Finding out as much as you can about any breed before deciding to introduce a dog into your family is essential. You must learn about the different personality traits and physical characteristics of a dog breed to ascertain if it is suitable for your lifestyle. A breed of dog that you might not know much about is the Kishu Ken, as it is a rare breed. If you are considering getting one of these dogs, you should think carefully about its suitability for your life and family situation. Finding out everything you can means you can make an informed decision and avoid problems in the future. To help you decide, here are 20 things you probably didn’t know about the Kishu Ken.
1. It is a Japanese Breed
The Kishu Ken is a breed that originates from Japan, and it remains the place that you are most likely to come across this breed. It is named after the Kishu region of Japan, and the word Ken is Japanese for dog. They derive from ancient mountain dog breeds that are native to the Wakayama prefecture and the Mie prefecture. The Kishu Ken has been recognized as a national monument of Japan since 1934, and the Japanese hold these dogs in high-esteem.
2. They Were Originally Hunting Dogs
Although many Kishu Kens are now domestic dogs that serve only the purpose of being a companion for their family, they were originally hunting dogs. They were bred from mountain dogs specifically for this purpose and were usually used for hunting wild boar and deer. They remain the breed that is most commonly used for wild boar hunting in Japan.
3. There Are Three Similar Breeds
There are three other Japanese dog breeds that are like the Kishu Ken in both stature and appearance, says Wikipedia. Therefore, a Kishu Ken is often mistaken for these other breeds. The three similar breeds are the Shikoku Ken, the Kai Ken, and the Hokkaido Ken. Along with the Kishu Ken, these three breeds are classed as Spitz-type dogs.
4. It is a Medium-Sized Dog
Kishu Kens are classified as a medium-sized dog, although their size can vary significantly. The height of a Kishu Ken can vary from 17-inches to 22-inches, while the weight ranges from 30-pounds to 60-pounds. Diet can also impact the weight of a dog, and it is essential to feed a Kishu Ken a healthy and balanced diet to prevent obesity. If a dog is obese, it is more prone to many other serious health conditions, including joint problems, cardiovascular conditions, and diabetes.
5. There is a Difference in the Size of Males and Females
One factor that impacts the size of Kishu Kens is their gender. Usually, males are significantly bigger and heavier than females. There is enough of a difference between the size of the genders to tell whether a Kishu Ken is a male or a female just by looking at them and without seeing their genitalia.
6. White is the Most Common Color
The natural coloring of Kishu Kens include white, brindle, spotted, and red. However, hunters preferred white dogs due to increased visibility. Also, white is considered a clean color in Japanese culture. Therefore, breeding programs developed began to develop only white Kishu Kens, and this is now the most common color. Breeding standards introduced in 1934 meant that only solid colors were accepted, and spotted varieties had disappeared by 1945. Most Kishu Kens have black noses and darker markings in the area around their nose.
7. Kishu Kens Have Distinctive Facial Features
Kishu Kens have some distinctive facial features that make them differ from similar dog breeds. According to Dog Zone (https://www.dogzone.com/breeds/kishu/), their heads are relatively small compared to their body, and they have a broad forehead. They also have small, dark eyes that are triangular. Another distinctive feature is their triangular ears, which sit widely apart on their head and are not over-sized.
8. They Have a Short Coat
A notable physical characteristic of Kishu Kens is their short coat, which is straight and coarse. They also have a thick undercoat. There is a fringe of hair on their cheeks and tails. Their plumed tails usually curve upwards and over their backs.
9. A Kishu Ken Needs Twice-Weekly Grooming
The short coat of a Kishu Ken means it is relatively easy to groom. However, their thick undercoat is prone to matting. Therefore, it is essential you groom your Kishu Ken regularly. It is recommended that you groom a Kishu Ken at least twice a week. It is also crucial to bathe your Kishu Ken regularly to reduce the risk of their undercoat becoming matted.
10. It is Best If They Are the Only Dog in the Household
If you already have a dog in your home, you should only consider introducing another dog if both dog breeds are known to get along well with other dogs. Some dogs love living in a household with other dogs, while others prefer being the only dog in the household. Kishu Kens fit into the latter category of dogs, as most do not enjoy living with another dog. Their jealousy can even make them aggressive towards another dog. It is possible that some Kishu Kens can learn to get along with other dogs if you introduce them into a home with an existing dog while the Kishu Ken is still a puppy. However, doing this is taking a risk. If you already have a Kishu Ken, then you should not consider introducing another dog into your home.
11. They Are Intelligent and Loyal
Kishu Kens have many positive personality traits. Most notably, they are an intelligent and loyal breed. Other positive traits of a Kishu Ken is that they are courageous, friendly, dedicated, and playful. These traits mean that this breed will appeal to many people. Dog Time (https://dogtime.com/dog-breeds/kishu-ken) notes that the personality traits of this breed mean they are suitable for living with children. However, Kishu Kens are not keen on rough play, so you must set the boundaries with your children.
