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Our Preservation and Breeding Goals

The Kai Ken, being a rare breed, has a small closed gene pool (in NA and Japan). For Jen and I and our efforts with the Kai Ken we have one primary goal and one secondary goal.

“A journey of a thousand [miles] starts with a single step.” ~Lao Zi

Our primary goal is preserving the Kai Ken breed in North America. Increased diversity is most certainly one part (the most important part) of that preservation effort. Strictly speaking, importing related dogs is not optimal for diversification. Obviously if each of our imports were out-crossed from each other (and from the NA population) we would have greater diversity to inject into the current North American Kai Ken population. We fully admit and understand that, but we have to work within the limitations of our resources and, as I’ll discuss later, importing from a known semi-related population allows for better odds (and therefore an increase in quality).

However, having written that, one should keep in mind that while some of our imports might be closely related they are still less-closely related to the current North American population. For example, while Ayu and Ritsu might share a rather close ancestry (within 2 to 3 generations of their pedigree), from our research they are at least 6+ generations removed from the current North American population (4+ generation on their side and 2+ generation on the NA population’s side) with some of the ancestry being much less related than that (I’d love to say not related at all, but that’s just not really possible in such a rare dog breed like the Kai Ken – or across the Nihon Ken breeds as a group).

From our experience with importing different dog breeds (for breeding) from different areas we have come to believe that one has about a 1 in 5 success rate. Meaning 1 in 5 imports will be “breeding quality” (no major health concerns, good temperament, and structurally acceptable). That margin of error can be reduced by importing from known bloodlines (kennels), which is what we have done with our initial preservation effort. Having some related dogs, who are related via proven healthy relatives, decreases the risk of importing a Kai Ken that doesn’t fit our preservation standards (and therefore is not useable). So, the closeness of the initial preservation stock has allowed us to have more success (like 1 in 3) and bring in better quality Kai Ken.

Moving forward we are working to import even further removed less-related Kai Ken than we already have in Kumi, Nio, Akashi, and Chibi (who are our “out-crosses”). Our future importing efforts will focus more on less-related more obscure Kai Ken. Expect it to happen less frequently and with smaller numbers but with significantly more effort. This has been our plan from the start.

Our secondary goal is to be a (the first) respected (in Japan and in NA) Kai Ken Aigokai (KKA) registered kennel located in North America with a successful breeding program that produces healthy and temperamentally-sound Kai Ken that fit within the KKA standard and meets or exceeds our expectations of the breed. Our interpretation of the breed and the KKA standard is pulled from our growing knowledge, which comprises what we have learned (and continue to learn) from our KKA contacts in Japan, and our hands-on ownership and mating of our imports.

We have no aspirations to show our Kai Ken, tho we would love to place some of our puppies in homes who want to show. Our disinterest in showing our Kai Ken has little to do with our personal opinion of dog shows (we do feel that showing dogs adds value to a breed), instead it is due to the restraints the show competition places on a breeding program. Those restraints are counter productive to our primary goal (see above). In our opinion dog shows promotes an ever shrinking gene pool in a small closed population like the Kai Ken. By not partaking in dog shows and competing for titles we escape the need to use champion studs in our program (which is the main thing that shrinks diversity in a dog breed). Also, by not having champions in our kennel, we can have a less-biased preservation catalog, so kennels looking to use our preservation stock to diversify their program will not be pushed to use (our) studs with fancy titles in their name. The “Popular Sire” concept, and it’s effects on the domestic canine population, is nicely summarized in the article “The Price of Popularity:
Popular Sires and Population Genetics”
, which you can read here.

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