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Kishu (Kishu-Ken)


The Kishu, or Kishu Ken as is commonly known in its native country, is a Japanese dog with a millenary history as usually happens with this region’s dogs.

The Kishu is an antique dog that grew popular in the Kishu region (now Wakayama), to which it owes its name. It is a dog quite little known internationally, only enjoys popularity in Japan.

The Kishu is quite similar to the white Hokkaido, but it should not be confused with this since both breeds have differences in appearance and behavior. Other breeds that share some similarities with the Kishu are Kai-Ken and Shikoku.

It is a bold and extremely brave dog that, through thousands of years has developed a very good haunting instinct since, in antiquity, it was used for hunting wild boars, deer, foxes, and other small mammals. One of its characteristics is that this breed prefers hiding in the undergrowth and waits until its prey is at a distance that allows it to stalk it without failing.

The Kishu is a quiet dog. In the past, these dogs had spots of different colors on their skins. However, many cynological associations forbid them from the standard, therefore, since 1934 is very hard to see Kishus with spots on their furs although in 1945 they were accepted again within the standard.

It is a formidable strong dog of semi-robust appearance, big bones, and a compact body. Its eyes should be dark brown, small, elongated and with a characteristic happiness expression. In this breed, their eyes are very separated.

The ears of the Kishu are small and they are always pointed, ending in a closed and oval shape, they are above the head and have a wide separation between them. The tail of the Kishu can arch over the back or it can also be curled up.

It possesses two coats of fur since in the zone it lives, from centuries there has been intense cold in many of its seasons. The external fur possesses a rough and straight coat, while the inner fur works as some kind of wool to warm the dog in cold weather and not allow heat to escape. The fur can be long in the tail area and in the cheeks, this can be red, red-orange, white and red and orange with black tips.

Today, the Kishu is still used for some Japanese people for haunting wild boars and deers. However, it is more used in the Japanese country as a watchdog and as a faithful, attentive and playful pet.

If you want a Kishu as a pet, you must know that in the past this was a haunting dog, for which it is used to spend a lot of energy exercising on haunting or at any other activity that could represent a big waste of energy daily, as it can be running with its owner, playing with him, running with other pets or running on its own.

You also must know that if you do not give it the necessary daily exercise, you will probably see how it takes your shoes, clothes and even the cushions of your sofas and proceed to bite them to release a bit its stress while it exercises running from one place to the other.

The Kishu is an extremely attentive, docile and tolerant dog. They are fairly independent so they do not require your attention throughout the whole day. Naturally, this does not mean that you will not give it attention through the day since they daily need at least 60 – 70 minutes of low impact exercise or 30 minutes of running.

If you leave the dog alone or inactive for much time, you will see how a negative behavior appears in it. Therefore, it is essential to keep in mind giving this breed a good exercising regimen.

History and Origin


To investigate the history of the Kishu Inu, we would have to go back millennia ago since it is a dog that has existed for thousands of years. It has a lot of popularity in the Japanese country although is practically unknown in the rest of the world due to the isolation to which it has been subjected to the island for natural reasons.

The Kishu is one of the most unknown variants of the Spitz dogs. It was usually seen as a wild animal in the Japan archipelago 1000 years BC. This dog arrived in the Land of the Rising Sun product of the migration that nomads did from China to Japan during this period. These people took their dogs with them since they made easier the haunting of medium and small prey.

The ancient Kishu dogs had spots of many colors, from the tabby, the sesame colors, to colors like red, but due to a regulation that prohibited them, they disappear. However, almost ten years later, this regulation was removed but the spots of colors on this breed since that moment are very hard to see because they would only cross specimens who did not possess spots to prevent that the puppies would get them.

It is a very famous dog in Japan as the rest of the dogs that identify this country as the Shiba-Inu, the Hokkaido, among others that practically are only seen on the island. The Kishu was about to disappear after World War II, however, luckily it was rescued and now is out of danger, although they can only be found in Japan.

