The Shikoku; A Natural Monument of Japan
(CKC Listed Breed, Group 2 Hounds)
The Shikoku is a rare breed outside of Japan. Even in Japan, the origin of the Shikoku, the breed is very rare.
This breed goes back to medium-size dogs that existed in Japan in ancient times. The Shikoku was and still is bred as a hunting dog mainly for hunting deer and wild boar in the mountainous districts of Kochi Prefecture. It is sometimes called “Kochi-ken” (ken = dog). There where three varieties of this breed - Awa, Hongawa and Hata - all named after the area where they where bred. Among them, the Hongawa maintained the highest degree of purity because the breeding area was not easily accessible thus limiting cross breeding. Due to the relative isolation and rural life the Shikoku survived the second world war and is not a “rebuilt” breed .
These dogs are tough and sufficiently agile to run through a mountainous region. They are characterized by their sesame coloured coats. The breed took on the name of the region and like the Shiba and the Akita, the Shikoku is one of the Japanese treasures. They were designated as a “natural monument” in 1937.
Courage, skill and stamina allowed it to be chosen as a reference point from which a variety of cross breeding followed to bring us the powerful and invincible warrior dog; the Japanese Tosa-Inu.
The Shikokus temperament is closely tied to nature. We have seen this many times in their behavior. They lay down on their back when we come into the kennel and sometimes pee, like wolves do when the alpha dog is near them. They lick your face and like to push their body close to us. Some dogs like to rub their coat in smelly things like rotten fish or meat (our male did this). One of our girls likes to rub her body in dry blankets or towels and after she did this she ripped it apart.
The Shikoku is a very intelligent dog and a quick learner. They are very alert, watch you and are willing to work with you. Shikokus are also very playful and enjoy vigorous. They need quite a bit of exercise. We think they would be a good dog for active outdoor people. They are very energetic and active outside but they are calm and quiet indoors.
The Shikoku is very submissive towards their master. They are friendly towards people but they can be aggressive towards other dogs. As with a Shiba early socialization is very important for the Shikoku.
When we imported our first three Shikokus we didn’t know anything about the breed. We loved the look of these beautiful dogs and we loved the type. It was helpful for us that we lived with Shiba Inus over 13 years and with Siberian Huskies for over 15 years. The breeder of our dogs told us that “Shikokus are not Shibas”. We did not believe it because she had no experience with Shibas and did not know what it means to live with a Shiba. But she was right. Shikokus are not Shibas.
In some ways the Shikoku is much easier to handle than a Shiba. They are not as stubborn and independent as a Shiba. There are easy to show because they love to be touched but they need to be taught not to run fast in the show ring.
Shikokus need a fenced yard and should not run free. They are hunting dogs and if they have found a track and are not well trained they would not listen to you if called them back and they will continue on their hunting trail.
Tying up a Shikoku with a leash or line, even for a few minutes, is not a good idea. Your dog will be loose and running around searching for you or for something else to do. You in turn will be buying a new line to replace the one that your Shikoku just chewed through.
Grooming a Shikoku is easy. They shed once or twice a year, usually spring and fall. Their undercoat comes out in clumps and can be brushed out very easy. A bath every three to four months or when needed, the nails cut or dremeled as required and a brush from time to time is all the care required.