Photo by © Akasha Tsang

Kishu Inu - Breed Profile:

Origin: Japan
Colors: White, red, sesame
Size: Medium
Type of Owner: Experienced
Exercise: Daily
Grooming: Weekly
Trainability: Easy to train
Combativeness: Not generally dog-aggressive
Dominance: High
Noise: Not a barker

The Kishu Inu, also known as the Kishu Ken, is one of the oldest dog breeds native to Japan. Like most other Japanese dog breeds, it was named after a region it originated from - Kishu, south of Osaka. The dog was originally used as a boar and deer hunter. The breed was officially declared a national monument in 1934.

Physical characteristics

The Kishu Inu looks very similar to the Hokkaido Inu with the most apparent difference in the body length: Kishu Inus are longer. Their skull is broader than that of the Kai Inu but narrower than in Shikoku Inu. The nose is black, but in solid white dogs it can be brown or pink. The ears are erect. The tail is curled over the back like in other Spitz type dogs. The bite is either scissors or level.
The weight is 30 to 60 pounds. The height is 17 to 22 inches. Females tend to be smaller.


Very intelligent and very devoted to the family. Docile, clean, and friendly. This breed doesn't do well in kennels and confined areas. It needs plenty of space for exercise and roaming. Regular walks and runs are a must for this energetic breed. Tough and agile. Proper socialization with people is necessary at an early age to prevent timidity. The Kishu Inu doesn't have a combative streak, so it should generally be fine around other dogs. When it hunts, the dog will rather stalk than bark, and this quietness is known to be characteristic of the Kishu Inu in its daily life as well. Since their prey drive is very strong, these dogs should be extensively socialized with cats, and they should never be trusted with smaller non-canine animals like rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs and other rodents. This breed needs a firm, confident, and consistent owner who knows how to be a pack leader. Well-balanced Kishu Kens are usually good with children, provided that the children are taught to treat the dog respectfully.

Coat and grooming

Before the breed was declared a national monument in 1934, the coat colours allowed red, sesame and brindle markings. After 1934, only solid colours are allowed in show dogs. The most common coat colour is solid white, although there are solid red and solid sesame individuals. The short coat is straight and coarse, with a thick undercoat. Weekly brushing is necessary, as well as an occasional bath. Kishu Kens shed once or twice a year and need more frequent grooming in this period.


The Kishu Inu has no known breed-specific health issues. The life span is 11 to 13 years.

Other interesting facts

This breed has been known to climb trees to catch its prey.