The Kai Ken is one of the oldest dog breeds to come from the country of Japan. However, it has managed to make it into modern times, which can be attributed to a combination of its hunting excellence, its pleasing temperament, and its natural intelligence. Due to these characteristics, whether people want a companion who can keep up with them physically or a companion that will be fine living in a smaller space, a Kai Ken might not be a bad choice. Here are 10 things that you may or may not have known about the Kai Ken:
1. Named for Its Place of Origin
Kai ken means a Kai dog. Based on this, it should come as no surprise to learn that Kai is a place. To be exact, Kai refers to Kai province, which was a rather mountainous place that is situated in what is now Yamanashi Prefecture. It is believed that the kai ken came into existence in Kai province.
2. Sometimes Called the Tora Inu
Sometimes, the kai ken is called the tora inu, which means “tiger dog.” It is interesting to note that Kai province was once home to a famous warlord named Takeda Shingen, whose nickname was the Tiger of Kai to contrast him with his rival Uesugi Kenshin, whose nickname was the Dragon of Echigo.
3. One of Six Dog Breeds Protected By Nihon Ken Hozonkai
The kai ken is one of the six dog breeds that is protected by the Nihon Ken Hozonkai, which exists for the purpose of making sure that they continue to exist in the future. To this end, said organization is responsible for not just setting the standard for those six dog breeds but also for maintaining the registries for them as well.
4. Good at Hunting
Kai kens were bred for hunting. As a result, they remain excellent hunters in the present, with their persistence being a stand-out characteristic of theirs. Primarily, kai kens were famous for hunting Japanese ungulates, but their toughness can be seen in how they were sometimes expected to take on boars and bears.
5. Good at Climbing
Kai province is famous for being mountainous. Due to this, it is perhaps unsurprising that the kai ken is an excellent climber on top of being an excellent hunter. In fact, there are stories of them climbing trees while in pursuit of their designated quarry.
6. Natural Watch Dogs
Speaking of which, it is interesting to note that kai kens have something of a reputation for being natural watch dogs as well. In part, this is based on their alertness, which is combined with a keen intelligence. However, it should also be noted that while they are friendly towards their family members, they tend to be much more reserved when it comes to people who they don’t know.
7. Might Be the “Purest” Japanese Dog Breed
There are some people who believe that the kai ken might be the “purest” of the Japanese dog breeds. This is because Kai province was so mountainous that its population and thus its dogs were much more isolated than their counterparts in most of the rest of Japan. As a result, the kai ken hasn’t had the same opportunities for breeding with other dog breeds.
8. Brought to the United States in the 1950s
It is known that the kai ken managed to make its way to the United States in the 1950s, which was when some American soldiers who had been serving in said country brought some members of the dog breed home with them. With that said, the fates of those dogs are unknown for the most part, which is why most of the modern kai kens in the United States trace their ancestry to a group of dogs that were brought over in the 1990s.
9. Need Exercise
Since they were intended to be hunting dogs, it should come as no surprise to learn that kai kens tend to be rather active. Due to this, they need a fair amount of exercise, which is something that interested individuals should take into consideration before bringing a kai ken home.
10. Two Variations
There are two variations of the kai ken. One variation is famous for being stockier as well as possessing what some have called a more bear-like face, whereas the other variation is famous for being leaner as well as possessing what some have called a fox-like face. With that said, there has been a fair amount of blurring between the two variations.