Helped with some info for an article on the Japanese breeds, so giving a shout. I did not supply the pictures.
Tuesday, November 10, 2020
Monday, November 9, 2020
Not everyone seems to make the connection, but in addition to this blog, I also set up www.japandogexport.com in 2012. While I originally was averse to the idea of finding dogs for people overseas, I started to realize that the medium size breeds were on the path to extinction here in Japan, with very little interest in their ownership. To help them gain more visibility outside Japan, to establish gene pools to preserve the breeds, and to help breeders overseas access the best possible dogs, I started to offer my services. I did this pro bono at first, and just for friends, but eventually it was taking up so much of my time and energy that it needed to pay for itself.
Over the last decade I'm proud to have been part of connecting many Nihon Ken with wonderful overseas homes, and helping to export all 6 of the Nihon Ken, many to countries they had never been seen before.
I feel that I've reached a point where I've done my bit in that regard. My goal has always been to NOT make a living off of my passion, the Japanese breeds. I'm lucky to have a specific skill set as a translator that keeps me quite busy. Coupled with hunting boar for the local government and some other business ventures, I make a comfortable living. Recently though, more and more of my time has been spent trying to keep up with replying to inquiries that come through www.japandogexport.com and a larger and larger portion of inquiries seem to be from people looking to cash in on the popularity of the Japanese breeds. It is to be expected, though I prefer to be helping true preservationists and fans of the Japanese breeds. As such, I've revamped the website!
www.japandogexport.com will continue to exist, although I will probably be looking to hand the reins over to someone else in the near future. It will continue to help pet owners with the import/export of their dogs to and from Japan. It will not however, be taking requests from people looking to purchase dogs from Japan, sight unseen, and then have them exported.
As I've mentioned many times on the blog, the situation here in Japan regarding the quality of kennels and breeders varies greatly, but unfortunately most are not up to my ideals of animal ownership and management. If I find homes for dogs from these kennels, I'm essentially helping maintain the status quo. It was necessary in the past, since this is where the dogs are, but moving forward I would prefer to work with people that are making a change in the way things are done here in Japan. And of course, I would prefer to have more time with my dogs, and more energy for my breeding program.
I understand that for many people, especially those involved with the medium size Nihon Ken, I may be the only information source and go between you are able to find. I will still be replying to inquiries I receive through the blog, and will try to help you continue to move forward with your breeding programs.
Friday, November 6, 2020
I’ve heard that Shiba dogs are very very difficult to train, and cold/unaffectionate. I hope to have a dog that I can successfully manage, who will be friendly when I bring him to meet my community. I intend to move back to the United States within a year or two, and my lifestyle is more social there than it is in Tokyo.
Is it possible to find a reputable breeder who breeds for traits of trainability and friendliness?
Friday, October 23, 2020
So I've slacked in that 2 litters are on the ground at my house, but I have posted nothing about them on the blog. Oops. They are on my Instagram feeds though.
Anyway, here is the Vega x Momo litter at 30 days old. The mating was natural. Threw Vega and Momo together, they did all the humping. The birth was natural, Momo did all the work. Quite happy with my kennel camera system, as I was on my way home and saw the first pup pop out while I was still 30 minutes away. I sat with Momo and watched the rest enter the world while having a nice bento. In a world where there are so many breeds that 'need help' to mate, and are unable to give birth naturally or on their own, I find it refreshing to have a litter like this. It seems, well, right.
There were 4 pups, 3 females and 1 male. This is the male.
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
So a bit of a rarity here today. This is Taka, a black and tan Shikoku, and he has a sashi-o (pointed tail, or sickle tail). He's only the second sashi-o Shikoku that I've seen, the other being Kuromasa (Masamine's sire). I figured I would snap some pictures to have on record, and to show that this is tail type that is correct and present in the breed. While we're at it, we can talk about some of the other aspects of this male.
He's a smaller male, around 50cm ish, but has a lot of bone as you can see. He's got a very masculine head going on, eyes are set back in the skull very nicely (oku-me).
You can see he's got white coming up too far on his front legs (it's only allowed up to the elbow), and he's got quite a bit of flecking which is something else we don't want. He's got really nice eye and cheek markings. See how in the circular markings there is red, fading to white? Eye and cheek marking should be like that. You don't want them completely red, or completely white.
