Friday, July 3, 2020

NIPPO Grand National 2020 Update


An announcement was made on NIPPO's website today stating that the due to the global pandemic, the Nagano Branch has declined to host the 2020 NIPPO Grand National. The NIPPO board will be convened in the near future to discuss what steps to take. NIPPO apologizes for any inconvenience or worry caused by this, and asks for everyone’s understanding regarding this matter.

EDIT:This does no mean that the national has been cancelled. It could still be hosted by another NIPPO branch.

Friday, June 26, 2020

NIPPO: Current State of Afairs

On the 5th of June, a news story was run in Japan about the illegal sale of dogs by officials/members of NIPPO. While it did not name any names, it mentioned three persons whom the reporter had interviewed. These three persons are easily identifiable to active NIPPO members in Japan, one as a board member, another as the head of judging, and the third as a Shiba Inu judge.

The Act on Welfare and Management of Animals governs the commercial sale of animals in Japan. I believe it was around 15 years ago that the law was updated to tighten up the licensing requirements and stipulations regarding the commercial sale of dogs. To put it simply, if you are selling more dogs more than twice a year, or more than 2 dogs a year, you need to be licensed. These three higher ups in NIPPO were reported to all be unlicensed. There were some statements given by people interviewed for the story that puppies were being produced for preservation and not for commercial sale, with some people not actually selling dogs but receiving a gratuity. However if these allegations are proven to be true, under the eyes of the law receiving any money whatsoever would make these commercial transactions.

I have had many people from all over the world asking me about what is going on, since every has seen comments about it on social media. As usual on social media, there is truth, untruth, misunderstanding, and a lot of personal opinion and conjecture. Since it takes a lot of time to reply to everyone one at a time, I have finally made some time to write about the basics of the story. I will not be naming names here (and I would warn people who have done so on social media) since if you do not have proof or firsthand knowledge of allegations you are making, you can be sued for libel (and I have heard that some people are currently being sued for comments they have made on social media regarding this issue).

The Ministry of the Environment has jurisdiction over this matter, and is currently investigating. My personal experience in this matter is that there are many older people in Japan, in all the many clubs and preservation societies, that have been breeding dogs for most of their adult lives. They did not make the effort some 15 years ago to become licensed, and according to the letter of the law they would be considered to be operating illegally. This is not a new issue, it is one that NIPPO has actually made continuous announcements about, but the fact that higher ups in the organization were still not licensed is definitely disappointing. 

Another separate issue that has been making the rounds on social media is regarding the sale of dogs by NIPPO judges, and one well known Shiba judge in particular. While this is not a legal issue, it is a NIPPO issue, as it is against NIPPO rules for judges to be involved in commercial canine breeding/sale. The allegations against this former head of NIPPO judging are not new, in fact they go back around 2 years ago when he had a very public spat with another NIPPO member (a Shiba breeder). Other complaints made against this judge are that he is the head of a NIPPO branch, but physically lives in a different prefecture (NIPPO members automatically become members of the branch that their registered address is located in). Another allegation I have heard is that his dogs were kept in unsanitary conditions, and that he is breeding/selling dogs while unlicensed (he is one of the 3 mentioned in the investigative news report).

In my opinion, NIPPO has been dragging their feet in investigating these allegations, with little transparency regarding the process. This has led to a lot of instability, and a general negative atmosphere. We're here for the dogs, or at least should be, right? None of the information I have just related is new news. This has been circulating in NIPPO for a few years now, but possibly due to frustration regarding the slow process, and NIPPO's seeming inaction, the information has made its way to the national media (and now to you on social media). 

So, with as little bias as possible, that is the basics of what is going on in NIPPO at the moment. I won't comment publicly on the politicking going on behind the scenes, and why all this started in the first place. When all this started 2 years ago, I was actually slandered, and had false rumors spread about me (which I'd be happy to refute if people had asked me directly about things instead of making guesses on the internet). I've had people ask if I'm ok, or if I need them to go to bat for me, or that I should sue people. Really, I don't care. I just want to continue enjoying my passion for the Japanese breeds. Anything I say or do, I want it to be constructive toward making the state of affairs for the Nihon Ken better. Some of this stirring the pot is overdue and necessary to create change I think, but there also has to be some discussion and ideas about how to move forward positively without just tearing people down and creating division.

