Other names: Kochi-ken


The Shikoku originates from Japan, where it was used to track wild boar and other wildlife. While this breed boasts incredible stamina and an impressive work ethic, it’s also well-loved for its loyalty and affection towards its master. This breed requires a confident owner or family who leads an extremely (and we really mean extremely) active and outdoor lifestyle.


Key facts about the Shikoku

  • Life expectancy : Between 13 and 15 years
  • Temperament : Calm, Intelligent
  • Size : Medium
  • Type of coat : Short

FCI Group

FCI Group

Group 5 - Spitz and primitive types


Section 5 : Asian Spitz and related breeds

Physical characteristics of the Shikoku

Adult size

Female dog Between 18 and 20 in
Male dog Between 19 and 22 in


Female dog Between 33 and 44 lb
Male dog Between 33 and 44 lb

Coat colour

Black, grey, white, red or tan or mixed.

Type of coat

Short to mid length, double, straight, harsh, dense.

Eye colour

Dark brown.


The Shikoku is a medium-sized dog that is similar in appearance to the Husky. The broad, wedge-like head features slanted almond-shaped eyes, a black nose, black lips, high-set triangular ears and a long, tapered muzzle. The body is compact yet powerful and muscular, with moderately long, strong legs. The Shikoku also boasts a spitz-like curled tail.



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The Shikoku is known to be extremely loyal and affectionate towards its immediate family and owner. Expect plenty of love and kisses!


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A clever and energetic dog, this breed appreciates playtime and will happily get involved in fun and games.


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The Shikoku is perfectly capable of being calm and relaxed indoors if its needs are met.


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This is a highly intelligent dog who learns quickly and is renowned for having a fantastic memory.


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The Shikoku was bred to track wild boar and, therefore, has a strong natural hunting instinct. It is likely to chase (and possibly kill) small animals including cats, rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters.

Fearful / wary of strangers

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This pooch is extremely territorial and suspicious of strangers. With good socialization this can improve, though this breed is likely to always act aloof and reserved around new faces.


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The Shikoku can sometimes be stubborn and impulsive, especially if not well-trained.

Behaviour of the Shikoku

Tolerates solitude

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This breed can manage periods of alone time if her needs have been met.

Easy to train / obedience

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The Shikoku is smart and capable of learning quickly. However, sometimes stubbornness can get in the way of training sessions. Using plenty of positive reinforcement and rewards, as well as being consistent and patient, is the best way forward.


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She can give voice to dissuade any intruder.

Tendency to run away

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If the Shikoku spots or smells a small animal, you can be sure it’ll run away before your eyes. A strong recall is absolutely vital with this breed, and it may be necessary to keep it on a strong lead in public areas with other animals.


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The Shikoku is a calm and independent dog who doesn’t usually destroy.

Greedy / Gluttony

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This breed is not known to be particularly greedy, but treats are a good way to motivate this stubborn dog to cooperate.

Guard dog

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As a naturally protective, alert and territorial dog, the Shikoku makes a fantastic watchdog who is sure to loudly alarm you of any suspicious strangers.

First dog

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With extremely high exercise requirements, a stubborn attitude and a significant prey drive, the Shikoku can be quite hard to handle and isn’t a good choice for a novice owner.


Shikoku in a flat

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The Shikoku is likely to become restless and destructive in a flat or apartment setting. It is best suited to a house with large, well-secured garden to roam.

Need for exercise / Sporty

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The Shikoku is a highly active and energetic dog with a significant need for exercise. This breed needs lots of active time outdoors and playtime on a daily basis. Ideally, the Shikoku will go on daily jogs, hikes, or fast walks, multiple times per day, totalling to 2-3 hours or more. Otherwise, this lively pooch is likely to feel unfulfilled and as such, become destructive.

Travelling / easy to transport

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As a medium-sized dog, the Shikoku may fit in larger cars but will become restless during long journeys.


Shikoku and cats

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The Shikoku has a huge prey drive and is likely to be a danger to cats and other small animals, even if well-socialized.

Shikoku and dogs

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Without thorough socialization, the Shikoku may be aggressive and attempt to dominate other dogs. Females are generally more sociable, but males are prone to fighting.

Shikoku and children

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The Shikoku can get along with kids if raised with them, and they learn to respect her needs.

Shikoku and the elderly

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With an intensive exercise requirement and lively nature, this breed isn’t a suitable match for an elderly owner.


We do not have enough data to set an average purchase price. Looking after a dog of this size typically costs between £60 to £100 a month, including food, medical/insurance, and incidental expenses.


The Shikoku is easy enough to groom, requiring a weekly brush to keep the coat glossy and in good condition. During shedding season, brushing might need to be more frequent - a deshedder will come in handy. Otherwise, normal care is required - trim the nails when necessary, check and clean the ears every couple of weeks and brush teeth daily. 


Shikokus shed heavily twice a year.

Nutrition of the Shikoku

Feed the Shikoku a high-quality dog food made for active or working breeds.

Health of the Shikoku

Life expectancy

Overall, this is a healthy and robust breed, though it is prone to developing certain breed-specific health problems. Their life expectancy is 14 years.

Strong / robust

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This is an agile, robust breed with great endurance.

Withstand heat

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She can overheat quickly due to the thick, double coat. Shikoku’s are also prone to allergies in hot climates.

Withstand cold

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This dog is highly tolerant of cold temperatures, boasting a dense, double coat which insulates against harsh weather.

Tendency to put on weight

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Although not genetically prone to gaining weight, this breed is commonly under exercised in a domestic setting, and is then prone to obesity. If you’re considering this breed, you must have the time to dedicate to daily vigorous exercise.

Common illnesses

Good to know

The Shikoku is a real tough-cookie, capable of tracking and hunting deer and boar several times its size.

Origins and history

The Shikoku originated in Japan on the island of Shikoku and is still considered a national treasure. It was bred to be a hardy breed, capable of hunting large animals in isolated and mountainous regions on rough terrain. Nowadays, the breed is extremely rare outside its native Japan.


Aki, Haru, Nao, Yoshi

Find out more dog name ideas here


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