12. Early Training is Essential
If you decide that a Kishu Ken is the right breed for you, then it is essential that you begin training early. Although they are intelligent, they are also a stubborn and strong-willed dog. Therefore, some perseverance is needed to train this breed successfully. It is also vital that you include early socialization as part of the training. Kishu Kens are often confrontational with other dogs, and they are shy around new people. Therefore, introducing them to dogs, people, and different environments from an early age can improve the chances of having a friendly and well-rounded dog.
13. They Are Not Suitable to Live with Small Animals
Before introducing a dog into your home, you should assess your current situation. If you already have small pets living in your house, then you should only introduce a breed that is not known to show aggression towards small animals. Unfortunately, Kishu Kens have a strong hunting instinct, and this means they are not suitable to live in a household with small pets. It is likely that they will try to hunt the smaller animals, and this could do serious harm. On the other hand, there are examples of Kish Kens living successfully with cats.
14. It is Rare Outside Japan
The Kishu Ken is an extremely rare breed, and it is unusual to see one outside of Japan. There are very few of this dog breed in Europe and North America, although it is a known breed in both parts of the world. If you want one of these dogs, you will need to find a specialist breeder as you are unlikely to find one from a rescue center.
15. The Numbers of Kishu Ken Are in Rapid Decline
Even in their homeland of Japan, the Kishu Ken is a rare breed. The numbers of this breed are in rapid decline, although they are still used as hunting dogs, and people also keep them as domestic pets. Due to the decline in numbers, groups of dedicated Kishu Ken enthusiasts are trying to prevent the breed from disappearing.
16. The Kishu Ken is Recognized by the American Kennel Club
The Kishu Ken is officially recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club, who has this breed listed as a Foundation Stock Breed. Within the American Kennel Club, the listed club contacts are the National Kishu Club and the American Kishu Registry. However, until the Kishu Ken moves into the Miscellaneous class, official breed clubs are not listed. The main registry of the breed is the Nihon Ken Hozonkai, which is a Japanese organization. It is this organization that is responsible for the original breed standard. The Kishu Ken is also listed on the Japan Kennel Club registry and the United Kennel Club.
17. Kishu Kens Feature in the Work of Yoshihiro Takahashi
Despite the rarity of this breed, it features in popular culture. Famous manga artist Yoshihiro Takahashi has used the Kishu Ken as inspiration for his artwork on many occasions. The dogs are often depicted as skilled fighters in his work. Some examples of Takahashi’s work that includes Kushi Ken are ‘Akrame of Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin’ and ‘Kyoshiro of Ginga Legend Weed.’ In the latter, the main character is Weed. His mother is a Kishu Ken, while his father is a Japanese Akita. Therefore, Weed is a Kishu-Akita mixed breed. Kishu Kens also feature as the Ganin warriors in ‘Kacchu no Senshi Gamu.’
18. They Are Best-Suited to Homes with Gardens
Due to the size of a Kishu Ken and the breed’s high energy levels, they need plenty of space for exercise. Therefore, they are best-suited to a large household that has a good-sized garden for them to exercise. It is not advisable to keep a Kishu Ken in an apartment, even if you intend to take them for daily walks. They need the space to run around freely, and this is something they cannot enjoy if they live in the confinement of an apartment. Not only should you allow your Kishu Ken to roam in the garden, but you should also take them for a long walk every day. Furthermore, this breed enjoys activities that provide both mental and physical stimulation, such as puzzle-solving and fun games.
19. Kishu Kens Are a Healthy Breed
Kishu Kens are generally considered a healthy dog breed, with very few health conditions linked to this breed. However, all breeds have some health conditions with which they are associated. One such condition is hip dysplasia, which is a condition affecting the hip joints in the hind legs. Another common condition is hypothyroidism, which is a condition where the thyroid gland is underactive. Some of the symptoms of this condition include lethargy, weight gain, alopecia, and skin infections. Finally, another condition associated with Kushi Kens is entropion, which is a condition affecting the eyes. VCA Hospital says that dogs suffering from entropion have eyelids that turn inwards, forcing the eyelashes to rub against the eyeball and causing irritation and pain. In turn, this can lead to perforations and ulcers forming on the eyelid. In these cases, it is possible the dog may require corrective surgery.
20. They Can Live for Up to 13 Years
According to the American Kennel Club, a Kishu Ken has a life expectancy of between 11 and 13 years. However, there are several factors that can impact the lifespan of a Kishu Ken, including diet, exercise, and general health. To make sure your Kishu Ken lives a long and healthy life, you should feed them a nutritious diet, make sure they get enough exercise and take them to the vets for regular check-ups.