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Shikoku Ken: Comprehensive Breed Guide (2024 Updated)

Are you ready to learn about a truly remarkable dog? Let us introduce you to the Shikoku Ken, one of the six spitz-type dogs native to Japan. These athletic and agile pups hail from the mountainous region of Kochi Prefecture on the Island of Shikoku, and they are true masters of big game hunting. But don’t let their hunting abilities fool you; these dogs are also incredibly calm and loving with their families.

If you’re interested in learning about the Shikoku dog breed, 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
Other namesShikoku Inu, Kochi Ken
Height:17-22 inches
Weight:35-55 pounds
Lifespan:10-12 years
Coat type:Double, short
Colors:Sesame (well mixture of black, red and white hairs in whole), red, black and tan
Temperament:Energetic, highly alert, docile towards their master
Suitable for:Families or individuals with an active lifestyle, homes with secure yards



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The Shikoku Ken is a medium-sized dog breed used for hunting boar in the mountainous regions of Kochi Prefecture. Also known as Kochi Ken, this breed has three varieties named after the areas where they were bred: Awa, Hongawa, and Hata. These canines are sturdy and agile enough to run through mountainous regions and are characterized by their sesame-colored coats. The Hongawa type maintains the highest degree of purity, as they live in an area that is not easily accessible. In 1937, the Shikoku was designated a Natural Monument of Japan.


shikoku ken

The Shikoku Ken is medium-sized, with a well-built body that flaunts well-defined muscles. They’ve got cute, pricked ears and a tail that’s either curled or shaped like a sickle. The dog’s overall shape is strong, compact, and well-boned. One of the key features of this breed is their height at the withers to the length of their body ratio, which stands at 10:11—a unique trait that sets them apart.


The Shikoku Ken is quite a go-getter and always seems to have energy to spare. They often look for something new to explore but are still aware of their surroundings. They can be great hunting canines.

Most Shikoku dogs are eager to please their owners. But, just like with some other Nihon Ken breeds, such as the Shiba Inu, this breed likes to do things their own way and sometimes won’t listen to owners. 


Apart from their regular weekly grooming, it’s always a good idea to give your Shikoku Ken a bath once in a while to keep them looking and smelling fresh. Grooming can be a great bonding experience for both you and your pup. Ensure you keep an eye on their nails as they grow fast, and remember to trim regularly with a clipper or grinder to avoid overgrowth, splitting, and cracking. In addition, you should check their ears every now and then to prevent a buildup of wax and debris, which can lead to an infection. Lastly, brush your dog’s teeth to keep their oral health in check.


As a dog owner, you must ensure that your Shikoku Ken gets enough exercise. There are a bunch of ways to do this, from playing with them in your backyard (if you have one) or taking them for a walk a few times a day. 

If your dog likes being outside, you can take them swimming, hiking, or playing fetch with balls or frisbees. If you live in an apartment, walking them around the hallways is a good way to get them moving, especially when it’s raining or snowing. Finally, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can train your pup for sports like agility, obedience, and rally, which can be super fun and keep them in great shape!


shikoku ken

Shikoku Ken dogs are super intelligent and loyal to their owner, but they’re still kinda willful, so teaching them can be tricky. You gotta train them daily using positive vibes and rewards. Always be a chill and consistent leader! Note that these pups have a strong prey drive (they love to chase and hunt small animals) and might get territorial or aggressive with other animals. But if you raise them together, they might be able to coexist peacefully with other pets. 

Just a heads up, Shikoku dogs are pretty shy and distant from strangers. So, it’s vital to socialize them plenty when they’re just little puppies to help them become more outgoing and less protective.

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.


Most Shikokus are healthy pups, and if you’re planning to get one, you can learn about their health concerns from a responsible breeder. Good breeders will ensure that their breeding dogs undergo genetic testing to minimize the chances of diseases in their puppies.


High-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or prepared at home, is essential to keeping your Shikoku Ken healthy and happy. Additionally, it’s important to ensure that the diet you choose suits their age, whether they are a puppy, adult, or senior.

You must feed your Shikoku dog in the right amounts to prevent them from becoming overweight or obese. Being overweight can cause joint disorders such as hip dysplasia, knee dysplasia, arthritis, etc. Therefore, it’s best to consult your veterinarian about the pet’s specific dietary needs to determine a healthy diet and portion schedule that will keep your furry friend in great shape.

Living Condition

shikoku ken

The Shikoku Ken breed is perfect for families or individuals who love to stay active and have a secure yard for their furry friend to play and explore. But, since they’re pretty independent, first-time dog owners or people who want a chill dog might not be a great match. 

