Japanese Dog Breed

Dogs are adorable living beings that can melt the heart of iron too! No one can deny that. Well, I would like to tell you that every country has its own dog breed. Here I am talking about Japanese dog breeds. They are not just adorable but are power-pack with strength, uniqueness, and intelligence. When someone says – Japanese dogs, there are mostly two breeds that come to mind, first is Akita Inu and Shiba Inu. However, let me tell you there are more than that. All the native Japanese dogs are call ‘spitz’ type dogs. This type of dog has thick fur, point ears, and muzzles.

Do you know? There are 6 different types of Japanese dogs that are referred to as Nihon-ken breeds. And apart from them, there are other traditional Japanese dogs too. Let’s have a look at them with their overview and briefing on its history.

Japanese Dog Breeds List (Nihon-Ken)

Shiba Inu

Japanese dog breeds Shiba Inu
Height13.5” to 16.5”
Weight17 to 23 pounds
Life Span12 to 15 years
Personality Traits Charming, Keen, Faithful, Fearless, Alert, and Confident

One of the most ancient dogs on the list is Shiba Inu. it has survived WWII and its extinction too after it was brought to the US. As said, they are the oldest of other breeds, they tend to be harder to control and don’t go well for the household with children. You will need strict training sessions and early socialization to make it an amazing pet.

Shikoku Ken

Shikoku Ken Japanese dog breeds
Height17” to 22”
Weight35 to 55 pounds
Life Span10 to 12 years
Personality TraitsCautious, Loyal, Intelligent, Energetic, Agile, and Brave

Japanese Shikoku dog is primitive and was bred on the Island of Shikoku for hunting boar. It looks more like Shiba or Akita Inu. It has the touch of the wild in its beauty. The first look at it might confuse you with the werewolves but these cuties are mid-size dogs that love hunting and exploring. It has adaptive behavior, and hence it makes a lovely indoor pet too.

Kishu Ken

Kishu Ken Japanese dog breeds
Height 17” to 22”
Weight30 to 60 pounds
Life Span11 to 13 years
Personality TraitsDocile, Alert, Faithful, Noble, and Dignify

Japanese dog Kishu resembles the build of Shiba and Akita while its facial structure is of Spitz dog. The breed is there in Japan for thousands of years, it was originate in the Kishu region. Kishu is an adaptive breed and does well with kids. Also, keep in mind it will be devote to the one person in the family. Yes, it is one person dog.

Kai Ken

Kai Ken Japanese dog breeds
Height15.5” to 19.5”
Weight20 to 40 pounds
Life Span14 to 16 years
Personality TraitsIntelligent, Agile, Reserve, Loyal, Brave, and Alert

Kai Ken is a Japanese dog known as ‘Tora,’ which means tiger. This dog is a rough-n-tough type with the nimbleness of a cat. The outlook of this pup might scare you at first, the black coat with golden stripes. It makes a wonderful companion dog, but with proper training. Though hardness, it has spitz loyalty in its blood, so be it rest assure you will be its world.

Hokkaido Ken

Japanese dog breeds Hokkaido Ken
Height18” to 20”
Weight44 to 66 pounds
Life Span12 to 15 years
Personality TraitsDocile, Bold, Brave, Dignified, Alert, and Faithful

Japanese Hokkaido dog is again one of the most ancient dogs, but here I would like to add one more tag of being the wildest as well. It has the body built like an athlete and did the task of guarding, hunting, and sledding. The Hokkaido Ken makes a perfect companion dog with the proper and early socialization. It will protect and stay loyal to the family forever.

Akita Inu

Akita Inu Japanese dog breeds
Height24” to 28”
Weight70 to 130 pounds
Life Span10 to 15 years
Personality TraitsLoyal, Faithful, Aloof, Playful, Affectionate, and Independent

Akita Inu is the most popular dog in Japan and I guess everywhere. Why? Due to its appearance as well the loyalty it showed to its master waiting for it there on the station even after he died. It is a rather heart touching story. This almond-eyed pup is pretty hard to handle if not training or socialized properly. Once the training and socialization are done, no one can make a perfect family pet than this one.

Other Japanese Dog Breeds

Japanese Chin

Japanese Chin
Height 8” to 11”
Weight7 to 11 pounds
Life Span 12 to 14 years
Personality TraitsIntelligent, Loyal, Alert, Independent, Loving, and Cat-like

Its name itself suggests this breed’s actual origin, yeah China. It is believed to be hailed from Korea or China and bred in Japan. This small dog has revered in the highest social circles and loved by them due to its looks.

Japanese Spitz

Japanese Spitz
Heightaround 13”
Weight11 to 20 pounds
Life Span10 to 16 years
Personality TraitsAffectionate, Companionable, Obedient, Intelligent, Playful, and Proud

This Japanese small dog is the offspring of the German Spitz breed in Japan. This pup has a fox-like facial structure with prick ears and a pointed face. Its dark eyes and can make anyone fall in love with this cutie.


Japanese dog breeds Tosa
Height22” to 26”
Weight90 to 170 pounds
Life Span10 to 12 years
Personality TraitsSuspicious, Aggressive, Intelligent, Fearless, Sensitive, and Brave

Tosa, the shorter the name the bigger its personality. It was bred in Japan for fighting purposes and has the build of that only. It makes perfect protection and guarding dogs but can be aggressive with not trained properly.

Japanese Terrier

Japanese Terrier
Height8” to 13”
Weight5 to 9 pounds
Life Span12 to 15 years
Personality Traits Active, Cheerful, Lively, Affectionate, Swift, and Vigilant

Looking for a Japanese miniature companion dog? The search ends here with the Japanese terrier or the Mikado, Nihon, Nippon, or Oyuki Terrier. Yup, those are its other names. The Nihon is the cuddly pup and gets attached to a single person of the family and will protect him/her with its life.


Ryukyu Japanese dog breeds
Height16” to 19”
Weight40 to 80 pounds
Life Span12 to 13 years
Personality TraitsCalm, Confident, Alert, and Brave.

A mid-sized dog that is now declining in the population, yes, kind of extinct. There was a time when Ryukyu was used to hunt the wild boar. There one feature that makes Ryukyu different from others, the Dewclaw. It is an extra claw that might be evolved when they spent their time in the rainforest, which helped them in climbing trees as well.

Which Japanese Dog Did You Like The Most?

So this was the list of Japanese dog breeds. I tried to pen down the necessary information about these dogs. All the dogs on the list are cuddly enough to make the best companion for your family. Also, as they all have specific instincts mostly, protective, guarding, or hunting they will save you from any kind of danger too. Let’s get to know more about How to help your Japanese dog manage stress and anxiety.

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