Shikoku dog breed | All you need to know

Shikoku dog is a Japanese breed of dog from the Shikoku island of Japan from where it derives its name. It is quite intelligent, versatile and known for its hunting skills. It belongs to Spitz family of dogs.

Shikoku Inu is one of the six native Japanese breeds of dogs. It is a medium sized dog between Large Akita Inu and small Shiba Inu. Inu meaning Dog in Japanese.

Physical Characteristics of Shikoku dog

Shikoku dog is a medium sized dog with erect ears and a curly tail. They have some wolf like appearance but not as similar like a Husky. They have wedge shaped head, tapering muzzle and broad skull. The eyes of Shikoku dog are dark brown in color and almond shaped.

Shikoku dogs are well boned and have a muscular body. This makes them extremely agile which used to help them chase the prey in the mountainous regions of Japan.

Shikoku dog has a double coat like Akita having red, red-sesame, and blackish or black-sesame colors. The outer coat is harsh whereas the inner coat is soft and dense. The outer coat is coarse to touch but the inner coat is soft and dense.

Shikoku dog is smaller than Akita dog and bigger than Shiba dog. Kochi-ken or Shikoku can grow to a height of 17 to 22 inches, weight of 35 to 55 pounds and has life expectancy of around 12 years.

Shikoku dog


Shikoku dogs are very loyal, brave, courageous yet cautious dogs. Though as they were bred since ancient times as hunting dogs, the prey drive is still intense.

Shikoku are known for being highly intelligent and alert dogs. They are usually calm and relaxed indoors but would need their fair bit of exercise / walk. They are also highly agile and athletic dogs.

Shikoku dogs are quite loyal to their owners. They would gel well with all owners but would be specially attached to the primary owner. He would obey his commands and would be fiercely loyal for him.

Being naturally protective, they serve as great watch dogs. They are highly territorial as well and doesn’t take the presence of other pets, strangers easy. Shikoku dogs are required to be socialized with humans and pets since beginning.

Still with their long history of hunting dogs they cannot be trusted and left alone with other pets. They still have high prey drive and may see the small children or pets also as prey. They will not take the unruly behavior of a naughty child easy. Thus they are not recommended for families with small children and other pets.

Shikoku dog

Shikoku as family dog

Shikoku are very loyal and are submissive only to its primary owner. They love to be affectionate and touched and be in company of the humans. This dog breed is not recommended as Apartment friendly dog. They are suitable for folks who have a fenced yard where Shikoku dogs can play and run.

Shikoku dogs are also known to rush, chase and kill small pets due to their instincts. Even if they have grown up with small pets like rabbits, cats etc, they can still not be trusted while playing with them owing to there prey instincts.

Shikoku love to take things in their mouth which may scare small children. Due to their high prey drive they are not recommended for families with small children.

They do not bark much but can be really loud if they perceive danger. Training and socialization from birth is important for Shikoku.

They need a dominant leader whom Shikoku can look upon. The one who can make the dog understand of any unruly behavior. This is not a dog for a novice or first time dog owner. Though once he has got the right dominant owner, he is a very loyal watchdog.

Shikoku dog

Varieties of Shikoku dog

There are three varieties of Shikoku dog based on the parts they were bred on the Shikoku island.

  1. Awa,
  2. Hongawa
  3. Hata

Hongawa is one of the most purest dog breed as it is bred in very tough and non accessible mountainous regions. Hence they are very rare even in Japan.

Care required


Shikoku are recommended to have high quality dog food but it should be light in calorie as they might get over weight. Take the advise of the vet who can advise based on the age, size and build of the dog.


Shikoku sheds twice a year when their inner coat blows out. They shed a lot and are not hypoallergenic dogs. So weekly brushing and regular vacuuming would be required.

Bathing should only be when he is dirty or smelly. Frequent bathing may dry up natural oils from the skin and this may lead to skin ailments.

You would also need to trim the fast-growing nails with a nail clipper to avoid overgrowth and cracking.

Need help. Check out


Kochi-ken are calm and relaxed when inside but they require a lot of exercise. They are the dogs for folks who can spend lot of time outside. They need firm training since birth to subvert their aggressive prey drive.

An hour long daily walk is recommended for Shikoku dogs. They would also need some mental stimulation to keep them busy. A home having a high fenced yard is good for them as this allows them to play, run and vent out their energy.


Shikoku dogs need early socialization and obedience training since beginning. This is required to subvert their high prey drive as much as possible. They are intelligent dogs so can learn the commands quickly but they can be obstinate at times.

Shikoku Dog


Shikoku is one of the purest breed and is considered quite healthy. There are no known congenital problems associated with Shikoku but they may get usual problems associated with dogs like

  1. Panosteitis – This refers to a short-lived (self-limiting) and painful condition characterized by limping and lameness. This happens due to inflammation of the outer surface or shaft of one or more long bones of the legs
  2. Hip dysplasia – Hip dysplasia is the medical term for a hip socket that doesn’t fully cover the ball portion of the upper thighbone. This causes pain in the joints leading to arthritis.
  3. Elbow dysplasia – This medical condition happens due to abnormal development of the elbow joint. Dogs with Elbow dysplasia may start limping on their forelegs.
  4. Patellar luxation – This medical condition happens when dog’s kneecap (patella) is dislocated from its normal position in the groove of the thigh bone. 
  5. Epilepsy
  6. Digestive and urinary problems

Shikoku Litter size and Puppy size

Average size of Shikoku dog is 3 to 5 puppies. As they are medium sized dogs who are intelligent and agile with the prey instinct still in them, obedience training and socialization is required since beginning.

Kochi ken

Interesting Facts about Shikoku

  1. Nihon Ken Hozonkai (NIPPO) designated Shikoku as a living Natural Monument in 1937 in efforts to protect the endangered breed.
  2. It is considered as one of the purest breed and hence Shikoku are known to be quite healthy.

Pros and Cons of Shikoku Dog

Highly loyal and intelligent dogsHave an intense prey drive and not suitable for families with small children and other small pets.
Excellent WatchdogsHighly Territorial and can be aggressive to strangers
Very healthy dog breedShed a lot


Shikoku dog were bred since ancient times as a hunting dog by the Japanese hunters (Matagi), mainly for hunting boar and deer in the mountain districts of Kochi Prefecture. That’s how they are also called as “Kochi-ken”. Ken also means dog in Japanese.

After world war 1, Shikoku dogs decline due to economic depression.

The Nihon Ken Hozonkai (NIPPO) formed to preserve the six native Japanese dog breeds. In the year 1937, Shikoku dog was declared a “Living Natural Monument” of Japan. Since then, they have been protected by law.

Shikoku is not yet recognized by AKC. This breed is still part of AKC Foundation stock service. Shikoku is a recognized breed of UKC, United Kennel club of England.

Final Thoughts

Shikoku dogs are very loyal and energetic. If you can spend quality time with him, can get his exercise daily and have him trained, he can become your best companion. This is a dog not suitable for apartments or the lazy pet owners.

Still Families with small children and other pets should avoid Shikoku dog for their inherent hunting traits.


Do Shikoku dogs shed?

They have double coat and shed a lot. They are known to blow their inner coat once or twice a year.

How big are Shikoku dogs?

Shikoku can grow to a height of 17 to 22 inches with an average weight of 35 to 55 pounds.

Are Shikoku healthy dogs?

Shikoku is considered as one of the most pure breed and are known to be very healthy. Having said that they may have some common ailments as prone to other dogs like Hip and elbow dysplasia.


  3. Pics –