List Of Japanese Dog Breeds With Descriptions And Photos

japanese dog breeds

Due to the remoteness of the country’s territories, Japanese dog breeds have long developed without interbreeding with other breeds. These breeds are considered purebred Japanese.

After World War II, when other breeds gained access to Japanese territory, dogs were obtained by crossing local animals with imported animals. But the Japanese in the register of their cynological organization Nippo brought only purebred Japanese breeds. There are six breeds of this type: Akita, Kai, Kishu, Shiba, Shikoku, Hokkaido.

According to the classification of the International Cynological Federation FCI, these breeds of Japanese dogs belong to group 5 “Spitz and breeds of the primitive type”, section 5 “Asian Spitz and related breeds”.

Japanese spitz

Japanese spitz
  • FCI classification – group 5, section 5, standard n° 262.
  • Height: 28-36 cm at the withers

The dogs, bred in Germany, were exported all over Europe, ended up in China, and from there to Japan – at least that’s what the official version looks like. Having a small “raw material base”, Japanese breeders began to import Spitz from the United States and Canada. After breeding the Eskimo Spitz (USA), he was also included in breeding work. To sum up, we can say that the Japanese Spitz is a mixture of all known dogs of this type in the period 1900-1920.

The breed quickly gained popularity and that is understandable – a nice medium dog with well-developed security skills, a rather rare phenomenon in Japan. Commercial breeding increased the stock but took away the guarding skills and soon the dogs were considered “couch dogs”. The reverse process began with the active urbanization of Japan, Spitz turned out to be too large for decorative dogs, and from the point of view of labor functions they were no longer considered.

The cyclically developing history again “raised” the Japanese Spitz at the end of the 20th century. However, rapid breeding was only revived in Japan. This is explained by the existence of similar-looking American and German Spitz, which occupied the niche of decorative cuties in “their” countries.

Japanese Chin

Japanese Chin
  • FCI classification – group 9, section 8, standard n° 206
  • Height: 25 cm at the withers

The Japanese Chin is one of the most popular representatives of Japan. The breed is in the same section as the Pekingese. Like the Pekingese, the Japanese Chin, even in ancient times, was surrounded by royal attention. The selection of breeds was carried out intentionally, but it cannot be said that the exterior of the quadruped has changed much. Perhaps the name of the breed comes from the word “khy” – a jewel.

Royal hound puppies were expensive and not so easy to get. The tailed one could be received as a gift, for great services rendered to the sovereign. Even in ancient times, chins were considered decorating couch dogs, although they were assigned divine “functions”. Over time, the breed became a national treasure, and the export of dogs to Europe only began in the 19th century. In Japan, there are still kennels “under authority” today, although their puppies are not for sale.

Purebred Japanese chins are rare today. If you decide to buy a puppy and don’t want to be cheated, contact only officially registered nurseries.

Japanese Terrier (Nihon Terrier, Mikado Terrier, Oyuki Terrier)

Japanese Terrier
  • FCI Classification – Group 3, Section 2, Standard n° 259
  • Height: 30–33 cm at the withers

One of the rarest miniature dog breeds are the Japanese Terriers or Nippon Terriers. These dogs are rare even in their home country of Japan.

History of the breed

There are no exact data, most likely, this breed originated in the 17th century as a result of crossing local breeds with smooth terriers that arrived here on Dutch ships, possibly fox terriers. Initially, these dogs were used to hunt rats and other rodents, but their character and dedication made them companion dogs.

Breeders began the real selection of the breed only in the early 20s of the 20th centuries, and ten years later the breed was officially recognized in the Japanese Kennel Club.

Internationally, the breed was not officially recognized until the end of the 20th century, however, despite this, these dogs remain a rarity.


Japanese terriers are very playful and lively dogs. Such a dog will be a wonderful companion for people of any age. Nippon Terriers get used to their family quickly and love everyone equally.

They strive to be the center of attention all the time and grab the owner’s attention with any effort. If the dog senses that he is not interested, he may start messing things up in the house, and he will only do this to get the owner’s attention.

Despite their small size, these dogs always strive to protect and protect their family, if they sense a potential threat, they will immediately start barking loudly, therefore, despite their small size, they can become a watchdog.

Shikoku (Shikoku, Kochi-ken, Mikawa Inu)

  • FCI Classification – Group 5, Section 5, Standard n° 261
  • Height: 43–55cm

Original Japanese breed. This breed is listed in the Japanese Registry of Cynological Organizations as a breed in need of protection. These dogs are very popular with us, but little known abroad.

