The Kishu (紀州犬, Kishū-inu?), sometimes called Kishu Ken or Kishu Inu, is a Japanese breed of dog, developed there for thousands of years. It is descended from ancient medium-sized breeds and named after the Kishu region, now Wakayama Prefecture. This breed is similar to the Akita Inu and the Shiba Inu but predates both breeds. Sometimes it is mistaken for the white variant of Hokkaido or a white Japanese Spitz because of very similar appearance. The Japanese originally used this breed of dog for boar and deer hunting. Like the Shiba, they are often quiet. Kishu will stalk prey quietly rather than bark.


The Kishu stands 17-22 inches tall, averages 30-60 pounds and is considered a medium sized dog. The coat color is generally white. There are still occasional brindle or red Kishus in Japan, but the preferred coat color, and the only one seen in show dogs, is white. The nose color is primarily black, but with the white coat the nose can be brownish or pink in color. The bite is either scissor or a level bite. The tail is curled over the back like that of an Akita or Shiba Inu. The coat is short, straight, and coarse with a thick undercoat. There is fringe on the cheeks and tail. The ears incline forward and are smaller rather than larger. This breed is tough, agile, and friendly.


Kishu Kens are a one person/one family dog. They are courageous and brave as hunters, and will be loyal to their owners. They have a strong prey drive, and will hunt small animals. They do well with other dogs, however, if socialized well as puppies, but due to their pack instincts they might cause some fights for dominance. They are quite headstrong and willful, making training necessary, but they are devoted and loyal to family, getting along well with children, if raised with them. Kishu Kens like to keep an eye on whatever is going on, and sometimes find a high place to look out from. They can be aloof or shy around strangers. They are easily housebroken, intelligent, and strong willed.



The Kishu should be brushed weekly to keep their fur mat free and clean. Bathe them as necessary, depending on how dirty they are. Their ears should be checked routinely for wax build up, infection or dirt. Their nails should also be trimmed regularly. Kishu Kens shed once or twice a year, making grooming at these times needed.


The Kishu needs adequate space to roam and exercise, meaning a house with a yard or urban environment with a fence. They need regular exercise on a leash, taking walks or runs. They can also be given a job to do such as herding to satisfy their exercise.

Standart FCI:

ORIGIN : Japan.


UTILIZATION : Hunting dog, companion.

FCI-CLASSIFICATION : Group 5 Spitz and primitive type. Section 5 Asian Spitz and related breeds. Without working trial.

BRIEF HISTORICAL SUMMARY : This breed originated from medium-sized dogs that existed in Japan in ancient times. It became established as a breed in the mountainous districts in Kishu (Wakayama and Mie Prefecture). Initially, these dogs’coats were often marked with conspicuous colours such as red, sesame or brindle. From 1934, however, only solid colours were accepted for this breed; conspicuously marked coats had disappeared by 1945, never to reappear. Currently, white coats may be found in this breed. These dogs are used for hunting, now mainly wild boar, but at one time also deer. The breed took on the name of the region where it was bred. It was designated as a « natural monument » in 1934.

GENERAL APPEARANCE : Medium-sized dog, well balanced and muscles well developed. The dog has pricked ears and a curled or sickle tail. The conformation is strong, well boned and compact.

IMPORTANT PROPORTION : The ratio of height at withers to length of body is 10 : 11.

BEHAVIOUR / TEMPERAMENT : Dog of noteworthy endurance, showing nobility, dignity and naive feeling. The temperament is faithful, docile and very alert.


Skull : Forehead broad. Stop : Rather abrupt, with a slight furrow.


Nose : Black, flesh colour permitted with a white coat. Nasal bridge straight.

Muzzle : Fairly thick, wedge-shaped and tapering.

Lips : Tight.

Jaws/Teeth : Strong, with a scissor bite.

Cheeks : Relatively well developed.

Eyes : Relatively small, nearly triangular, set well apart and dark brown in colour.

Ears : Small, triangular, slightly inclining forward and firmly pricked.

NECK : Thick and muscular.


Withers : High.

Back : Straight and short.

Loins : Broad and muscular.

Chest : Deep, ribs moderately sprung.

Belly : Well tucked up.

TAIL : Set on high, thick, carried vigorously curled or curved like a sickle over the back, the tip nearly reaching to the hocks when let down.


Shoulders : Moderately sloping with well developed muscles. Shoulder joints moderately angulated. 

Elbow: Set close to the body.

Forearm : Straight.

Pasterns : Slightly inclining.


Upper thighs : Long.

Lower thighs : Short.

Hocks : Tough and strong.

FEET : Toes well arched and tightly closed. Pads thick and elastic. Nails hard and preferably dark in colour.

GAIT / MOVEMENT : Light and resilient.

COAT HAIR : Outer coat harsh and straight, undercoat soft and dense. The hair on cheeks and tail fairly long.

COLOUR : White, red and sesame (red fawn hair with black tips).

SIZE : Height at withers : Dogs 52 cm. Bitches 46 cm. There is a tolerance of + 3 cm.

FAULTS : Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog. • Bitchy dogs/doggy bitches. • Long hair.

DISQUALIFYING FAULTS : • Aggressive or overly shy. • Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified. • Extremely overshot or undershot mouth. • Ears not pricked. • Hanging tail, short tail. • Shyness.

N.B.: • Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum. • Only functionally and clinically healthy dog