Just like so many things in the world right now, I feel like NIPPO is in a state of overdue change, and a little bit of an upheaval. Hopefully this is the driving energy to get us to a better place.


Saturday, June 20, 2020

Japan Negotiating Travel Bubble

Japan has been working on this idea for a while now. We'll see how it goes, but generally this is how they will be opening the border to the rest of the world: Business visitors first, then students, and tourists last.

https://www.timeout.com/tokyo/news/japan-reveals-more-details-of-its-planned-travel-bubble-061920?fbclid=IwAR2Sp27YODPkQe04sHcZUKUEQamGi6CBEcfuLjyiXc2zWPf36gwqL5OyfHk


Japan reveals more details of its planned travel bubble
Visitors from Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Vietnam will have to submit negative PCR tests plus an itinerary

When can we travel again? That’s the big question on everyone’s mind. Covid-19 coronavirus has given us major cabin fever, and with summer fast approaching, our wanderlust is growing and we’re starting to plan our dream trips. Whether that’s temple and shrine hopping in Kyoto or gazing at Mt Fuji, we’re already getting excited about exploring Japan. 
Unfortunately, 111 countries and regions are still on Japan’s no entry list, making international travel more of a pipe dream. However, Japan has been considering a travel bubble, which would open the country to travellers from places with similar coronavirus safety measures. So far, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Vietnam are on Japan’s list of possible travel bubble buddies. 
On June 18, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussed the travel bubble with the government’s coronavirus task force team and added more details to the plan. The Japan Times reports that travellers will have to submit a negative PCR test plus an itinerary for entry into Japan; they will also have to save the GPS data of their movements on a smartphone for contact tracing. The travel bubble will apply to business travellers first, then students, and eventually tourists. Other countries and regions may be added in the future. 
The travel bubble is starting to look like a real possibility, although nothing is set in stone yet. 
Japan’s nationwide state of emergency ended on May 25 and Tokyo has already entered stage three of its reopening plan, which allows all venues, including live houses and karaoke parlours, to resume business. All that’s left is international travel, which is still off the table even for foreign residents of Japan, except in special circumstances.
Get live updates on the Covid-19 coronavirus situation in Tokyo and Japan here.

Friday, May 15, 2020

COVID-19 Affecting Import/Export

As always, many people have been contacting me about importing Nihon Ken from Japan. I just wanted to update everyone on the current situation in Japan regarding the export/import of dogs.

All cargo shipping of dogs internationally has been shut down till at least the end of May. We have not yet received a timetable for when this will open up again.
Japan was under a national state of emergency which was just lifted yesterday for large parts of the country.However the greater Tokyo area is still under a state of emergency, and all but essential movement is prohibited.

Japan's borders are also currently closed to nationals of many countries, so you would not be able to fly to Japan to pick up a dog until this is lifted.
The timetable for opening up the border is also unknown.
https://www.japan.travel/en/coronavirus/?fbclid=IwAR2utXDHFWOqp23iWEhLLv5SeTzcGzzlrP1f-97v1q9p41hq6KNj0MrbI-E

So, I guess we will all just have to wait and see how things progress, and if any new information comes my way I will post an update here on the blog.




Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The Reality of Japanese Breed (Nihon Ken) Kennels in Japan

This is another blog post I wrote many years ago. It's still relevant, so I edited and updated it today.

I received a question on the blog concerning my export page. I started typing a reply, and it became a long one, so I'm posting it here.

