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11 Amazing Dog Breeds from Japan

If you’re a fan of dogs, then Japan is the country for you. The Land of the Rising Sun is home to some of the most unique and amazing dog breeds in the world. From the small and adorable Shiba Inu, to the regal Akita, there’s a Japanese dog breed out there that’s perfect for everyone. So if you’re looking for a new furry friend, be sure to check out some of these amazing Japanese dog breeds!


1) Akita Inu

The Akita Inu or Japanese Akita is a breed of large dog originating from the mountainous northern regions of Japan. Originally, they were small/medium size until the 1860’s when the Akita Matagis was crossbred with the Tosa and various Mastiffs. It is a spitz type, with a thick undercoat and distinctively “shaggy” facial fur patterning around the eyes, giving it an imposing but sweet expression. They are considered a national treasure in Japan.


2) Hokkaido Inu

hokkaido inu dog picture

The Hokkaido is an indigenous Japanese breed of large spitz type dog. It is believed they were brought from mainland Japan to Hokkaido in the 1140’s. They have been established as a natural monument by the government of Japan (1937), and there are efforts to have the species listed as critically endangered; only about 3000 purebred animals remain today. They are sometimes know as Ainu-ken. FCI recognized coat colors are Sesame, brindle, red, black, black and tan, white.


3) Kai Ken

kai ken dog picture

This is a breed of dog known as “Kai Dog” or simply “Kaine,” which was developed in the mountainous regions of northern Japan, primarily by natives who lived there and by visiting Ainu hunters from Hokkaido . There is also some evidence that samurai from Kyushu may have influenced its development as a hunting dog. Their coat colors are Black brindle, red brindle and brindle. According the the FCI, a solid colored puppy may turn brindle with age.


4) Kishu Inu

kishu inu dog picture

The Kishu is a breed of dog originating from the mountainous northern regions of western Japan. The Kishu is currently regarded as one of six native Japanese spitz breeds and was designated as a natural monument on March 29th, 1934 in recognition for their importance to the country’s cultural and historic heritage. Since 1934 only solid color coats were permitted in the breed. While mostly seen in white today, the FCI also recognizes solid red and sesame coat colors.


5) Shiba Inu

The Shiba Inu is the smallest of the six original and distinct spitz breeds of dog native to Japan. The Shiba’s frame is compact with well-developed muscles. Males are typically 15–17 inches (38–43 cm) tall at the withers and 25–36 lb (11–16 kg) in weight; females are usually 14–16 inches (35.5–41 cm) tall, weighing 23-32 lbs (10-14.5 kg). Accepted colors are Red, black and tan, sesame, black sesame, red sesame.


6) Shikoku Inu

shikoku inu dog picture

The Shikoku is a breed of dog originating from Japan . The Shikoku Inu is a medium-sized dog with a fox-like face and curled tail. They are a Japanese native breed of hunting dog used for boar and deer. There were originally three varieties of this breed: Awa, Hongawa and Hata-named for the region they were originated. Their accepted coat colors are Sesame, red, black and tan.


7) Tosa Inu

tosa inu dog picture

Tosa Inu or Japanese Mastiff is one of six native breeds on the island of Shikoku in Japan; the other five being the Kishu, Kai Ken, Shikoku, Hokkaido and Karafuto. The Tosa Inu are considered to be fighting dogs rather than hunting dogs. They were bred from Shikoku-ken mixed with Mastiff, Bulldog and Great Danes. It is also believed that St. Bernards and Bull Terriers were used in their development. Red, fawn, apricot, black, brindle are accepted coat colors with white markings on the chest and paws.


8) Japanese Spitz

japanese spitz dog picture

The Japanese Spitz is a breed of dog originating in Japan . It is slightly longer than tall with medium proportions. It has a distinctive “ruff” of fur around the neck. It is the smallest of six native Japanese dog breeds, and was used as an unofficial symbol of Japan for a period in the late 19th century.


9) Ryukyu Inu

ryukyu inu dog picture
Credit : Ryukyu Mike

The Ryukyu Inu is a dog breed originating in Okinawa, Japan. Their coat can be either single or double and can be brindle, red, white, liver or black. They usually weigh between 50-60 pounds and live between 10-12 years. They are a loyal, independent breed with above average intelligence who were once used to hunt wild boar. They are considered a very rare breed.


10) Japanese Chin

japanese chin dog picture

The Japanese Chin is a toy breed that grows up to 11 inches high and weighs 11 pounds. The are sometimes called the Japanese Spaniel. Ancestors of the Japanese Chin actually originated in China and were owned by nobility. They were pampered and a peasant who held or harmed on could be put to death and were used as companion dogs.


11) Japanese Terrier

japanese terrier dog picture
Credit : Pleple2000

The Japanese terrier is a small dog breed that can reach a height of 13 inches and weigh up to 10 pounds. These are energetic little dogs and are believed to be a cross between Dutch and English dogs brought by traders to Japan in the 1600’s and local Japanese dogs. The two breeds associated with the origin of the Japanese Terrier are Smooth Fox Terriers and/or German Pinschers. They were originally bred to hunt vermin.

Take a fun Spitz Breed Quiz!

Can You Identify the Spitz Type Breeds?

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