Other names: Hokkaido-Ken, Ainu-ken, Seta, Ainu dog, Dō-ken


This deeply fluffy cutie may look like a cuddle on legs, but he’s built for action. The Hokkaido’s affable, dignified expression and distinctive coat make him a common pet in his homeland of Japan, but he originally worked as a hunter of boars and even of the mighty bear, who he disarmed ‘playground-style’ by leaping on her back and biting her neck flesh until she gave up or retreated. Today, he is making solid inroads towards domestic life, although his playing style – as unconventional as his bear-baiting style – has marked him out to some as a risk. In fact, he’ll play nicely with humans and other dogs, although smaller creatures should beware that he’s still keen on a casual game of hunt-the-furry-thing.

Key facts about the Hokkaido

Life expectancy :





Temperament :


Size :

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Origins and history

Named for his home island, the Hokkaido seems to have originated from the medium-sized Japanese dogs who migrated there nearly 1,000 years ago. Over the centuries, he has been a brave and loyal hunting colleague, but he became very rare by the early 20th century. Partly thanks to his appearance in animations and a series of commercials, the Hokkaido-Ken has enjoyed a renaissance in Japan in recent years; now, due to the proliferation of cute pics on the internet, he is ready to take over the world. Here’s to our Hokkaido-Ken overlords!

FCI breed nomenclature

FCI Group

Group 5 - Spitz and primitive types


Section 5 : Asian Spitz and related breeds

Physical characteristics of the Hokkaido

Adult size

Female : Between 18 and 19 in

Male : Between 19 and 20 in


Female : Between 40 and 51 lb

Male : Between 44 and 55 lb

Coat colour

Type of coat

Eye colour



The Hokkaido-Ken is aesthetically notable for two main characteristics: his upturned, almost triangular eyes; and his puffed-up coat, giving him the look of an inflated wolf (if instead of air he was inflated with cuteness). His face is mid-length, and his wedge-shaped head works its way back to small triangular ears flanked by thick fur that avalanches down over his powerful neck. Beneath that deeply dreamy double-coat, his body is broad and muscular, adding to the sense that he could bear-hug as strongly as any of his long-vanquished ursine foes. But you really know they’ve made an effort with this dog because, although he’s already proven himself spectacular long before you reach his rear, the Hokkaido bum is decorated with a high, thick, sickle-shaped tail in perfect curved relief to the rest of his square-edged body.

Good to know

The Hokkaido is one of the oldest of the six native Japanese spitz breeds that also include the Akita, Shiba Inu, Kai Ken, Shikoku, and Kishu Ken. While the Hokkaido-Ken has become a common pet in Japan, it still takes time and work to find an available pup in the UK. 


  • 66%


    This dog can be quite an affectionate type, depending on the individual.

  • 66%


    He loves to play, and his ‘pronking’ style with other dogs should not be mistaken for aggression.

  • 66%


    The Hokkaido-Ken can make for a very calm household pet.

  • 100%


    He needs to perceive meaning in what is asked of him, and in this he shows great intelligence. He does not blindly obey. He’s a natural problem-solver.

  • 66%


    Naturally, and while his star rises in the pet world the Hokkaido can still be found working to keep boar and bear numbers in check.

  • 100%

    Fearful / wary of strangers

    He can be wary and protective against strangers, so should be well-socialised from a young age to keep the balance right.

  • 66%


    He is faithful to his social group, but independent like many in his class.

    Behaviour of the Hokkaido

    • 100%

      Tolerates solitude

      If he gets enough exercise he can tolerate some alone-time.

    • 33%

      Easy to train / obedience

      This is not an easy dog ​​to lead, and is not recommended for novices. He needs to be trained from early on by an experienced master, who knows the peculiarities of the breed. Patience and determination must be the watchwords for this one.

    • 66%


      He never barks without reason, but can be intimidating if needed.

    • 100%

      Tendency to run away

      His independent temperament pushes him to flee, especially if he is hasn’t been exercised enough.

    • 66%


      If he is bored, he will do damage to let off some steam.

    • 66%

      Greedy / Gluttony

      Treats are welcome to overcome his stubborn side.

    • 100%

      Guard dog

      His intelligence, loyalty, and potential fierceness make the Hokkaido-Ken a great guard or watchdog.

    • 33%

      First dog

      Those new to dogs may be easily seduced by the comic book cuteness of the Hokkaido-Ken but should be aware that due to his power and fierceness (he can bring down a bear, man!) he is not ideal for first-time ownership.

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      • 33%

        Hokkaido in a flat

        Due to his size, exercise needs, and predilection for outdoor work, the Hokkaido-Ken is not recommended for a home without a garden.

      • 100%

        Need for exercise / Sporty

        This dog needs plenty of vigorous daily exercise, and thanks to his instincts and intelligence this can be in support of a number of human outdoor pastimes or classic dog challenges such as agility training.

      • 66%

        Travelling / easy to transport

        There are no major problems transporting this dog so long as regular breaks are taken to stretch his legs, and trips on public transport are well planned.


        • 33%

          Hokkaido and cats

          Caution should be taken with this natural hunter, but if raised alongside cats he should learn not to see them as prey.

        • 33%

          Hokkaido and dogs

          Cohabitation with other dogs can be complicated unless the Hokkaido-Ken puppy grows alongside a canine friend.

        • 66%

          Hokkaido and children

          He is good with children if he meets plenty while he’s a puppy; however, kids and Hokkaido-Kens should not be left alone together due to his strength.

        • 33%

          Hokkaido and the elderly

          The high exercise needs of this dog may discourage some older people from taking him on.



          We do not have enough data to set an average price.

          Looking after a dog of this size typically costs between £70 to £110 a month, including food, medical/insurance, and incidental expenses.


          Despite his well-groomed look, the Hokkaido-Ken requires little attention to keep him ship-shape; his skin and coat does the job with natural oils.


          He will shed his undercoat twice a year.

          Nutrition of the Hokkaido

          A good balance of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates is necessary for this energetic dog. Two meals a day may be offered but beware of the risk of stomach upset. This dog shouldn’t eat before engaging in intense physical activity.

          Health of the Hokkaido

          Life expectancy

          The life expectancy of a Hokkaido dog is approximately 12 years.

          Strong / robust

          This is a strong and work-oriented dog.

          Withstand heat

          This dog boasts moderate tolerance for heat, but caution should be exercised in times of heat wave.

          Withstand cold

          Due to his double-coat, the Hokkaido-Ken is very well adapted to cold and snowy weather.

          Tendency to put on weight


          Common illnesses

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