Japan is known for many things; one of them being its unique dog breeds. Many of them have been around since ancient times and are considered treasures of the country. Intelligent, loyal and independent, these gorgeous dogs are extremely large, as well. They are native to Japan, although a lot of them are being bred in other areas, too. Many of them are even famous worldwide.
Here are the top five large Japanese dog breeds that you probably didn’t know about!
1. Hokkaido Inu
Also referred to as Hokkaido Ken, this dog has long, thick fur, large paws and relatively small ears. This is all to help them manage the harsh winters of Hokkaido – Japan’s northernmost island. This dog has been bred to be a hunting dog. It is, therefore, smart, strong and devoted, and has a great sense of smell and direction as well. You can trust the breed to always find their way home. You don’t have to worry about training them because they are super easy to train.
This breed is one of the oldest breeds of Japanese dogs and can be traced back to 1140 AD. Thanks to their intelligent nature, these dogs are great problem solvers. To add to that, they are also extremely loyal to their owners.
2. Shikoku Ken
This one-of-a-kind dog breed has a wolf-like appearance. It is considered the national treasure of Japan and is extremely rare to find, even in Japan itself. This breed comes from the region of Tosa in Japan. Shikoku Ken is huge and is also commonly known as the Japanese Mastiff. This dog breed was originally bred to be a fighting dog, but today they make excellent guard dogs. They also make great companions, especially if you love the outdoors. That being said, they are also aggressive and can be somewhat dangerous, too, which comes as no surprise since they were originally bred to be fighting dogs.
Today, you can find them bred all over the world. However, some countries have banned their breeding and some require them to have a permit to enter. Interestingly, in Japan, they are almost half the size than they are in other countries.
3. Kai Ken
Despite its national recognition, this dog breed is a rare one. It is one of the six dog breeds of Japan and is considered a national treasure and is greatly protected. This breed is loyal, brave and reserved. They also make excellent hunting dogs since they were originally bred to hunt deer, bears and boars. They are considered the purest of Japanese dog breeds since they were isolated in the mountains for so many years. This breed is also commonly referred to as the ‘Tora Inu’, which means the tiger dog because of their striped coats.
This breed has two variations. One resembles a fox and one is with a face resembling a bear. They, too, are super smart and have natural hunting instincts. Thanks to their courage and bravery, they make the best guard dogs. You may be surprised to know that they are also excellent with young children and get along with dogs of the same family. Even though they are super independent, they will be super friendly with other family members. In addition to that, they love to be around nature and in the outdoors, so you may not want to keep them cooped in.
4. Akita Inu
This dog breed originates from the northern part of Japan. They are also one of the most expensive dog breeds in the world. This is because they are one of the few Japanese dog breeds that have been able to make it to the West. They cost more than $2,500 USD/puppy. These dogs are a national symbol of Japan and hold the utmost importance. This dog breed has two variations, the original Japanese Akita Inu and the American Akita.
According to the Japanese, they are the best guard dogs and this could be the reason why they may be cautious towards strangers. These dogs are known for their immense loyalty. They have more of an alpha personality and don’t usually get along well with dogs of the same gender, especially males. They need to be trained and socialized at a young age.
5. Sakhalin Husky
The Sakhalin Husky is known to be the rarest Japanese dog breed in the world today. Originally they were bred by the natives for different kinds of work and winter transportation. They are fully devoted to their owners and extremely loyal, as well. What makes them even more special is the fact that they are affectionate and have a great work ethic. These dogs also have some great stamina and are relatively easy to train. They are excellent for transportation work. To add to that, they are also super intelligent and independent. You can count on them to play with children and other dogs.
In Japan, you will find several monuments and sculptures of these dogs. They are also commonly referred to as Karafuto Ken in Japan. These dogs are almost extinct. In fact, at the moment, there are only two of them left in the world as recorded in Japan in 2011. They were first discovered in Antarctica during the Japanese research expedition to Antarctica in 1958. Two of them, Taro and Jiro survived being in Antarctica for a year with no humans to take care of them, so you can only imagine how strong and independent they are.
Each of these 5 large Japanese dog breeds is unique and one of a kind. They are considered highly valuable in Japan and other parts of the world too. They are intriguing creatures that are loyal and devoted to their owners.
Discover how to create a joyful, healthy home for your pet.
Subscribe to your weekly rundown of practice, real life ideas and training tips straight to your inbox.