The Kishu is native from the mountains of the region that gave it its name, for which it is used and adapt to the gelid cold, which can appear in these Japanese mountainous areas. We can evidence this on its double fur, a rough and bushy one to repel the cold and a second wool-like coat to prevent heat from escaping from its body.

The Kishu was used by nomads and then by families for minor haunting. Its usual preys were wild boars and deer, which served as food to themselves and the families. This dog has a marked instinct of haunting, so it is not recommendable that it lives in the same space with small size pets that can be confused with prey, such as rabbits or chickens.

Currently, the Kishu still is a dog whose owners give them the task of haunting, although it mostly performs perfectly the job of being an ideal pet but with an explosive and active personality, not fit for people with sedentary lifestyles since this could upset this dog’s behavior.

Currently, it has the recognition of all Japan, in fact, this breed is known as a natural monument of the country. It is very common to see it as the pet of different homes of the region. It is very tolerant, friendly and protector of its family, especially with children.

Characteristics of the breed


The Kishu can get to measure between 43 and 55 cm of height in male specimens, while females will be smaller. They can get to weigh from 12 to 24 kg and females are also lighter than males.

Due to the size and weight of the Kishu, it is considered a medium-sized dog. The Kishu’s fur must be unicolor, whether is white, red or sesame color, although white Kishus are especially common in Japan. Regardless of Kishu’s color, this dog has good acceptance in the Land of the Rising Sun.

The snout of the Kishu is black or brown, depending on the color of its eyes. The nose can also be pink without affecting the standard. The Kishu’s head is well proportioned to the rest of its body. It possesses a strong bite since its teeth are placed in a perfect gripper bite.

The tail is always high up and arched over the back, although it can also be curled like the Shiba or Akita commonly has it. The hair of the Kishu is short, tough and rough to the touch, it is straight and thick. It also has an inner fur that helps it during extremely cold weather to maintain the body heat. It is important to keep in mind that the Kishu is a dog of cold weather conditions, therefore, it is not recommendable to adopt it if you live in tropical or warm climates.

The existence of stripes as in the cheeks as in the tail, areas in which external and internal hair abounds. The ears are slightly inclined forward, they are small in proportion to their entire body and are pointed, points that are oval, almost perfectly triangular.

The Kishu is a formidably strong, robust dog, with large and wide bones, with a bold, funny, friendly and very affectionate personality towards the people who are part of its pack.

The Kishu is a dog that has been caricatured several times due to his affable, brave and funny temperament. In Japan, it is common to see some animated series that allude to it directly or indirectly, so in this way, you can know that it is an especially popular breed in this country.

The Kishu’s face expresses exactly what can be expected of it when you see it: a funny and friendly dog, capable of spending long periods of entertainment with its family and other dogs. It follows its master to every place he goes. It is protective and it is very aware of all the eventualities that occur in his environment and affectionate since he will always want to be next to his master.

This medium robust dog will be a perfect adoption for active people who like a moving lifestyle. Due to the strength and power of this breed, it will be able to follow your step while walking or running.

Behavior with Humans


Undoubtedly, the Kishu has an ideal behavior to be accepted inside of a family with children, with pets or with neither of them. It is a dog with a slow bothering temperament, very friendly, affectionate, loyal and especially active. The Kishu will always want to be exercising since it loves spending energy following something.

If as an owner you are interested in agility competitions, canine sports or you simply want a dog to join you to do cardio, then the Kishu will be ideal for you since it would be doing two things that it loves in its life, sharing time with its master and exercising while doing it.

They are very obedient dogs since it has the genes of the hunting dog, and therefore, they are already used to follow the orders of the leader of the pack, which in almost all cases was a human.

Of course, for this conduct to appear naturally, you will have to make an effort so your Kishu Inu sees you as the leader of the pack and also to promote in it a docile and friendly character. In our section of training of the Kishu, you will find out about the

details of its training so this can happen.

