Sometimes called the Kishu Ken or Kishu Inu (Inu and Ken meaning “dog” in Japanese), this dog is very rare and isn’t seen often outside of its native homeland of Japan. Best Bully Sticks wants to share the beauty and sprit of the Kishu Ken in today’s Breed Spotlight. We think you’ll enjoy reading about this ancient, stealthy and beautiful breed!

History & Background: Bred for 3,000 years in Japan, the Kishu is an ancient breed. Originating in the southern most island of Japan, (Kyushu) the Kishu line has stayed pure simply because of the geographical limitations of living on an island. This dog was first used as a hunter of deer, boar and sometimes bear. This dog’s hunting skill is sometimes described as “one dog, one shot” describing the Kishu’s ability to stalk and keep the prey at bay until the hunter could approach close enough to kill the prey with one shot.

The Kishu was named a “Memorial of Nature” in 1934 by the Japanese and because Japanese culture truly appreciates their national treasures, exportation of this breed is severely restricted. There are only two breeders of Kishu’s outside of Japan—the Netherlands and Texas. The AKC has the Kishu listed on their Foundation Stock Service list and recognizes this dog in some of their agility and obedience trials.

Height: 17 to 22 inches

Weight: 30 to 60 pounds

Coat: The Kishu’s coat is short, straight and coarse. The undercoat is very dense and makes this dog have a downy looking coat.  A Kishu’s fur feathers on the back legs and cheeks and the tail is plumed.

Color: White is the only coat color that is acceptable for the breed standard. However, sometimes this dog can be brindled or red, but it’s very rare. The nose color is usually black but can also be brownish or pink.

Appearance: This breed is very similar to Shibas, Akitas and Japanese Spitz type dogs. However, these dogs tend to be slimmer than Akitas and don’t usually share the colorings of Shibas. Kishus do share the white coloring and plumed, arching tail of the Japanese Sptiz, but Kishu’s are much larger. The ears of the Kishu tend to be smaller rather than larger and point forward. This breed is sleek, agile and muscular.

Temperament: Kishus are a highly intelligent, active breed that are one person/one family dogs. This means that a Kishu will usually tightly bond with one person in a family. An ideal family for a Kishu is one that has time to thoroughly train this dog and spends a great deal of time outdoors. Even though a Kishu can tend to be willful or stubborn, training is necessary for this dog to reach its ultimate potential. Socialization needs to be a part of the training process because if this dog can sense that a human with a weaker mind is around, then the Kishu will assume the pack leader position over them. Training a Kishu to be lower than it’s humans is important when children are present. This is also the case for any strangers the dog might encounter.

A Kishu has a strong pretty instinct and quietly stalks its prey without barking.  This breed has been known to climb trees to hunt its prey. Socialization is key for this dog as a puppy.  For small household animals like cats, guinea pigs and hamsters, a Kishu’s socialization is important, and it’s even sometimes suggested not to have other small animals in the home at all.  If other dogs are in the home, Kishu’s need to be introduced as puppies.

Health: This dog is generally a very healthy dog. However, Kishu’s do need a lot of exercise to satiate their energy levels. A high fence is also recommended.  Kishu’s also benefit from routine grooming habits, such as a weekly brushing to keep the coat mat free and clean. The Kishu usually lives 11 to 13 years.

Product Suggestions: Since the Kishu needs thorough training on and off the leash, BBS suggests two products that will help the Kishu quickly be a model dog of obedience. Premier Gentle Leader Beef Liver Training Treats are a great morsel of flavor that will provide positive reinforcement to Kishu in training. The Premier Gentle Leader Dog Head Collar is another way to control your Kishu on a leash. Easy and gentle, this is the #1 Recommended Dog head collar by Veterinarians and Dog Trainers.

Read about more interesting dog breed stories in BBS Breed Spotlight archives!

You may not own or know a Kishu, but what do you think of this breed? Tell us in the comments section!