Sunday, March 30, 2014

Good Morning!

This is how we say good morning. Well sort of.

Since I've got 13 dogs here at the moment, they're all split into teams, or mini-packs. This one is Baron (Kishu 4 years), Hime (Shikoku 6 years), Sho (Kishu 6 months), and Su (Kai 3 months). I crawl down from my loft every morning and start the process of greeting, walking, and feeding everyone.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Nihon Ken Standard

I've been in discussion with the Japan Kennel Club for two years now regarding correcting the large errors in some of the FCI standards for the Japanese breeds. It's been a bit of a merry go round since the FCI will not fix the standards unless they receive a request to do so from the JKC. The JKC is working on writing proper standards for the Nihon Ken, so prefers to leave the issues uncorrected until they send the new standards to the FCI.

When I first brought the errors to the attention of the JKC, they did seem concerned and interested in correcting them. But after a few conversations, the reply I received was that they were working on new standards, so to please give them a bit of time. I was hopeful that this process would take a year or two (as that is the time frame they were looking at), and these issues would be sorted out.

Well here we are two years later. I called the JKC today, and apparently there are still no new standards. They are stuck because NIPPO measures a dog's height at the back of the shoulder (the lowest point), while worldwide, dogs are measured at the highest point. I plead with them today that if they are going to take several more years to sort out the standards, to please in the mean time at least request that the FCI correct the errors in their published standards. The JKC standards are bare bone, and lacking, but they are at least correct. I don't know who translated the standards for the FCI or was overseeing the process, but there are some very basic errors in the standards that would have been noticed by an average proofreader or translator.

1. The Shikoku standard is missing coat colors (red, black & tan)
2. Shikoku bitches are incorrectly listed at 46cm (the standard for Kishu and Shikoku should be 52cm males, 49cm females
3. Kishu bitches are also incorrectly listed at 46cm
4. Kai are incorrectly listed at males 53cm, and females 48cm (where in god's good earth did they come up with these ridiculous numbers?)
5. Shiba are listed at males 40cm, females 37cm (just slightly off from the JKC standard of 39.5/36.5)
6. There is no call for 'urajiro' in the Shikoku standard.

I'm going to keep bugging the JKC every month this year, until I see some action. I'll be at the FCI show in Tokyo on Saturday, so maybe I'll start there.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Available Yushoku Kishu Females

These two girls were born at a friend's kennel on February 24th, 2014. Their father is a white Kishu out of show lines, and the mother is a sesame Kishu out of hunting lines. Yushoku Kishu pups are not available very often as there are very few left in the breed. They do not show very well, as due to the low numbers there aren't that many to choose from, and color quality has degraded. However to preserve the yushoku, someone has to keep breeding them, and homes need to be found for these rare Kishu.

If anyone's interested, let me know. My email is on the right side of the blog in one of the text boxes.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


For everyone and anyone looking to purchase the DVD of the 2013 NIPPO Grand National, here's how it's done.

The company that films and sells it every year produces a version with English subtitles (translated by yours truly). For 5000 JPY they will ship it internationally. The catch is that you will need to send them 5000 JPY (NOT the equivalent in foreign currency) via international postal money order. The company name is Cab3, and this is their website
The DVD is in DVD-R format, so can be viewed on pretty much any computer or player worldwide.

The IPMO will need to be sent to the following address:

Urban Uchida Bldg. 3F, 1-16-10 Nezu, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo-to, Japan 113-0031

Recipient: Cab3
Tel: 03-5814-0430

If you have any questions, either call them, or contact them through their website. If you're finding organizing the PMO and ordering a bit difficult, tack 2000 JPY on to the total, and I can handle the ordering, payment, and shipping.

Here's a sampling of footage from the day.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Aruto Go

A friend of mine has to scale down his Shikoku numbers due to a heart condition, and he's asked me to help look for homes for some of the dogs.

This is Aruto Go, a black sesame male, DOB 2009/07/24

He's a show dog, but has not been used for breeding yet since he's related to the females in the kennel. I haven't seen this dog in person yet, so I don't have much more information than this. If anyone is interested in giving this guy a new home, please contact me at my email address

Sunday, March 23, 2014

JKC Registrations 2013

So the total registration numbers in 2013 for the Japan Kennel Club are in.

Topping the list at number 1 is the poodle, with 87,438 dogs. Number 2 is the Chihuahua at 58,954. Number 3 is the Dachshund at 33,183. Scroll down to number 6 and you find the Shiba!

6. Shiba 12,725
42. Akita 290
54. Kai 162
82. Hokkaido 41
91. Kishu 21
102. Shikoku 12

Of course these are not the total registration numbers for any of these breeds, since the majority are registered with their specific breed registries (NIPPO, KKA, HKH, HKK, AKIHO) and not with the JKC.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Visiting Yamabiko Kennel (5)

Again, look at these Shiba.

All rights for these pictures belong to Yamabiko. Please do not copy or use them without their permission. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

How Does a Dog Drink?

I never thought about the physics of how a dog drinks water by lapping it up. Well thanks to this video, now I know!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Visiting Yamabiko Kennel (4)

Round 4! Notice how different the Shiba in most pictures look when compared to the Shiba of today?

All rights for these pictures belong to Yamabiko. Please do not copy or use them without their permission. 

