12 Japanese Dog Breeds MORE STUNNING than Geisha (POPULAR DOGS IN JAPAN)

I‘ve always been fascinated by the history and origin of dog breeds, especially ones that are extremely rare.

And one place where the dogs caught my attention was Japan.
Some of the Japanese dog breeds, like the Akita, have grown popular across the world and in the United States, while others are still quite rare and only found in Japan.

The Japanese treasure many of these rare breeds that they have officially been listed as “National Treasures“.

Which Japanese dogs make the list?

*Please take note: Inu or Ken means “dog” in Japanese.

Today we will find out as we dive into the top 12 list of Japanese dogs breeds

Let’s get started:

1. AKITA (Akita Inu)

Akita dog breed sitting and facing its right side on white background

Highlights:  noble presence, courageous, and loyal

Akita is a large, heavy dog with imposing stature.

This ancient breed is famous for its loyalty, although it is used for dogfighting in its early years.

The Akita dog breed was taken later to America and a larger dog type came into existence today as the bigger American Akita.

  • The first Akita brought to the United States was brought by the one and only Helen Keller, who received the dog as a gift while visiting Japan.
  • When a child is born in Japan, the parents are given a figurine of an Akita, which represents a long life full of health and happiness.
  • Hachikō (ハチ公, November 10, 1923 – March 8, 1935) was a Japanese Akita dog remembered for his remarkable loyalty to his owner, Hidesaburō Ueno (上野 英三郎 Ueno Hidesaburō), for whom he continued to wait for over nine years following Ueno's death.[2]

    -Wikipedia

  • An Akita was once used in the London zoo to help raise a tiger cub. Zookeepers needed help and knew that the Akita would not be frightened by the tiger, and could provide protection, play, companionship, and loyalty. The Akita fulfilled its role and retired from the job once the tiger reached adulthood.

🦴Temperament:

Akita dog breed Infographic

Akita Inu Infographic

Of all the dogs on the top 12 Japanese dog breeds list, the Akita is one of the most intelligent and independent.

The breed is extremely loyal to their family but may be slightly wary of strangers.

They enjoy the companionship of their family and playful with those that they are closest to. With that being said, the Akita is not a “play well with others” type of dog.

Due to their “possible aggression”[1] towards other pets like cats and other dogs, they are best suited when they are the only dog in the household.

Worth A Look: Are Akitas Good With Cats?

Akita is a very strong-willed dog, so they are recommended for people who can take on the role of pack leader, and not the first time, timid dog owners.

Due to their stubborn nature and strong will, they can only be trained by those who are loving, but firm, consistent, and patient.

They require socialization from an early age and need a lot of exercises to keep them from becoming destructive.

📜History:

The Akita is believed to have originated in the Northern Japanese Province of Akita, which is where they derived their name.

Their origins date back to the 1600s when patrons were encouraged to compete in breeding a dog that was large, versatile, and an excellent hunter.

After generations of selective breeding, the Akita was introduced. Not only was the breed used for hunting large game like bear, deer, and wild boar, but they were often a popular choice for royalty, who regularly used them as guard dogs.

Various times throughout history, however, the breed teetered on extinction. To ensure that this did not happen, a National Breed club was formed in 1927 in Japan to protect breeds like the Akita.

Today the Japanese Akita is a thriving breed and is not only popular in Japan but also around the world.

🐕Breed Overview

Breed type:Spitz
Purpose:hunting
Suitable for:Family with teenagers, rural owner
Size/Height:medium/24-28"
Weight:70-130 lbs
Lifespan:10-15 years
Color:White, Brindle, Fawn, Pinto, Red
Grooming:"self cleaner but still needs daily brushing
Daily exercise:30 minutes -1 hour a day of brisk walks, jogging etc
Activity levels:low
Diet:balanced dry or wet dog food, high-protein formula
Known health issues:auto-immune disease, hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, hypothyroidism, von Wilebrands Disease.
Price:$1750-$2000 depending on the breeder

🙋FAQ’s

2. HOKKAIDO DOG (Hokkaido Inu)

Hokkaido dog breed on the grass

Highlights: Intelligent, Loyal, Brave, Protective

In terms of Japanese dogs, the Hokkaido dog a.k.a. Hokkaido Ken is considered to be a medium-size dog with a strong build.

The Hokkaido dog ranges anywhere from 18-22 inches in height and weighs anywhere between 45-65 pounds.

The Hokkaido dogs are a type of Japanese Spitz breed with a broad head and a wedge-shaped muzzle. They have small triangular ears that are always erect.

The Hokkaido dog breed has a harsh, straight, double coat of fur that can be a variety of different colors, including black, white, red, brindle, tan, or even sesame.

