Specializing in translation and the export
of the native Japanese dog breeds

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This pup is available for sale. He’s currently around 3 months old. The asking price is 500,000JPY not including export costs and shipping.



Name: Saburou

DOB: 2014/1/17

2nd Place ‘miseiken’ male class Kai Ken Aigokai National


赤熊王 (9)(1) 567(1)

Name: Akakumaou

DOB: 2010/05/01

This male has shown a lot of promise hunting boar http://kaiken-okabe.cocolog-nifty.com/kaiken/cat49396033/index.html


Contact us for more details regarding the sale of either of these males.


This is one of the Hokkaido pups I sent to Europe last year. He’s seems to be doing very well in show, and has found a terrific home at Icyitadaki Kennel. http://www.hokkaido-ken.eu/

“Maruto won another Club Winner title on Specialty for FCI V group show so he has 4 Club Winner titles already and he is a breed record holder in Europe with these titles!!!

I’m very happy and very proud, thanks a million!!!”

Setting up pups in homes like this is what is so rewarding about exporting Nihon Ken. To be able to help people who understand the Japanese breeds and are interested in their preservation to import nice pups. Of course not every pup works out as a show dog, but I’m helping kennels increase the odds that they will import what they are looking for.

Since I’ve been asked about other books about the other Nihon Ken… here’s one I blogged a while back.

The Nihon Ken – Everything About the Nihon Ken, is a book that was published by NIPPO (the Japanese Dog Preservation Society). At just over 400 pages, it includes the entire history of the Japanese breeds and NIPPO, along with a comprehensive explanation of the standard complete with pictures and graphs. It is in black and white and only in Japanese. The book also contains pictures of famous dogs from years past.

If anyone’s interested in owning a copy, feel free to contact me at kato.the.walrus@gmail.com and I’ll figure out how much the shipping etc will cost.

***Checked shipping costs to the US today, and the cost of the book plus shipping will come to around 4000 yen.

So for anyone that is interested in a copy of the Hokkaido Ken book, I’ve calculated that I can send it anywhere in the world for 4000 JPY total. Just send me a message on Facebook, or email me at kato.the.walrus@gmail.com for details.

Last week I received a gift from the Hokkaido Ken Hozonkai, a copy of a book titled ‘Hokkaido Ken’ that the society published on its 60 anniversary. It’s a fantastic little hard cover book.

It is 190 pages of everything Hokkaido Ken, including breed standards, history, famous dogs, and hunting pictures.

The HKH has been paying attention to the recent rise in awareness concerning the breed overseas, and so asked if I might put this on my blog in the hopes that the information contained will be useful to new owners and breeders.
Of course it would be terrific if it was in English, but there are lot of diagrams and pictures in this book which make it interesting even if you can’t read Japanese.
Maybe someday someone can undertake its translation! Please don’t point any fingers at me.
This book is sold by the HKH, and for a reasonable price. I’ll have to work out how much shipping etc will cost to overseas destinations, but if you are interested in getting your hands on a copy, let me know. My address as always is kato.the.walrus@gmail.com

I thought I’d written a post about this before, but since I couldn’t find the link, and I’m asked about this quite often, here it is again.

The oldest Kai Ken registry is the Kai Ken Aigokai (Kai Dog Protection Society). The breed was discovered in 1929, and the KKA was formed in 1931. The  Nihon Ken Hozonkai, or ‘NIPPO’, (Japan Dog Preservation Society) was formed in 1928, and for a time the KKA members joined NIPPO and showed their dogs there.

The break between the two organizations occurred when NIPPO created the breed standards for the 6 (at the time 7) Japanese dog breeds, and divided them into 3 classifications: Large, medium, and small. The Kai showed quite a range in size, with the average being in between the small and medium standards as set forth by NIPPO. This lead to the KKA members leaving NIPPO, and the controversy concerning the Kai standard began.

