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Posts Tagged ‘Shiba Inu’

Our article on the six native Japanese dog breeds has been published! Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

An article we wrote for the Primitive and Aboriginal Dogs Society (PADS) on the indigenous Japanese breeds, titled “The Nihon Ken”, has been published in PADS Journal #30.

Check it out: http://bradanderson.org/Journal-of-PADS-30-Engl.pdf

To learn more about PADS, check them out on the web at www.pads.ru. To learn more about the six native Japanese breeds (the Nihon Ken), check out The Nihon Ken Forum at www.NihonKen.org.

Special thanks to everyone that helped with the article and allowed me to use their photographs!

How are Shikoku Ken or Kai Ken different from Shiba Inu? Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

>A questions we get asked a lot is: How are Shikoku/Kai different from Shiba?

It seems a lot of people assume Shikoku and/or Kai are basically just larger Shiba. In our honest opinion this couldn’t be further from the truth, but when asked to name the differences on the spot we often struggle to clearly explain them.

So, that is the point of this post, to help explain how/why Shikoku and Kai are not Shiba, or Hokkaido, Akita, or Kishu.

First off, there are obvious size differences among the breeds. We’re not going to get into these details, we can all look up the standards and figure that out pretty easily – and honestly, from the vastly wide variation in the Shiba in the US, it is hard to say there is really that much of a size difference among the medium and small size Nihonken.

So what are the differences, and how do we describe them? We think the easiest way to answer this question is with one word: refinement.

The Shiba, and the Akita, are both very refined breeds. They are breeds that have not been used for their original intended purpose (hunting) for hundreds (maybe even thousands) of years. All the Nihonken were originally used for hunting, each hunted the prey that were specific to their area. The Shiba may be the most ancient of the Nihonken, but they are also the breed that is most removed from their hunting origin. The Akita too has been removed and refined away from their origin.

The Shikoku, Kai, Kishu and Hokkaido, on the other hand, have not. In some cases these breeds are still used today for hunting in Japan and many of the best examples of the breeds come from strictly working kennels that breed for temperament and workability not looks and companionship.

That is why we feel the best way to describe the differences between the Shikoku/Kai and the Shiba is to say the Shikoku/Kai is less refined than the Shiba Inu and Akita Inu.

How does this relate to living with the breeds as companions?

Hmmm… Well that’s another hard question to answer, and, as many of us know, personality can vary so significantly from dog to dog. One thing we have noticed with the Kai and the Shikoku, when compared to the Shiba, is that they possess a more compulsive personality. Some might refer to this as “primitive”, but we are not fans of that word when describing behavior as it is too vague.

Here are a few traits that we feel most Kai and Shikoku posses. Some Shiba or Akita may possess these qualities as well, but in general, in our opinion, fewer Shiba and Akita possess them than Shikoku or Kai and at a lower/lesser degree…

Barrier Frustration – It’s almost a guarantee that your Shikoku or Kai will have some degree of frustration when behind a fence or on a leash. This has to do with the Shikoku’s & the Kai’s social instinct – they LOVE to meet new dogs and people. Sometimes they may go about this in the wrong (maybe even rude) way, but it’s not out of aggression – it’s out of pure interest and excitement. As owners it’s our job so make sure our dogs form positive associations with other dogs and learn the proper way to meet-and-greet other dogs (and people). With a Shikoku and Kai, this can be a real challenge and is usually best done off-lead so they they can more clearly communicate their intent via posture and signals.

Reactiveness – Shikoku and Kai have a much higher degree of reactiveness when compared to the Akita and Shiba. This reactiveness comes from their higher drive which is typical of a working breed or a less refined breed. The Shikoku and Kai will react to the smallest of stimuli – a stare from another dog, the motion of an object, a sudden noise. All these things will yield an intense, immediate, and instinctual reaction from a Kai or Shikoku.

Ruggedness – We have 2 Shiba, 2 Shikoku, a Kai, and 4 Akita. Here in New Mexico rain will move in very quickly, sometimes unexpectedly. There have been times when our dogs were outside playing and the rain moved in unexpectedly trapping them out in the rain (until we let them inside). When this happens we have noticed an interesting thing, Shikoku and Kai all head for cover – there are plenty of places we have made for them to escape the elements – while our Shiba and Akita will just sit at the window looking at us. They seem to lack the instinct to shelter themselves from the rain – to us this seems less rugged. One could be explain this as “learned helplessness”, but in this case our Shikoku and Kai should have the same level of “learned helplessness” as the Akita and Shiba. Yet the our Shikoku and Kai do not wait at the door or window to be let in, they seek shelter. Same applies to the heat. In the heat of the summer, if the dogs are outside, you will find the Akita and Shiba panting at the window or door (noticeably uncomfortable) waiting for us to bring them in, out of the heat, while the Shikoku, Kai (and our other working breeds) will head to a “chill dens” or shade where it is cool and comfortable.

Those are just a few of the things that we have noticed over the time we have spent with our Nihonken and non-Nihonken. To us they explain the core differences between the breeds and illustrate why, when asked to name the differences, the answer is not as easy to deliver.

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