2018 is the year of the dog under the Chinese Zodiac so let’s take a look at Japanese dog breeds. Inu and ken both mean dog in Japanese; the reading of the kanji (character) varies.
Only six breeds are considered to be native to Japan: from north to south, these are Hokkaido Ken, Akita Inu, Kai Ken, Kishu Inu, Shikoku Inu, Shiba Inu.
This variety became famous because of the Softbank advertisement! Also called Ainu Ken, Ainu are the indigenous people of Japan. With a thick coat, cheerful and totally adorable and true to their look not fierce.
This is the only large dog among Japanese native breeds. Light brown mixed with white, these are loyal and physically strong. Hachiko was an Akita Inu, you find the statue of this loyal dog at Shibuya Station. This breed also featured in the emotional film, Hachiko: A Dog’s Tale, with Richard Gere.
Originally from Yamanashi Prefecture, these dogs have dark brown hair called tiger-stripe fur, a camouflage for hunting in the mountains. Trained to be military dogs at one point, the Kai Ken is fierce, fast and obedient.
Medium-sized dog from Wakayama prefecture, white, fluffy with triangular ears! Although not big, it is said that the Kishu Inu can scare off a wild boar and is known to be well-behaved.
Belongs to Kochi prefecture in the Shikoku region. Highly aggressive, the Shikoku Inu looks like a wolf. Alert, brave and active, they love to run a lot. In fact, there are even known to chase boars just for fun in Shikoku!
The most famous among Japanese dogs.
Shiba Inu is the smallest among Japanese native dogs. Smart, courageous, loyal, and also known to be sporty, they were originally bred for hunting! Shiba Inu are known to be quite expressive, check out some of the faces this dog can pull off:
Refusing to go for a walk (Twitter @akiracb11)
Grinning (Instagram @marutaro)
Evil face (Instagram @ryuji513)
Other than the Shiba Inu, all other dogs are named after prefectures or regions in Japan. You might be wondering why this is the case! There are many reasons for this. Shiba (柴) means brushwood in Japanese and refers to the a tree or shrub whose leaves change to red in autumn, the color of a Shiba Inu is similar to that! But the most convincing argument remains that in an old Nagano dialect, the word “shiba” meant “small” and that’s why this good natured dog came to be called “Shiba Inu.”