Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Nihon Ken Database

I am doing it. Everyone who reads my blog has probably seen my Shikoku pedigree database that tracks health issues in the breed, as well as calculates COI/AVK. Well it needed to be out there for the other Nihon Ken, and I've just been holding back because of the amount of time and costs involved. But hey, I had a beer the other day and said fuck it. Let's do it. So it is happening, and CJ helped me set up a Gofundme to let everyone pitch in and help (I want to be kind to myself this time and not run myself ragged).

Here's my blurb from the Gofundme pitch:

The 6 aboriginal Japanese breeds (the Nihon Ken) are the Akita, Shiba, Kishu, Shikoku, Hokkaido, and the Kai. As most of you are aware, there is no testing for health issues being done on the breeding stock here in Japan. As with all breeds, hereditary health issues exist. The key is to be aware of them, and collect as much data possible to track and reduce/remove these issues from the Nihon Ken. Better breeding, leading to happier dogs and owners.

As more of the Nihon Ken have been exported or born out side of Japan, breeders and dog owners overseas have been discussing and reporting the health issues that have popped up. It is in the best interest of the Nihon Ken for all of us to work to better the health of these breeds. To track the health issues, a pedigree database that has this capability is essential.

As rare breeds with small populations, the Nihon Ken also suffer from a lack of genetic diversity. A 4 or 5 generation pedigree is a very meager tool for a breeder to try and make healthy decisions regarding the direction of their breeding program, what dogs to use, which to remove. We've got modern tools to help us head in the right direction (COI, AVK calculation, DNA diversity testing), but none of the current online breed pedigree databases had the capability to calculate COI/AVK.

I've been involved with the Nihon Ken for over 10 years now, starting with my own interest in hunting with them, then blogging to correct a lot of the online misinformation about the breeds.

My original blog 
Current blog 

Japanese blog (just started recently to try to increase awareness about the breeds within Japan) 

As time went on I realized with the lack of interest in the Nihon Ken within Japan, and the increasing interest in the breeds overseas, it was important to help get good dogs overseas and establish solid gene pools. So I started helping with exporting the Japanese breeds. 

One of these days the overseas gene pools will likely save some of the breeds from extinction. Obviously we want these gene pools to be healthy as possible, so as part of this effort last year I finally got a pedigree database online for the Shikoku Ken that calculates COI, AVK, and collects data on health issues. If you haven't already, please take a look. 

This was made possible through the help and advice of a lot of people. Thanks to Nico Reimerink for blazing the path with the first Shikoku database, Tetsuji Ishihara for collecting decades worth of Shikoku pedigree data and making it available, Laura Quadri for her programming expertise, Ann Kim for her advice and knowledge, and the good folks over at  for setting up the system. It took a lot of my time, work, and cash to get it up and running, and there are also the yearly fees to keep it maintained (and the work to continue adding data). I'm currently tracking issues in the Shikoku like hip dysplasia, entropion, the dreaded lipid storage disorder, and epilepsy etc.

Recently, there has been an uptick in reported issues in the Kai (PRA and other eye issues) and in the Kishu (thyroid and allergy). The Hokkaido also has collie eye anomaly, cataracts, and PRA that need to be tracked. I've known that we need to move quickly to collate the data, and that a copy of the database I set up for the Shikoku would be very useful for everyone. What was holding me back is the amount of work and cash that will go into this project. So here we are. Help me help you and the Nihon Ken and 'Pay Shig To Make a Nihonken Pedigree Database!' Catchy, I know. I will do this regardless of how much everyone donates, and 2000USD is just a number that will pay for databases for the Shikoku, Kai, and Kishu and keep them up for the next 2 years. With any extra time/cash I will set one up for the Hokkaido next, and if I ever feel extremely adventurous I will add the Akita and Shiba.