Thursday, October 8, 2020
I've always loved dogs with a bit of speed on them, and like the concept of the Lurcher, a non-pedigreed working dog, bred to purpose. Just stumbled on a video of this great team of dogs, ferrets, and human, working in tandem to hunt rabbits. An old style of hunting that is still as relevant as it ever was.
Saturday, September 26, 2020
So someone asked me:
Let's say theoretically if you cross to working hunting dogs, are all puppies likely to inherit that? Or is it an unsure percentage? And how much of it is pure instinct and how much would you say is how they're started/introduced to the hunt?
That's a difficult question to answer, since there are so many different types of prey, and different styles of hunting. I would say in my experience (primitive breeds, NK) whether or not your dog will hunt is almost 100 percent instinct (they are born with the necessary data).
The Nihon Ken is a complete, primitive hunter, like a wild canid. It goes through the entire hunting cycle: find, chase, stop/kill. Many dog breeds have been bred specifically to only do one part of the hunt sequence (ie bird dogs taught to find/point).
The complete hunting package for an NK requires it to have hunting drive, good nose, speed, etc etc and enough grit to stop/attack its prey. Every generation you create that is not bred to specifically maintain hunting functionality is mathematically decreasing the odds of producing a litter of working dogs.
So yes, a pup from two working parents has higher odds of hunting, but there's never a litter (from any breeding) that you can say will 'work' 100 percent. More than just two working parents, you need generations behind the parents of solid, tested, working dogs. If you have that, your odds get pretty good. I would say the percentage of dogs that will work boar, from a purpose bred line, will vary according to the skill/selection of the hunter breeding them. But to have 90 percent of pups produced turn out as even half decent hunters, well those are impressive numbers (and I respect any kennel turning out those pups).
There are very few purebred Nihon Ken (of any of the breeds) that have dedicated working kennels/lines. So, the percentages of purebred dogs that will work is not extremely high, but is better in some breeds over others. If you're hoping to hunt boar or dangerous game, the Kishu is still rather viable, while the Akita is most likely not going to work out. It's a numbers game.
Shigeru Kato(@kato.the.walrus)がシェアした投稿 -
I'm very much a proponent of Nature over Nurture. You can tone down what is in a dog through nurture/training, but you cannot put something in there that wasn't there to begin with.
Monday, September 21, 2020
There are little boar everywhere this time of year, every year. The older boar are smarter and have learned where not to be. The little boar, not so much. They're getting up in everyone's yards, fields, and on the roads. The new generation.
チビ猪が箱罠にかかったので、四国犬のヒナちゃん、と3ヶ月の紀州ミヤちゃんに初めて見せました。ミヤの母犬カレンは応援で行きました。 Little boar got caught in one of my traps, so we showed Hina (Shikoku) and Miya (3 month old Kishu) their first boar. Purpose bred vs show line. Miya’s mother Karen came along for moral support.
安房山犬荘 Awa Yamainu Sou(@awamountaindog)がシェアした投稿 -
So, one unlucky little boar made its way into one of my traps. We got Hina (Shikoku 1yr) and Miya (aka Memester, Kishu 3months) looking at their first boar. I wasn't super hopeful about Hina. The odds of Shikoku (which are pretty much all show line at this stage) turning out as boar dogs is pretty low, but I'm still trying to select toward a proper working dog. Her reaction is as you see it: lot's of interest, but nervousness and not liking the pressure the boar puts on.
That is what I try to tell people about 'real' hunting (you're dog is not a great hunter because it likes to chase cats or kill lizards). Real prey, and especially boar, put a lot of pressure on hunting dogs. If they don't have a lot of drive, and a lot of smarts, things are not going to work out. Anyway, I don't consider this a fail. A fail is a dog that just wants nothing to do with the boar, tucks tail and makes for the hills. Or worse yet, a dog that does not recognize the threat the boar poses, and is unaware, or tries to ignore the boar.