They have a curly, high set tail that curves over their back, and are known to carry themselves with dignity and pride.

  • The Hokkaido dog was kept well hidden from the rest of the world (outside of Japan) until 1869 when British Zoologist, Thomas Blakiston discovered the breed
  • In 1937 the Hokkaido dog was officially listed as a National Monument
  • The most famous Hokkaido dog went by the name of "Otousan" and appeared in a variety of advertising campaigns for SoftBank in Japan

🦴Temperament:

The Hokkaido Dog origin

 

The Hokkaido dog is most popularly known for its extreme loyalty.

The Hokkaido dog breed is one of the most loyal dogs that you can own, and once you have earned its respect, it will be devoted for life.

The breed is also considered to be brave and fierce and makes an excellent guard dog. Because Hokkaidos have such strong personality characteristics, they demand owners with strong leadership skills.

Hokkaido dogs do tolerate children if raised with them from a young age, but due to their potential power, they should never be left unsupervised.

Similarly, Hokkaido dogs may tolerate other dogs if they have been raised together, but may not respond as well to new arrivals.

The exact temperament of the dog will depend on the lineage, as well as how they are brought up by the owner.

📜History:

Of all the six native Japanese Spitz breeds, the Hokkaido dog is the oldest.

The breed is thought to be over 1000 years old and believed to descend from another breed of dog known as the Matagi-gen.

Traditionally this breed was well hidden from the rest of the world and was revered by the Japanese for its fearless and aggressive hunting abilities.

Aside from hunting larger game like bear, the Hokkaido were also trained to snatch fish out of streams.

In more recent years, the Hokkaido breed has become treasured as a loving pet and guard dog but has also been used to aid in search and rescue missions.

The dog was originally referred to as the “Ainu“, but officially became known as the Hokkaido dog in 2008.

They are accessible on the Japanese dog breeds list but are rarely seen outside of Japan.

🐕Breed Overview

Breed type:Spitz
Purpose:Working
Suitable for:Families with lots of free time
Size/Height:medium/18-20"
Weight:44-67 lbs
Lifespan:12-15 years
Color:Black, White, Brindle, Black & Tan, Sesame, Red
Grooming:Daily brushing
Daily exercise:at least 1 hour of vigorous exercise per day
Activity levels:Very high
Diet:high-quality adult dog food that is rich in protein with plenty of healthy fats for energy
Known health issues: Hip dysplasia, #Collie Eye Anomaly, Idiopathic Seizures
Price:$500 (average)

#Collie eye anomaly[2]

🙋FAQ’s

1. Do Hokkaido dogs shed?

Hokkaido dogs have a double layer of fur, which they shed twice each year. Additional bathing and brushing may be necessary during this time to cut down on the amount of fur being shed.

3. JAPANESE SPITZ ( Nihon Supittsu)

Japanese spitz running in the grassy park

Highlights: Bold, Loyal, Playful

If you’re looking for a small Japanese dog, the Japanese Spitz breed may be for you.

They have small, triangular-shaped ears that stand erect, and a long tail that curls over onto the dogs back. Their jet black eyes, noes, and footpads deeply contrast with their fur, which is pure white and very thick.

  • The Japanese Spitz is not recognized by the American Kennel Club. because of its close similarity to  the American Eskimo Dog.
  • The breeds' early records were destroyed in World War II leaving the full history of the breed a mystery
  • They are fearless protectors and have a bark much louder than you might expect from a dog their size.
  • Japanese Spitz is one of the longest living small breed with a life expectancy of 16 years or higher!

🦴Temperament 

japanese spitz on the lawn

The Japanese Spitz dog is revered for having an excellent temperament.

They are a smart and loyal breed that have playful spirits and make excellent family companions.

They are good with children and will bark to protect the family until reassured by their owner that everything is okay.

The Spitz breed is extremely intelligent, and therefore quite easy to train. While they don’t require a lot of exercises, Spitz dogs do like to play.

They play well with other dogs and love to run in places like the dog park. More than anything, though, the Spitz wants to be a part of the family.

They are an incredibly loving and affectionate breed that are both loyal and protective of the ones they love. Strangers should be introduced cautiously.

📜History :

The Japanese Spitz originated from China like the German Spitz from Germany that were brought to Japan in 1920.

In 1925, more Spitz dogs were brought from Canada and around the world and were crossbred until the small, furry, white Spitz that we know today was created.

After World War 2, the standards of the breed were finalized, and the Spitz became recognized by the Japan Kennel Club.

Soon after that, this breed was exported and recognized by Kennel Clubs around the world.

With that being said, the American Kennel Club is an exception and does not recognize the Spitz as a breed of dog. This is mostly due to its strong resemblance to the American Eskimo dog.

