Rare Breed

Why is it difficult to find a Hokkaido puppy? Because it is a rare breed even in their native country, and the number of people that actually know about this breed worldwide is very small.
The situation is worrisome in Japan, less and less puppies were born.
Here is a very interesting summary, please read it!

About Hokkaido

The Hokkaido Ken is one of the six, native, Japanese spitz type dogs. A medium sized breed that originated on the northernmost island of Japan, Hokkaido, they are often referred to as Ainu Ken after the original indigenous people of Japan. The Ainu called their dogs 'seta' or 'shita' and used them to hunt bear and deer. The Hokkaido Ken is thought to have crossed over to Hokkaido with the Ainu as they were pushed north by the arrival of the Yayoi from the Korean peninsula. The Hokkaido are thought to carry more of the genes from the older type of dogs that arrived in Japan with the Jomon. Although they did interbreed with the dogs brought over by the Yayoi, due to their exodus across the sea to Hokkaido they were geographically isolated. Studies have shown they share DNA with the Ryukyu Ken of Okinawa which are also believed to carry more genes from the original Jomon dogs. The Ainu passed on stories by word of mouth, and several legends featured dogs. In the legend of the birth of the Ainu people, a princess was washed ashore on a desolate beach. As she was crying over her plight a white dog appeared and brought her food. From that day on the dog lived with her, and one day a child was born between them. The child grew to be strong and powerful, and the forefather of the Ainu. The Hokkaido was classified as a Living Natural Monument by the government of Japan in 1937. There are two main breed registries, the Hokkaido Ken Hozonkai (Hokkaido Dog Preservation Society) and the Hokkaido Ken Kyokai (Hokkaido Dog Association). Almost no Hokkaido are registered outside of these two clubs.

The breed was originally made up of several bloodlines named after Ainu villages where they originated, with the most famous lines being the Chitose, Biratori, Atsuma (Azuma), and Yuwamizawa. Today the Chitose line is the only true line remaining, with the rest of the breed being a mix of all original lines. White, smaller sized dogs with small ears and wide foreheads were common in the Chitose line. In comparison the Atsuma line had a large number of brindle dogs, with more tapered muzzles. The Hokkaido is renowned for it's bravery. While very few are still used to hunt bear today, at breed shows hunting tests are conducted where the dogs are shown a live bear and scored on their movement, reaction, and hunting drive. The Hokkaido Ken is a medium sized, strongly built dog. They have longer thicker coats than the other Japanese breeds, and also have wider chests, and smaller ears. Like all the Nihon Ken, they have a double coat made up of protective coarse outer guard hairs, and a fine thick undercoat that is shed seasonally.

Hokkaido Temperament

We cannot stress enough the importance of early, positive socialization for your Hokkaido puppy!

With early socialization and training, the Hokkaido is a very loyal and dedicated companion who wants to please his human family. In the right situation, they make excellent family dogs. Hokkaido want to be with their owners at all times, taking part in whatever their human family is doing. They insist on following their owners from room to room in the house, and love nothing better than going along in the car on errands. Hokkaido are incredibly intelligent thinkers and problem solvers. They are a highly trainable breed, but only with the right handler who knows how to connect with the individual dog, as well as factor in the breed’s natural independence and strong will into training plans. Because of their independent and bold nature, the Hokkaido requires training and socialization from an early age. If not socialized properly, Hokkaido can become wary of strangers and protective of their families. Given their hunting background, Hokkaido can be small animal aggressive. While human aggression is rarely seen in Hokkaido, dog aggression (particularly seen in intact males) is fairly common.


When fed a proper diet, they have little to no doggy odor despite infrequent bathing. The Hokkaido is fairly self-managed breed. The natural oils on their skin and coat helps to keep them clean and dry despite unfavorable weather conditions. Hokkaido enjoy swimming in the creek and playing in the mud frequently. However, the water and the dirt just falls right off by the time you get home. No trimming or shaving of their fur is required or recommended, just regular brushing to remove dead hair and keep the coat healthy. Absolutely under NO circumstances should you shave down your Hokkaido. It is incredibly damaging to their coat, and contrary to popular belief, it will NOT keep them cooler over the summer months. Nails should be kept as short as possible (so you can’t hear them “click” as they walk on hard wood floors), preferably using a dremel nail grinder to round off the edges. Like all spitz breeds, the Hokkaido are very heavy shedders. Especially with their thick, dense undercoat. Roughly twice a year (could be more, could be less depending on the climate where you live), the Hokkaido will "blow coat" and shed out all of their undercoat. This typically lasts several weeks. During this time, daily brushing is a must in order to help them remove all the dead hair and make way for their new coat to grow in. Apart from the twice-yearly "fur-pocalypse" when they are blowing coat, the Hokkaido does not shed much. During the summer months, the Hokkaido will probably prefer to sleep on tiled floors or next to cool air vents. During the winter, Hokkaido love to spend time outdoors in the cold.

House Manors

Hokkaido are not a clumsy breed, and they tend to be careful and sure-footed around furniture. Hokkaido are a very vocal breed though. They can make a wide variety of unique sounds, and they love to "talk" to their people. Whenever you arrive home, your Hokkaido will most likely burst into song. This can be quite loud and last for several minutes. Hokkaido will also howl, groan, or grumble in protest if given a command they do not wish to follow. They will roo at neighbors and friends who come into your home as well. When exercised properly and given adequate mental stimulation, Hokkaido are not a destructive breed. However, a bored Hokkaido may take to chewing, escaping, howling, digging, etc. Hokkaido tend to enjoy chewing (and sometimes ingesting) all sorts of non food items. This phenomenon is known as "pica" and it tends to be a familial disorder. Several Hokkaido in the US have been sent to the emergency room for ingesting rocks, socks, stick fragments, etc. It’s important to carefully supervise your Hokkaido when playing, and keep non-edible items off of the floor to prevent any mishaps.

Hokkaido Appearance

The Hokkaido has adapted over time to survive the severely cold and rugged Hokkaido landscape. Thus, they have developed thick weatherproof coats, large paws, small ears, powerful chests, strong jaws, and robust features. The Hokkaido is a medium-sized dog, standing at 47-52 cm and 18-22 kg. They are slightly longer than tall, well-balanced, sturdily built, and well boned. Their muscles should be tough and clean cut. Bitches should appear feminine without looking slight of bone/muscle. The Hokkaido's short double coat has harsh guard hairs with a very thick and soft undercoat, which does not require frequent bathing. NIPPO and FCI recognize the Hokkaido in five distinct color varieties: red, white, black & tan, brindle, and sesame. DOKENHO allows for a sixth color: wolf grey. Colors not explicitly stated within the breed standards, but are still acceptable and should not be faulted include: solid black, brindle pointed black and tan, white chest splashes, and urajiro (white undertones). Colors which are acceptable but undesired in Japan include white with red tipping/shading, and sashige (red with black tipping). Pinto is a stated fault in every Hokkaido breed standard.