Top 13 Dog Breeds from Japan (with Pictures & Facts)

The roots of today’s Dog Breeds from Japan can be traced back to thousands of years ago. Through millennia of crossbreeding, breeding and fine-tuning, it’s generally accepted that there are only six breeds that are native of Japan: Shiba Inu, Hokkaido Inu Kai Ken, Shikoku Ken, Kishu Ken and Akita Inu. (Haruo Isogai was the famous Japanese Cynologist, discovered those breeds during his study of 1930 on the development of Japanese dogs.) Different breeds have developed in the past, and are often crossed with one of the six breeds native to Japan. Recent studies have revealed intriguing similarities between Japanese breeds that bind them together and differentiate them from Western breeds. For example Many Japanese breeds of dogs sport curly hair, pointed ears, and short snouts, with soft double coats. Japanese dogs are also known to be a bit protective and serious. They’ll certainly lavish their beloved family members with affection and love but they’re also cautious of strangers and are territorial with other dogs. These are broad generalizations that aren’t true, but a rigorous training regimen and extensive socialization early on are crucial if you’re planning to make the Japanese “inu” or “ken” (the two Japanese words that mean “dog” in Japanese) part of your family.

List of 13 Dog Breeds from Japan

Akita Inu

Dog Breeds from Japan
Dog Breeds from Japan

Similar to the Akita Inu is also the biggest and most bulkiest of Nihon Kens. It’s also a long-standing breed, revered and admired in Japan as an emblem of longevity and happiness among young parents.

Breeders created Akitas in the 17th century to be big hunting dogs They are now more of a household pets now. They are loyal, brave loving, brave, and affectionate however they can also be aloof and territorial at times.

Akitas may also appear to be temperamental, but it can also be affectionate and loyal to your family members if you exercise and interact with it.

As a member belonging to the Spitz family, Akitas has dense double coats and long fur that combat cold weather. It is easy to identify these dogs with their bear-like appearance- almond eyes sharp ears, a broad head, and massive bone bodies.

Lifespan: 10-13 Years

Temperament: Quiet, loyal, faithful, stubborn, willful, sweet, confident,

Color White, black Chocolate

Height: 24 to 28 inches

Weight: 70-130 pounds


Hokkaido Inu

Dog Breeds from Japan
Dog Breeds from Japan

Also called Hokkaido Ken Dog Breeds from Japan, this purebred has the longest bloodline when compared against the other Spitz breeds. Hokkaido Inu is smart strong, sturdy, and loyal to their owners. This makes them excellent pet for families.

It’s a muscular breed that has a thick outer coat and large feet, and remarkable stamina and endurance. Their coats and ears are small. make them able to handle colder temperatures more effectively.

Breeders designed these dogs to hunt and they are able to fight bears and wild boars thanks to their sturdy bones and strong-willed nature. They can also be a good companion for the other dogs and people when you exercise and interact with them.

Hokkaido breeds are affectionate and will reward you with cuddling, kissing and a desire to play.

Lifespan: 12-15 Years
Temperament The word “docile” means bold attentive, loyal and dignified.
Color: Black, white, red, black and sesame, brindle, tanColor: Black, red, white, brindle, sesame
Height 18-20 inches
Weight: 44-66 pounds

Japanese Chin

Dog Breeds from Japan
Dog Breeds from Japan

Also called also known as Japanese Spaniel, this dog is a perfect oriental dog with a broad, large head, a smashing face and floppy ears with a V-shape with spaced-out eyes and a fully-plumed tail. Although these dogs are known as Japanese Chins, they likely came out of Korea as well as in the Chinese imperial court about 500 years ago.

The Japanese elite regarded them as highly and often offered gifts to emissaries. they must have made their way to Japan when they presented them to the Japanese Emperor. While highly regarded in Japan but these hounds remained in the shadows until 1853 when the Commodore Mathew Perry went to Japan and established international trade.

This dog is an indoor dog and won’t mind being all day long. It’s stylish, well-mannered playful, and sociable toward other dogs and children. With a weight of less than 10 pounds the hound is toy-sized and is a cat with characteristics, such as the ability to jump , and the ability to clean its fur with silky fur!

