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  • Temperament: Dignified, Alert, Devoted
  • Height: 18-20 inches
  • Weight: 44-66 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
  • Group: Foundation Stock Service

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

FCI Standard
Hokkaido standing outdoors facing left.
Hokkaido running outdoors.
Hokkaido standing in the snow

About the Hokkaido

The Hokkaido is a medium-sized, strongly-built dog. They have longer, thicker coats than the other Japanese breeds, and also have wider chests and smaller ears. Like all the Nihon Ken, they have a double coat made up of protective, coarse outer guard hairs, and a fine, thick undercoat that is shed seasonally. The breed comes in several colors: white, red, black, brindle, sesame, and wolf grey. With early training, the Hokkaido is a very loyal and dedicated companion who wants to please his human family. They are incredibly intelligent thinkers and problem solvers, and they excel at tasks given to them. If not socialized properly, however, Hokkaido can become wary of strangers and protective of their families. The breed is extremely rare outside its native country. In Japan, there is an estimated population of around 10,000-12,000, and yearly registrations of between 900-1000.

National Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country. For more information about the Hokkaido, contact Lindsay Tompkins at the Hokkaido Association of North America.
Hokkaido puppy standing in the grass outdoors at sunset.

Find a Puppy: Hokkaido

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.



The Hokkaido is an active breed which requires a high quality diet of balanced proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. What you feed your dog is an individual choice, but working with your veterinarian and/or breeder will be the best way to determine frequency of meals as a puppy and the best adult diet to increase his longevity. Properly fed Hokkaido should have thick, shiny coats and clean teeth. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.


The Hokkaido is a fairly self-managed breed. The natural oils on their skin and coat help to keep them clean and dry despite unfavorable weather conditions. No trimming or shaving of their fur is required or recommended, just regular brushing to remove dead fur and keep the coat healthy. Hokkaido blow their undercoat roughly twice yearly. During this time, a bath and frequent brushing to remove the dead fur is necessary. Their nails should be trimmed regularly to avoid overgrowth and cracking. Teeth should be brushed regularly.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Weekly Brushing




Hokkaido are generally a very active breed. They are best suited for an active family who enjoys spending their time outdoors hiking, biking, jogging, and/or camping. Like all working breeds, it’s best to give them a “job” to do. Hokkaido excel at performance events such as agility, rally, flyball, weight pull, lure coursing, dock diving, and more. Without proper physical and mental stimulation, Hokkaido can become bored, anxious, and hyperactive in your home. If letting your Hokkaido run in your backyard, you should have a six foot fence, as they are good jumpers. For daily walks, a strong leash and a properly fitted martingale collar or harness is recommended.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity


Well-bred Hokkaido are generally very healthy, living 12-15 years average. However, like all breeds they are prone to hereditary diseases. Hokkaido are prone to collie eye anomaly, hip dysplasia, luxating patella, heart murmurs, idiopathic seizures, anxiety, psychogenic polydipsia, and pica. When living with a Hokkaido, it is important to monitor them frequently to make sure they are not chewing on items which can cause them harm. Inspect all toys carefully and frequently, and throw away toys that are broken or contain small pieces which can be ingested.

Hokkaido running in the grass outdoors in the sun.
A black and white photograph of a Hokkaido standing outdoors.
A black and white photograph of a Hokkaido standing outdoors.
Hokkaido head portrait outdoors.


The Hokkaido is one of the oldest of the six native Japanese spitz breeds that also include the Akita, Shiba Inu, Kai Ken, Shikoku, and Kishu Ken. They are said to have originated from medium-sized Japanese dogs that accompanied the Ainu people from Honshu, the main island of Japan, to Hokkaido during the Kamakura era in the 1140s, when exchanges were developing between Hokkaido and the Tohoku District.

Over time, the Ainu people and their dogs adapted to survive the severely cold winter climate and rugged landscape. The dogs were revered by the Ainu people for their devout loyalty, bravery, and large-game hunting ability. The Ainu were bear and deer hunters by culture, and their livelihood depended on their renowned bear dogs.

The Hokkaido was classified as a Living Natural Monument by the government of Japan in 1937. There are two main breed registries: the Hokkaido Ken Hozonkai (Hokkaido Dog Preservation Society) and the Hokkaido Ken Kyokai (Hokkaido Dog Association). Almost no Hokkaido are registered outside of these two clubs.

Did You Know?

The Hokkaido has been assigned the Working Group designation.
The Hokkaido has been recorded in the Foundation Stock Service since January 2016.
The Hokkaido has gained popularity after a Japanese telecom company, Softbank, began featuring a white Hokkaido playing the role of Otōsan in their commercials.
The Hokkaido love to be vocal and make a variety of unique sounds, both when happy and when being stubborn.
The Hokkaido is also known as the Ainu Ken, Hokkaido Inu, and Hokkaido Ken.

The Breed Standard

Colors & Markings


Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Black Check Mark For Standard Color 007
Black & Tan Check Mark For Standard Color 018
Brindle Check Mark For Standard Color 057
Red Check Mark For Standard Color 140
Red Sesame Check Mark For Standard Color 298
Sesame Check Mark For Standard Color 541
White Check Mark For Standard Color 199

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