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Hokkaido Inu - Breed Profile:

Origin: Japan
Colors: Red, white, black, sesame, brindle, fawn
Size: Medium to large
Type of Owner: Experienced
Exercise: Daily
Grooming: Regular
Trainability: Easy to train
Combativeness: Tends to be dog-aggressive
Dominance: High
Noise: Average barker

The Hokkaido Inu, also known as the Hokkaido Ken and Ainu dog, is considered to be one of the oldest native breeds of Japan. Some people say it's the very oldest one, but the opinions on this matter differ because the same is also often said about the rest of the native Japanese dog breeds. The Hokkaido Inu was declared the official name of the breed in 1937. In the same year, the breed was declared a national monument.

Physical characteristics

The Hokkaido Inu has a typical Spitz appearance with a stocky body, thick neck, erect triangular ears, and a curled tail that is carried over the back. The small eyes have a rising triangular outline. Powerful by nature, these dogs are capable of withstanding severe cold and heavy snowfalls. Most Hokkaido Inus have black spots on their tongue, which is thought to be caused by a genetic link to the Chinese Shar-Pei and Chow Chow.
The height is 18 to 22 inches. The weight is 45 to 65 pounds. Females tend to be smaller.


The Hokkaido Inu is a very active dog that needs plenty of mental and physical exercise. This dog doesn't do well in confined areas and when it's left alone for a long time. Since the breed was originally used to hunting, it has very strong prey drive and should always be supervised with other animals, especially if not raised with them from puppyhood. Tends to be a little dog aggressive, but proper human leadership should eliminate this problem. Suspicious by nature, this breed makes excellent watchdogs. Fearless hunters. Very loyal and devoted to its owner. If necessary, can protect him from animals as large and powerful as the Hokkaido Brown Bear. Usually good with kids but had better be supervised with them if not raised with them from puppyhood. Tends to howl rather than bark.

Coat and grooming

The most common coat colours are red or white. The Hokkaido Inu can also come in black, sesame, brindle and fawn. The double coat is harsh, straight, and stiff. Regular grooming is necessary.


The breed has no known inherited health problems. It's naturally robust. The lifespan is 11 to 13 years.

Other interesting facts

The Hokkaido Inu is known to have an innate sense of direction, which means it can return to its master no matter how great the distance.