"You've mentioned that you've worked with individuals as a translator looking to export breeds from Japan, in your experience, would you be able to recommended good breeders in Japan that you've come across?"
-Anonymous

My first thought is that your definition of a good breeder, and mine, may be very different. I'm often looking for a specific type of dog for breeders overseas, so a good find would be an out cross line of dogs, quality type or working ability etc.
The honest truth is that in the Nihon Ken community here in Japan you will most likely not find a kennel that is a 'good breeder' according to the standards that most in North America and Europe apply.

So I guess then a simpler tack to take is defining a 'bad breeder'. For me a 'bad breeder' would be someone who knowingly sells unhealthy animals, does not breed for an ethical purpose, and lies or tries to rip people off.



I keep the term 'breeder' in quotation marks because the Nihon Ken community, led by the Japan Dog Preservation Society (NIPPO), is one that takes pride in amateurism, and looks down on activity seen as solely for profit. While there are professional Shiba and Akita kennels, the majority are amateur, and you will be hard pressed to find anyone in Japan making a living breeding medium sized Nihon Ken. 'Breeder' is a word that most NIPPO members are not fond of, and many will bristle at being called one.

Going back to the point about good vs. bad 'breeders', there is virtually no health/genetic testing done in Japan on the Japanese breeds. So, a pup you buy could be carrying any number of genetic issues. In the distant past when all the Nihon Ken were hunting dogs, natural selection tended to help cull dogs with bad hips, joints, hearts etc. Now that they are bred primarily for show, the end all is a dog that looks good, standing in the ring. This affects not only structure but temperament as well.

Most Nihon Ken in Japan are not house pets, and are generally kenneled outdoors their entire lives with no training whatsoever other than what is necessary to show in the ring (and some, not even that). They are not socialized, and are usually kenneled or crated singly, often in what would be described as bad (if not terrible) conditions by western standards. Ring temperament often translates into at least slightly dog aggressive dogs here in Japan, as a dog looks much more impressive when it is posturing at another dog.

Many kennels do not vaccinate their dogs, and do not give them monthly heartworm medication (filariasis is extremely common in Japan).
Simply put, most kennels here could be classified as back yard breeders overseas, with the difference being that the kennels here have extensive knowledge concerning standards, history, and breeding know how, as it pertains to their respective breeds. If you are looking for a 'breeder' that does health checks and is knowledgeable about health issues in their breed, trains their dogs, keeps them as companions, socializes their dogs, and houses them indoors, I would not have a single kennel in Japan I could recommend.

Hopefully this helps you understand the current situation, and the risks that come with purchasing a dog from a kennel in Japan. Instead of using vague terms like a 'good breeder' or an 'ethical breeder', you should think about exactly what you're looking for in a breeder and in your future dog. Specifics are important, as I'm sure each and every one of us hasn't different criteria for what we expect from a breeder. Make a list of what you cannot compromise on, and start your search from there, hopefully with an open mind.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

What Are The Japanese Breeds Like?

I did this puppy write up on the Japanese breeds quite a while ago, so it needed some editing and updating. I rewrote it for my export site http://japandogexport.com/index.php/what-are-the-japanese-breeds-like/
so I've written in from a 'we' viewpoint as opposed to an 'I' perceptive.

Since we have experienced all the Nihon Ken as pups, and as adults, we've got a fairly good feel for what they are like in comparison to each other. This is not to say they will all be like this, as every dog is unique. This is just an overall observation based on over 10 years of seeing many pups/dogs of many lines, in all the Japanese breeds.


Kishu pups: Usually pretty confident, a little stubborn and block headed. They don't usually cause too much trouble, but when their switch kicks in, all hell breaks loose. That goes for puppies and adults. All of a sudden they're strong, focused, and breathing fire. Otherwise, they're pretty happy go lucky, and not too vocal. They like to be with their family, but it's not the end of the world if I'm gone.

Shikoku pups: A bit more sensitive to their surroundings, not quite as confident as the Kishu, and they're usually rude players. They get themselves amped up and don't know how to turn it off (it's too much fun). The other pup/dog will be giving off all the stop signals, eventually snarling and snapping, and they'll still be play bowing, nipping, and bumping. They're tenacious, with less of an on/off switch than the Kishu. They make a little bit more noise too, most of that coming in the form of alarm barking. The breed does not handle stress that well, especially the females. They are very intelligent, and like to learn (dog sports are a good idea). They're usually pretty happy as long as they're with their people.