Since they are puppies, the Kishu dogs will have an obsession with following small mammals for haunting them. Therefore, you have to be careful with the small animals you have at home or they could be victims of the hunting instinct of the Kishu, especially if the dog has not gone out for a few days, or if it feels abandoned by its master. You must put farmyard animals or small pets such as rabbits or birds in a separate area from ​​the Kishu or in cages so that they are protected.

In case they are not trained since they are puppies, the Kishu dogs will show a stubborn character, typical in too active dogs. They will want to do everything they want. Besides, if the Kishu does not socialize or train and this conduct is not controlled, it will show dominant conduct against other dogs of the house and even against its own owners.

In case they have trained correctly, the Kishu dogs will be especially obedient dogs with the family, protective and friendly with the members of their “packs” who gives them the same treatment. These dogs prefer to be distant and careful with strangers and with the members of the family with which they do not have constant treatment.

Due to the custom rooted in their genes, the Kishu dogs need a high ground in their environment where they can lie down and guard the space. This behavior was inherited since formerly, the Kishu dogs chose high places in the mountains to be able to see better what happens around them since surveillance is one of the characteristics that are well developed in this breed.

The Kishu is a breed that can be trained easily so it is recommended for people who do not know very well how to raise a dog but who want to learn how to do it.

The only thing the future owner needs to know about a Kishu is that this is an extremely active and playful animal, so it cannot only perform surveillance tasks but it also has to be attended daily to satisfy its needs of exercise and affection. Besides, it also has to practice with his master some activities that require the use of its intelligence to solve problems, since it is also a very smart dog.

The physical features of the Kishu make it a perfect dog for sports activities fit for medium dogs, like agility, intelligence, and obedience competitions, among others canine sports. The Kishu can also be used for hunting small prey so if you are interested in practicing haunting, whether sport or personal, you need to keep this dog in mind.

In summary, the sweetness of the Kishu will make you fall in love and its ability to obey will surprise your family, your friends and yourself.

Diet and Alimentation


To determine what type of food is correct for a Kishu, first you must examine the level of physical activity it needs daily, as well as determine how much exercise it does daily, to know if you are overfeeding the dog. We will talk about all these points next, in the peculiarities of the feeding of a Kishu Inu.

How feeding a Kishu-Ken correctly?

The Kishu Inu has a big need for exercise therefore, it requires a diet that adapts to this need. In the case of active dogs, they require a big amount of proteins to maintain the articulations and muscles in an optimum state, so they can have a god response to what they are demanded on physical wear.

A dog with low protein intake and high physical demands will not perform well the daily physical activities. It could get tired in a short time, being sedentary and even falling at full speed due to the weakness of not having a good diet.

We will let you know how to feed a Kishu dog in a balanced way, but first, what is first, we will see how we to feed it since it is a puppy until it is an adult.

Alimentation of a Kishu puppy


The Kishu puppies will start eating solid food after weaning, the first food they should eat are croquettes for medium-sized puppy dogs. We recommend you to give them excellent quality croquettes since it depends on this first feeding how healthy the adult dog will be in the future.

The feeding with croquettes should begin at two months of age when the mother refuses to continue feeding them with her breast. During these days you should place a plate for each puppy with croquettes moistened with water or goat’s milk so they can eat them without problems. Do not moisten them too much since it is necessary that their teeth are sufficiently stimulated so that they can completely grow.

During the two months of age, you should give the puppies 220 gr of croquettes, divided into four portions of 55 gr.

During the three months of age, you should give them 265 grams of croquettes divided into four portions of 66 gr.

From the fourth month, they can start getting used to eating three times a day, an amount of 285 grams of croquettes divided into three meals of 95 gr each one throughout the day.

During the fifth month of age, you will continue giving to the dog 285 gr of croquettes divided into three portions of 95 gr.

At six months of age, they can already eat twice a day, as they will eat during adulthood. During this month you should give them 280 gr of croquettes divided into two portions of 140 gr each. You can extend this diet until the first year of age, after which it will already be considered as an adult dog.