The Shikoku breed is recommended for people with strong leadership qualities and an active lifestyle.

History of the breed

The homeland of this Japanese breed is the island of Shikoku, from which the breed got its name. In the past, these dogs were very popular with Japanese hunters, since it was on the island of Shikoku that the main occupation of the population was hunting, in particular wild boar.

Despite the enormous popularity in the homeland at the beginning of the 20th century, the breed was almost completely lost, due to the enthusiasm of breeders for European breeds, especially sheepdogs. And only in the 1930s, one of the famous Japanese cynologists brought attention to this ancient breed, he did an excellent job of restoring the Shikoku.


With his appearance, Shikoku resembles a wolf, in addition, he has the speed and smoothness of movement of this predator. The Shikoku has a rather long, wedge-shaped muzzle with a broad forehead. The nose is black. The eyes are small, triangular in shape and dark brown in color. The ears are medium in size, pointed at the tips, tilted slightly forward, upright.

The dog has a powerful muscular neck, a straight back with a wide loin. Forelimbs and hindlimbs straight, muscular, very strong. The toes are tightly compressed with elastic pads and strong claws. The tail is set high and curves in a crescent.

Shikoku are short-haired dogs with a coarse, straight coat, the undercoat is soft. Tail hair is longer than body hair. The color can be red, brindle or sesame.


Shikoku are dogs with a very independent character. The dogs are very playful and frisky; however, the independence of character suggests some difficulty when training the dog. They can behave arrogantly and even arrogantly towards other pets, however, with the right training, they can get along well with any animal.

These dogs are very hardy, it seems that their energy does not dry up. The family chooses an owner.

Hokkaido (Ainu, Ainu-ken, Seta, Shita)

Hokkaido Ainu
  • FCI Classification – Group 5, Section 5, Standard n° 261
  • Height: 45-52 cm at the withers

According to historical data, the age of the breed is more than 3 tons. Arrived in Japan with the nomadic tribes of the Ainu, the dogs accompanied their owners in all the vicissitudes. The tribes used quadrupeds to herd and hunt big game. His core skills have survived to this day.

The Hokkaido (Ainu) dog will be a loyal and affectionate friend. But in the absence of education, it can spiral out of control.

Hokkaido has a rather pretty appearance and tough disposition. The dog selflessly defends its territory, does not tolerate strangers, does not get along well with other animals. The breed is not recommended for keeping in an apartment and a large family.

Hokkaido retained hunting skills, likely to escape if they smell game. By the way, fences for a dog are not an obstacle, Hokkaido is very strong and nervous.

Tosa Inu (Japanese fighting dog, Tosa, sumo dog)

Tosa Inu
  • FCI Classification – Group 2, Section 2, Standard n° 260
  • Height: 55-60 cm at the withers

Japan, like England, became famous for dog fighting. With the beginning of the export of dogs from Japan and to its territory, the owners of fighting dogs were disappointed to find that the Japanese fighting dogs were smaller and weaker than the English.

The wounded honor of the Japanese was restored after the release of the fearless Tosa Inu. By mating European Molossians and Japanese dogs, we got an invincible giant, ready to fight to the death. Today Tosa Inu is owned by Japan, it is almost impossible to get a purebred puppy out of the country. In the homeland of these giants, dog fights are still held under the legal banner, and Tosa Inu’s participation in them is an unwavering tradition.

Tosa Inu silently enters the fight, attacks mercilessly, then crushes the opponent with weight. Japan has not canceled dogfights, but has moved to a “more humane level” of these events – severe lacerations and the death of participants are an unacceptable violation of the rules. If one of the fighters intentionally bit the opponent, he will be disqualified.

Samurai dogs need serious, gradual and gentle training. In this case, the owner must establish a leading position in the pack without humiliating the animal. Tosa Inu cannot be called extremely active, but the dog needs daily exercise. Since the breed is large, standardized training and quality nutrition during the first year of life play a very important role in the development of the puppy.

Shiba Inu (Shiba)

Shiba Inu
  • FCI Classification – Group 5, Section 5, Standard n° 257
  • Height: 36–40 cm at the withers

Looking at the photo, you can confuse Akita Inu and Shiba Inu. The rocks are really very similar, only Sibu is almost twice as small. Quadrupeds were bred as versatile and tireless hunters. Since a large number of native dogs took part in the breeding work, it is quite difficult to talk about the origin of the Shiba Inu. It is known that the breed gained wide popularity long before official recognition.