Feel free to contact me directly with any questions or advice you may have. I apologize in advance for the fact that I am notoriously slow in replying since I am generally swamped by correspondence regarding the Nihon Ken.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Akita Puppies Available

 If you've been following my Instagram, you've probably seen these darn cute little Akita puppies on my feed. They were born here at my house, long story as to why there's an Akita here again after I swore them off several years ago. Short story, she's here temporarily, and came into heat, so after clearing her health checks we went ahead and bred her. These little floofs were born on the 21st of August, made it through our extremely hot and humid summer, and disastrous typhoon 15 (Typhoon Faxai).

This little boy will be a longcoat (pretty sure anyway), so looking for a minimal homing fee for him as a pet.

This little female unfortunately has an almost full collar, so probably not the best for a show/breeding home, but you tell me (I'm no Akita expert).

 If anyone is interested in either of these pups, feel free to contact me at

Monday, September 30, 2019

Flying With Dogs Between Japan and the US

It used to be the easiest thing to transport puppies from Japan to the US, but oh how things have changed. I'm just listing some of the most commonly used airlines for flights from Japan to the US, and their current rules.

The current (last clarification September 2019) US import regulations are that a pup must be over 2 months old for import from a rabies free zone (which Japan is). This may change at any time, so confirm before you try to travel with a pet. There is nowhere on the CDC website that explicitly states this, but I have gotten email replies from the CDC confirming that this is the case.

My opinion is that the reason so many airlines have changed their age regulations from 2 months old to 4 months old is that the CDC updated their site a while back, and the wording they used was confusing. It stated that puppies needed to be rabies vaccinated, and because they needed to be a minimum of 3 months old (and have a 30 day quarantine), a pup would be 4 months old before entering the US. The website did not make it clear that this did not apply to rabies free zones like Japan, so I think airlines just updated their guidelines for the US and changed the age to 4 months.
Over 4 months old for international flights
Over 8 weeks old (this is the rule listed on JAL's website, however to the US I have heard them say the pup needs to be 4 months old - I have recently travelled to the US with a 2 month old pup with JAL however)
Over 16 weeks for international flights (I have very recently flown with 2 month old pups with AA after confirming with the Japan office that it was not a problem. However I think this is due to the Japanese office not updating their staff manual, as it clearly states 16 weeks on their website).
Over 16 weeks for international flights (15 weeks from EU)
Only small dogs that fit in a soft crate under the seat allowed in cabin.
Any dogs not fitting into the in cabin regulations will have to be shipped as cargo.
Over 4 months (16 weeks) for international flights
Only small dogs that fit in a soft crate under the seat allowed in cabin.
Any dogs not fitting into the in cabin regulations will have to be shipped as cargo.
Pets that are under 16 weeks old or given a stabilizer/sleep medicine cannot be transported. (Starting July 1, 2019)
Allos dogs, cats and birds to be carried in the cabin if they are older than 8 weeks of age and to be carried in the cargo compartment if they are older than 16 weeks of age.

The IATA guidelines for pet transport are what most airlines follow. The dog is supposed to be able to stand without its head/ears touching the roof of the kennel (some airlines require a 1 inch clearance above the head/ears), and be able to turn around/lay down in the kennel comfortably. As you can imagine, for larger dogs this means that the kennel has to be pretty massive. The largest most airlines will accept is a 500 size XL crate
although some flights can only accept a 400 size, and some cargo routes will accept a 700 size.

Now these guidelines for head clearance are only strictly enforced when you ship your dog as cargo. If you're dog is flying with you as check in, as long as the dog is not cramped in an inordinately small crate, airlines will generally accept it. But I have seen 1 dog be refused at the counter because the staff deemed the crate too small. Airlines generally do not have crates to sell or lend at the check in counter, so either your dog or you and your dog may miss your flight if the crate is too small.

For international cargo shipping from Japan to overseas destinations, make sure that your dog's head/ears do not touch the top of the crate when the animal is standing/sitting inside.

