Kishu Ken

Kishu Ken, also known as Kishu Inu or simply Kishu. This is a Japanese breed of dog that has been developed in Japan for thousands of years.

Kishu Ken image

Although the standard only permits solid colors to be shown, the many acceptable colors of the Kishu include white, red or sesame. White seems to have become a more popular color than the others.

Tough, agile and friendly. These are three great words to describe the Kishu Ken. As a very loyal breed, the Kishu is great with a single owner or a family. There is a tendency to hunt small animals or rodents, but with socialization skills instilled at a young age, there should be no problems with other animals such as dogs and cats. Also, being a medium-sized breed, be sure to have the time and the space to let these dogs move around if you decide to bring home a Kishu Ken.


The Kishu Ken was a primitive dog that was selectively bred over the years. The dog was primarily bred for hunting of wild boar and deer is what is known as the mountainous Mie prefecture as well as the Wakayama prefecture.

Although this breed goes back centuries, the breed was not standardized until 1934. Because the white color was the most popular at that time, that color continued to be shared from generation to generation, which explains the mostly white breed it is today.

The Kishu has been recognized as a standard monument of Japan since it was standardized in 1934, which is what makes the breed so rare in North America and Europe. It is uncommon to find a Kishu Ken breeder outside of Japan, but there are a handful of breeders in the United States, the Czech Republic as well as the Netherlands, Russia, Poland and Finland.


The Kishu Ken is considered a medium-sized dog. Kishu Kens usually stand 17 to 22 inches and weigh between 30 and 60 pounds.


One aspect that is very important about the Kishu Ken breed is that the dogs are a one person/one family dog. From being courageous and brave as the hunters they were originally bred to be to being very loyal to their owners, Kishu Kens make a great family pet. Kishu Kens do have a strong sense of catching prey, so they have been known to hunt small animals.

If raised to be social at a very young age, Kishu Kens have been known to socialize well with other dogs as well as cats on occasion if the animals grow up together. There is; however, a pack instinct that comes with a Kishu Ken, which means there can be fights for the dominant spot in the family of animals.

Kishu Kens can be very headstrong as well as willful on their own, which means training is important. But, this breed is very loyal to family and does very well with children, as long as the dog is raised with the children. Also, this breed is easily housebroken, very intelligent and strong willed with their own actions.


There are not many health problems with the Kishu Ken breed. There is the occasional hypothyroidism (low thyroid), which can show up in 1 in 10 dogs. This is a not a life-threatening disease and treatment is a simple thyroid pill that would need to be taken daily. One other possible issue for Kishu Kens is called entropion, a genetic defect in which the eyelid turns inward and the eyes lashes scratch the eyeball. This is caused, partially, because of the triangular shape of the eye in the breed. To prevent the loss of vision in the affected eye as well as the pain it causes, surgery is required. Also, there are no food or environmental allergies for the Kishu Ken.


The Kishu Ken has a short, straight, and coarse coat with a thick undercoat. This means a Kishu Ken needs to be brushed weekly to keep their fur clean and free of mats that can cause problems with the dogs’ skin. The Kishu Ken needs to be bathed as needed, and their ears should be checked on a regular basis for dirt, infection or wax build up. Nails need to be trimmed on a regular schedule, and being that Kishu Kens shed twice a year, grooming around these times are important for the cleanliness of the dog—as well as the home.

For exercise, these medium-sized dogs need a fair amount of space to roam and exercise. They also need regular, daily exercise like a neighborhood walk or run.


Please check your local area for other rescues near you or to learn more about this breed.


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