Today there are over 800 puppies registered with the KKA every year, around 50 registered with NIPPO every year, and just over 100 with the JKC. This makes the KKA by far the largest registry for the breed (it always has been), and thus the driving force behind the breed’s direction. Size is not the only difference in the standards put forth by the KKA, NIPPO, and JKC. You  will also see differences in the amount of tongue spotting allowed, the concept of ‘urajiro’, ear type/size/angles, eye type etc. In NIPPO, the Kai is definitely the black sheep of the Nihon Ken, consistently finishing in the bottom of their class/group.

Now that I’ve given a little history and background, here is where the registration issues kick in. Having the KKA as the main registry is not a problem for owners and kennels in Japan, as Kai are shown at KKA shows, and pups are registered with them. If necessary, KKA registration can be transferred to NIPPO, where the dog will be given a ‘limited registration’. On this limited registration the dog can be shown at NIPPO shows, and litters produced can be registered (again only receiving limited registration). After 3 generations in NIPPO, the Kai produced finally receive full registration.

Now, the Japan Kennel Club (JKC) is the FCI recognized registry for Japan. The JKC gives full recognition to NIPPO pedigrees, but not KKA pedigrees. When someone imports a Kai from Japan, to register it with their local breed club they generally need an FCI recognized pedigree. In the case of a dog from Japan, they will ask for a JKC export pedigree. However, the only dogs the JKC will give these to are JKC registered Kai, or Kai with full NIPPO registrations.

This means that the vast majority of Kai cannot receive JKC export pedigrees, as they and their kennels are registered with the KKA. There are very few NIPPO Kai, so nice pups are almost never available, and JKC Kai are extremely rare as well, with most being produced by puppy mills. I’ve heard of many health issues in these Kai that are born to extremely small gene pools, so I tend to steer people toward sticking with KKA dogs if at all possible.

The KKA does not allow double registrations of its dogs. You can actually lose your membership if you engage in this type of activity. This is why there are no kennels that register their dogs with all three registries. Well, there was one famous kennel who did this in the past, but they had a huge row with the KKA about it, and were kicked out.

If you are interested in importing a Kai, these issues are something you need to be aware of. While I know one NIPPO kennel producing Kai that I could recommend, they do not have puppies available for export as they are working very hard to increase the number of NIPPO Kai within Japan. Unfortunately there are no JKC Kai kennels that I can recommend at this time. Some individuals overseas have successfully explained the situation with the breed to their local clubs, and gotten the clubs to accept KKA pedigrees.

Here is a translation of the basic KKA standard http://nihonken.blogspot.jp/2011/03/kka-standard.html
And here is a comparison of all the Kai standards http://nihonken.blogspot.jp/2011/11/kai-ken-standards.html

There is now a Hokkaido Ken club in North America. Congratulations to HANA, the Hokkaido Association of North America. Now the one Japanese dog breed without an active group of owners/kennels in North America is the Kishu.

Take a look at the site, and if the breed interests you, get involved! There are some great show and working lines that the club is working on bringing into their preservation program.


Take a look at this thread on the Nihon Ken Forum for more information http://www.nihonken.org/forum/index.php?p=/discussion/6224/hokkaido-association-of-north-america-hana#Item_108
This female was produced by Uno-san, and is now at Samurai Kennel in Italy. She’s a beautiful pup, and shows a lot of promise. Congratulations on Best Junioress, Hime-chan!

Name: Hokka-go
DOB: 2013/01/14

Sire: Ezohakuryu-go

Dam: Hokkaihime-go

Kennel: Howa So

I get asked a lot of questions pertaining to owning the Japanese breeds, and to be honest, I don’t have enough time to deal with every request. Most people who find my blog have probably already found The Nihon Ken Forum but if not, you now have the link! It is a web forum dedicated to the native Japanese dog breeds, and is chock full of useful information. The members there are terrific, knowledgeable, and friendly, so stop by and become a member if you haven’t already!
I’ve been on the forum for several years now, and I’ve picked the brains of the forum for loads of useful information and knowledge.

I received a question on the blog concerning my export page. I started typing a reply, and it became a long one, so I’m posting it here.

You’ve mentioned that you’ve worked with individuals as a translator looking to export breeds from Japan, in your experience, would you be able to recommended good breeders in Japan that you’ve come across?”

