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.
The original Shikoku, or Kochi-ken, existed in the mountain ranges of Kochi Prefecture on the Island of Shikoku. They were highly valued by the Matagi (Japanese hunters) as a tracker of game, particularly wild boar. He is a medium-sized dog with well-balanced and well-developed, clean-cut muscles. He has pricked ears and a curled or sickle tail. His conformation is strong, well-boned and compact. His outer coat is rather harsh and straight and his undercoat is soft and dense. The hair on his tail is long. His coat can be red, black and tan, or sesame, which is a well-mixed color of black, red, and white hairs.
The Shikoku should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.
Beyond regular weekly grooming, the occasional bath will keep them clean and looking their 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.
Options for exercise include play time in the backyard, preferably fenced, or being taken for walks several times a day. Exercise can also come in the form of indoor activities, like hide-and-seek, chasing a ball rolled along the floor, or learning new tricks. Certain outdoor activities like swimming, hiking, and retrieving balls or flying discs can provide a good outlet for expending energy. If you live in an apartment, even short walks in the hallways can give your dog some exercise, especially during inclement weather. Training for dog sports like agility, obedience, and rally can also be a great way to give your dog exercise.
The majority of Shikokus are healthy dogs, and working with a responsible breeder, those wishing to own a Shikoku can gain the education they need to know about specific health concerns within the breed. Good breeders utilize genetic testing of their breeding stock to reduce the likelihood of disease in their puppies.
The Shikoku dates back to the medium-sized dogs that existed in Japan in ancient times. He was bred as a hunting dog, mainly for hunting boar in the mountainous districts of Kochi Prefecture. He is also sometimes called Kochi-ken (ken = dog). There were three varieties of this breed, Awa, Hongawa and Hata, all named after the area where they were bred. Among them, the Hongawa maintained the highest degree of purity because the breeding area was not easily accessible.
These dogs are tough and sufficiently agile to run through a montainous region. They are characterized by their sesame colored coats. The breed took on the name of the region and was designated as a Natural Monument in 1937.