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(Kishu Ken)
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Form and Function

The Kishu is a medium-sized, well-balanced muscular dog with prick ears and a curled tail, characteristics that suggest his true spitz type. The Kishu’s appearance suggests great endurance, a nod to the breed’s early days as a hunter of wild boar and deer in the mountainous terrain of Japan.


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Breed Traits

Energy Level

4 out of 5

Exercise Requirements

4 out of 5


3 out of 5

Affection Level

3 out of 5

Friendliness To Dogs

3 out of 5

Friendliness To Other Pets

1 out of 5

Friendliness To Strangers

1 out of 5


2 out of 5

Ease of Training

2 out of 5

Grooming Requirements

2 out of 5

Heat Sensitivity

2 out of 5


2 out of 5

Breed Attributes




30 to 60 pounds


17 to 22 inches


Northern (UKC), Foundation Stock Service (AKC)

Area of Origin


Date of Origin


Other Names

Kishu Ken


The Kishu is a descendant of the tough, ancient medium-sized Japanese dogs and was historically used to hunt wild boar and deer. The breed was established and developed in the mountainous terrain of Kishu, for which the breed took its name, and was bred in a variety of colors and patterns, such as white, red, brindle and spotted. However, solid colors only were accepted beginning in 1934, and by 1945, the spotted varieties also disappeared. Today, the Kishu’s primary and preferred color is white. Japan designated the Kishu a “Memorial of Nature” in 1934, hence why the breed is rarely exported. The Kishu was recognized by the United Kennel Club as a member of the Northern Breed Group in 2006 and continues to be part of the American Kennel Club’s Foundation Stock Service during its further development.


Dignified and noble, the Kishu is known to be a faithful, intelligent and docile breed. Energetic yet easygoing, the Kishu is a good fit for an active family, but is also a relaxed and well-mannered house dog. He is reserved among strangers, yet gentle and affectionate with his human companions. Because of the breed’s high prey drive, the Kishu is not recommended for families with small pets, such as cats, but does well with children provided he’s raised with them.


The Kishu doesn’t require much grooming beyond weekly brushing and the occasional bath, as well as regular nail trimming, ear cleaning and teeth brushing. He sheds seasonally, during which more frequent brushing may be necessary. The Kishu should be given plenty of daily exercise — free running and playtime in a large fenced yard is ideal to also keep him mentally stimulated. Proper training and socialization are a must, as the Kishu will work independently and do what he wants until taught otherwise.


Major Concerns: N/A

Minor Concerns: N/A

Occasionally Seen: N/A

Suggested Tests: N/A

Lifespan: 11 to 13 years


Note: While the characteristics mentioned here may frequently represent this breed, dogs are individuals whose personalities and appearances will vary. Please consult the adoption organization for details on a specific pet.

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