My first thought is that your definition of a good breeder, and mine, may be very different. I’m often looking for a specific type of dog for breeders overseas, so a good find would be an out cross line of dogs, quality type or working ability etc.

The honest truth is that in the Nihon Ken community here in Japan you will most likely not find a kennel that is a ‘good breeder’ according to the standards that most in North America and Europe apply.
So I guess then a simpler tack to take is defining a ‘bad breeder’. For me a ‘bad breeder’ would be someone who knowingly sells unhealthy animals, does not breed for an ethical purpose, and lies or tries to rip people off.

I keep the term ‘breeder’ in quotation marks because the Nihon Ken community, led by the Japan Dog Preservation Society (NIPPO), is one that takes pride in amateurism, and discourages for profit activity. While there are professional Shiba and Akita kennels, the majority are amateur, and you will be hard pressed to find one that specializes in the medium sized breeds. ‘Breeder’ is a word that NIPPO members are not fond of, and they will usually bristle at being called one.

Going back to the point about a good vs. bad ‘breeders’, there is virtually no health/genetic testing done in Japan on the Japanese breeds. So, a pup you buy could be carrying any number of genetic issues. In the distant past when all the Nihon Ken were hunting dogs, breeding for function naturally culled out the dogs with bad hips, joints, hearts etc. Now that they are bred primarily for show, the end all is a dog that looks good, standing in the ring. This affects not only structure but temperament as well. The Nihon Ken are not house pets, and most are kenneled outdoors their entire lives with no training whatsoever other than what is necessary to show in the ring (and some, not even that). They are not socialized, and are usually kenneled or crated singly, often in what would be described as bad (if not terrible) conditions by western standards. Ring temperament often translates into at least slightly dog aggressive dogs here in Japan, as a dog looks much more impressive when it is posturing at another dog.

Simply put, most kennels here could be classified as back yard breeders overseas, with the difference being that the kennels here have extensive knowledge concerning standards, history, and breeding know how, as it pertains to their respective breeds. If you are looking for a ‘breeder’ that does health checks and is knowledgeable about health issues in their breed, trains their dogs, keeps them as companions, socializes their dogs, and houses them indoors, I would not have a single kennel in Japan I could recommend.

It is a long and painstaking journey to become a NIPPO judge, fraught with danger and sacrifice. Seriously. I get asked all the time by the members of my NIPPO branch to please sacrifice my soul and embark on this thankless road, but no. I don’t think so.

Think of NIPPO as something like the NCAA in its dedication to amateurism. NIPPO judges and board members are not allowed to be professional breeders, and you’re basically also not allowed to be a member of another breed club. It is also an unwritten rule that once you’re a judge or board member, you cannot show your dogs at NIPPO shows. You are paid a pittance to travel to shows, it’s basically a pro bono position, and the process requires you to attend many seminars, study work shops etc.

I’m a member of the Japan Kennel Club, the Kai Ken Aigokai, the Hokkaido Ken Hozonkai, and the Nihon Ken Hozonkai (NIPPO). While that in itself is not necessarily a problem, I like to show my dogs, and I intend to do so for as long as I’m able. There are some judges who don’t even breed their respective specialty breeds anymore, or own any dogs. Some have not shown dogs for years, or maybe never had much experience breeding, owning, or showing in the first place. I do not intend to be one of those people. Maybe once I’ve amassed enough knowledge in all areas related to owning-showing-breeding-hunting-standards, I will consider becoming a judge. That is a long way off, and I’m not yet qualified to try on those shoes.

For anyone curious about what it takes to become a NIPPO judge…

One must be a NIPPO member for 3 consecutive years, after which, if your branch of NIPPO thinks you promising, you can become a ‘Hojoin’ (assistant). This involves helping ringside at regional shows, and attending some training classes. If you are deemed worthy and ripe, you then move on (after a non specified amount of time, but often a few years) to become a ‘Kenshuin’ (trainee). You will most likely be a Kenshuin for at least 3 years, attending regular work shops, helping at regionals, and taking tests. If you manage to pass the tests each year with acceptable grades, and you get a 70% (I think that was. the number) vote of confidence from the current judges, you move up to ‘Fuku-shinsain’ (assistant judge). Assistant judges are present to help the judges in the ring with their assessments at the nationals, and to judge at some regionals. After several years in this position, a magical nod from the board and the judges committee will promote you to ‘Shinsain’ (judge). There is a mandatory retirement age, though I’ve forgotten what that is (somewhere around 65 if memory serves me).