Hokkaido pups: Loud, just loud. They play loud, argue loud, whine loud, and they yodel. They also can tend to play like the Shikoku, but they have a Shiba like streak for snark thrown in as well. So they play rude, and when the other dog turns on them, they tend to react. They've got tons of energy, and drink tons of water. They're a bit of a velcro breed and prefer to be around their people, but not in the extreme. They tend to be a fairly energetic breed.

Shiba pups: They've got the most high pitch whine/bark of the Nihon Ken, and the Shiba scream... We've found them to be quite independent in character, and often a bit more aloof toward people than the other Nihon Ken. The medium sized breeds are usually a lot more attached to their owners and want to be close to them. The Shiba basically do whatever it is they want, whenever they want, but if they don't like something, you'll hear about it. I think the breed's motto should be something along the lines of, "The best defense is an offense." They've got a lot of attitude. Behaviors from other dogs that may set them off: breathing in their direction, attempting a play bow, bumping, and got forbid eye contact! They are smaller than the other Nihon Ken, which does help keep things manageable, and once they settle into a good routine they can be quite enjoyable to own.

Kai pups: All the puppies and dogs here at my place love Kai pups (and in the inverse, everyone takes a while to get over new Shikoku and Shiba pups). They're the Japanese breed that was born with social graces. That being said, there is a shy streak to the breed. They're not go, go, go, like the Shikoku or Hokkaido, but they have their moments. The breed is quite velcro, and we often have to work through some separation anxiety. We always have to handle this breed with kid gloves, as they have a long term memory bank for negative experiences. Kai tend to be the easiest to train (in obedience etc) with some even certified in Search and Rescue in Japan.

Akita pups: Akita pups tend to be quite happy-go-lucky. They're kind of like the clumsy kid in class with a good heart. An Akita pup's wail is almost cute, it's so plaintive. They usually are a bit mouthy as puppies and like to nip/chew a lot. Toilet training Akita puppies often takes a bit more work, whereas with the other Japanese breeds it comes almost naturally. As a large breed, the Akita definitely have a lower energy level than the other Nihon Ken, and enjoy being couch potatoes. 
All the Japanese breeds are based on dogs that were kept for thousands of years and hunters and watchdogs, so they carry many of these traits from their ancestors. They will probably want to chase and hunt small animals, and they will most likely alarm bark to let you know about anything they feel is odd. As watchdogs they also tend to show a wariness toward strangers and strange situations. This is why positive experiences and proper socialization when young is important, and is something that should be continued throughout the dog's life. It is also important to understand your dog however, and realize that just like people, dogs will like/dislike certain things. Maybe your dog will not like other dogs. You can work on managing it, but it will be a lot more enjoyable for you and your dog if you don't continually try to 'fix' things by forcing your dog into situations it does not like.

One of the joys of owning a primitive breed is getting to experience their independent intelligence. In the Japanese breeds there is definitely less refinement toward obedience or a specific skillset. They are more of an all round partner that co-exists with you, adapting to you and your environment. Your job as an owner is to protect, learn to communicate with, and guide your dog through the modern world efficiently.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

The Hokkaido Ken Standard


So during my trip to Finland/Norway in January I had some time to really lock into some translation and organization of some of my Nihon Ken related data. I even managed to get to some of my long back-burnered projects like translating the Hokkaido Ken Hozonkai standard. There is actually a detailed breakdown of each point in the standard. One day I'll have to get around to translating that as well (I'll get to the NIPPO standard some day soon hopefully). So without further ado, here it is, as translated by yours truly.