In return, Spitz puppies cannot be recognized as pedigrees in the US. Smaller clubs like the American Canine Registry and the Dog Registry of America do recognize that the Spitz is a breed of its own.

🐕Breed Overview

Breed type:Spitz
Purpose:companion
Suitable for:Families with children and other pets(dog)
Size/Height:small/10-16"
Weight:11-20 lbs
Lifespan:10-16 years
Color:white
Grooming:weekly brushing
Daily exercise:at least 30 mins of walking daily
Activity levels:high
Diet:High protein, low carb
Known health issues:luxating patella, runny eyes
Price:$1000-$2500 USD(puppy)

🙋FAQs

1. Do Japanese Spitz shed a lot?

Despite their pure white coats, the Japanese small dog Spitz breed does not require a lot of maintenance (they shed their coat which is twice a year)

The texture of their coat usually repels most dirt and debris, therefore they do not require regular bathing.

In fact, frequent bathing can actually remove some of the natural oils on the hair, and can cause dryness and itchiness.

With that being said, their double coat of fur is thick and is subject to mats and knots.

Special undercoat brushes should be used at least twice a week to prevent knotting and matting. This will also help to reduce the amount of shedding throughout the year.

4. JAPANESE TERRIER (Nihon Teria)

Japanese terrier in the backyard

Highlights: Friendly, loyal, playful

The Terrier is a Japanese small terrier dog that stands approximately 8-13 inches in height and weighs only between 5-9 pounds.

Despite its size, the breed is well balanced and sturdy. The tail of the Japanese Terrier is thin and medium to long, though depending on where the Terrier is born, it may be completely docked.

The Terrier’s ears do flop forward but will stand erect when the dog is alert.

They have a short, smooth, dense, and glossy coat and usually have darker hair on the top of their head than on the rest of their body. The body of the Terrier is usually white, or white with black or tan spots.

  • Japanese Terrier is rare, even in Japan.
  •  It is believed that they have German Pinscher, fox terrier and indigeneous dogs DNA in their blood.

🦴Temperament

japanese terrier standing on cemented ground

The Japanese Terrier is a lap dog. They crave attention and love nothing more than being loved and cuddled by their family.

Because the Terrier does crave so much attention, they can also become quite jealous when another person or animal takes attention away from them.

With that being said, they are also an extremely intelligent breed with a lot of energy to spare. Terriers require a lot of exercise and room to run.

Because they are so small, they can make great apartment dogs but do require regular walks and playtime to tire them out.

📜History:

The history of the Japanese Terrier dates back to the 1600s where it was believed that dogs brought over by sailors.

The Smooth Fox Terrier and the German Pinscher, were bred with local Japanese dogs to create the Terrier we know and love today.

The love of the Terrier quickly spread throughout Japan, and it became a popular lap dog for families everywhere.

The breed officially became recognized by the Japanese Kennel Club in 1930, but when dog breeding came to a halt in World War 2, the number of Terriers in existence drastically decreased.

And while numbers have increased since then, the Terrier is still a rare breed in Japan, and even rarer around the rest of the world.

🐕Breed Overview

Breed type:Terrier
Purpose:companion
Suitable for:Experienced owner
Size/Height:small/20-33cm
Weight:5-9 lbs
Lifespan:10-15 years
Color:Black & White, Tri-color
Grooming:weekly brushing
Daily exercise:at least 30 minutes a day
Activity levels:moderate
Diet:well balanced dog food
Known health issues: Hip dysplasia, luxating Patellas
Price:$600 USD (average price)

🙋FAQs

No FAQs are available online.

5) KAI KEN (Tora Inu or Tiger Dog)

Kai Ken dog breed standing on white background

Highlights: Smart, Brave, Agile

The Kai Ken is a mid-sized dog that stands approximately 17-20 inches tall and weighs anywhere between 25-55 pounds.

The Kai Ken is most commonly known for their unique, patched/fur, which usually starts black as a puppy, and then gradually turns to a brindle.

Their fur is often said to resemble “tiger stripes“.

The breed has a strong stance and muscular legs, along with a large head and tapered muzzle.

The Kai Ken has triangular ears that stand erect, and that are often seen as disproportionate to the rest of their body. Their tails are long, feathery, and known to curve around.

  • Because of the brindle color and stripes, the Kai Ken is often referred to as the "Tiger Dog" in Japan
  • The Kai Ken is often thought to be the purest of all the Japanese dog breeds.
  • There are two variations of the Kai Ken – the shishi-inu-gata type ( stockier body and bear-like face) and the shika-inu-gata type (longer, thinner body and foxlike face)
  • They are regarded in Japan as a National Treasure and are described as loyal protectors who would lie their lives down for their master.

