Shikoku dog

Shikoku Dog Breed: Undiscovered Gem

Shikoku Dog Breed


Like an undiscovered gem, the Shikoku dog breed may not be as popular as other breeds, but its unique traits make it stand out.

In this article, you’ll learn about the rich history of this remarkable breed, its distinctive physical characteristics, and endearing temperament.

You’ll also get an insight into their exercise and training needs to ensure they’re happiest and healthiest.

Plus, we’ll delve into special health considerations for this breed and discuss their care and maintenance needs.

Whether you’re a seasoned dog owner or in the process of choosing your first furry friend, getting to know the Shikoku breed will surely add to your canine knowledge, and who knows, it might just be the perfect match for you.

Historical Background of the Breed

Shikoku dog

The Shikoku dog, also known as the Shikoku Ken, hails from the rugged mountainous region of Shikoku Island, hence its name. Thanks to their exceptional tracking skills and endurance, these agile dogs were primarily used for hunting boars and deer. They’re one of Japan’s six native breeds and are highly revered in their homeland.

The history of the Shikoku dog isn’t just about its hunting prowess. It’s also a story of survival. The need for these dogs began to decline with the advent of fire hunting during the Meiji era. Yet, they managed to survive, mainly due to the isolation of the Shikoku region and the efforts of dedicated breeders who recognized their unique qualities.

Despite their survival, these dogs remain relatively rare, even in Japan, and are considered a national treasure. However, it shouldn’t deter you from viewing them as a potential pet. They’re known for their loyalty, intelligence, and a certain wild charm that’s hard to resist. And while they’re not the easiest breed to train, their tenacity and willingness to please will surely win you over.

So, if you’re in the market for a unique and historical breed, the Shikoku dog might be the one for you.

Physical Characteristics

The Shikoku dog, a breed native to Japan, has a well-built and sturdy physique. They stand about 17 to 22 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 35 and 55 pounds, with males slightly larger than females.

Their coat is a double layer, with a complex, straight outer coat and a soft, dense undercoat.


The Shikoku dog typically comes in three coat colors:

  1. Sesame is the most common color; the base color is red with black-tipped hairs.
  2. Red: The dog has an overall red coat with no black tips.
  3. Black and Tan: The dog has a black coat with tan markings on the face, chest, legs, and underside.

The most striking feature of the Shikoku is perhaps its almond-shaped, brown eyes that express a keen intelligence. Their ears are set high and tilt forward slightly, adding to their alert and ready-to-go expression.

The Shikoku has a well-developed chest and tight belly, giving it a streamlined silhouette. Their back is straight and strong, leading to a high-set tail that curls over the back. Their seat is thick and complete, the fur slightly longer than the rest of the body.

Interestingly, the Shikoku’s paws are cat-like compact with well-arched toes, which help them navigate their natural mountainous terrain with agility and speed. This breed is known for its agile movements and quick reflexes, making it an excellent working dog, particularly in hunting.

The Shikoku dog is as beautiful as it is functional. Their physical characteristics make them excellent working dogs and fascinating pets, with their alert expressions and lively movements. So, if you’re looking for a striking and sturdy dog, the Shikoku could be the perfect fit.

Temperament and Behavior

shikoku dog breed picturesYou’ll be fascinated to learn that 90% of owners describe this Japanese native as alert, courageous, and loyal, displaying a well-balanced temperament. Shikoku dogs are known for their keen senses, agility, and quick responses, which make them excellent hunters and companions. They are often reserved and somewhat aloof, especially with strangers, but they’re not usually aggressive unless threatened. They’ll protect their family members and territory with a fierce determination that belies their medium size.

Now, don’t be fooled by their hunting prowess; these dogs have a softer side too. Shikoku dogs are very loyal and form strong bonds with their family members. They’re known to be affectionate with those they trust, and they love to play, especially outdoors. So, if you’re active, you have a perfect buddy. However, they may not be as playful and tolerant with other pets, particularly if they haven’t been socialized properly.

Training a Shikoku can be a bit of a challenge due to their independent nature. They’re intelligent, quick to learn, and have a stubborn streak that can make them resistant to repetitive training methods. Positive reinforcement, patience, and consistency are essential when training these dogs.

Shikoku dogs are not generally destructive or overly energetic despite their independent streak. They are calm and relatively quiet, making them suitable for suburban and rural living. This unique combination of alertness and tranquility makes the Shikoku an excellent companion, protector, and friend. They’ll bring joy, companionship, and a sense of security into your home.

Exercise and Training Requirements


Given their high energy levels and agility, this Japanese canine requires regular physical activity and mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy. As a breed originally bred for hunting, Shikoku dogs thrive on outdoor activities like running, hiking, and playing fetch. They’re quick learners and will enjoy the challenge of agility training, obedience training, or even participating in dog sports.