Alimentation of an adult Kishu

The feeding of an adult dog will be a bit harder task than a puppy’s feeding since you have to determine how much food it needs to be in optimal health conditions.

The feeding of an adult Kishu gets more difficult since an adult Kishu pet cannot have the same diet as an adult Kishu that practices canine sports and receives frequent training to perform it. The Kishu that performs surveillance tasks at home must have a less exigent feeding than an, especially active Kishu. Therefore, you will have to determine on your own how active is your Kishu and what activities you perform with it.

An extremely active adult dog of this breed (as it can be one of those used for hunting and canine sports), it must eat 255 gr of croquettes daily. On the other hand, a very active Kishu that runs and does long walks with its owner must eat a minimum of 200 gr of croquettes a day.

In the strange case that a Kishu results in a sedentary dog, you will have to offer it a diet that fits it, which could be the one of 180 to 200 gr of daily croquettes. Remember that this amount is divided into two meals.

Health and General Care


Besides being a super friendly breed, the Kishu is also super healthy. It only has a few typical diseases that do not attack most of the specimens. However, you have to keep in mind the probable diseases a Kishu Inu can have in case you see that your dog has any discomfort.

Care of a Kishu-Ken: frequent diseases

The most common diseases of the Kishu Inu are hip dysplasia, patellar dislocation and minor problems related to digestion. Another disease that could affect the Kishu Inu is hypothyroidism and ocular atrophy due to the old age. However, these problems appear mostly in dogs of this breed that has reached old age.

Since they are pups it is convenient to check its ears to see if you find ticks. Ticks can make the dog present complications related to anemia due to the continuous extraction of blood from its body. It is also convenient to check its fur to discard the presence of fleas or ticks in the neck and back areas. Besides, checking the eyes if your Kishu frequently and cleaning any presence of impurities around them is also convenient to prevent infections.

You must consult any inflammation in the eyes with a veterinarian to recommend an effective treatment against it.

Besides, knowing that is an extremely active and curious dog, it is convenient that you check its paws and fur after going to hunt or walking since spikes or even insects could have got stuck on its fur.

The Kishu Inu is especially active, so it will have a very quick metabolism, therefore, it must be fed with a greater number of croquettes than a dog of the same size, but with sedentary customs or that may not be as active as him. Now, if a Kishu Inu does not have a frequent or daily exercising regimen, you must be very careful since it is very possible that, if you overfeed it, it might get fat, producing or increasing the possibility of the health problems that we named before.

The Kishu Inu withstands low temperatures very well, so its perfect environment would be a place between warm and cold, leaving aside the high tropical temperatures, since it is quite possible that a dog with a double coat suffers a blow of heat in these weather conditions, especially if you take it for a walk during the afternoon. If you live in an area with a tropical climate, then it would be better to adopt a dog with not much fur that can withstand high temperatures.

Definitely, the aspect you must keep in mind more when adopting a Kishu Inu is the level of exercise it needs. Daily, it must have at least 60 minutes of low impact exercise, which can be divided into many walks out or a short walk out and some minutes of games at home, but your Kishu will need to go out to entertain and prevent it from getting bored.

Remember that this is a haunting dog, so its sense of trail is highly developed, so it can escape chasing one while you are walking with it. Therefore, you have two options, always keep it on a leash or release it only in public places that have a fence, that is, special dog parks.

Brushing and Bathing the Kishu Inu

The brushing of the Kishu Inu must be frequent because of its abundant fur. Fleas, ticks and their eggs could be hiding on its fur, so brushing it is vital to detect an infection by these insects and be able to remove them. Brushing is also good to get rid of the entanglements on the dog’s hair, improving its appearance. It is convenient to brush the Kishu Inu every two days to maintain its fur free from entangles and at least every four days to discard the presence of insects.

However, this care is totally opaque with the primary care that must be applied to every puppy, such as vaccines and deworming. Vaccines will allow your puppy to survive this vulnerable period of its life, and deworming will allow it to be completely free of parasites.

How to train or educate a Kishu dog?