Lifespan: 10-14 Years
Temperament: Happy, affectionate, intelligent, sensitive, devoted, social
Color: Black and White, Red & White black, white and Tan, sable, white and
Height: 8 to 11 inches
Weight: 7-11 pounds

Japanese Spitz

Dog Breeds from Japan
Dog Breeds from Japan

If you’re in search of a cuddly, tiny family pet with a heart of a watchdog look into the Japanese Spitz. They have snouts that are wedge-shaped with sharp ears and their coats are soft. This breed is often mistaken as American Eskimo Dogs, white Pomeranians or Samoyeds.

Japanese Spitz are also a great mix of characteristics, from intelligence, training ability, low maintenance to being friendly with people. While they are not recognized by the American Kennel Club has not yet recognized this breed but it is recognized by the United Kennel Club recognizes it as component of the Nothern Breed.

Lifespan: 10-16 Years
Temperament: Obedient, affectionate, proud, active, companionable
Color Pure white
Height 12-15 inches
Weight: 10-25 pounds

Japanese Terrier

Dog Breeds from Japan
Dog Breeds from Japan

It is believed that the Japanese Terrier is a rare Dog Breeds from Japan, also known by the names of Mikado, Nihon, Oyuki as well as Nippon Teria. These are mini breeds thin, with a dense coat of hair that is stiff.

They are not bite-prone dangers, are lovable and bond only with one family member. It is believed that the Japan Kennel Club recognized the breed in the 1930s, and was beginning to gain popularity and spreading across Japan during the 1940s, when World War 11 and other increasing species threatened to make them extinct.

They remain ardent boar hunter, and are also great pet dogs for families today.

Lifespan: 12-15 Years
Temperament: Lively, swift, affectionate, vigilant
Color: Black and white tri-color
Height 8-13 inches
Weight: 5-9 pounds

Tosa Inu

Dog Breeds from Japan
Dog Breeds from Japan

Tosa Inu also known as the Japanese Mastiff isn’t of the Spitz kind, but is a rare Japanese mastiff-type. It’s a fighting and hunting dog that is the largest of all Japanese breeds of dogs.

The Japanese Mastiff is a dog breed that has its roots in the Tosa region , where dog fighting was, and still is, legal. Tosas are attentive and eager to please. They can be a good friend to relatives, but they might prefer to stay away from them.

They are short and smooth fur, which is red, brindle or Fawn. Tosa’s size is intimidating and has caused certain countries ban the species.

Lifespan: 10-12 Years
Temperament: Relaxed, calm and aggressive with strangers. great prey drive, incredibly committed, smart
Color The color is red, brindle, black, fawn, apricot
Height 22-26 inches
Weight: 84-132lbs

Kai Ken

Dog Breeds from Japan
Dog Breeds from Japan

Kai Ken is the most recognized of the six native breeds due to its tiger-like appearance. The Japanese also refer to it as “Tora,” which means”tiger” in Japanese.

It is covered in an emerald coat with golden stripes that are layered over dark fur. Primarily breed to hunt wild animals This coloration allowed them to hide during the hunting process. This intelligent, independent quickly-learning and fast-learning species is difficult to find not even within Japan.

Though it is true that the Kai Ken is muscular, athletic and has a drive to hunt and is a very energetic breed, it also has the agility of a cat and also numbness. It is able to traverse the toughest terrain to get the hunt!

Make sure you walk with it and workouts it’s high energy levels can result in negative behavior, especially when it is lonely.

Lifespan 14-16 years
Temperament: Reserved, loyal, intelligent, brave, affectionate, alert, agile, stubborn
Color The black brindle (Kuro Tora), red brindle (Aka-Tora) (Chu-Tora), brindle (Chu-Tora)
Height 17-22 inches
Weight: 22-45 pounds

Kishu Inu

Dog Breeds from Japan
Dog Breeds from Japan

Originating from originally from the Kishu region of Japan, Kishu Ken is a rare breed of hunter, despite being in existence for hundreds of years. There are Japanese legends suggest that the hunter hounds came from the wolf.

They are massive animals that could aid hunters in tracking and hunt boars and deer however, hunters prefer white Kishu dogs to increase their visibility.

Kishu Ken dog breeds are lively, and love to be active and are brave, independent, clever, and they can be aggressive and irritating escape artists.

Lifespan: 9-13 Years
Temperament: Intelligent, impulsive, active, brave, noble, docile, energetic
Color: Red, white brindle
Height: 17-22 inches
Weight: 30-60 pounds

Ryukyu Inu

Dog Breeds from Japan
Dog Breeds from Japan

Ryukyu Inu is now a rare breed, but this breed used to be popular with boar hunter, who would use it to track and for baying reasons. It’s a brave, but gentle medium-sized hound that hails that comes from the Japanese Okinawa region. Even though it’s one of the “national treasure” of Okinawa island, its past is unclear.