PREFACE
There are 7 Nihon Ken breeds designated natural monuments: The Akita Inu (large type), Kai Ken (medium type), Kishu Ken (medium type), Koshi no Inu (medium type), Tosa Inu (medium type), Hokkaido Ken (medium type) and Shiba Inu (small type). However, all the medium size breeds other than the Hokkaido are from warmer regions south of Chubu. Even among the same medium type Nihon Ken, the Hokkaido Ken holds a unique place; a former hunting breed kept by the Ainu, with the build of a hunting dog, its physique forged in the snow and cold. Having this particular adaption and quality gives the Hokkaido Ken standard a particular and unique meaning.

The Hokkaido Ken was designated a natural monument on the 21st of  December, 1937.

THE HOKKAIDO KEN STANDARD (Set on the 11th of April, 1954)

1.APPEARANCE AND TEMPERAMENT
Showing 'soboku' and sexual dimorphism, structure balanced and dry, well boned, musculature tough, wiry, and strong, character bold and even natured, senses keen, movement energetic and agile, step light and elastic.
2. BODY
Roughly square in physical appearance, front quarters slightly higher than rear.
·Males 48.5cm, +/- 3cm
·Females 45.5cm +/- 3cm
·The ratio of height to length is 10:11; females slightly longer.

3. HEAD
The forehead is wide, cheeks well developed. The stop and vertical line in middle of forehead are shallow but defined.
Ears: The ears are triangular, small, and cupped. When viewed from the front, the ears should be parallel to each other and stand at a roughly 90 degree angle to the forehead.
Eyes: The eyes are roughly triangular, the outside corner of the eye angling upward. The eyes do not protrude from the skull. Iris is dark brown in color. The expression they give is lively and cautious, but also showing boldness.
Muzzle: The nasal bridge is straight, the lips and nose taught, teeth strong, and bite correct.

4. NECK
The neck is strong, powerful, and clean cut. The skin should be tight without looseness.

5. CHEST AND TORSO
The chest is deep, the ribs are well sprung with moderate width, and the fore chest is well developed. The back is straight and strong.

6. GIRTH, WAIST, AND CROUP
The girth is proportional to the chest, the loin is strong with moderate width, and the c
roup is slightly inclined.

7. FOREQUARTERS
The shoulder is slightly sloping, the forearm is moderately angled, and the front limbs are straight.

8. HINDQUARTERS
With a powerful rear stance, hocks are moderately angled, dry, with plenty of elasticity.

9. FEET
Paws correct with toes tight without spacing (editor: cat feet), pads thick, and nails are black or darkly colored appropriate to coat color.

10. COAT
Outer coat tough and harsh, straight, and moderately angled. Undercoat is soft and dense.

11. TAIL
Tail thick and strong in either curl or sickle, length generally reaching the hock.

12. COAT COLOR
Red, white, black & tan, brindle, wolf grey, sesame, and variations of these colors.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Available Kai Male Pup

EDIT: Thank you for your inquiries. These pups have found homes.


There is also currently a Kai male pup available (one of these two). DOB January 18, 2020. For more information contact me at kato.the.walrus@gmail.com

This is what his pedigree would look like.
https://nihonken.pedigreedatabaseonline.com/en/trialmating/father=2933/mother=2939

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Available Male Shikoku Pup


EDIT: This male has been homed 2020/05/06

So there's a male Shikoku pup available. DOB October 12th, 2019.
All interested parties can contact Mika Daijin on Facebook directly (if you're on Facebook) or send me an email at kato.the.walrus@gmail.com and I'll try to connect you somehow. Below is his pedigree.





Wednesday, March 4, 2020

NIPPO Grand National 2020 (UPDATED!!)

So the location of the NIPPO 2020 Grand National has been finalized. It was announced once, but there were problems with the venue due to damage from last years typhoons.

As originally announced it will be held in Nagano prefecture. The show will be a one day show, just like last year, and will be held on the 15th of November.


Here's the address:
954-2 Aokijimaotsu, Aokijimamachi,
Nagano-shi, Nagano 381-2241

Here's the venue in relation to Tokyo


Book your flights, book your hotels! Enter some dogs! See you there!

