8 Japanese Dog Breeds (With Pictures)


Japan is famous for it’s dog breed called the Shiba Inu, which makes it on my top three favorite dog breeds. The Akita is also another dog breed in Japan, but did you know that there are more? In this article, we’ll be covering those 8 today.

If you studied Japanese dog breeds at all, majority of the dog breeds look very similar. There’s about 13 all together, and only a handful don’t look like the famous Shiba Inu. Some of them include the Japanese Chin, Tosa Inu, Japanese Terrier, and Sakhalin Husky. Yes, there was a husky breed in Japan, but unfortunately this breed is very rare, so it won’t be easy to find one if you’re interested in getting one! You won’t see the Shiba Inu or Akita Inu in this list. Why? Because both the Shiba and the Akita Inu are just too popular and you most likely already know about them both.

Japanese dog breeds

These are 10 Japanese dog breeds. Although some of these dog breeds look similar, there are some that also differ. Two even look totally different from the rest.

Shikoku Inu

Japanese dog breeds
By chrisguyhere – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5123911

The Shikoku Inu is an active, friendly dog breed that is about 18-21 tall. They come in sesame, black tan, and red colors. The stomach like most Japanese breeds is tan. They have a thick coat and usually shed about once or twice a year.

Shikokus are one of the 6 oldest dog breeds. They originate from Kochi on the island of Shikoku. This is why sometimes they are also called the Kochi-Ken. Just like majority of Japan’s dog breeds, they are pretty active and need regular exercise.

Hokkaido Inu

Japanese dog breeds
By Magdalena Niemiec – http://www.osa-art.pl/, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14902285

Just like most Japanese dog breeds, the Hokkaido is a spitz dog (a type of dog that has a curly, fluffy tail and pointy ears) and is a medium dog at about 18-20 inches tall. The Hokkaido Inu is from the island of Hokkaido, Japan and was bred for hunting. They would corner game and wait for the hunter to kill the animal.

These Japanese dog breeds have a special fighting technique against Hokkaido brown bears. They would attack and hold on the dorsal flesh of their neck until it retreats. Diseases that Hokkaido Inus get are usually few, but some diseases they can get are hypodontia, elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia, cryptorchidism, and collie eye anomaly.

Tosa Inu

Japanese dog breeds
By BUKADAI..JPG: Ludivine HOUDASderivative work: Caronna (talk) – BUKADAI..JPG, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17168502

Even though these dogs don’t look like other Japanese dog breeds, they are one. This is because the breed was bred with western breeds like Mastiffs, bulldogs and great danes along with the Shikoku inu. The Tosa Inu (aka Tosa or Tosa Ken as well as other names) can weight up to 200 pounds. The Tosa Inu can be aggressive to other dogs as well as people if not socialized enough. As they can be fierce, they are not recommend to live with children.

The Tosa Inu should be fed foods filled with calories and calcium because of their large build. They don’t need to be bathed and groomed that often as they only have a short coat. They originate from the Tosa prefecture (or Shikoku today). If you’d like to learn more about the Tosa Inu, feel free to check out this article.

Japanese Spitz

Japanese dog breeds

These little dogs can adapt to many environments including apartments, ranches and farms. These dogs weigh only about 10-25 pounds and can live 10-16 years long.

Japanese Spitz were bred in the 1920s and ’30s and were exhibited at a dog show in Tokyo in 1921. These little dogs shed about twice a year. Japanese Spitz are usually healthy, but large one concern would be Patella Luxation (a condition where the kneecap dislocates at strange angle). Testing for this condition is recommended.

Kai Ken

Japanese dog breeds
By Kei87c1 – 甲斐犬 龍馬 @kaiken_ryouma on Twitter(Wikipediaへの掲載許可を頂いております。), CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=68108530

The loyal Kai Ken (aka Tora Inu and Tiger Dog) is a energetic dog and was bred to hunt big game such as deer and wild boar. The Kai Ken is a good dog for families if socialized when a puppy.

Kai Kens stand about 15-19 inches and weight about 20-40 pounds. They are good dogs, but they may be destructive if bored. Some diseases and conditions could be allergies, luxating patella, and seizures.

Sakhalin Husky

These dogs are definitely rare. As of 2011, only 2 purebreds were known in the world! Although they are extremely rare, we do know some things about them. Their height was 22-26 inches tall, they weigh about 60-80 pounds and they live a normal lifespan of 12-15 years.

These dogs originate from the Island of Sakhalin. This island is the farthest island north that Japan owns. Well, partially owns. Russia owns the northern part. There is one story that made these dogs famous. In the 20th century these dogs were used in Antarctica during expeditions. In 1958, a Japanese research expedition had taken place. They were told to evacuate because of the weather conditions.

The team had no choice but to leave the huskies there. The team thought that a relief team would come in a few days. Unfortunately, the conditions worsened, and there was no relief team. Finally a whole year later, another expedition had taken place. They then found out that the two of the fifteen dogs had survived. The dogs names were Jiro and Taro. They soon became famous after word had spread.

Ryukyu Inu

Japanese dog breeds
By Ryukyu Mike – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25295884

The Ryukyu Inu, although not as rare as the Sakhalin Husky, is still pretty rare. They originate from the Okinawa prefecture where the Ryukyu islands are located and were used to track boar.

These dogs weigh about 30-60 pounds and live an fairly average lifespan of 10-14 years. The Ryukyu has a strong jawbone and has sharp front teeth. They stand about 20 inches tall. These dogs are loyal and pretty intelligent, hence they are also easier to train.

Japanese Terrier

The Japanese Terrier is quite a small dog. They only get 11-13 inches tall and weigh only 5-10 pounds. They are intelligent and fairly easy to train, just make sure you train the dog when it is a puppy, as it can be independent.

These dogs live about 12-15 years. The primitive english smooth terrier and japanese dog breeds were cross-bred to make this little dog. They were called at first the Kobe Terrier (Kobe in Japanese means black).

What dog are you planning to get? Comment it below!

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