Despite the smiling face, the breed requires hard, persistent and step-by-step education. Quadrupeds are not suitable for owners who lead a measured life or who have no experience in keeping dogs.


  • FCI classification – not recognized
  • Height: 41-46 cm at the withers

A young breed obtained by crossing Japanese dogs with Chow Chows. The goal of the breeders was to instill certain qualities – developed protection and communication skills. Today, the breed is successfully developing and is considered a companion. Unlike most of his brothers, Sanshu gets along well in an apartment and in a large family.

The cult of the owner was deliberately instilled in the breed, since the dog must not only protect the dwelling, but also honor “his pack”. Quadrupeds get along well with children, with proper education, and with other pets. Sanshu has no hunting skills, which makes it easier to train a pet.

Kishu (Kisu, Kishu)

  • FCI Classification – Group 5, Section 5, Standard n° 318
  • Height: 43-55 cm at the withers

In cynology, it is customary to link the names of dog breeds to their main working skills or place of origin. Kishu, was born and formed without human intervention in the mountainous terrain of Kishu Island. In 1934, the native dog population was assigned a breed standard, according to which many animals were slaughtered for their color. Representatives of the breed should have only solid colors, although the primary population is quite varied.

The main purpose of the dog is a companion, hunter and guardian. Kishu was used to lead boars and deer, which influenced the character of modern dogs. The breed does not tolerate four-legged strangers and is extremely wary of strangers. Kishu quickly goes into a hunting rage and is prone to escape in this state. With proper training and standardized loads, a four-legged dog can be considered a family dog.

Kishu can be kept both in a city apartment and in a private house, but on condition that you provide him with long active walks.

Kai (Kai-ken, Tora-inu, Tiger Dog)

Kai ken
  • FCI Classification – Group 5, Section 5, Standard n° 317
  • Height: 45-56 cm at the withers

Aboriginal hunting dog, long considered a mongrel. Formed without human intervention, Kai has maintained good health and a specific disposition. However, the “first owners”, the independence of the dog more than adequate. Quadrupeds helped hunt medium and large game, guarded property, protected their owners, and otherwise remained wild. Modern representatives of the breed have retained the communication skills of the herd, that is, one of the family members becomes the leader, and the others are considered equal. Kai, Kishu, Shikoku, Hokkaido are unmixed Japanese Spitz native to the islands.

American Akita (large Japanese dog)

American Akita
  • FCI Classification – Group 2, Section 4, Standard n° 344
  • Height: 60-70 cm at the withers

Breed obtained after the export of Akita Inu to the USA. The growing popularity of calm and loyal dogs prompted American breeders to develop a similar breed. The differences between dogs are obvious – size, physique, character. The reasons for these changes are quite simple – Akita was “tailored” to American tastes, rushing the blood of other breeds.

At the request of Japan, Akita Inu and American Akita were separated as separate breeds in 1988.

Like the “big brother”, the American Akita is very jealous and does not tolerate strangers, whether humans or animals. It is not recommended to start a dog if you do not have enough time to raise it or if you already have other animals. Otherwise, Akitas are valued positively, because dogs bow to the owner, seeing in him the meaning of their life. In terms of content, there is only one strict requirement – space and active walking. The physical potential of these dogs is almost inexhaustible, it is difficult to tire them and even more to exhaust them. Care is no problem, with proper and high-quality nutrition.

Akita Inu (Akita, Japanese Akita)

Akita Inu
  • FCI Classification – Group 5, Section 5, Standard n° 255
  • Height: 58-70 cm at the withers

The breed bred on the island has developed for a long time. Dogs were used for purely domestic purposes – protection, hunting large animals and birds. There is evidence that Akita also participated in dogfighting.

The breed is not recommended for beginners in dog breeding. Suitable for people who have experience in keeping large dogs, have a strong character and lead an active lifestyle.

Akita is a fairly specific breed that is not suitable for beginners. The dog will always respond to the aggressor or the one who has shown aggression, will always defend the owner, will always defend his own honor. At the same time, the tails are not arrogant and are not the first to fight. The breed is unpretentious in care, but caring for it requires experience. Firstly, the dog needs a strictly balanced diet, secondly – fillers, and thirdly – active socialization and thorough training.


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