🦴Temperament:

Kai ken dog breed on leash in the backyard

The Kai Ken makes an excellent guard dog and is seen as a natural hunter.

They are more on the reserved end of things, and though they are very loving and friendly with familiar faces, they may be skeptical of strangers.

The Kai Ken is a devoted family dog and is very affectionate to their loved ones.

While they are affectionate to all family members, they tend to form a more intense bond with one specific member of the family.

The Kai Ken is very protective, but rarely aggressive. Training requires a strong, dominant owner, as the Kai Ken can be dominant and stubborn, and needs a pack leader to train them.

While they are friendly with other dogs, they should be socialized at a young age to ensure that aggression does not arise.

  • Because of the brindle color and stripes, the Kai Ken is often referred to as the "Tiger Dog" in Japan
  • The Kai Ken is often thought to be the purest of all the Japanese dog breeds.
  • There are two variations of the Kai Ken – the shishi-inu-gata type ( stockier body and bear-like face) and the shika-inu-gata type (longer, thinner body and foxlike face)
  • They are regarded in Japan as a National Treasure and are described as loyal protectors who would lie their lives down for their master.

📜History:

When it comes to Japanese dogs, the Kai Ken is a newer breed.

It wasn’t discovered until 1929, where it was found in the mountainous regions of the Kai Province. At the time, the breed was regularly used for hunting game, both small and large.

While it isn’t definitive, many believe that the first Kai Kens brought to the US were done so by servicemen in the military. The next known arrival of the breed in the US was not until 1990.

Today the breed is rare in the United States and even in Japan

🐕Breed Overview

Breed type:Spitz
Purpose:Working/hunting
Suitable for:experienced owners
Size/Height:medium/43-56 cm
Weight:30-50 lbs
Lifespan:14-16years
Color:Black Brindle, Gray Brindle, Red Brindle
Grooming:occasional bathing/natural clean dog
Daily exercise:30-minute walk/day
Activity levels:low
Diet:dog food formulated for active dogs
Known health issues:no major or minor concerns
Price:$1500 USD (average price)

🙋FAQs

1. Does Kai Ken shed?

The Kai Ken has a medium-length, double coat of fur, but only requires minimal grooming.

Because they do have an undercoat, they will shed heavily twice per year. Regular brushing is required to minimize fur loss and to prevent the undercoat from matting.

The Kai Ken does require occasional bathing, but for the most part, are pretty good at keeping themselves clean.

6) KISHU DOG (Kishu Inu)

Highlights: Brave, loyal, noble

The Kishu makes the Japanese dog breeds list as a mid-sized dog.

They weigh in at anywhere between 30-60 pounds and stand between 17-22 inches tall.

The Kishu breed bears a very strong resemblance to the Hokkaido dog but is slightly more muscular. They have a short, but thick double coat of hair that can vary in length depending on the climate in which they live.

The most common coloring for a Kishu is white, but they may also be seen in shades of red or sesame.

The Kishu has small ears that stand erect, and a thick brushy tail that is usually curved or curled under.

🦴Temperament:

kishu dog puppy with red scarf

In Japan, the Kishu is most well known for its excellent hunting capabilities.

The breed is extremely agile, brave, determined, and dominant, each of which makes it an excellent hunter. With that being said, the Kishu also makes an excellent family dog.

The breed is strong and protective when needed but is most often gentle, calm, and eager to please their owner.

Like the Kai Ken Japanese small dog, the Kishu will bond most strongly with one particular member of the family.

Having said that, they will show love and affection to anyone in the family who so welcomes it – including children.

For children, the Kishu can make an excellent playmate but needs to be socialized with them at an early age.

Because the Kai Ken is a dominant breed and strives to the leader of the pack, they may see small children as lower-ranked members, and make act intolerant towards them if not properly socialized.

In terms of other animals, the Kishu is best when they are the only pet in the house. Kishu’s are natural hunters and can be extremely impulsive.

They should never be left alone with smaller animals like cats, rabbits, or hamsters. Because they are a dominant breed, they may become aggressive towards other dogs, especially of the same sex.

  • Unlike many dogs that go in for the kill, the Kishu is a silent hunter that stalks its prey
  • The Kishu is an excellent climber and can climb trees or cliffs when necessary
  • Many people note the Kishu as being an outstanding "escape artist."
  • Sometimes it is mistaken for the Hokkaido dog because of its similar appearance.
  • They were designated as a "Memorial of Nature" in Japan in 1935, and are now listed as a National Treasure.

📜History:

The Kishu is a relative of the ancient Japanese Spitz-type hunting dogs that originated over 3000 years ago.

