One beef I always have when I see Nihon Ken in shows overseas, is their fitness. I see very few dogs that are fit. Even the ones that look like they're the right weight or shape, you can see the heaviness when they move. And of course there's always the overweight dogs with super plush coats.

The NIPPO standard describes the small and medium Nihon Ken as being alert (sharp senses), agile (capable of sudden quick movement), and light of foot (almost spring like movement). This is not to say all the dogs shown in Japan are in perfect shape (because I know someone will call me out on this), they're not. But we know what shape they should be in, and will appreciate a dog that's show ready. If your in the ring and your dog is not in shape, the judge will tell you so.

So how do you get your dogs in shape? Take your dog for walks! Umm no. Just think about how far a wild canid moves everyday. Think about how far you walk before you tire, are bored, or just run out of time. Unless you're Forrest Gump running coast to coast, your dog will probably not get ripped.

Most of the exercise here in Japan is done via bicycle or scooter. The key here is to mix it up with a steady trot speed, and some sprint like runs. Now whether this is great for the dog to always be running on asphalt is another matter. Me, I take my dogs to the mountains. There they're doing at least three times the distance I do, and they're going up and down slopes, jumping over obstacles (while I'm picking the easiest most direct routes), and they're sprinting after things. Throw that in a few times a week, up the calories a bit, and you'll see the difference.
Of course this doesn't work if you've got a velcro dog that just trots around you the entire time.

Anyway, it takes work, and time. Masa's been out of shape the entire summer. The girls were in heat one after the other so he had very little appetite, and we weren't getting out into the mountains at all in the 120 percent humidity. Show season's started, and we're a little behind, but the aim here is to time his peak condition with the NIPPO Grand National in November. I hope his coat hurries up, because he just finished his second blow. This is why I've been out in the mountains with Masa (like when we got that boar the other day).

Took him out this afternoon again, and about 15 minutes in, he found and took off after some boar. He's actually looking for them now, and went after them too. If he keeps this up he may just make it as a hunting and show dog. I followed, but he lost them when they crossed a stream and headed into some bamboo. It was about to get dark, so I called him back. If he starts barking at boar instead of just staring at them, I'll be thrilled. If he gets to where he's working to stop them for me, I'll be over the moon.


  1. Are there any photo examples of a really fit physique? Would you consider dogs with more muscle definition as more "fit"?

    I've seen some dogs that seem too thick in build, but I wonder if it's more so their coat, or, overall diet/exercise/genetics?


Post a Comment