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A Comprehensive Guide to Hokkaido Dog Breed for Lovers

Last updated on December 16th, 2023 at 01:56 pm

Let me introduce you to the Hokkaido dog breed! These canines are known for their impressive endurance and dignified demeanor. They’re also incredibly faithful and docile while remaining very alert and bold. With their accurate judgment and great stamina, it’s no surprise that Japanese people love them so much.

If you’re interested in learning about the Hokkaido, you’ve come to the right place! This post will give you the lowdown on this adorable pup. So sit tight and get ready to discover everything you need to know!


Asian origin:Japan
Height:18-20 inches
Weight:44-66 pounds
Lifespan:12-15 years
Coat type:Double, medium-length
Colors:White, red, brindle, red sesame, black, black & tan, sesame
Temperament:Gentle, friendly, outgoing, playful
Suitable for:A house with a larger yard, families in colder climates



Energy level:


Tendency to bark:

Shedding amount:


The Hokkaido is one of the six native Japanese spitz breeds that has existed for a long time. They were initially medium-sized dogs that came with the Ainu people from Honshu to Hokkaido during the Kamakura era in the 1140s. The Ainu people valued their dogs for their loyalty, bravery, and hunting skills. They used them to hunt bears and deer, which was their main source of food. 

The Japanese government recognized the Hokkaido as a Living Natural Monument in 1937. Two organizations, the Hokkaido Ken Hozonkai (Hokkaido Dog Preservation Society) and the Hokkaido Ken Kyokai (Hokkaido Dog Association), are responsible for registering almost all Hokkaidos.


hokkaido dog
Credit: AKC

The Hokkaido dog has adapted to survive the harsh and cold Hokkaido landscape. They have developed features to cope with the environment, such as thick weatherproof coats, small ears, strong jaws, powerful chests, large paws, and robust bodies. Their undercoat is very dense and soft, with stiff guard hairs outside. They are slightly longer than tall and well-built. Note that their muscles should be clean-cut and tough. Females should look feminine but not too thin. 


Hokkaidos are known for their endurance and dignified yet naive nature. They have a faithful, docile temperament and are very alert and brave. These canines are also famous for their accurate judgment and great stamina. They love being around their owners and participating in daily activities.


The Hokkaido dog is quite self-managed. Their skin and coat have natural oils that help to keep them clean and dry in all kinds of weather. There’s no need to cut or shave their fur; just brush it regularly to remove dead hair. Twice a year, they shed their undercoat, so during that time, it’s important to bathe and brush your Hokkaido dog more frequently to keep shedding under control. Don’t forget to trim their nails to avoid overgrowth and cracking. They should also have their teeth brushed regularly.


Hokkaidos are very energetic and will be great companions for people who enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, jogging, biking, and camping. It’s important to give them activities to do as they are a working breed. 

Hokkaidos excel in agility, flyball, rally, weight pull, lure coursing, dock diving, etc. They can become bored, anxious, and hyperactive if they don’t get enough physical and mental stimulation. When you let your dog run in the backyard, ensure you have a six-foot fence. They are good jumpers! When going for daily walks, it’s recommended to use a strong leash and a properly fitted martingale collar or harness.


hokkaido dog
Credit: AKC

Hokkaidos are intelligent and skilled at solving problems. They can be easily trained, but only with a handler who knows how to connect with the dog and considers their independent and strong-willed nature when creating training plans. Most veterinarians agree that positive reinforcement is the best way to train a dog. This means rewarding good behavior instead of punishing bad behavior.

Many readers have loved learning how to train their dogs based on scientific methods from a free workshop conducted by Dr. Alexa Diaz (one of the top service dog trainers in the U.S.) and Eric Presnall (host of the hit Animal Planet TV show “Who Let the Dogs Out”) at the K9 Training Institute. In the free workshop, you’ll discover:

    1. How to train your dog using body language rather than verbal cues
    2. The 3 key techniques that service dog trainers use to train dogs and how you can use them too
    3. The most important step that “normal” dog owners have been missing (this is very important to get your dog’s attention, and it works 100% of the time)
    4. How to stop bad behaviors like excessive barking, pulling on the leash, jumping, etc.
    5. Why a lot of dog owners are unable to establish the amazing bond that service dog trainers have with their dogs


Whether your dog is a puppy or an adult, this pre-recorded workshop will help you train them successfully. You may not want to miss the chance to learn these groundbreaking techniques. Here’s the free workshop.


