Japanese Dog Breeds: Full List And Features

Due to the remoteness of the country’s territories, Japanese dog breeds developed for a long time without crossing with other breeds. These rocks are considered to be full-blooded Japanese.

After the second world war, when other breeds gained access to the territory of Japan, dogs were obtained from crossing local animals with imported ones. But the Japanese in the register of their dog organization Nippo entered only purebred Japanese breeds. There are six such breeds: Akita, Kai, Kishu, Shiba, Shikoku, Hokkaido.

According to the classification of the International cynological Federation FCI, these Japanese dog breeds belong to group 5 “Spitz and primitive breeds”, section 5 “Asian Spitz and related breeds”.

Description and distinctive features of Japanese dogs will be considered further.

Japanese Akita (Akita inu)

The breed was bred in Akita province (Honshu island), which is why it got its name. Akita inu is recognized as a national treasure of Japan, its natural monument.

The world-famous breed, as a symbol of loyalty and devotion, brought the film directed by L. Hallstrom “Hachiko: the most loyal friend.”

Two dogs

  • Akita belongs to the quiet breeds of dogs: they bark only when necessary to warn the owner of the danger.
  • This is an unusual and spectacular breed: agile, beautiful, stately, smart, has a great memory. The animal is friendly to children. She treats other Pets calmly if she was brought up next to them.
  • The content of Akita is unpretentious: it suits both the apartment and the private house.
  • The breed standard provides the following parameters: height of males — 67 centimeters, females — 61 centimeters, weight from 40 to 50 kilograms. Color is allowed in three types: red with white, brindle with white, pure white.
  • Life expectancy is 10-12 years.
  • To help the pet get rid of the dying hair, it must be combed once a week, when molting, the number of combs must be increased to three or four times a week.
  • The Akita was bred as a guard and hunting dog. It floats well, and the waterproof undercoat allows the coat to stay dry.
  • Animal training should start from 3-4 months. Since the Akita has a possessive and hunting instinct, it requires early socialization. The strong will and wayward nature of the dog will require the owner to be patient and strict in the upbringing of the pet.

The breed is not recommended for beginners in dog breeding. Suitable for people who have experience in keeping large dogs, have a strong character and lead an active lifestyle.

Kai-inu (tiger dog)

Bred in the province of Kai (Honshu island). It belongs to hunting breeds. The Kai-inu is a national treasure of Japan. The population of purebred Kai-inu, including during the difficult period of the second world war, was preserved, thanks to the tax benefits introduced by the Prefecture for their owners.

Dog on a leash

  • Kai-inu has a calm and loyal character. The dog is well built, has an athletic appearance and a developed hunting instinct. It swims well and can climb trees that grow obliquely. Its gregarious nature allows it to easily get along with other relatives. It belongs to the silent dogs and gives voice in case of emergency.
  • The breed standard stipulates height for dogs 47-53 cm bitches 42-48 cm, weight males — 16 to 25 kg, females — 11-20 pounds.
  • Life expectancy is 12-15 years.
  • Kai-inu has the name of a tiger dog because of the characteristic stripes of different colors-tiger and red, tiger and black, tiger. Newborn Kai-inu have a solid color and as they grow up, they acquire the stripes characteristic of this breed.
  • The Kai-inu’s coat is prone to tangling and requires weekly combing.
  • When training, there may be difficulties due to the proud wayward nature of the dog. Training should be performed by one person. The recommended age for starting classes is 3-4 months. Given the hunting instincts, the animal will need early socialization.
  • Kai-inu is a dog of one owner, so it will obey him implicitly, but only if it has unlimited authority. She will treat all members of the household equally, but it is important for her to single out the leader.
  • The animal gets along well with teenage children. Small children are not recommended to be left alone with the Kai-inu: careless handling of the dog as a toy can cause a negative reaction of the pet.
  • Although it is possible to keep an animal in an apartment, it is preferable to have a private house with a fenced territory for the pet. Outside the closed area, the Kai-inu can not be left without a leash.
  • The breed is suitable for active people with a strong, purposeful character. Kai-inu is a great helper for hunting and active walks with the owner. In the absence of physical activity, the character may deteriorate and behavior may not change for the better.


Like all Japanese dog breeds, the Kishu gets its name from its habitat — the Kishu Principality (Kii Peninsula) and is recognized as a national treasure.

According to legend these dogs are descended from a wolf: the rescued she-wolf gave the hunter a cub, which became the progenitor of the breed.

