Breed Tips

Top 5 Japanese Dog Breeds

Mount Fuji, Sushi, Sumo Wrestling, Teas, Anime, Vending machines, Karaoke, Calligraphy and Origami, Punctuality, Temples, Hard work, etc. are just a few things Japan is known for. Dogs usually don’t top the list or are even included in the list. But the interesting thing here is that there are a lot of beautiful and noteworthy dog breeds that find their origins in Japan. 

Japan is both dog loving and slaughtering country. It is also said that the greatest number of dogs and cats are slaughtered in Japan as compared to any other country. This is mainly due to the irresponsibility of the owners and the second is the rabies prevention law. Third reason is an ironic one where the dogs captured by the Animal Protection Centre of Japan but due to high costs of maintenance most of them are killed. 

Despite this horrifying fact, Japan is a land of origin for several dog breeds. Lets check the top 5 dog breeds of Japan.

1. Shiba Inu

Shiba Inu
  • Average Weight: 18 to 23 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height:  14 to 16 inches (male and female)

  • Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

  • Coat and Color- Long coat that comes in black with tan points, sesame, red, or cream/white; undercoat is cream, gray, or buff colors

The superstars of Japanese streets, Shiba Inus are the most popular dog breed in Japan. The name Shiba Inu means ‘brushwood’ in Japanese, which is basically the terrain where the dog would generally hunt birds. The breed is more than 3000 years old. The popularity of these dogs is probably because of their fox like looks, fierce pointed ears, thick orange fur or even due to the famous ‘Shiba scream’ which is termed for its excitement or feared bark. This ancient dog breed has found mentions is several life saving stories and has made headlines like ‘Shiba Inu fights bear to save five-year old’ or ‘Shiba Inu saves family from fire’, there’s no doubt that there is a superhero spirit underneath their soft fur. No wonder it is the most chosen dog breed in Japan

2. Akita

  • Average Weight: 100 to 130 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height:  26 to 28 inches (male and female)

  • Life Expectancy: 10 to 13 years

  • Coat and Color – dense double coat available in multiple colors, including white

Historic, large-sized, Japanese dog, Akita has its origins in the northern mountains of Japan. Used usually for policing and guarding, they have developed protective nature. They are very wary of strangers and other dogs and may even attack. These brave, strong, loyal, and affectionate dogs make the Akita a popular family pet. Not only in Japan, the breed is popular in US as well by winning the service men’s hearts after the World War 2. There is a very famous story of an Akita dog named Hachiko who waited for the owner to come back from work for 10 years after he passed away at the right time when the train usually arrived. The loyalty is now immortalized with a statue right outside the Shibuya Station in Japan. Explore the financial considerations of owning an Akita here.

3. Japanese Terrier

Japanese Terrier
  • Average Weight: 5 to 10 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height:  11 to 13 inches (male and female)

  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

  • Coat and Colors – Smooth glossy coat in white and tan, black and tan, and black

A mix breed of the English smooth fox terrier and the Japanese small dogs, the Japanese terrier was developed around 1700s. Having gone through an almost extinction during the World War 2, these dogs have now survived and are proving to be great companions for humans. However, this is one of the rare breeds now alive in the world.

4. Japanese Spitz

Japanese Spitz
  • Average Weight: 10 to 25 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height:  12 to 15 inches (male and female)

  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

  • Coat and Colors – Double coat with a short, soft and dense undercoat available only in pure white

This Japanese breed is known to be a descendant of the German Spitz and has some matching traits of the Samoyed dog. However, the exact origins are yet to be traced. Full of cuddles, love and affection, the Japanese Spitzs are wonderful companions to humans and especially children. 

5. Hokkaido Inu

Hokkaido Inu
  • Average Weight: 44 to 66 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height:  18 to 20 inches (male and female)

  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

  • Coat and Colors – Double coat in white, red, black, brindle, sesame, or wolf grey

The Hokkaido Inu is one of the oldest and the wildest breeds of Japan. Belonging to the Nihon-Ken group it is mainly found only in Japan and rarely outside its origin country. Bold, athletic and energetic, these dogs won’t stay in your arms for long as they will need constant physical simulations owing to its primary job of guarding, hunting, and sledding. Docile, alert, loyal, dedicated, eager to please are all the qualities that make it a great companion for humans

This is not an exhaustive list of Japanese dogs but the most popular ones. However, there are many other breeds which find their origins in Japan. For e.g., Kai Ken, Ryukyu Inu, Kishu, Tosa Inu, Shikoku, Japanese Chin, etc. are all Japan originated dog breeds. 

Most of all the dogs that have originated in Japan are all adapted to its climate, nature, and ecosystems. Japan has extreme sub-Arctic temperatures in its mountainous regions. Which is why, almost all of them have a double coat. So it is necessary to be careful when any of these breeds are taken to hotter climate areas. Owing to the climate or Japan, certain breeds should be avoided to be petted there. These include, Chinese crested and Xoloitzcuintli and many Latin American breeds.

Now that you’ve read all about the Japanese dogs, you know that all those things written in the first line are not the only things which Japan should be known for. It has a vast diversity of dogs which have originated from its land.


Follow us on Instagram

Follow us everywhere else: