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.

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)

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.
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.

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.

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

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.

The girth is proportional to the chest, the loin is strong with moderate width, and the c
roup is slightly inclined.

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

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

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.

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

Monday, March 9, 2020

Available Kai Male Pup

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

This is what his pedigree would look like.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Available Male Shikoku Pup

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 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 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


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 for helping us with all the backdoor fixes.

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...