japanese dog

The Kai Ken is a different rare dog on this list even in Japan. He was originally bred for hunting, but over the years he has become more accustomed to the warmth of his people’s home in return for offering canine companionship and lots of affection. He is much less independent than most of the other Japanese breeds on this list and more willing to please his master. It was originally used as a game hunter and as such has a high prey. He’s one of the fastest on this list, so he needs a closed yard that he can’t escape. He has to be placed with an active family in order to reduce his work energy.

It comes in three brindle colors, black, brown, and red which helps it Camouflage in the wild (Even more reason why you shouldn’t lose it!) Most puppies are born black, and their stripes appear as they get older. The Kai Ken is a self-cleaning breed, and while that doesn’t mean he will be taking a bath, he will keep his coat in tip-top condition so the need to bathe him will be rare. It weighs anywhere between 20 and 40 pounds and measures between 15½ and 19½ inches in height.

Kishu Ken

Kishu Ken Japanese dog

The Kishu Ken was declared a national treasure in 1934 and is very honored in his homeland. Because of this, it is rarely exported outside of Japan. He is a very active dog who needs a lot of exercises, but when his exercise needs are met he will be a happy and docile dog around the home. He is kind to children and everyone in the family, but quite aloof towards strangers and those outside the family unit. Like many dogs on this list, he is highly preyed on and therefore likely not suitable for households with multiple pets and smaller rodents.

The Kishu Ken measures 17 to 22 inches in height, and he does weigh 30 to 60 pounds. He wears the colors pointed red and sesame, but he wears a white smock more often just because hunters preferred this color because of its good visibility when hunting. It has a thick double coat and is a moderate shed. He has the smaller pointy pointed ears, but his tail is longer and has fewer curls unless something is pointed out to him. He is a very handsome dog, but do not confuse his strength as he was originally bred to hunt wild boar and deer.

Sanshu Inu

Sanshu Inu

The Sanshu Inu is another relatively new breed that is believed to have developed in the early 1920sth Century from other undocumented Japanese dogs and the Chinese chow which is evident with its chunkier frame. Since it is fairly new, it is proving to be very popular in Japan, but it is very rare in other parts of the world. It looks a lot like Hokkaido, so many believe it does Hokkaido is its ancestor. He was bred to be a family guardian and faithful companion for the younger family members, so he is an excellent family companion and a very sensitive and sweet soul.

The Sanshu Inu measures 16 to 22 cm tall and weighs 45 to 55 pounds. It is available in many colors, e.g. B. gray, brown, red, black, white, piebald, salt and pepper, or a combination of these colors. Hence, he’s the most colorful puppy on this list. Unlike most of the dogs on this list, he has a straight and thick tail, not the curly Catherine wheel like tails, but considering both of his parents have curly tails, no one knows where that came from!

Karafuto Ken

Sakhalin Japanese dog Breeed

Also known as the Sakhalin HuskyIt is unfortunately believed that they are now extinct. This puppy looks a bit like one Akita or a Siberian Husky. Just before the last breeder of Karafuto Ken died, he stated that the last remaining dogs, Taro and Jiro, could not be bred due to genetic similarity. An unfortunate Japanese expedition to Antarctica, unfortunately, had to carry out an emergency evacuation and left 15 of these dogs behind.

It wasn’t until a year later that explorers returned to the site and found that Taro and Jiro survived the year. Taro and Jira can now be found kept in museums in Japan that are widely celebrated as national heroes. This sad story shows exactly how rare some Japanese dog breeds are.

Final thoughts

Japanese dog breeds look quite similar with their pointy triangular ears, distinctive curly tails, athletic and muscular appearance thick double layers. If you like this canine look, you’ve got tons of choices on this Japanese list!

Japanese dog breeds are also some of the most protective and loyal breeds in the world a protective dog, On the other hand, you have many options here. Most of these guys were originally bred to be hunters, so they have a protective personality and high foray that needs to be considered. Even so, they are all delightful and loving family members, so all you need to do is find what is perfect for you and your family!

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