Importing a dog from Japan can be a daunting endeavor. There is a language barrier, export/import restrictions, and a whole slew of shipping and scheduling details to work out.
The following is a basic run down of the regulations, costs involved, and other useful information.
To export a dog from Japan:
-The dog must be at least 8 weeks old
-The dog will need to be examined by a certified veterinarian in the week preceding its flight and have a health certificate issued.
-The dog will need to undergo an examination at Animal Quarantine Services at the airport on the day of departure, after which an export certificate will be issued. Examinations take place 3 hours before departure, and reservations for the exam should be made a week in advance.
The official site of Animal Quarantine Service Japan can be found here.
To import a dog:
Rabies vaccinations, combination vaccinations, micro chipping and other tests are necessary to import to many countries. Regulations vary by country, so contact your local authorities for canine import information.
Importing a dog to the United States:
In my experience, shipping to the United States is fairly straight forward. As long as the dog is over 2 months old and has the export certificate issued by AQS, it will be allowed into the country. Dogs not up to date on their vaccinations may need to be quarantined at home until they are vaccinated, and the owner may have to sign a confinement agreement to have the dog released to them at customs. Many airlines also have their own regulations regarding the international shipping of animals, so it is important to check with your airline when making plans to ship an animal. The USDA website can be found here.
Importing a dog to an EU country:
To bring a dog into an EU nation you will have to first microchip, and then vaccinate for rabies before the dog leaves Japan. 21 days must elapse after vaccination before the animal can enter the EU. Most rabies vaccination protocols call for the animal to be at least 3 months old (91 days) for a rabies vaccination to be valid. Some EU nations also require treatment for parasites.
Importing a dog to Australia:
As of February 2014, export to Australia involves a minimum 10 days of quarantine, and numerous tests on top of the usual vaccinations and micro chipping. Details can be found here.
A dog may travel accompanied (carry on or check in), or unaccompanied (freight). To take a dog with you on a flight it is necessary to contact the airline in advance and notify them of your plans. Most airlines require a minimum of 72 hours advance notice. Airlines have limited space to fly pets, so reserve space in advance. Another point to be aware of is that some airlines do not ship dogs. When you make the call to book your dog, the airline will ask for the dimensions of the crate, the size/breed/age of the dog, so have this information available. Airlines have regulations regarding the type of crates allowed, so be sure you inquire about this as well. For most airlines IATA certified dog crates are the standard. Your dog will need to be able to move around easily inside the crate, and its ears cannot touch the roof of the crate when it is sitting/standing inside.
To ship a dog as freight, arrangements will need to be made with a shipping company at least 10 days in advance. They will make the arrangements with the airline and handle all the quarantine/customs/shipping for a fee. Shipping as cargo is much more expensive than having a dog checked in.
There are many costs associated with importing a dog. First you will need to find a breeder willing to sell a pup to an overseas home, and then negotiate a price. In Japan, medium size breed Nihon Ken pups go for anywhere from 75,000-200,000 JPY. The amount you pay is less dependent on sex/color/type/quality than it is on the breeder’s expectations.
Expect to pay at least that much for a Shiba pup, and show quality Akita pups will go for over 300,000 JPY. For adult dogs, especially breeding/show quality, expect to pay anywhere from 300,000 – 1,00,000 JPY. I have heard of some titled show dogs that were sold for several million yen.
You will also need to cover vet work and other miscellaneous costs. A medium sized crate for a pup will usually cost around 8,000 JPY, and other odds and ends like water bottles will tack on another 5,000 JPY or so. Rabies vaccinations will cost around 5,000 JPY, and combination vaccinations around 8,000 JPY. The health examination and certificate will cost around 5,000 JPY. If a micro chip implant is necessary, it will cost an additional 6,000 JPY.
40,000 JPY should cover all vet and miscellaneous costs.
The last and often most costly part of importing is the shipping fees. To ship a dog as freight in a medium sized crate costs between 80,000-150,000 JPY to most North American destinations. Larger crates will cost more. Some airlines will allow 2 pups of a specific age and under specific sizes to be shipped in a crate together, and the shipping cost will remain the same. The freight costs to destinations in Europe vary by country, but on average are around 200,000-250,000 JPY.
To take a dog on a flight as carry on (only dogs that fit airline size requirements are allowed in cabin) or check in, is considerably more affordable. To most destinations in North America, a medium sized crate can be checked in for 20,000-30,000 JPY. Of course when you consider that you will have to pay for your own ticket as well the savings are limited, but it is something to think about. I’ve found that most European carriers also charge around 20,000-30,000 JPY per crate.
Availability of pups to ship overseas:
The Nihon Ken are rare breeds even in Japan. The Shikoku has the fewest numbers registered per year at around 300. If you are looking for a quality pup of a specific type/sex/color, expect a long wait. Most breeders in Japan do not ship overseas only because of the hassles involved with preparations. They are often open to the idea if they know they will not have to be responsible for the vet work, paper work, and shipping arrangements.
At Japan Dog Export we offer our experience and services in connecting you to the right breeder and the right pup. We handle communication, translation, negotiations, vet work, and all paperwork & shipping arrangements. The fee we charge for this varies entirely on how much of the preparation we have to do.