If you live in an apartment, it might be tough to keep a Shikoku happy unless you make sure they get plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. Their double coat is thick, so they’re pretty good at handling different weather conditions. However, don’t leave your Shikoku outside for too long if it’s too hot or cold.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Shikoku Ken

1. They Have Many Names

Originally called Tosa Ken, they were later renamed to avoid confusion with the Tosa Fighting Dog. They are also known as Shikoku Inu or Kochi Ken. The name Shikoku Ken means “four-country dog” in Japanese. Some people call them “Shikoku Dog” because “ken” and “inu” both mean “dog” in Japanese. However, more people are now using “ken” instead of “inu” when they refer to the breed. 

2. The Breed Is a “Living Natural Monument” of Japan

The Nihon Ken Hozonkai (NIPPO) was founded in 1928. Their mission was to protect and preserve six native Japanese spitz-type dogs. At first, they focused on the Akita and Shiba breeds, but soon their efforts paid off. In 1937, they managed to get the Shikoku Ken declared as a “Living Natural Monument” of Japan. It was a significant milestone, and a massive reconstruction effort was initiated to ensure the breed’s survival.

3. The Shikoku Breed Is One of the Rarest of the Nihon Ken

There are only around 100 of these canines known to exist outside of Japan as of 2010. Even in Japan, the breed is rare, with only 300 to 500 new registrations each year. The total number of Shikoku Ken in Japan is estimated to be between 5,000 and 8,000.

This breed is now recognized by several kennel clubs around the world, including the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) in the Hound group, the American Kennel Club (AKC) in AKC Foundation Stock Service, the United Kennel Club (UKC) in the Northern Breed group, and the Fédération cynologique internationale (FCI) in the Spitz and Primitive Dog group.

Shikoku Dog for Sale

shikoku ken

Finding a Shikoku Ken outside of Japan is super rare, so don’t be surprised if it’s tough to find a breeder, especially in North America. You’re not likely to see them in shelters, either. If you’re lucky enough to find a Shikoku puppy, brace yourself for a big bill. The cost of the dog plus shipping fees can set you back anywhere from $2,500 to $6,000 or even more, depending on their quality and any import fees that apply.

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 we’ve compiled this minimalist puppy checklist to help you get started.


The Shikoku Ken is a type of breed that is energetic, alert, and has excellent endurance. They were originally found in the mountains of Kochi Prefecture in Japan, known for their ability to track game, especially wild boar. 

Nowadays, Shikoku dogs are medium-sized pets with strong muscles, pointed ears, and a curled or sickle-shaped tail. Their soft, dense undercoat and harsh, straight outer coat make them look striking. Plus, they’re docile with their owners and make fantastic companions for active people. These pups are the whole package!


What Is a Shikoku Ken?

The Shikoku Ken, or the Kochi-ken, is a medium-sized spitz dog breed from Japan’s Shikoku Island. These majestic dogs were originally bred as hunting companions for the Matagi people, specifically for tracking and taking down wild boar in the mountainous regions. They are loyal, intelligent, and agile. The Shikoku Ken was declared a National Treasure of Japan in 1937, confirming their cultural significance.

What Is the Difference Between Shiba and Shikoku?

Shikoku Kens and Shibas are two types of Japanese spitz breeds with some differences. Shikoku Kens are a bit bigger than Shibas. Additionally, they have a double coat that comes in three colors: sesame, black and tan, or red. On the other hand, Shibas have a double coat in red, sesame, black and tan, or cream.

Regarding temperament, Shikoku Kens are independent and cautious, while Shibas are more outgoing and playful. Nevertheless, both breeds must be trained and socialized to ensure they become well-behaved dogs.

Is a Shikoku a Good Family Dog?

Shikoku Kens can be good family dogs in the right environment. They require experienced owners who can provide consistent training and exercise. They are not as outgoing as some other breeds and may be wary of strangers or young children. Early socialization and positive reinforcement training are crucial.

What Is the Purpose of the Shikoku Dog?

The Shikoku Ken was primarily bred for hunting, particularly wild boar. Their intelligence and loyalty also made them valuable companions for the Matagi people. Today, you can find them as working dogs, agility competitors, and cherished family pets.

How Much Does a Shikoku Dog Cost?

Shikoku Kens are relatively rare outside of Japan, so they can be expensive. Depending on the breeder, pedigree, and location, a Shikoku Ken puppy can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $8,000.

Do Shikoku Dogs Bark?

Like most dogs, Shikoku Kens will bark. However, they are not known for being excessive barkers. These canines will alert their owners to anything they perceive as unusual. 

Is Shikoku Worth It?

Whether a Shikoku is the right dog for you depends on your lifestyle and experience. They are intelligent and loyal companions but require dedicated training, socialization, and exercise. If you are an active, experienced owner who can provide a stable and consistent environment, a Shikoku Ken can be a rewarding addition to your family.

How Long Do Shikoku Dogs Live?

Shikoku Kens typically live for 10-12 years.


  • https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/shikoku/
  • https://www.fci.be/Nomenclature/Standards/319g05-en.pdf
About us: Pet Chao is a community for Asian dog breed enthusiasts. Our goal is to keep you and your four-legged friend healthy and happy by providing valuable resources and fostering a like-minded community.

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