6 Japanese Dog Breeds That Anyone Would Love

6 Japanese Dog Breeds That Anyone Would Love

If you’ve lately been looking into Japanese dog breeds and wish to bring an adorable pooch home, this guide on the most popular Japanese dog breeds will surely help you with your decision.

SHARE: icon-facebook icon-pinterest icon-twitter

Japanese dog breeds are simply adorable, to say the least, but aren’t all dog breeds lovable like that?

However, with six dogs designated as national natural monuments, Japan surely does receive extra attention in this matter.

There are six specific Japanese dog breeds that are included in the ‘national dog’ category, which includes Akita Inu, Shiba Inu, Kai Ken, Shikoku Ken, Hokkaido Ken and Kishu Ken. These noble breeds are referred to as “Nihon-ken,” which literally means Japanese dogs.

While there are so many wonderful aspects to love and admire about the Japanese culture, the Nihon Ken tops the list for a lot of people. There are several other dog breeds as well that aren’t included in the Nihon Ken but are definitely Japanese such as the Japanese Terrier, Japanese Chin, Tosa Ken and the Japanese Spitz.

Japanese dog breeds, in general, come with great origins, colorful histories, and some of the most incredible personality traits and characteristics.

If you’ve lately been looking into Japanese dog breeds and wish to bring an adorable pooch home, this guide on the most popular Japanese dog breeds will surely help you with your decision.

1. Shiba Inu

Shiba Inu Dog Breed
Young Shiba Inu in front of white background

Small in size but packed with such a huge personality, the Shiba Inu breed is a true Japanese national treasure.

Shiba Inu has a long history with humans, and its existence goes as far back as the Jomon period, which was sometime around 14500 BCE. It’s a small to medium breed that weighs a maximum of 23 pounds and reaches a height of 17 inches at best.

The Shiba Inu breed resembles a fox given its prick ears, almond-colored eyes and a unique white-orange coat, but with a super cute, affectionate and loving personality. This breed has generated a lot of attention in recent years, not only because of its looks, but also how it’s such an amazing companion dog.

2. Akita Inu

Akita Inu Dog Breed
Akita Inu dog portrait.

This Japanese breed is known to be the largest Spitz breed in Japan and is much bulkier and larger in size as compared to the Shiba Inu breed.

Akita Inu is also super popular, and one of the main reasons behind its great reputation is due to the story of Hachiko, a faithful Akita Inu dog. This dog used to for its owner at the train station every single day, and both of them would go back home together. However, one day a great tragedy struck the owner, and he passed away and never made it back to the train station from work. His ever-faithful dog kept waiting for him at the station every evening for about ten years until the dog passed away as well one day.

Ever since its death, the Akita Inu breed has become a symbol of loyalty in the Japanese culture, given the dog’s strong loyalty and love for its owner.

This breed has quite a strong frame with a dense coat, and they can even grow well over a hundred pounds in weight and 2 feet in height.

The Akita Inu breed has quite a dominant personality and is believed to be extremely good with children.

3. Kai Ken

Kai Ken Dog Breed
Kai Ken dog breed

This breed is often referred to as ‘Tora,’ which means tiger in the Japanese language. The reason behind that name is its beautiful brindle coat comprising of golden stripes that create a stark contrast against its dark fur. 

Kai Ken is quite a rare Japanese breed and was first discovered some 90 years ago. It is known for its sharp features, brindle markings, and wild looks. These dogs are considered to be independent thinkers but are also known for creating loyal, close and highly devoted bonds with their owners.

This breed was primarily bred for hunting purposes, so it’s important for pet owners to know that they require strict and proper discipline training if you do decide to bring a Kai Ken dog home.

4. Shikoku Ken

unique brown Shikoku Ken dog breed

As the name of this breed implies, it originated in Shikoku, which is one of the four major islands in Japan. It’s an absolutely stunning Japanese spitz breed and is also hailed as Japan’s national treasure, just like the Shiba Inu breed.

The Shikoku Ken is known for its thick and beautiful coat that often comes in three different shades, including white, black sesame and red sesame. It also has wolf-like features owing to its prick ears and a distinctive triangular face.

These dogs are highly competitive by nature and are also extremely intelligent, which means one needs to be experienced and have a steady hand to be able to keep this breed as a pet.

5. Hokkaido Inu

white Hokkaido dog sitting on grass

Happy, fun-loving and active, the Hokkaido Inu breed makes an excellent family and companion dog and absolutely loves outdoor activities such as camping, hiking and jogging.

This breed has a long history and is believed to be one of the oldest members of the Nihon Ken. It has a thick coat, large paws and small ears that help them survive through the harshest of colds.

The Hokkaido Inu breed was initially bred as hunting dogs which has given rise to quite aggressive behavioral tendencies in them; however, they are known for developing strong, loving bonds with their owners and families.

6. Kishu Ken

Kishu Ken Dog Breed
A Kishu Ken Dog Breed on frozen ice

This dog breed has been around for some thousand years and originates from the area between Wakayama, Mie, and Nara, which is basically a mountainous region in Western Japan. In terms of personality and temperament, the Kishu Ken breed is super brave, intelligent, and independent. 

This breed has a strong natural instinct for hunting and absolutely loves being outdoors. However, it does have a tendency to try to dominate over other pets, so pet owners need to keep a steady hand.

7. Key Takeaway

These are some of the most popular and globally-loved Japanese dog breeds that are so different from each other in terms of their history, personality and characteristics. But, if there’s one thing in common among them, it’s that they are all super cute, adorable, fun and devoted companions.