Train Shikoku dogs can be a rewarding experience, but not without challenges. They’re known for their independent streak, sometimes making them stubborn and difficult to train. This means you’ll need a lot of patience and consistency in your training methods. Positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats and praise, are usually the most effective with this breed. They’re intelligent dogs, so they’ll quickly pick up on what you’re teaching them if you’re consistent and patient.

Socialization from an early age is also crucial for a Shikoku dog. They can be wary of strangers and a bit aloof with other dogs, so exposing them to various people, places, and situations is essential to help them become well-adjusted adults. Regular playdates with other dogs, trips to the park, and basic obedience classes can all benefit their social development.

Remember, a tired Shikoku is a happy Shikoku. Ensure they have plenty of opportunities for physical activity and mental stimulation each day. By meeting their exercise and training needs, you’ll have a loyal, energetic, and well-behaved companion ready to join you on all your adventures.

Health Considerations

While they’re generally healthy, there are a few potential health concerns to remember when caring for your furry friend from Japan. The Shikoku dog breed, like any other, is susceptible to specific health issues. Knowing these can help ensure your pet’s long and happy life.

One common issue in Shikoku dogs is allergies. These dogs may have skin or food allergies that can lead to discomfort. If you notice your dog is excessively scratching, licking, or showing signs of skin irritation, it’s worth visiting the vet to rule out allergies. Feeding your Shikoku a balanced diet can help prevent food all.

The Shikoku is also prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, leading to pain and mobility issues. Regular vet checkups and checkups identify these problems early, as can keeping an eye out for any changes in your dog’s movements or behaviors. Regular exercise and a healthy weight can also help keep these conditions at bay.

Eye issues are another potential health problem in Shikoku dogs. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and cataracts are the most common eye conditions. Regular vet checks can help catch these conditions early, and treatments are available to help with visits.

Remember, every dog is unique and may not experience these health issues. However, being aware of the potential problems and taking preventative measures can help keep your Shikoku healthier and happier. Regular vet visits, a balanced diet, and plenty of exercise can go a long way in ensuring your dog’s well-being. After all, a healthy dog is a happy dog!

Care and Maintenance Needs

Caring for your furry friend from Japan requires a balance of love, attention, and the right know-how to paint a picture of a harmonious and loving household. The Shikoku dog, with its unique needs and characteristics, demands special attention when it comes to care and maintenance.

These energetic dogs need a good amount of exercise every day. It’s more than just walking around the block; they thrive on challenges and activities that stimulate their hunting instincts. Think long hikes, agility training, or even a game of fetch. Remember, a bored Shikoku can become destructive.

Shikoku dogs also need a balanced diet. They’re prone to obesity if overfed, so monitor their food intake and avoid feeding them table scraps. Consult your vet to figure out the best diet plan for your pup.

Grooming is another aspect you can’t overlook with this breed. Their double coat needs regular brushing to keep it healthy and shiny. While they’re not heavy shedders, they blow their coat twice a year, during which regular grooming becomes even more crucial. Additionally, don’t forget about their nails, ears, and teeth. Regular nail trims, ear checks for infections, and dental care are all part of the package when you’ve got a Shikoku.

Equally important is their mental stimulation. Shikokus are intelligent dogs that love to learn. Dedicate daily time for training and brain games to keep them mentally active.

Your Shikoku’s care and maintenance need not be a daunting task. It’s all about understanding their needs and providing them correctly. With a little effort, you can ensure that your Shikoku remains a happy, healthy, and well-behaved family member.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Shikoku Dog breed a good choice for families with young children?

Yes, it can be a good choice. Shikokus are typically friendly, patient, and protective, making them great companions for young kids. However, they require exercise and training, so they’ll need your commitment.

How does the Shikoku Dog breed interact with other pets?

As anachronistic as it may seem, other pets in your household won’t be left in the dust. Your Shikoku tends to be pleasant, but early socialization ensures smooth interactions with other animals.

What is the average lifespan of a Shikoku Dog?

The average lifespan of a Shikoku dog is typically between 10 to 15 years. Like any breed, their lifespan can be influenced by diet, exercise, and regular veterinary checkups.

Acheckups: Are there any specific dietary needs for the Shikoku Dog breed that potential owners should know?

Shikoku dogs don’t have any specific dietary needs. However, they’re active and require a balanced diet of proteins and healthy fats. Always consult a vet for your pet’s individual nutritional needs.

Where can potential owners find reputable breeders or adoption centers for Shikoku Dogs?

Finding reputable Shikoku dog breeders or adoption centers can be tricky. Start by checking with breed-specific clubs or organizations. Websites like the American Kennel Club can also provide lists of trusted breeders nationwide.


The Shikoku dog breed is often perceived as being too energetic. However, with regular exercise and proper training, they can become a joy to have around. Their robust health, loyalty, and adaptability make them an excellent companion. It is essential to be consistent with their care and maintenance. Doing so will give you a furry friend who will stick with you through thick and thin. Give the Shikoku a chance – you won’t regret it!

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