The Matagi’s dogs were used for hunting boar and deer in the mountains of Japan and went through the process of selective breeding until they became the breed they are today.

They were designated as a “Memorial of Nature” in Japan in 1935, and are now listed as a National Treasure.

For this reason, the breed is rarely exported outside of Japan and is not commonly seen in other areas of the world.

🐕Breed Overview

Breed type:Spitz
Purpose:Working/hunting
Suitable for:single family with lots of free time
Size/Height:medium/43-55 cm
Weight:30- 60 lbs
Lifespan:11-13 years
Color:White, Brindle, Sesame, Red
Grooming:weekly brushing
Daily exercise:Several hours every day
Activity levels:Very high
Diet:High quality dog food
Known health issues:thyroid problems, eye problems
Price:$1800 - $2200 USD

🙋FAQs

1. Do Kishu dogs shed?

The Kishu has a short, but thick double coat of fur. The topcoat is straight and rough, while the undercoat is softer and denser.

Because they have two layers of fur, they may shed more than expected for a short fur dog.

Aside from regular brushing, the Kishu doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. An occasional bath will be more than enough to keep a Kishu clean.

7. SAKHALIN HUSKY (Karafuto Ken)

Highlights: Strong, resilient, tenacious

The Sakhalin Husky is a large dog breed that shares common ancestry with the Siberian Husky and Akita, along with common appearance characteristics.

They stand between 22-26 inches tall and weight between 66-88 pounds. The Sakhalin Husky has very a very fine yet thick outer coat of hair, along with a very dense undercoat.

They come in a variety of different colors, including Black, Russet, Biscuit, and cream.

🦴Temperament:

sakhalin Husky dogs Taro and Jiro

Taro and Jiro became famous dogs in history for their will to live when left behind in Antarctica, having survived on their own for 11 months in extremely harsh conditions.

The Sakhalin Husky is an excellent working dog that displays complete loyalty and devotion to its owner.

They are extremely intelligent and eager to please, making obedience training extremely easy.

Though they are considered a breed of husky, they don’t have the typical stubborn attitude that most huskies do.

Instead, they are confident and independent, yet friendly and eager to please. They play well with all, including children and other dogs.

Because Sakhalin Huskies were initially bred to be sled dogs, they have a lot of stamina and require intense physical stimulation every day.

For this reason, they are best suited to owners that are active and/or have large yards and are not recommended for first-time dog owners.

  • The Sakhalin Husky was brought to fame after the tragic 1958 Japanese expedition to Antarctica. Fifteen huskies were left tied up outside as researchers went on an unplanned excavation. Unfortunately, weather prevented them from returning to the dogs, and they were left to fend for themselves. A year later, when a new group of explorers returned, two of the 15 dogs were still alive. They were named Jiro and Taro.

📜History:

While not much is known about the origin of the Sakhalin Husky, it is believed that they originated in the Russian Island of Sakhalin and were bred by the indigenous people there.

In 1949 when the Japanese relocated to Hokkaido, they took their dogs with them, which is how the Sakhalin ended up in Japan.

Because of their heavy fur, the Sakhalin was/is well-suited to the cold weather, and therefore was often the dog of choice for Northern Explorers in places like Alaska.

They were also used as pack animals during World War 2, but because they were so expensive to feed, they did not last in this job.

After the war, Sakhalin’s were killed by the masses, resulting in a massive decline in their population. As of 2015, only 7 Sakhalin Huskies were known to remain in Japan, and local breeders are now trying to save the breed from extinction.

🐕Breed Overview

Breed type:N/A
Purpose:Working/utility
Suitable for:Families with lots of free time
Size/Height:medium/56 – 66 cm
Weight:65-89 lbs
Lifespan:12-14 years
Color:Black, Cream, Russet, Biscuit
Grooming:N/A
Daily exercise:N/A
Activity levels:Very high
Diet:N/A
Known health issues:N./A
Price:N/A

🙋FAQs

No FAQs are available online.

8. SHIBA INU (Little Brushwood Dog)

Shiba Inu

Highlights: Independent, bold, dignified

The Shiba Inu is a small Japanese dog and is thought to be one of the smallest dogs native to Japan.

The breed stands between 13.5-16.5 inches tall and weighs between 17-23 pounds. The breed has pointy ears and a curly tail and is often said to look like a fox.

Their coat can be orangy-red, cream, or sesame (red with black tips). They have an athletic build that allows them to move quickly and nimbly, and erect ears that keep them on constant alert.

Shiba’s are often referred to as a small companion dog with a big attitude.

🦴Temperament:

Shiba Inu Infographic

Shiba Inu Infographic

As just mentioned, the Shiba Inu may be a small dog, but it has a big attitude.