Once you’ve reached this portion of your arduous journey, prepare to be slandered, pressured, cajoled, and endure endless amounts of stress while judging other people’s dogs, while selflessly giving of your time and energy. My respect to the gentlemen who have taken this path, all the NIPPO members who came before me, and those to come.

The NIPPO National will be held this year in Osaka on the 16-17th of November. Here are the coordinates for google maps 34.517165, 135.375410
The adddress is Osaka-fu, Izumiotsu-shi, Yunagi-cho 1-1 . The venue name is the Izumiotsu Phoenix Hiroba Here’s the map.

I will be there, and as usual, if you are there, you get a translator for the day! If you love the Japanese breeds, this is the place to come see the best of the best in Shiba, Kishu, and Shikoku.

This one’s a photobook by renowned photographer Mitsuaki Iwago titled ‘The Dogs of Japan’. It has pictures and some commentary on all the Japanese breeds, with a few sections on the lesser known breeds like the Kawakami and Minowa Shiba as well. Great photography, lots of dogs in this book. It still seems to be relatively easy to come by.

If anyone’s interested in owning a copy, feel free to contact me at kato.the.walrus@gmail.com and I’ll figure out how much the shipping etc will cost. This book will probably come to around 5000 yen with shipping to the US.

I went to the Kai Ken Aigokai national spring show back in April, and haven’t posted anything about it. To be honest I wasn’t that impressed this year, or even the past few years, with the dogs being shown. Maybe I’ve swung more toward the NIPPO standard, but I find myself judging the KKA Kai a bit harshly, and there have been few dogs that pique my interest.
Still, I have a lot of friends there, and I do love the breed, so I made the LONG drive out to Yamanashi, and arrived there in time to enjoy a breezy spring day with multitudes of Kai, and good friends.

An exception to my lack of interest would be the brindle female that was bred and shown by my good friend Inoue-san of Sai no Kuni Inoue Sou. She’s the last dog in the following video.
She’s just a touch overweight here, but she’s got a great head and earset, something that I’m rather particular about.

Put this up on the blog a while ago, but since I’ve had a few inquiries about it recently, I’m reblogging it. The book is still available.

This is another book I’ve got on the shelf. It was published to commemorate NIPPO’s 70th anniversary, and has pictures of all the winners from the establishment of NIPPO onward. They’ve got loose pages added to the back of all the winners since the book was published.

It starts in black and white, but the last bit (and all the loose pages) is in color. The book is 90 pages and includes pictures of Shikoku, Kishu, Shiba, and Akita. It’s really interesting to see the evolution of the breeds, type becoming more defined as the years go by, and of course it’s great to have pictures of some of the amazing dogs of years past.

If anyone’s interested in owning a copy, feel free to contact me at kato.the.walrus@gmail.com and I’ll figure out how much the shipping etc will cost. Cost should come to around 3000 yen including international shipping.

It was on April 14th, so a month ago, and I’m just getting around to posting it?! It was a warm, sunny, spring day, and I got in extra early as I was showing a Shikoku female. I showed her at the NIPPO national last year, and took 5th place was it? This female is very reactive to stimuli, so getting her to hold a stack is tough, but after a nice bit of advice from a fellow Chiba branch member (one of the old guard) on how to hold the leash properly, the difference was amazing. She was out of coat, and missing a bit of fur on the top of her muzzle from a scratch, so I was not expecting much, but come the second round in the afternoon, the judge called us into the first group, and we ended up taking 2nd place.