Hunting and the Nihon Ken

The Japanese dog is first and foremost, a hunting dog. It is often said that a Nihon Ken that does not hunt, is not a true Nihon Ken. Hunting is the sole reason these breeds were born, and it is the reason they still exist today. The entire standard for these breeds was written to preserve the traits seen in a sound working dog. Temperament should be strong and bold, but balanced with calm confidence, as the words 'kan-i' and 'ryosei' in the standard suggest. Structure should be athletic, showing strength, power, and agility, while movement should be light. And finally, 'soboku' describes the aura and look of the Japanese dog. It can be translated to mean an unadorned beauty, not showy or flashy, but having a natural and simplistic beauty. The hunting Nihon Ken is a beautiful animal.

Unfortunately the Nihon Ken of today is primarily bred for show, leading to a decrease in the number of capable working dogs. With the decrease in hunters in Japan, more and more dogs are bred with non-functional structure and temperaments. In Japan, the modern hunter more often than not owns one of the many purpose bred western breeds for hunting, and big game hunters often use 'ji-inu' which translates to 'local dog'. These breeds are often loosely based on the original Nihon Ken, which makes sense since the 6 Nihon Ken breeds were originally formed from dogs bought (or stolen!) from mountain hunters. These ji-inu are a mix and match of many breeds, and some also include blood from western breeds like hounds.

The hunting style in Japan has also changed over the years. Gone is the 'matagi' of old, the subsistence hunters who hunted large game, usually alone, and often with only 1 or 2 dogs. Today's hunter usually hunts in large group hunts (not unlike European driven hunts), with packs of dogs that flush out prey. The matagi hunted in a style known as 'nagashi-ryo' where the hunter and dog work together as a team, the dog keeping in close proximity to, and regularly checking in with, the hunter as they walked through the mountain, often for many miles.

The Nihon Ken is a hot nosed breed, meaning it only reacts to hot (fresh) tracks. The dog's job is to find the desired game, and to flush and then hold it at bay till the hunter arrives. Western breeds are often bred to a single hunting skill set. In the case of boar dogs for example, they can usually be split into catch dogs, and bay dogs (dogs that either attack and bite the boar to stop it, or dogs that run around the boar barking and dodging its charges). The Nihon Ken however is a different animal. These breeds are intelligent, with a strong prey drive, coupled with a strong natural survival instinct. They also have a great capacity to learn from experience. Dogs often develop their own balanced hunting style, combing baying with nipping and catching when necessary to stop the boar from running. They will also adjust their attack based on their evaluation of the strength of their quarry. One can often see a seasoned hunting Nihon Ken sizing up its opponent even before it can see it, based entirely on the animal's scent.

A professional hunter like the matagi had no interest in aggressive or overly forward dogs that would continually become injured when tackling dangerous game. They prized quality dogs that could be hunted solo or in pairs. More dogs means more mouths to feed, and for a matagi living in a small mountain community, feeding a large group of dogs would have required too much effort. The term 'ichijyu ikku' means 'one gun, one dog' essentially describing the matagi way of hunting. One man, and one dog, successfully bringing home meat for the table. A dog that can be hunted solo with a high success rate is a prized possession even today.

Each of the Nihon Ken specialized in hunting the type of prey inhabiting their region of origin. The Kai hunted Kamoshika (Chamois) high in the mountains of Yamanashi prefecture, which is why the breed is still the most agile of the Nihon Ken, and a terrific climber. Owners of the breed can attest to the breed's seeming love of heights and climbing, which make it a very difficult dog to keep confined. The Kishu were big game hunters, specializing in stopping boar in the mountains of Wakayama prefecture, and to this day many in the breed retain the temperament and instinct necessary to hunt this dangerous game. The breed is confident and not overly excitable, but once they are focused on their prey, they are fearless with seemingly endless stamina. The Shikoku hunted big game as well, in the high mountains known as the 'Tibet of Japan' on Shikoku island. Their athleticism, high energy, and tenacity are still evident in the breed today. The Shiba was used for hunting small game and birds, which means a fast, energetic dog was preferred. The Hokkaido specialized in hunting the dangerous Brown Bear, meaning a highly vocal and tenacious hunter, with the build and strength to move quickly through deep snow, was required. They also needed enough speed to hunt the large Ezo deer native to Hokkaido. The Akita, while greatly changed today from its ancestor the Matagi Ken, was once a medium sized hunting breed, working large game in the snowy mountainous north of Honshu.

While to my mind all the breeds have their specialties when it comes to hunting, truth be told all 6 of the Japanese breeds were all round hunters. A subsistence hunter is not too particular about what he puts on the table, and the Nihon Ken of today will hunt just about anything it is allowed to. I have seen Shiba working boar, Kai hunting birds, Kishu hunting bear, Akita hunting boar, Hokkaido hunting boar, and Shikoku hunting badgers. These are intelligent, athletic, and versatile hunters.

To truly appreciate and understand the totality of the Nihon Ken, one must understand and respect its heritage. The traits that draw us to these breeds are there because of generations upon generations of selection, some of it human, but much of it natural, which created this magnificent, yet primitive hunter. If we are to preserve these breeds, selecting only for show will destroy them, leaving only a shell, a beautiful dog that has lost its soul.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Visiting Yamabiko Kenel (3)

So when I dropped by to take a look at the pups there again, I got to look at some more albums of the early days of NIPPO. Since everyone seems to love these old photos, I'm sharing them here again.

 Getting a 'yuuryou' (excellent) in the early days of NIPPO was difficult! Today almost all dogs receive a yuuryou, as you'll only be given a 'tokuryou' (good) if your dog has some serious faults.
They even used to give out awards to the dogs given yuuryou evaluations, and this was the first time I got to see what they looked like.

All rights for these pictures belong to Yamabiko. Please do not copy or use them without their permission.