The breed is both strong-willed and confident, as well as bold and alert. They make excellent guard dogs, but because of their strong attitudes, do run the risk of becoming aggressive with other animals.

Shiba Inu’s can be very territorial, and therefore do best when they are the only pet in the house. Smaller animals are instantly considered prey, and the Shiba Inu will not hesitate to chase after them.

The Shiba Inu can also be classified as “stubborn”, and can, therefore, be somewhat difficult to train.

Having said that, despite their stubborn, strong-willed attitude, Shiba’s are also extremely loving, loyal, and affectionate with their family members.

While they may be suspicious of strangers, early socialization can help to diminish such fears.

  • Shibas are considered to be the oldest Japanese small dog
  • The Shiba Inu is the most common companion dog in Japan
  • They were named after the brushwood bushes where they hunted. (the word Shiba means "brushwood," in Japanese)
  • Smallest Native Spitz breed from Japan.

📜History:

The Shiba Inu originated in Japan and was originally used for hunting small game.

The Shiba has existed in Japan for centuries, and in 1936 the breed was declared a “precious natural product” of Japan.

Unfortunately, this title did not prevent the breed from near-extinction in World War 2, when most of the breed perished in bombing raids.

After the war, only three lines of Shiba’s remained. The three lines were introduced to breeding programs and were interbred to create the Shiba as we know it today.

The first Shiba to be imported to the US was done so in 1954, but little was documented about the breed until the 1970s.

The first litter born in the US was born in 1979, and the AKC registered the breed in 1993.

🐕Breed Overview

Breed type:Spitz/working dog
Purpose:Working/hunting
Suitable for:Families with teenagers, older single owner, older coupkle
Size/Height:small/medium- 33-43 cm
Weight:19- 30 lbs
Lifespan:10-13 years
Color:Black, white, red and tan
Grooming:twice a month
Daily exercise:1-2 hours every day
Activity levels:medium
Diet:high-quality dry dog food
Known health issues: Hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, allegies, chylothorax
Price:$1400 – $2200 (puppy)

🙋FAQs

9. RYUKYU INU (Ryuukyuu Dog)

Highlights: Quiet, alert, intelligent

The Ryukyu Inu is a mid-sized breed of a Japanese dog.

Though they have more genetically in common with the Hokkaido dog, they are said to bear a closer physical resemblance to the Kai Ken.

The breed has a broad head, with pricked, triangular ears that stand erect. Their body is longer than it is tall, and their tail is often blade shaped and curled.

The Ryukyu Inu has a short coat and can come in single coated and double coated varieties.

They are recognized in four primary colors, including black brindle, red brindle, white brindle, and red liver.

🦴Temperament:

Ryukyu Inu walking in okinawa streets

The Ryukyu Inu is described as a quiet, yet brave and agile dog.

They are natural hunters and have a strong prey drive. Their natural ability to hunt means that they also have excellent climbing abilities that often label them as “escape artists“.

Their prey drive also means that they should not be in homes with smaller animals, as their instincts will tell them to attack.

Despite this, Ryukyu Inu’s make excellent family pets and are good with children. They have a calm temperament and are playful, but obedient.

  • The Ryukyu Inu Hozonkai (Ryukyu Inu Preservation Society) is the only breed club that currently recognizes the Ryukyu as a breed.
  • Ryukyu Inu's have a declaw on the back of their foot. This helps them to climb trees and is believed to be a result of evolution and years of living in the rainforest.
  • As of 2015, it's thought that there are fewer than 400 Ryukyu Inu dogs

📜History:

Much of the history of the Ryukyu Inu is unknown as it’s documentation has been either destroyed or misplaced.

What is known is that the breed originated in Okinawa and was originally bred for hunting.

Unfortunately, like many Japanese dogs, the Ryukyu Inu almost went extinct after World War 2.

While the breed is still around today, it still has not completely recovered from this near extinction and is still extremely rare.

However, in 1990, the Ryukyu In Hozonkai Society was developed to help preserve the breed. As of 1993, 134 Ryukyu Inu was registered with the society.

🐕Breed Overview

Breed type:(?)
Purpose:Working/hunting
Suitable for:Families with lots of free time
Size/Height:medium/43-50 cm
Weight:15-25 kg
Lifespan:10-12 years
Color:red brindle , black brindle , white brindle , black , white , sesame , ivory, liver and red
Grooming:(?)
Daily exercise:at least 1 hour every day
Activity levels:high
Diet:High protein, low carb
Known health issues:(?)
Price:(?)

🙋FAQs

No FAQs are available online.

10) Japanese Chin (Japanese Spaniel)

Japanese Chin standing on white background

Highlights: Noble, affectionate, playful, loyal

The Chin is a small Japanese dog that weighs anywhere between 4-11 pounds and stands between 9-10 inches tall.