I learned some nifty tricks on the day, one of which was the aforementioned leash holding technique, and the other was that when showing outdoors, if there’s a breeze, try to point your dog away from the direction it’s blowing from. That way it blows the coat out nicely and looks fuller (especially useful if your dog is out of coat).
I ran into a lot of friends on the day as usual, and it was nice to see some of their pups and adolescent dogs. This male is from the first litter of the female in the picture below. She’ll be going to the States in the future to the North American Shikoku Club.

At the Tokyo regional they always have a special event for junior handlers. We’ve got to pass on these breeds to the next generation!

A friend’s young Kai male. He’s a NIPPO Kai, but the first Kai male I’ve seen in a long time that I’ve really liked. I respect the kennel that produced him quite a bit for their tireless work to breed and show under NIPPO rules. It’s a pretty painful thing to try to compete in NIPPO with Kai.

I ended the day by locking my keys in my car. It auto locks, and this is the second time I’ve done it. Had to call a locksmith, and they took nearly two hours to get it open. Damn Lexus and their pick proof locks.
Aside from the six native Japanese dog breeds, Akita, Shiba, Shikoku, Kishu, Hokkaido, and Kai (of course there being other breeds such as the Karafuto and Ryukyu), there are a few breeds that originated in Japan, but were created from western breeds. These would include the Japanese Spitz, the Japanese (Chinese!?) Chin, the Japanese Terrier, and the Tosa.

By Ludivine HOUDAS (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Tosa originated in Kochi, and was based off the local hunting dogs, the Shikoku Ken. It was a fighting breed from the start, and still is today in Japan. Many breeds such as Pointers, Mastiffs, Bully breeds, Great Danes etc, were used in the breed’s creation. The breed is an evolving breed, with almost no pedigreed dogs, and many breeds still being added to the mix, such as pitbulls. The breed within Japan is smaller on average than the dogs being produced overseas.

While not one of the breeds I’m involved in, I was recently asked to look for a pup for a friend of mine. I’m used to Nihon Ken puppies, and a mastiff type pup was a welcome change. The clumsy cuteness was adorable, and the difference in temperament considerable. Nihon Ken puppies are agile and tend to be very alert to threats, but not that willing to engage them. This little Tosa girl was very guardy from the start, definitely guarded the house, and was focused on threats.

Kochi No Kurozakura aka ‘Sakura’

Socialization at the hardware store

Hanging out with my friends
I miss this little (big) girl. I’ve always loved big dogs, and maybe sometime in the future I’ll own another. Here she is playing in my yard with my Kishu Baron, some Hokkaido puppies, and my neighbor’s Shiba mix. I try to get as much positive socialization in as possible for the pups that come through my house, so shopping trips etc are very common.

The 5000 yen yearly Nippo membership fee is due by the end of March every year. Once April rolls around, you will be charged an additional 3000. Short story, pay before March 31st!

If you are overseas, send an international postal money order (in yen!) to NIPPO headquarters, with your name and membership number included in the transfer information. If you find this difficult, find someone in Japan to pay it for you!

Taken from http://www.nihonken.org/forum/index.php?p=/discussion/6421/size-comparison-of-the-kai-ken-standards…/#Item_24

 KKA: Height roughly 40cm (15”) – 50cm (19.5”) at withers http://www.yamabushikennel.org/standards.php

 NIPPO: Male standard height: 52cm (20”) Female standard height: 49cm (19”) is a female. On average, males 49cm (19”) from 55cm (21”), and female 46cm (18”) to 52cm (20”). http://www.nihonken-hozonkai.or.jp
*NIPPO standard for Kai has been temporarily lowered by 2cm. So male bottom end is 47cm, female 44cm.

 FCI: Dogs 53 cm (approx. 20-21 inches) Bitches 48 cm (approx. 18-19 inches) http://www.yamabushikennel.org/fci/kai_standards_FCI.pdf

 UKC: Desirable height, measured at the withers, ranges from 18½ to 22 inches (47cm-55.9cm) for males, and 17½ to 20 inches (44.5cm-50.8cm) for females. Weight ranges from 25 to 55 pounds. http://www.ukcdogs.com/WebSite.nsf/Breeds/KaiRevisedJuly12008

Desirable height for males 50cm, females 45cm. Allowance +-3cm (males 47-53cm, females 42-48cm).