The dog wears a short coat, and could resemble the Kai Ken when it has stripes that resemble tiger. The dogs are equipped with dewclaws with an additional claw in the paw’s back that allows the dog to scale trees and play track games on rough terrains.

Lifespan: 10-12 Years
Temperament: Quiet, trainable, brave, intelligent, confident, strong-willed
Color: White, red brindle, liver, black or tiger-like stripped
Height 18-20 inches
Weight: 33-56 pounds

Sakhalin Husky

Dog Breeds from Japan
Dog Breeds from Japan

There are many Japanese dog breeds but the Sakhalin Husky is possibly the most well-known and inspiring story. In 2011there existed just two Sakhalin Huskies that were purebred in the world, which makes them among the most rare breeds in Japanese dogs.

They are almost extinct, yet they have an undisputed place in the heart of dog lovers across the globe. The breed is honored with exhibits and statues throughout the globe.

They were bred originally as tough sled dogs and were employed for the Antartica expeditions in the 1950’s. Although they are the Sakhalins are not recognized as a breed by any major Kennel association Sakhalins are a breed that is unique to the world. Sakhalins are unique breeds with distinct temperament, personality and past. Find out more about them here.

The height range is 22 to 26 inches
Weight: 66 – 88 pounds
The Life Expectancy is 12 to 14 years
Dog Breed Group: n/a

Sanshu Inu

Dog Breeds from Japan
Dog Breeds from Japan

The Sanshu is a very well-known breed in Japan due to its affection, kindness as well as its biddable nature, intelligence and gentleness. The Sanshu dogs are extremely attached with their families and are loving and affectionate, and playfully with children. Sanshu is a dog that loves children. Sanshu is one of the breeds who is a pleasure to its owners. Owners appreciate their dog’s tender and sweet heart. These characteristics, when combined with a territorial and secure nature make the Sanshu an excellent watchdog for families. Although they are popular in Japan however, the Sanshu isn’t recognised by any breed association such as that of Japan Kennel Club as well as since there isn’t a standards for breeds, the coats could differ in color and could be white, red or tan or fawn, piebald black and tan, or pepper and salt. However, the dogs have been breeding faithfully for more than 100 years: They all have a wedge-shaped head, with a tapering muzzle almond-shaped eyes and triangular eyes. It’s only an issue of time before efforts are made to get this beloved breed recognised.

Shiba Inu

Dog Breeds from Japan
Dog Breeds from Japan

Shiba Inu is the smallest of the Nihon Ken breeds and arguably the most well-known. It means “brushwood” in Japanese, Shiba Inu breeds get their name from the landscapes on which they hunted wild animals and birds.

Apart from being the most well-known of the Spitz breeds. This is also the oldest Japanese breed with a history of to more than 3,000 years ago, having survived through the 2 Great World Wars and near-extinction!

Its name is Shina. Shina Inu is adorable, with adorable features such as curled tails, prick ears deep almond eyes, wedge-shaped snout, athletic build and the long , orange coat and white. It’s also stubborn, however you can control this behavior by early training.

Despite its strong and wild appearance, Shiba Inu is confident with a cat-like agility. sensitive, loving, trustworthy, and is an irresistible breed that could be a blast to have at home.

Lifespan: 12-15 Years
Temperament: Fearless, alert, confident, loyal, stubborn, trainable
Color: Black & Tan, red sesame, black sesame, sesame, cream, red, black sesame
Height 13-17 inches
Weight: 16-22 pounds


Dog Breeds from Japan
Dog Breeds from Japan

Also also known as The Kochi-Ken, Shikoku is a similar to a wolf Japanese dog breed which originally aid in hunting. They were used by hunters to locate wild animals particularly boars. They aren’t often found in breeds in the present, but they remain an important national treasure in Japan.

Shikoku dogs are intelligent and alert. They are also more manageable as compared to Akita as well as Shiba breeds. However, they can also be gentle with their owners.

Lifespan: 10-12 Years
Temperament: Brave, energetic, agile, loyal, intelligent, docile
Color: Sesame, black sesame, red sesame
Height: 7 to 21 inches
Weight: 35-50 pounds

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