They have an intelligent and distinct expression that is often described as “oriental looking“.

The Chin has a broad head with a wide set of eyes and small ears that flop down. They have a long, silky coat that is either black and white, red and white, or black and white with tan tips.

They are often confused in appearance with the British King Charles Spaniel.

🦴Temperament:

Japanese Chin dog Infographic

Japanese Chin Infographic

The Chin is a tiny dog with a larger than life personality. They are highly intelligent and are often known as the entertainers of the family.

Though the Chin does not bark a lot, it’s said that they do “sing” or “chatter” often.

Their personality is defined as happy and upbeat, combined with a little bit clownish and mischievous.

The Chin provides ongoing entertainment for the family and is always eager to make them laugh.

The breed is also described as being very sensitive to their environment, and will quickly take on the personality of their owners.

If their environment is quiet and laid back, so will be the personality of the Chin. If their environment is upbeat and lively, the Chin will be as well.

The Chin is loving and devoted to their family but may be shy around strangers. Though the Chin is a self-confident breed, they also run the risk of strong separation anxiety.

  • The first person to own the Chin in the US was President Franklin Pierce
  • The Japanese Chins are ancient dogs that actually originated as Chinese dog breeds.
  • When the Chin first came to Japan, they were not seen as a dog. Rather, they were seen as a separate being.
  • Likened to cats due to their agility and the way they wash their faces with their paws

📜History:

In ancient times the breed was highly prized by the Chinese and was often given as gifts to emissaries.

Once in Japan, the breed was crossed with small Spaniel type dogs and was bred until they achieved the look and personality they have today.

Until 1853, the breed was not well known to the world. It was in this year that they became a popular commodity and were regularly shipped to the US and Britain.

In the US, the dog quickly became a popular choice among the wealthy. It was known as the Japanese Spaniel in the US until 1977 when it finally became recognized as the Japanese Chin.

Breed Overview

Breed type:toy group
Purpose:companion
Suitable for:older single couple, older couple, city dweller, owner with physical disability
Size/Height:small/20-27 cm
Weight:4- 8 lbs
Lifespan:12-14 years
Color:Lemon & White, Sable & White, Black & White, Tri-color, Red & White
Grooming:once a week brushing
Daily exercise:20-30 mins/day
Activity levels:low
Diet:1/4 to 1/2 cup of high-quality dry dogfood a day, divided into two meals.
Known health issues:heart problems, retinal atrophy, patellar luxution
Price:$1000-$2000 USD

🙋FAQs

1. Do Japanese Chin dogs shed?

Yes, they shed.

The Japanese Chin has a long, thick coat that is silky to the touch.

Though their appearance would make them seem high maintenance, Chin doesn’t require a lot of grooming and is relatively easy to maintain.

A weekly brushing and a once-per-month bath will be more than enough to keep the Chin’s fur in tip-top condition.

11) SHIKOKU DOG (Shikoku Ken)

Shikoku Ken photographed on a white background

 Highlights: Brave, loyal, cautious

The Shikoku is a mid-sized dog that stands between 17-22 inches tall and weighs between 35-55 pounds.

They have a thick double coat and are described as having “sharper” features than most other dogs on the Japanese dog breeds list.

They have almond-shaped, dark brown eyes, and ears that stand erect. Their coat can range in color from red to sesame, to black, or black sesame.

🦴Temperament:

shikoku dog on leash standing on dry ground

The Shikoku dog has been described as intelligent, loyal, and elegant. They are quick, courageous, and fearless, each of which makes them excellent hunters.

In addition to hunting, Shikoku dogs are very protective and loyal to their master, making them excellent guard dogs.

The Shikoku dog is loving and devoted to its owner, but is also friendly and welcoming to outsiders.

Shikoku dogs are good with children but are best when raised together from a young age.

The breed is described as territorial, cautious, and alert, but are not very vocal – if the Shikoku is barking, you know someone is on the property.

Shikoku’s do have a strong prey drive, and therefore should not be left around small pets. The Shikoku is not an aggressive breed but does have strong territorial instincts.

They are the leader o the pack and tend to try to dominate around other dogs. Early socialization is required to prevent aggression with other dogs, especially of the same sex.

  • The breed is known for it's outstanding athletic and acrobatic abilities. This makes them excellent escape artists.
  • They are the ideal companion for active outdoor people because of their toughness and agility

📜History:

The Shikoku originated on and got its name from the island of Shikoku in Japan.

The breed was developed through natural selection, though the domestication of wolf-like dogs. In their beginnings, the Shikoku were mainly used for hunting and were much admired by their Japanese owners.

Thanks to their isolation on the island, the breed was subject to little cross-breeding and is still – to this day – considered one of the purest of all Japanese dogs.

The breed was listed as a National Monument in 1937 and was separated into two distinct bloodlines – the Western and the Eastern. Modern descendants are considered to be from the Western bloodline.

🐕Breed Overview

Breed type:Spitz/working dog
Purpose:Working/hunting
Suitable for:active outdoor people
Size/Height:medium/43-55 cm
Weight:35-55 lbs
Lifespan:10-12 years
Color:Red Sesame, Black Sesame, Sesame
Grooming:once or twice a week brushing
Daily exercise:at least an hour of exercise per day
Activity levels:high
Diet:high-quality adult dog food diet
Known health issues:(?)
Price:$500-$700

🙋FAQs

1. Do Shikoku dogs shed?

Yes, they do shed. Because they do have a double coat, you should brush them with an undercoat rake frequently.

Aside from that, a bath every few months, combined with a blowout once or twice per year is sufficient.

Aside from that, a bath every few months, combined with a blowout once or twice per year is sufficient.

12) TOSA (Tosa Inu, Japanese Mastiff)

Tosa Inu sitting on the lawn

Highlights: Brave, patient, cautious

The Tosa dog, also referred to as the Tosa-Inu or Tosa-Ken, is an extremely large breed of dog with a broad head and powerful jaws.

They stand around 24 inches tall and weigh anywhere between 83-200 pounds.

The extreme range of weight for the breed stemmed from their history in dogfighting when the breed was classified into a lightweight, middleweight, and heavyweight.

The Tosa dogs have small and thin, but high set ears that hang down. They have a short, dense coat that comes in a variety of different colors including, red, fawn, apricot, black, and tan.

They can be multi-colored, solid-colored, or brindle.

Temperament:

tosa inu standing on the green lawn

Despite the breed’s history in dogfighting, the Tosa is a stable, well-adjusted dog that is both docile and affectionate with its owner.

With that being said, the Tosa does still have it’s natural fighting instincts and can become aggressive if not appropriately trained.

Tosa requires a great deal of socialization and training as a puppy and needs a strong owner that can take on the role of pack leader.

Any displays of aggressive are usually due to improper training, or failure to provide mental and physical stimulation.

Owners should be calm but also firm and consistent. A Tosa that has been properly trained will never become aggressive with humans.

Well-adjusted Tosa’s are loving and loyal to all members of the family, including children.

They have a gentle, stable temperament, but can also be excellent guard dogs.

While they are unlikely to attack, their loud bark is enough to frighten away any intruder that should come near.

  • The Tosa is often referred to as the “sumo wrestler” of the dog world
  • During World War 2, the Tosa neared extinction
  • The Tosa is often depicted in ceremonial regalia

📜History:

The Tosa originated sometime between 1868 and 1912 when the Kochi Japanese dog was crossed with Shikoku fighting dogs and other western breeds like the Great Dane, Bulldog, Mastiff, Bull Terrier, and St. Bernard.

They were commonly bred for the popular sport of dogfighting.

Though the breed is now listed as a National Treasure in Japan, there are still some rural regions that still use the Tosa in illegal dogfighting pits. They are a rare breed that has only recently been introduced to the United States.

They are banned in countries like Australia, Canada, and the UK.[3]

🐕Breed Overview

Breed type:foundation stock service
Purpose:fighting
Suitable for:experienced owner
Size/Height:Large/22-24"
Weight:100-200 lbs
Lifespan:10-12 years
Color:Black, Fawn, Brindle, Red
Grooming:Daily brushing
Daily exercise:regular walking
Activity levels:medium
Diet:High quality dog food
Known health issues:joint diseases, cancer
Price:(see FAQs)

🙋FAQs

1. How much does a Tosa Inu dog cost?

The average price is $1700.00 – $2000.00 USD

References:

1. [^] Konno, Akitsugu, et al. “Androgen Receptor Gene Polymorphisms Are Associated with Aggression in Japanese Akita Inu.” Biology Letters, The Royal Society, 23 Oct. 2011, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3169042/.

2. [^] Mizukami, Keijiro, et al. “Collie Eye Anomaly in Hokkaido Dogs: Case Study.” Veterinary Ophthalmology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2012, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22051190.

3. [^] Government Digital Service. (2014, November 19). Controlling your dog in public. Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/control-dog-public/banned-dogs.

Chalene Johnston About The Author: Chalene Johnston graduated with honors from University with a BA in psychology. She is a proud stay-at-home mom to her 2-year-old French Bulldog puppy, Stella! When she is not looking for adventure travel destinations, she loves to write! She writes for a wide variety of topics – with animals being one of her favorites.