The Shikoku dog or Shikoku Inu is similar in appearance to the Japanese Shiba Inu, and is one of the oldest native dog breeds resident in Japan. It is thought to be a primitive dog breed in so much as that it is seen today in a form very similar to its oldest ancestors, and also retains a strong resemblance to the wild wolf.
While the breed is not widely recognised outside of Japan and not all Kennel Clubs and breed registries list the dog, it is becoming ever more popular worldwide, and in Japan itself, holds the distinction of being named by the Japanese Crown as a living natural monument of Japan.
As the breed is now starting to be exported from Japan in significant numbers, it is becoming ever more likely that you may see a Shikoku out and about on the streets of the UK, and you may be wondering about some of their core traits and if they make for good pets. In this article, we will look at the Shikoku in more detail, and look at the key aspects of their care and temperament.
The Shikoku shares some similar physical traits with other Japanese breeds such as the Shiba Inu and the Akita Inu, such as the pointed ears and curled tails that are classical Spitz dog traits. The Shikoku is smaller than the Akita but larger than the Shiba Inu, and originates from the mountainous regions of the Kochi Prefecture on the island of Shikoku in Japan.
Originally bred and raised for hunting wild boar and deer, the breed is also sometimes referred to as the “Kochi Ken,” which roughly translates as “Deer Hound.” The Shikoku is classed as a medium sized dog breed, which should be strong, muscular but not heavy, fit, active and alert.
The Shikoku dog is renowned for being very loyal to their masters, as well as being brave while cautious, and able to respond appropriately to a range of different challenging situations. They have a naturally strong hunting instinct, and are not afraid to pursue prey much larger than themselves. Within the domestic home, care must be taken to ensure that the Shikoku doesn’t see smaller pets such as cats or rabbits as prey, and outside of the home, the dog must exhibit good recall and self control, or be kept on a lead in open spaces.
The Shikoku is a lively, energetic dog with great endurance and stamina, which likes to spend lots of time out of doors and being active. They are a good match for people who like to hike, walk or spend a lot of time outside, but are not well suited to a sedentary lifestyle or being kept indoors or left alone for long periods of time.
They are fast learners and classed as a very intelligent dog that is more than capable of learning lots of skills, and are capable of undertaking a great number of working roles and retaining higher level commands. While they are complex dogs that need an experienced handler and good training, they are not classed as having a greatly stubborn side to their personalities, a trait that is often associated with other Japanese breeds such as the Akita.
The Shikoku should stand between 17-21” tall at the shoulder, and can weigh from 30-55lb. They have pointed ears and a curved tail. The Shikoku coat is very dense and thick with two layers, and like most other breeds with a similar coat, they do tend to shed hair prolifically, and will blow their coat once or twice a year. Acceptable breed colours include sesame, black, and tan, and while other colours can be seen within the breed, these are the main and most common and accepted breed colours.
Physically, the Shikoku appears most similar to the Siberian Husky or the Alaskan Husky, but they also share a lot of traits with many other dogs from within the Spitz dog grouping.
The average lifespan of the Shikoku is 10-12 years, and it is certainly not uncommon for dogs of the breed to live for much longer.
Like most other purebred breeds of dog, the Shikoku is at potential risk of developing certain health problems that are prominent within the breed, and which may have a genetically inherited element to them. While the breed is generally considered to be hardy and able to shake off most minor ills without incident, they may be prone to heart problems in later life, as well as potentially urinary tract problems and issues with the eyes such as cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy.
The Shikoku requires a significant amount of exercise to stay happy and healthy, and if they do not receive this, they may run the risk of obesity and the associated range of health problems that can accompany this.