The Kishu Inu is a haunting dog for excellence. It is an active, smart, brave and determined dog in the field that it is still used as a hunting dog in Japan due to these features. You may be interested in adopting a dog of this breed with this purpose, so we will let you know how training a Kishu Inu as a haunting helper dog.

Training of the Kishu Inu pup for hunting tasks

Although currently, the Kishu Inu is guardian and companion dogs, there is still a fervent need in them to follow traces and chase prey. You can take this as an advantage in case you want to practice hunting small or medium-sized mammals in order to feed you, so let’s begin to investigate the issue.

At the beginning of its life, the Kishu Inu will see how the events develop within its environment. It will understand that it must not be an aggressive dog if it does not want its siblings to set it aside as a result of its character, modifying its character to a kind one with its siblings and consequently, will also be kind to all members of the pack regardless of whether they are human or canines.

You must also act as the provider and leader of the pack since the Kishu is a puppy, so it understands that you are the leader and the dog is your partner and not vice versa.

The Kishu puppy must get used to loud noises since hunting tasks require that you carry a firearm, so it is not convenient that your Kishu panics at the time you detonate it against the wild animal. The Kishu puppy should not associate loud noises with bad experiences, try not to pet it after loud noises and it gets scared because it will understand that it is okay to be scared.

For the dog to associate loud and strong noises with something positive, you will have to make them when your dog is performing specific positive conduct, for example, dropping an object over a wooden surface while it is eating a very tasty meal or after you give it a reward for something it did well.

When it relates loud noises with something positive, it will have no problems when hearing shots in the exterior, rather it will relate them with something that comes with a reward soon.

You can teach your puppy early to relate loud noises with the need to run and look for the prey, behavior that they already have preset in their genes so it will not be very difficult for them to know that they must go to look for the injured animal among the undergrowth.

Something you can do to make the Kishu understand this quickly is that after the dry noise you throw a ball to an area with bushes, which the Kishu will immediately interpret as trace and search, getting it used to the task to come. You can also take advantage of this moment and say «search», an order that the dogs of this breed will learn to go to look for the prey.

When your dog comes with the ball, give it a snack, and do the same when you are in an open field and your Kishu comes with the prey on its mouth.

The practice sessions of these exercises must be short to make them interesting to your dog, remember that it is very smart and can get bored of repeating something many times.

Another practice you can do with your dog is giving it a toy and get the dog used to carry it on its mouth. The haunting dogs love always carrying something on their mouths, this will get them used to carry their prey on their mouth without killing them or hurting them so much that it ruins the piece.

After your Kishu Inu learns to carry toys on its moth and finding the ball after hearing the dry sound, it is necessary to introduce it to the haunting world. For this, it is necessary to have rabbit or duck skin previously salted, so that it can perceive the texture and smell of them. Therefore, it will not feel that the prey is something strange and doubt whether to take it with its mouth or not.

What remains is that you have a very good aim. Happy hunting with your Kishu!

Behavior with other dogs


If you already have another dog at home, while reading this article you might have wondered how will the Kishu Inu behave with it at your home. If you have asked yourself this, you should know that there is nothing to worry about, the Kishu Inu behaves excellently with other dogs. However, with other small animals, such as farmyard animals, it is a quite dangerous predator due to its hunting instinct, so it is not advisable that it lives with other farmyard animals in the same space, such as rabbits, chickens, birds, hamsters, among other animals that it can identify as prey.

The Kishu Inu dogs are very protective, friendly and loyal, but to reach the fullness of these characteristics, they need a lot of discipline and training when they are still puppies. For this, the owner will have to allow the pup to live long enough with the mother and siblings so it can learn how a dog behaves in a pack. After this, the owner will have the duty of socializing it correctly so it does not feat the other members of the family or strangers, but that they go with curiosity to investigate (which improves its capacity of surveillance).

However, with the male Kishu Inu, there is a known problem, it sometimes enjoys dominating the other members of its pack, although it has received socialization, so you will have to pay close attention to this behavior and appease it on time. If the behavior persists, all that remains to be done is to hire a professional dog trainer or sterilize the Kishu so that he is only aware of surveillance and leaves dominance completely aside.