We took Miya's mom, Karen, along for moral support. Karen's a 100% bailer (bays,barks) and is not a gritty dog at all. That's what I'm trying to produce: Kishu with drive, smarts, good voice, not so gritty, great family dogs (safe around other people and dogs), and healthy. In short, dogs that are a joy to own, and will be around a long time to help you keep putting boar in the freezer. Memester looks to be another step in the right direction. She's ridiculously smart, driven, clever, and ridiculously athletic. Check this three month old pup out doing this.
She's the next generation of Kishu here. We'll just keep moving forward with the Shikoku as well, until we get 'there'. Hunting season starts in just under 2 months, we'll see what that brings. 2 of my Shikoku girls will be giving birth in the next 2 weeks, so the rest of 2020 is going to be busy!
Wednesday, September 9, 2020
There's different types of eye sets in the 6 Japanese breeds. The basic rules of the shape are the same however.
The angles however, are slightly different, and what is preferred in a male or female are different. A male can have a sharper eye, while that would not be a very feminine look (and vice versa). Sexual dimorphism is a very important part of the Nihon Ken standard.
In the Shikoku, the different 'lines' also have slightly different eye types. What is acceptable for one line, may not really suit a dog from another line. When you start out-crossing dogs (which happens a lot especially overseas) you are mixing types, so will see a lot of dogs that are a mix-match of the lines.
A point to keep in mind is that a puppy’s eye should not look like an adult dog’s eye. The outline will change as the head and skull develop. A puppy that already has a harsh, angled eye, is only going to get more so as they mature. In the end, the expression will most likely be harsh, but lack strength and fullness. So one should not expect a puppy or young dog to have the perfect eye. That’s something that we can judge in a adult dog (once they’ve stopped growing and we can see if all the proportions are correct), but we do want to get a general idea of what we want in an adult dog, and then understand what type of puppy eye, develops into that eye.
All judging and judgement of a dog before it is an adult comes with an asterisk.
The true quality of the dog is ascertained once it is an adult.
Sunday, August 9, 2020
"What do you think of this dog?". The age old, loaded question, where one is expected to give a (hopefully) correct opinion.
If you're an ordinary (or extraordinary) dog owner, you may be drawn to a dog's temperament, or vivid color. If you're a breeder, you might be drawn to its structure or type. A judge will hopefully be drawing on all of these points, along with knowledge of what the breed should be like. My point is that depending on who you ask, you will get a different answer. And that goes for judges as well. A NIPPO judge and an FCI judge will most likely place different weight on particular aspects of the dog.
My 師匠 (shi-shō) and I are always talking dog, evaluating dogs, and several years back now, we had a conversation about a certain dog. The word shi-shō translates to 'mentor' or 'teacher' in English. In Japanese however, it carries much more weight. It implies that the person being referred to is a true master of their craft. Their student would be referred to as their 弟子 (de-shi). This relationship shows great respect both toward the teacher, since the student deems them a true master of their craft, and toward the student, since the teacher deemed them a worthy individual to pass on their knowledge to.
So after that daisy picking, back to my teacher and I, talking about a certain Shikoku. He'll usually ask me what I think, which is always sort of a pop quiz. I think at the time I started listing faults that I could see. He stopped me there. He said, "As an ordinary dog owner, you don't really know what a dog is supposed to be like, so you see what you like. Those are the first things you notice. When you become a student of the breed, you begin to notice faults, and all too often these are the first things you will comment on. But a true breed preservationist/specialist should see the good traits in the dog first. What parts of this dog do you want to pass on to the next generation?"
I've thought about this a lot over the years, and why it is so important. In trying to breed a better dog, I need to focus on what is good, and try to keep those traits, while carefully removing the faults. If one's focus is always on the faults, you end up breeding toward a 'safer' dog, but you may have lost a lot of the essence of the breed along the way. ただの犬になる (tada no inu ni naru) is something I've heard numerous times in regard to the Nihon Ken. It roughly translates to 'it will become just a dog'. Four legs, prick ears, and a curly tail still make it a spitz type canine, but it will have lost the uniqueness of the aboriginal Nihon Ken.
Saturday, August 8, 2020
Friday, August 7, 2020
Thursday, August 6, 2020
Friday, July 3, 2020
Friday, June 26, 2020
Saturday, June 20, 2020
Japan reveals more details of its planned travel bubble