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Other names: Kishu Inu, Kishu Ken


This loyal and vigilant dog is only around 60% as serious as he looks. Yes, he is disinterested in strangers (perhaps a healthy trait) and often cold towards his own kind, but he can also be fiercely affectionate towards his chosen confidants and enjoys a game as befits his sporting heritage. Native to Japan, where he is descended from the hunting dogs of the Wakayama and Mie Prefecture mountains, he is celebrated as one of his home country’s six ‘national monument’ breeds. His distinctive sickle-shaped brush tail, white, red, or sesame coat, and blissful expression have made his name beyond the shores of his home island.

Key facts about the Kishu

Life expectancy :





Temperament :


Size :

Origins and history

The Kishu Ken can trace his heritage to a 3,000-year line of spitz-type hunting dogs of Japan’s mountain regions. In later centuries, they were selectively bred for their skills and also their colour, so that by 1945 the spotty varieties had all disappeared. In 1934, this proud dog became a “Memorial of Nature” in his homeland.

FCI breed nomenclature

FCI Group

Group 5 - Spitz and primitive types


Section 5 : Asian Spitz and related breeds

Physical characteristics of the Kishu

Adult size

Female : Between 18 and 20 in

Male : Between 19 and 22 in


Female : Between 44 and 55 lb

Male : Between 44 and 55 lb

Coat colour

Type of coat

Eye colour



This wolfish fellow has something of the seriousness of the Alsatian about his person, but with an Asian twist. Most commonly white in colour, and always without spots, stripes, and other patterns, his strong bone structure and searching eyes make him stand out in a crowd. He has a broad forehead, triangular, inclining eyes, and wolfish ears, although his aloof expression deprives him of the sensuality of the canis lupus. Still, he backs-up an already-attractive package with a tail apparently built for pleasure. 

Good to know

Finding an available Kishu Ken in the UK is a lengthy process. Originally, these dogs’ coats had red or sesame spots or streaks, but from 1934 only uniform coats were admitted, and spotted coats disappeared by 1945. Nowadays, a white coat is not uncommon.


  • 66%


    He can be affectionate with his closest companions.

  • 66%


    This dog likes a playful and educational game.

  • 66%


    Whether at home or at work, this is one thoughtful, calm, and serious dog.

  • 66%


    The Kishu Ken is considered to be a versatile and competent dog that can be trusted.

  • 100%


    This dog is adept at the hunting of deer and boar and, if kept in civilian quarters, may instead turn his bored attention upon the local feline life.

  • 100%

    Fearful / wary of strangers

    He is a watchful dog who is suspicious of strangers. It takes time to gain his trust.

  • 100%


    Although affectionate to his master, the Kishu Ken is quite an independent soul.

    Behaviour of the Kishu

    • 66%

      Tolerates solitude

      The Kishu Ken still has an element of wildness about him, so if you are to leave him for any period of time it is best that he is somewhere safe outdoors if he is not to become destructive.

    • 66%

      Easy to train / obedience

      He is a clever dog and a quick learner, who is receptive when a relationship of mutual trust has been established. The Kishu pup must learn the basics early to become the wonderful companion he deserves to be.

    • 33%


      He doesn’t bark much, but will use his voice as a warning if necessary.

    • 100%