If there is a female on zeal at home, and other males are interested, there will be a fight for staying with the female, so you will have to isolate the female or the males from her to prevent these fights.

Now, in case the Kishu is perfectly trained, socialized and educated is very unlikely that problems will occur regarding their behavior with other dogs. They will always be attentive, friendly and affectionate with the other animals of the house, showing their protective facet if necessary since it is brave and enjoys gallantry, being able to face an enemy much bigger than it.

The Kishu is a good company for both children and puppies since they have a lot of patience to endure the games of the little ones and will even invite them to play and run from one side to another since it has a puppy’s soul, even if it is an old dog.

So that you can be completely sure that a Kishu will have no problem with your small children or with other dogs, at home, there must be other pets, so that the socialization process of the Kishu is completed outside its original pack. If there are no other pets in the house and then you add one, the Kishu could experience different feelings such as jealousy, the sensation of being replaced and aggressiveness towards the new member of the house. However, this can be corrected by treating it as usual and never giving the other pet the first place, just as if they were your human children.

Ideal Environment


Your dog is like a small person. You would not put a small person, like for example, your son, in an inadequate place without a roof, in which it will not have how to take shelter from the sun or the rain. The same happens with any dog you adopt. You should not adopt a pet if you do not have an adequate space to keep it.

If you decide to adopt a dog like the Kishu, you first must make sure that your backyard or your house interior has the necessary conditions for the dog’s keeping. This means having a roof and an adequate space for it to lay down that remains dry when it rains and where it is fresh during moments of heat throughout the day.

If your backyard has this perfect area for your dog, congratulation but now, you need to make sure that there is no hole where your puppy can escape. The Kishu dogs are very good at escaping to explore, so they may decide to give a lonely walk and they could get lost or someone could steal them.

You will most likely receive a Kishu Inu puppy, therefore, you must remove from its path any substance that it could drink, as well as any small object poisonous on contact with its mouth or that it may swallow unintentionally. The Kishu Inu is very restless and intrepid as a puppy so you must also remove any object that is at a considerable height and it can accidentally be knocked down and hurt the puppy. Besides, you have to be very careful if you park your car in the same place where the Kishu puppies are free.

Besides, if your Kishu Inu does not have the necessary conditions for you to have it, whether if the space it has is too small or it does not have enough attention from you since it is isolated from the space where its human family usually gets together. If this happens, the dog will present a destructive behavior with the furniture around it or it will start digging holes in the garden as a sign of frustration and boring.

Your Kishu Inu’s environment must have a good space in case it lives in the garden, while if it lives inside the house, it must have a suitable space for its keeping, a place it feels it can rest in without problems and not too far from the area where the family commonly talks. Dogs enjoy a lot trying to understand what humans say in their conversations.

If your Kishu Inu is a puppy, another good idea to enrich its environment is giving it chewable toys, especially the ones with the shape and color of prey if you will train your Kishu for hunting. On the contrary, having toyed with shapes of birds or rabbits will be counterproductive if in your house there are chickens, rabbits, and birds as pets since your Kishu could try to hunt them because of its instinct. Nevertheless, we do not recommend that a dog of this breed lives with farmyard or small animals that may have prey behaviors, which could be misunderstood by your Kishu Inu and a tragedy could occur.

Finally, you must take a look at the environment where your dog spends its day frequently, keeping it clean and free of insects that can infect it and make it sick, such as ticks, fleas, among other bacteria that act inside its organism.

Buy some product that eradicates these bugs (for example, Kantal’s Amitraz) and sprinkle your whole yard to eliminate insects and kill those who are waiting for a victim. These spray products have to be diluted since they are quite potent, but if you use them to fumigate the environment it is not convenient to dilute it as much as if it were to bathe your dog, case in which it is necessary to dilute it more. In any case, consult your veterinarian to know how much you have to dilute this substance.