Kishu Ken

Type: Working

Height: 17 - 22 inches.

Weight: 30 - 60 lbs.

Life Span: 11 -13 years.

Litter Size: Average 3 puppies.

Country of Origin: Japan

Activity: High

Watch-dog: High. They love to perch in high places to see what's going on.

Guard-dog: High


Description: The Kishu Ken is a medium sized dog of almost always white color. They are a courageous, trustworthy breed with a close resemblance to the Shiba Inu and Ainu Dog. The Kishu, a medium sized sturdy dog, was once used for hunting deer and wild boar. They have the potential to be powerful, and have often been praised by the Japanese. Kishu Kens have a broad head with large prick ears, uncropped. They have a thick double coat that is very useful in the winter, soft underneath and harsh on the outside. They come in few colors, mostly white, but also in red, sesame or brindle. Kishu Kens are spirited, brave and strong. Due to their strong prey drive, they are not suited well around other, smaller pets. They do, however, do very well with other dogs, as they are pack hunters. They are clean, calm and quiet. They are gentle and devoted to family, but wary with strangers. Headstrong and a leader, the Kishu Ken is best suited for one person. Almost of the same lineage, they are closely related to the Kai Ken and Shikoku, all being named by the Japanese their "scarred glory".

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Colors: Usually white, but may come in red or brindle.

Coat: Kishu Kens have a double coat. The undercoat is soft and dense, while the outer coat is short to medium length, harsh, and straight.

Temperament: Kishu Kens are a more one-person dog. They are courageous and brave as hunters, and will be loyal to their owners. They have a strong prey drive, and will hunt small animals. They do well with other dogs, however, due to their pack instincts. They are quite headstrong and willful. They are devoted and loyal to family, getting along well with children. Kishu Kens like to keep an eye on whatever is going on, and sometimes find a high place to lookout from. They can be timid of strangers. They are easily housebroken, intelligent, and have a strong will. Training is necessary, as they are quite headstrong.

With Children: Yes, very good with children, although they should not be teased.

With Pets: Yes, as long as the Kishu is raised with them and around other pets. They have a strong prey drive, but will do well if socialized with other pets.

Special Skills: Hunting and family pet.

Care and Training: Kishu Kens need regular exercise on a leash, taking walks or runs. They can also be given a job to do such as herding to satisfy their exercise. They should be brushed weekly to keep their fur mat free and clean. Bathe them as necessary, depending on how dirty they are. Their ears should be checked routinely for wax build up, infection or dirt. Their nails should also be trimmed regularly. Kishu Kens shed once or twice a year, making grooming at these times needed. Kishu Kens should be trained from puppyhood, as they are very willful. They are more responsive than the Ainu or Kai Ken, however. They should be socialized from puppyhood, getting them used to new sights and sounds.

Learning Rate: High. Kishus are very intelligent, and will sometimes even play

Special Needs: Exercise, fenced yard, leash, socialization and training.

Living Environment: Kishu Kens need adequate space to roam and exercise, meaning a house with a yard or urban environment with a fence. They will run away if given the chance, and should be fenced and leashed when outside of the fence or house. Kishu Kens actually do very well as housedogs. The best owner for this breed would be a dog-experienced individual living in a suburban or rural environment.

Health Issues: There are none known. Due to isolation during the breed's development, the breed has kept pure and healthy.

History: The Kishu Ken originated with several other variations of his type: the Shika Inu, meaning "medium-sized dog". Shika Inus contain several breeds of Japanese dogs, including the Kai, Kishu, and Shikoku. Other breeds similar to the Kishu are the Ainu and Shiba Inu, from which this breed could have descended or been an ancestor. The Kishu Ken was originally used as a wild boar or deer hunter's assistant, called a matagi, in the Wakayama and Mie prefectures. Matagi greatly appreciated their hunting dogs, and would speak highly of their courage and spirit. It was said that one of these Shika Inus "would not concede a step before danger." They were once used to hunt deer, as watch dogs and herding dogs. All of the breeds in this category, however, have been used more often as households pets these days. The Kishu Ken has been known as more responsive and benign than the Kai Ken and the Ainu, his cousins. The breed stayed pure because of isolation over the years. Thanks in part to a breeder named Mr. Haruo Isogai, all of the Japanese breeds were classified and categorized in the 1930s, and helped distinguish the Kishu Ken from the other Shika Inus. In 1934 the breed was recognized by the Japanese Kennel Club, and designated a "national treasure" in 1934 by Japan. Today the breed is still relatively rare in both its native land and abroad.

First Registered by the AKC: FSS (Foundation Stock Service - not yet eligible for the AKC)

AKC Group: FSS

Class: Working

Registries: JKC, FCI