Hokkaidos are usually healthy and can live up to 12-15 years on average. However, just like all breeds, they can be prone to hereditary diseases such as collie eye anomaly, luxating patella, hip dysplasia, heart murmurs, idiopathic seizures, psychogenic polydipsia, anxiety, and pica. 

You should frequently monitor these dogs to ensure they are not chewing on items or food that could harm them. In addition, check their toys and throw away any broken toys or small pieces that could be ingested.


To keep your Hokkaido healthy and happy, the best thing you can do is to feed them a high-quality diet with balanced proteins, fats, and carbs. You can work with your veterinarian or breeder to determine what diet is best for your Hokkaido dog and how often to feed them. A well-fed Hokkaido will have a shiny coat and clean teeth. Remember always to have clean water available for them to drink.

Living Condition

hokkaido dog
Credit: AKC

Hokkaido dogs make great pets for active families. They enjoy camping or hiking trips and are known for their gentle nature around humans. This breed is especially friendly with children as long as they are raised with them and socialized from a young age.

Additionally, Hokkaidos love cold weather and don’t do well in hot and humid environments, so families who live in colder climates may be the best fit for them. They also require a larger yard and aren’t suitable for apartment living. If you have a backyard, make sure it has a tall fence because these canines are good at jumping.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Hokkaido Dog

1. This Breed Became More Famous in 2007

Starting in 2007, a series of commercials by Softbank, a Japanese telecom company, featured a talking white Hokkaido playing the role of Otōsan. This has increased the breed’s popularity not only in Japan but also in Europe and North America.

2. Spring Is the Time for the Hokkaido Dog Show in Japan

There is a dog show organized by the town of Kutchan on Hokkaido every spring featuring over 100 Hokkaido dogs from all over the country.

3. The Hokkaido Dog Is a Natural Monument

Did you know that the breed was declared a Natural Monument in 1937? These cute dogs are often seen at Nippo events, and there are at least two preservation societies within Japan dedicated to their conservation.

Hokkaido Puppies for Sale

hokkaido dog
Credit: AKC

The breed we’re talking about today is rare outside their native country. In Japan, they estimate there are only around 10,000-12,000 Hokkaido dogs, and about 900-1000 are registered every year. So, if you’re thinking about getting one, make sure you go to a trusted breeder to ensure you get a genuine, healthy pup.

Becoming a dog parent is one of the most memorable moments of life. But before bringing your new best friend home, it’s vital to have all the right things to make sure the adoption is really smooth and makes them feel right. You may feel overwhelmed by tons of puppy products on sale and not sure what items your puppy actually needs. That’s why I’ve compiled this minimalist puppy checklist to help you get started.


The Hokkaido dog is medium-sized and has a strong body. They have a double coat with protective, coarse outer guard hairs and a fine, thick undercoat that shed seasonally. These canines are loyal and devoted companions with sharp minds and excellent problem-solving skills. They’re better suited for colder climates and active families. Early training and socializing is essential to help them become a good family member.


Are Hokkaido Dogs Rare?

Yes, the Hokkaido is considered a rare breed. They are not as well-known as other Japanese dog breeds such as the Shiba Inu and the Akita Inu

Are Hokkaido Dogs Friendly?

Hokkaidos are generally friendly and affectionate with their owners and family members. However, they can be reserved with strangers and may need some socialization to be comfortable around new people.

Is the Hokkaido Dog a Shiba Inu?

No, the Hokkaido dog and the Shiba Inu are two separate breeds. They are both Japanese spitz breeds, but they have different physical characteristics and temperaments. Hokkaidos are larger and have a thicker coat than Shiba Inus.

Where Did the Hokkaido Dog Come From?

Hokkaidos originate from Hokkaido prefecture in Japan. They were traditionally used as hunting and working animals and are still popular as companions in rural Japan today.

Are Hokkaido Dogs Good Pets?

Hokkaidos can be great companions for active people who have plenty of time to spend with their furry friends. They are bright but can also be headstrong and independent. While these pets usually get along well with kids, they may need some socialization to feel comfortable around other dogs.

What Is the Lifespan of a Hokkaido Dog?

The average lifespan of a Hokkaido dog is 12 to 15 years. They’re relatively healthy.

Are Hokkaido Dogs Protective?

Hokkaidos are naturally protective of their owners and homes. They are not aggressive, but they may bark or growl to warn off strangers. 


  • https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/hokkaido/
  • https://www.fci.be/Nomenclature/Standards/261g05-en.pdf
  • https://www.hokkaidoken.org/breed/
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