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  • Temperament: Faithful, Noble, Docile
  • Height: 17-22 inches
  • Weight: 30-60 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 11-13 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
White Kishu Ken head portrait.
Kishu Ken standing facing left.
Kishu Ken head portrait.
Kishu Ken laying down facing left.
Kishu Ken head portrait.
Red-colored Kishu Ken head portrait.

About the Kishu Ken

The Kishu Ken is a great dog for an active person and has the ability to be an easy-going house dog when they are not out and about. They are medium-sized, well balanced, and their muscles are well developed. They have pricked ears and a curled or sickle tail. Kishus are very loving and affectionate with their families and need to be included in activities. They are great with kids if raised with them, but they are often aloof with strangers. Kishu Ken have high prey drives and might like to give chase to small animals. If he is raised with a small animal such as a cat, he could do well with them, but most Kishus can’t help but give in to their instincts.


Club Contact Details

Club: American Kishu Ken Club
Name: Carleen Newman


Club: National Kishu Club
Name: C.J. Hammond – President

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.
Kishu Ken

Find a Puppy: Kishu Ken

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The Kishu Ken are prone to allergies and do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially  manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Allergic Kishu Ken may require a grain-free or potato-free kibble. Many Kishu do best on nutrient-dense foods to help maintain
their weight and fitness. A protein source based in fish or lamb may treat your Kishu Ken the best when available. Hypothyroidism, occasionally seen in the breed, may cause weight gain. It is best to check with your vet if you have concerns about your dog’s weight or diet.


Beyond regular weekly grooming, the occasional bath will keep your Kishu clean and looking his best. Grooming can be a wonderful bonding experience for you and your dog. The strong, fast-growing nails should be trimmed regularly with a nail clipper or grinder to avoid overgrowth, splitting, and cracking. Their ears should be checked regularly to avoid a buildup of wax and debris, which can result in infection. Teeth should be brushed regularly.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Occasional Bath/Brush




Kishus require daily exercise and stimulation, but as a dog that is built to run and hunt, the quality of the activity is more important than the physical exercise. Having a large yard where the dogs can run around is good for daily use, but without the stimulation, daily walks may become boring and yards will just end up a place of contention where your Kishu may become a master escape artist or a brilliant excavator. Giving your Kishu Ken a nice, daily walk in addition to alternating “adventures” or enriching activities (hiking in a new place, taking them to a new neighborhood to walk around, introducing a novel toy or item or just something high-value they can take time with) will satisfy their needs.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity


Kishu Ken are intelligent problem solvers. They like to try to resolve their issues and do things independently until they are taught otherwise. They are as trainable as their owner is willing to discover what motivates them. This can be something as easy and simple as finding a favorite food or it can be a little more obscure, like a particular sock or a toy that can be rewarding enough to work for. Kishu Ken have worked with people, historically, as boar-hunting dogs, and that intelligence and cooperation can be put toward contemporary sports such as agility, herding, obedience, lure coursing, and much more, depending on individual preferences and ability.


May be Stubborn
Eager to Please


Reserved with Strangers


Current data suggestions environmental and food allergies are the largest health concern to Kishu Ken. These allergies can cause dermatitis, pyoderma, and ear infections when not properly maintained, but are relatively harmless when kept under control with the help of high-quality nutrition and veterinary assistance.
Kishu Ken are an otherwise healthy breed. Rare cases of autoimmune skin conditions, Addison’s disease, and hypothyroidism are sometimes observed.

Red-colored Kishu Ken standing on a white background.
Kishu Ken
Kishu Ken


The Japanese dog breeds are ancient and developed from a common source. In Japan, spitz-type hunting dogs (canis familiaris palustris) lived over 3000 years ago. The Kishu Ken (ken meaning “dog” in Japanese) developed from tough, medium-sized dogs that roamed the mountains of Japan many centuries ago. They were the matagi’s dogs, used to hunt boar and deer. The region in Japan called Wakayama is best known for the breeding and development of the Kishu. The hunters preferred the white color because of easy visibility. Working dogs were bred for efficiency and usefulness. Prior to 1934, there were Kishus in white, red, brindle and some that were spotted. But the solid colors became the only accepted colors and the spotted-coat Kishus had disappeared by 1945. In 1934, the Kishu was designated a “Memorial of Nature” in its native country. The Japanese people are proud of their dogs and bestow honors and praise on them. This pride and commitment to their national treasures, and the Kishu is one of them, is the reason the Kishus are rarely exported.

Did You Know?

The Kishu Ken has been assigned the Working Group designation.
In 1934, the Kishu Ken was designated a national treasure in Japan.
The Kishu Ken has been recorded in the Foundation Stock Service since 2005.
The Kishu Ken has been approved to compete in AKC Companion Events since July 1, 2008.

The Breed Standard

Colors & Markings


Description Standard Colors Registration Code
Red Check Mark For Standard Color 140
Sesame Check Mark For Standard Color 541
White Check Mark For Standard Color 199

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