If you are planning to fly with a dog, book your flight over the phone, and explain that you will be flying with a dog. They will need the breed/age of your dog, and the size/weight of the crate. The reservation staff will need to check the route and make sure that all planes on the route have space for your dog. It may take a few days to have confirmation, so reserve your flight in such a way that you are able to cancel it if they don't accept your dog. Always ask what the costs will be, since some airlines charge quite a bit for dogs flying as check in (I think China Airlines was one of those). For most airlines you will end up paying 100-500 USD in fees for 1 check in crate. Be aware that many US based airlines will not accept dogs if the total travel time from check in exceeds a certain amount of hours (usually somewhere around 12), so try to look for direct flights whenever possible. What I often do is book two flights separately through LAX (short route from Tokyo), and then spend a couple hours with the dog in LAX taking a break and getting some feeding/toilet/play in before jumping onto the next flight to my destination.

Cargo costs will be much higher (upward of 1000USD for a small crate, and the numbers balloon as crates get larger) to the US and Europe, so if at all possible, fly with your dog!

Saturday, September 7, 2019

5 Generations of Shikoku Females

I thought it would be fun to put up pictures of the dam's side of my current Shikoku litter. Just to see the progression of the dogs etc etc

1. Ibuhime Go Iyo Tenman Sou

2. Sekihoume Go Iyo Tenman Sou

3. Chacha Go Nidai Iwahori Sou

4. Awa no Kotogiku Go Awa Yamainu Sou

5. Awa no Kotohina Go Awa Yamainu Sou

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Koto's Shikoku Puppies Have Hit 2 Weeks Old

Koto's pups are growing well, and just yesterday those tiny little eyes opened.
The female looks very feminine, the male very masculine, just the way it should be. Koto's been a very good mother, takes care of the pups, but is not neurotic about it or overly attentive, and doesn't get stressed about me or other people handling the pups.

I'm quite happy about these little guys, and they have that fresh puppy smell (you have to try it sometime).

Friday, June 28, 2019

And Then There Were Puppehs

The last litter of puppies born at my house was in 2017 (some breeder I am huh?), and that was the Shikoku litter that Koto was out of. Here we are 2019 and Koto just had two pups on the morning of the 22nd of June.

I was up with all her all night, and got to see the pups popping out into the world. The male came first, and he looks like Masa, a sesame. The female looks a lot like Koto, a red with almost no sesame.

I've had a lot of requests for the pups already, but I think I'll take a bit more time before deciding where they go.

The male:

The female:

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Break my Brain

Perhaps with my 40th birthday around the corner I'm getting old and cranky. But, I'm getting tired and less patient with people who contact me about the Nihon Ken, and when I can tell it's gonna be a long ride, well I'd prefer you talk to someone else.

I've put the information out there, it's on my blog. You can research the Japanese breeds, you can see what the breeding situation here is like, but then you want to tell me that you don't see 'x' female's health information on the pedigree.

Well, the fact that you see any information at all on dogs that are in Japan is a miracle. The fact that I've actually x-rayed the father's hips is a miracle. The fact that I've actually made a database to calculate COI, and entered 1300 dogs manually, to tell you that the COI is less than 10 percent, is a miracle.

I don't judge your ethics or decision making. I just take issue with the fact that you are being very 'serious' about your decisions regarding Shikoku, obviously without doing your due diligence about the breed. This does not tell me there's anything wrong with you, other than that you are lazy (and have not done your research).

And also if you ask me for a coat color in a breed where there's only 200 pups born nationally, lets break down the numbers. If you ask for a female, there's 100 pups in a year. If you ask for a color that is less than 5 percent of the population (so 5 female's born nationally in a year) and complain that you've been waiting for 2 years for a pup, and you want one by September, well all I have to say to you is good luck, and talk to someone else.

Even my export service is a not for profit business. I'm just trying to help the Japanese breeds survive and be promoted. Your pup that you want as a pet will likely help the breed in being more visible, but will do absolutely nothing in terms of genetics. So, you will be toward the bottom of my list of priorities. Sorry, but that's the truth. And if you keep bugging me about when your unicorn will be available, chances are I will just not be bothered to reply.