Japanese dog breeds have a rich history dating back thousands of years, and following World War II many of the far east breeds gained popularity in the United States. The dogs that make up this group are some of the most beautiful out there, and also some of the rarest. You are probably familiar with the most popular of the Japanese breeds -- the Akita and the Shiba Inu -- but there are a number of other Japanese dogs that make wonderful pets. Some of the breeds are considered national treasures and are rarely seen outside of Japan, but those who are lucky enough to find one will get a combination of affection, loyalty, and in many cases, a regal spitz-type appearance. Below are some breathtaking breeds native to the Land of the Rising Sun.
In 1937, Helen Keller brought the first Akita puppy to the United States from Japan, and the breed has since enjoyed a great deal of popularity. The Akita is a strong and sturdy dog with a spitz-type appearance. Protective, territorial, and alert, the Akita does not typically get along well with other pets or strangers, and requires supervision around children. However, these dogs are affectionate, and adequate training can help them to be better household pets.
The Hokkaido is one of the most ancient and wild of all the Japanese breeds. Like many of the other Japanese breeds, this dog was bred for hunting, but also makes a good family pet. These robust dogs are very committed to their owners and will perform acts of bravery if needed. They are medium sized dogs with classic spitz features.
Despite their name, the Japanese Chin actually originated in Korea. These dogs later to traveled to China and Japan where they were often presented as gifts, and they gained worldwide popularity in 1853 when a pair was gifted to Queen Victoria. This long haired toy breed makes a wonderful companion pet, but they can be wary of strangers. These dogs prefer to be around people they trust and locations they know. They love being the center of attention and are all around charming and obedient dogs.
The Kai Ken is an extremely rare Japanese dog, and is a considered a natural monument in their native land. These intelligent brindle dogs are born hunters and make excellent watchdogs. They are intensely loyal to their owners and are eager to please. They learn quickly, and tend to be less independent than some of the other native breeds.
Like many of their cousins, the ancient Kishu was originally used for hunting boar and deer. Today, their docile temperaments make them excellent family pets. This spitz-type dog was declared a natural monument in 1934, and since then only solid colored coats have been accepted when showing. White is the most common color for the Kishu Ken.
The Shiba Inu is the smallest of all the Japanese native breeds, and shares a similar but more compact spitz-type appearance with the Akita. These dogs were originally bred for hunting, and the name "Shiba" means "brushwood," referring to the dog’s hunting terrain. This breed can be independent and aloof, but these dogs are exceptionally affectionate and devoted to those who earn their respect. Shiba Inus require regular exercise and training can be very beneficial.
The Shikoku is a dog native to the island of Shikoku in Japan. Due to their isolated island origins, this dog avoided crossbreeding, and is thus one of the purest breeds in the world. The Japanese have helped this effort by restricting any crossbreeding, and the breed is rarely seen outside of Japan today. These spitz-type dogs were bred for hunting, and retain a rather high prey drive. They are rugged dogs who are fit for an active, outdoor life, but they are calm and quiet when indoors.
Other Japanese dogs include the Japanese Spitz, the Japanese Terrier, and the Tosa.
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