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Nihon Ken Yearly Registration Graph For the Medium Size Breeds

So I've put together a graph (rather quickly so some of the numbers might be slightly off) tracking the yearly registrations of the medium size Japanese breeds. These four breeds are the Kishu, Shikoku, Kai, and Hokkaido.

I don't have numbers for all breeds from last year, but I do know there were only 252 Kishu pups and 306 Shikoku pups registered in Japan.

For some clarity on just how bad the decline in numbers is, in 1971 there were 7061 Hokkaido puppies registered with the HKH. In 2018 there were 242.
The early 70's were the heyday of the medium size Japanese breeds with 90074 new dogs registered over the 4 breeds in 1973. In 2018 there were 1661.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

NIPPO Grand National Location... hold yer horses

So there's been an announcement from NIPPO that the venue will need to be changed due to damage from last years typhoons. The new venue will still be in Nagano prefecture, but will be announced sometime in February.

NIPPO apologizes to anyone who has made plans based on the venue location. As I said, the national will still be hosted by the NIPPO Nagano branch, in Nagano prefecture. The show date will still be the 15th of November, 2020.




Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Norway!

So last year I received an invite from the Norwegian Nihon Ken Club to be a guest speaker at their annual members meeting. I accepted, and arrived mid-January prepared for freezing temperatures and massive amounts of snow. Fortunately, it's been a mild winter, and this poor Japanese soul from balmy Chiba did not have to freeze. It did drop down to minus 5 one night, but all in all it was very very acceptable weather. 


It was great to be able to see friends I hadn't seen in a while (some online friends that I'd never met in person too), and to get that first time visit to Norway. The end of the year is always a very busy time for me (and the hunting season is in swing) but I managed to work like a maniac to put together a cohesive powerpoint (I think!). The presentation was primarily about hunting with the Nihon Ken, the history of the breeds, things like that. Since I went through all the trouble of collating the years of material I've collected, I'll start sharing it on the blog as time allows.


One big take away from this trip was realizing just how little information about the Japanese breeds and the breed standards is available outside of Japan. From the Japanese viewpoint, we wonder why the breeds change so quickly (in 1 or 2 generations) once they are overseas, and I think there's a lot of negativity attached to that. But what do we expect if there's no information or data, and no teachers? I'm motivated to get back to sharing more of that type of information here on the blog.


All in all I really enjoyed Norway. The country's beautiful, the people were friendly and intelligent, and I really enjoyed the feel and vibe of everything. It's one of those places where I thought, 'I could live here with my dogs.' A large part of that was learning through this trip about the hunting dog culture in Northern Europe, and their spitz type hunting breeds. More than anywhere else in the world, I believe the northern Europeans are actually using the Japanese breeds for their original purpose, hunting. The Nihon Ken population is primarily Shiba (I hear there are 2000 Shiba in Norway now), but they are doing all sorts of dog sports with them, and of course hunting and blood tracking etc. It was very impressive, and I will be sharing in the near future some of the videos and pictures I was given by many of the owners. Impressive stuff which makes me very hopeful for the future of the Nihon Ken!

Monday, January 13, 2020

Nihon Ken Pedigree Database is ONLINE

Sooooo, the full version with capability for all 6 of the Nihon Ken is online! Thanks to the gentlemen at pedigreedatabaseonline.com for helping us with all the backdoor fixes.

https://nihonken.pedigreedatabaseonline.com/

As you can imagine, this is going to take an immense amount of work to get all the data for all 6 of the breeds online. I'm considering opening up permissions to some select people to help enter all the data. Some of you have already expressed interest in helping with this, but please contact me again so we can discuss the details. I am trying to keep the data on the site as uniform and correct as possible, hence my trepidation at opening it up to all entries and editing.

I will be setting up a Facebook group to coordinate all the data entry, and to get feedback on fields we would like to add/remove, health issues to track for each breed etc.

The database is on its way! Of course there are some bugs that need to be ironed out...