Shikoku Dog (Japanese Wolfdog)

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black sesame, red sesame, sesame
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The Shikoku Dog is a direct descendent of the Nihon Ken namely native Japanese dog. Though it is a primitive dog it has calmer and more obedient disposition than its cousin Shiba-inu. This devoted and trustworthy breed will make a remarkable family pet on condition that it has undergone proper obedience training and socialisation.

The name of the breed tells us that the Shikoku dog originated on the Island of Shikoku in the Kochi Prefecture where it existed since ancient times. It’s also called Kochi-ken («ken» stands for dog in Japanese). This breed was developed in the remote region surrounded by the mountains so it retained a high level of purity. Moreover the breeders had limited accessibility to each other due to geographical isolation thus diminishing the opportunities to crossbreed lines. This resulted into emergence of various strains of the Shikoku.

There are five unique strains that lay in the base of the Shikoku Dog’s lineage. They are distinguished by the particular physical appearance of their dogs and can be traced to two original Shikoku lines: the Eastern Shikoku and the Western Shikoku. The eastern (Mount Tsurugi Shikoku dog) embraced the Tokushima (Lya) and Kochi-Aki strains. The Western (Mount Ishizuchi Shikoku dog) included Hata Uwahara, Honkawa, and Ehime-ken Shuso.

In the past the Shikoku dog was widely used by the Matagi (Japanese hunters) to track chiefly wild boars. There were two techniques to train the dog hunting: «kami-dome» = «biting to keep» and «hoeru-dome» = «barking to keep». The majority of hunters strived to protect the dogs against the fury of a wild boar therefore they used predominantly «hoeru-dome» method of hunting.

Gradually the boarders of Japan were opened to the outside world and many western dogs arrived in the country with their owners. The Japanese started to realise the importance of recording and maintaining their original Japanese dog breeds. During the Showa Era (1926-1988) the Japanese Dog Protective League was formed. The Shikoku dog alongside with other native breeds were seek out in their secluded terrains and gathered in the cities to be put in kennels for protection.

No one can say for certain which strains of Shikoku dogs were imported to the cities or if strains were interbred there. However it can be stated that the major contributors to the present-day Shikoku dog come of the Western bloodlines, Honkawa and Hata.

In 1937 the breed was declared a Living Natural Monument of Japan. However, the population of the Shikoku dog is scarce outside its homeland. Its fanciers are currently trying to maintain and popularize the breed in North America.

As the primitive breed the Shikoku dog hasn’t lost a strong connection with its wild past. It is a wary and courageous animal, devoted to its master and his family. The dog submits easily when owned by confident and strong-willed person. It doesn’t mind to be caressed and likes to be in the spotlight. A child and the Shikoku dog can become best friends if they are taught to behave with each other properly.

The Shikoku dog tolerates unknown people but it’s prone to be standoffish in their presence. The dog has strong territorial instinct and will always forewarn the owner of any probable threat. After the initial training it will become a superb watchdog which will defend the family even if it’s going to cost it a life.

Most Shikokus can be quite dog aggressive, particularly to the canines, which are not considered by it to be the members of the pack. A correct training though can greatly reduce the heaviness of this problem. The non-canine animal is mainly viewed by the Shikoku as prey objects since its prey drive didn’t subside in the wake of domestication. The dog will most likely put up with cats and other small pets if they have been raised together but it’s still no guarantee.

Health problems
The most common problems for the breed include:

• canine hip dysplasia;
• arthritis;
• heart problems;
• ear problems;
• food allergies;
• digestive problems;
• eye problems.


The Shikoku dog’s grooming won’t require tons of time. It has a splendid double coat which includes thick and mild under coat and rigid outer part. The breed needs to be brushed a few times a week in order to remove dead hair. Bathe your dog only when it is really necessary. The advantage of the breed is that it lacks specific doggy odour.

The Shikoku sheds intensely in the springtime, when the undercoat comes out in clumps. The level of shedding depends on how much fur the dog has and how warm your summer is. To alleviate the damage to your furniture and clothing in this period you can do some plucking and brush your dog more often.

The Shikoku dog tends to turn to human for guidance and leadership so it is comparatively easy to train. This gifted breed is capable to grasp most anything its handler intends to teach it.

The trainer should establish trustful and respectful relationship with the dog right from the start. The Shikoku demands a great deal of patience and dedication from its owner, who should practice firm but gentle approach to the learning process. Socialization as well as obedience training is highly advisable for this breed.

The Shikoku dog has average need for exercise. A daily walk for approximately an hour should become a staple for the dog. It will happily join you in your hiking or camping activity since it possesses a sufficient stamina for such kind of adventure.

From time to time the dog should be allowed to run and play on safely enclosed area in order to spend its excessive energy. The Shikoku which lacks the chances to exercise is going to find a way to relieve its frustration in destructive behaviour, extreme barking, peeing at home, and chewing.