The dog is lying on the ground

  • The Kishu breed is rare, even in Japan: it lives in remote, isolated areas of the country. Every year, the national dog organization of the country registers an average of 700-900 puppies of this breed.
  • The Kishu is a medium — sized Japanese breed with pointed, erect ears and a white, red, or wolfish color.
  • Typical sizes for males: height 49-55 centimeters, weight up to 25 kilograms, for females — height 46-52 centimeters, weight up to 20 kilograms.
  • Life expectancy is 14-15 years.
  • When taking care of the fur, you will need to comb your pet after each walk and wipe the fur with a wet towel instead of bathing.
  • Kishu is not characterized by a violent display of feelings for the owner, she has a reserved disposition and requires a respectful attitude. As for children, jokes with annoying pats and stroking with kisyu will not work: the game will be stopped immediately.
  • But still the dog is patient to many life circumstances, hardy, friendly and affable.
  • Kisyu’s protective qualities are preserved and this is due to her distrust of strangers.
  • It is difficult to train a dog because of its self-confident nature and excellent hunting instinct. The owner will need to show not only a tactful and respectful attitude to the dog, but also an extraordinary perseverance to achieve results.

Kisyu can be kept both in a city apartment and in a private house, but with the condition of providing her with long active walks.

Kishu’s appearance is similar to that of another medium — sized Japanese dog, the Shikoku.


The Shikoku breed got its name from its habitat — on the island of Shikoku, the smallest of the Japanese Islands. The breed is recognized as a natural monument in Japan.


This is a hunting dog breed with standard parameters: for a male, the height at the withers is 49-55 centimeters, for a female — 46-52 centimeters with a weight of 16 to 26 kilograms.

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  • Life expectancy is 10-12 years.
  • Noble wolf appearance makes the dog spectacular and memorable.
  • The Shikoku dog is affectionate and friendly. Gets along with children, loves fun activities.
  • Because of the developed protective and hunting instincts, it is desirable to provide early socialization to avoid excessive suspicion and distrust.
  • Pet obedience is developed by training at the age of 3-4 months. The animal’s stubbornness and tendency to make independent decisions may require a more persistent upbringing from the owner with a demonstration of their dominant qualities: do not allow them to take the place of the owner, never give in to the game and other situations.
  • If the puppy understands who the leader is, then in the future his upbringing and obedience will be ensured. At the same time, no physical punishment is allowed, otherwise the path to the heart of Shikoku will be closed.

It is better to keep Shikoku in a private house on a specially fenced territory. These dogs do not like to sit on a leash, and without a leash are capable of escaping.

Recommended for people with strong leadership qualities and an active lifestyle.

Shiba inu

The breed is bred on the island of Honshu and is recognized as a national treasure of Japan.

This is the smallest of the purebred Japanese breeds.

Dog with puppy

  • The standard stipulates the following dimensions: for dogs growth of 38-41 cm and a weight of 10-13 kg, females — the growth of 35-38 inches and weighs 7-9 pounds.
  • Life expectancy is 12-15 years.
  • Colors: white, red, sesame and black.
  • The breed belongs to hunting, used in hunting birds (ducks, pheasants). Because of their hunting instincts, sibs are alert, self-willed, and quick-witted. Dogs need early socialization.
  • Moreover, if a puppy is not accustomed to people before the age of three weeks, it is considered that it will not be able to get used to them in the future.
  • If a puppy grows up next to a person, he is not afraid of him, but also does not welcome stroking from him, although he likes the owner’s caress.
  • Shiba is prone to contemplation: she can sit for hours and watch the landscape from the window, which makes her a little incomprehensible to a person unfamiliar with her temperament.
  • She is devoted to her master and gets along well in the house with all the household members. Gets along well with children.
  • The best content is a country house with a spacious aviary for games and active activities.

Hokkaido (Ainu)

The breed of dog belongs to hunting and has an average size. Originally bred for bear hunting.

The standard provides dimensions: for a male height of 48.5–51.5 centimeters, for a female height of 45.5–48.5 centimeters, weight in the range of 20-30 kilograms.

Dog on the snow hill

  • Color allowed white, red, black and their shades. The coat is thick and tough, thanks to it they are able to survive in the harsh conditions of a snowy winter.
  • Life expectancy is 10-15 years.
  • Dogs have a highly developed hunting instinct. Can enter into a fight with an animal that exceeds the weight of the dog several times.
  • It has a wayward nature, is prone to escapes, and gets along poorly with other animals.
  • Gets along well with children. Endlessly loyal to the owner.
  • In training, the dog will require perseverance, repeated repetition of the same exercise, and constant control of its strong-willed character.
  • During training, it is not allowed to deviate from the task without completing the exercise. Feeling once relaxed, a recalcitrant dog in the future may show insubordination.

Hokkaido can be kept both in an apartment and in a private house, only with the mandatory condition of strict upbringing from infancy.

The dog will be a loyal, affectionate friend. But in the absence of education, it can get out of control.

The breed requires active physical activity, so Hokkaido is suitable for strong, strong-willed people with an active lifestyle.

All purebred Japanese dogs belong to the hunting breed, and they also have a protective instinct. Dogs have a wayward, independent nature, and at the same time boundlessly attached to the person and remain loyal and reliable friends.

To win such love and devotion from a person, it will require a manifestation of will and determination, and a four-legged friend will respond with his obedience and a constant desire to come to his aid.