Friday, December 30, 2011

Available Kai Ken Puppies

There are Kai Ken puppies available. Males. Everywhere it seems.

There are several big chu-tora boys at Gotenyama Kennel, and they have a sister as well. Mashiko Kennel also has a couple kuro-tora boys available, one of which I really like. He's a really friendly little bugger, and has a really nice head. These boys also have a kuro-tora sister who is also available.

Here's a pic of the litter at Mashiko Kennel.

And one with mom, Suzu.

Gotenyama Kennel Visit

The other day I took a couple pics and some short videos while I was picking up a pup from Gotenyama Kennel in Hachioji, Tokyo.

The kennel is run by a good friend of mine. It's interesting that he doesn't kennel his dogs. Most NK kennels have their dogs kenneled up outside, usually singly, sometimes in pairs. He used to have his dogs chained on long leads in a courtyard area, and I think was rather pessimistic that NK (especially males) could be left together. I think a little bit of Brad Anderson rubbed off on him, and now the puppies have free range of the place, and most of the adults are allowed to interact.

Of course due to the Kai Ken's amazing escape abilities, the adults are on long leads when unattended, and some of the males do have to be kept apart permanently. All in all though, it is a much more fluid environment than I am used to seeing in kennels here in Japan.

Gotenyama Kennel is a KKA registered Kai Ken kennel, but they have some Shiba as well. It's interesting to see the differences in the two breeds when they are kept side by side. Them Shiba's are snarky little things.

Here's a short video of the pups and a couple adults mobbing me while I was there. The female 'Hana' is the dam of the female that I just sent to Yamabushi Kennel on the 28th. Hana is interesting in that I'd only seen her on chain in the past, and she always put on a good show of barking at me, I'd imagined her to be a bit unfriendly. However with her being off leash a lot when I see her now, I've realized she's a terrific dog. She is extremely well trained and obedient, can be walked almost anywhere off leash, and loves people.


I've been working like a mad man. The end of the year is upon us, and I've been getting last minute work from all sorts of places. I've also been juggling getting some pups overseas. Yesterday I sent off the first batch of 3 Kai Ken puppies, 1 from Gotenyama Kennel, and the other two from Yamagata Kennel. I also have one mystery pup that decided she was going to sleep in my bed with me last night. The night before last I had 4 pups in my bed...

And three of the pups left Narita on the 28th. I got the usual adrenaline rush when the woman at the United Airlines counter tried to tell me that 2 pups couldn't be in the same crate unless they were under 8 weeks. I thumped her over the head on that one, and basically rattled off United's pet policy to her.

And here's the remaining mystery pup giving me the stink eye and growl after I took one too many pictures of her royal highness.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Shikoku Litters

I've got quite a few people waiting for Shikoku pups, and there were quite a few litters planned around the end of this year. Unfortunately there's been very few successful breedings. One kennel bred 5 of their females, and none of them were successfully impregnated. It's very disappointing, but hopefully there will be some litters around the middle of January. I will post here on the blog if any pups do become available. Lastly, Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Canine Bloat

If you are a dog owner, this is definitely a good video to watch. It is uncomfortable to see this American Akita obviously in distress, but it's informative for dog owners to see the signs of bloat. It could save your dog's life someday.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tokyo FCI International Dog Show

So today I had a bit of work to do at the Tokyo FCI International Dog Show. Loved it seeing as I was able to hang out and get a look at all the dogs. It sure is a different atmosphere from the exhibition/dog shows that I'm used to. I think most of the NK I know of would break down or freak out if taken to a place like that. Of course I'm sure if you got them used to it from when they were pups they'd deal.

Nothing too much happened, though I did have some good conversations with the JAHD which is basically the Japanese OFA/PennHip, and with GTG LABS, a company that does DNA testing for coat color, breed, and inherited diseases. Was nice to make some connections there that will probably be useful in the future.

It was amusing to see all the dogs up on their tables getting preened to perfection, standing at perfect attention. They end up looking like little machines. Saw some interesting breeds that are pretty rare in Japan, snapped one pic of a CAO, there's only 12 of them in the country. I'm pretty sure I would have been a show stealer if I had one of Yamabushi Kennel's Ovcharka with me.

I saw two Japanese Akita at the show, and one American Akita. Other than that, I didn't see any Nihon Ken entries which was rather disappointing.

I saw this guy just as I was getting ready to leave. He was a really stunning dog, with an amazing color that reminded me of the Minowa Shiba. He was larger than a Shiba though, so I asked his owner what breed he was. I'd play the breed guessing game here, but I'm pretty sure no one would get it so here goes. He's half Ainu Ken (Hokkaido) and Higo Rou Ken (Higo Wolf Dog), and he's a bonafide working dog (boar hunter). The Higo Wolf Dog is from Kumamoto prefecture, and is said to be an actual hybrid Japanese wolf/canine breed. They pretty much went extinct, but there's still a few dogs of possibly uncertain origin that are still around. They are still pretty famous hunting dogs.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Jomon Shiba

Interesting discussion thread going on about the Jomon Shiba over at the Nihon Ken Forum

The Shiba Inu Hozonkai (Shibaho) broke away from NIPPO in the 1950's, and began breeding Shiba back toward structure found in ancient dogs whose bones have been unearthed in Japan. This has resulted in a very different Shiba, with shallow stops, long thin faces, large teeth, thinner/longer and more agile builds.

What Breed?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

NK Fore/Hindquarters

Taken from Everything About the Nihon Ken published by NIPPO, here are diagrams and explanations about the standard for fore/hindquarters.

One day I will get around to translating the entire standard. 

Monday, December 5, 2011


It's been a busy week. I get to meet a lot of celebrities in my line of work, but this was the first athlete I've taken care of. Thierry Henry was a terrific guy, and it was a pleasure to translate for him for a week, though it was hard work. Trying to keep up with the energy of a world class athlete for a week takes its toll. It looks like I ended up in some TV spots and a lot of Twitter action (in the background of course). Ogawa-san from Gotenyama Kennel randomly found this on Twitter and sent it to me.
Well after all that work I am now going to take a few days to get some backed up work taken care of, then head out to the mountains for a few days. Should be good.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

White/Cream in the NK

I had a question from someone about white Shiba, so talked with some NIPPO members and judges about it, and I'm adding my own thoughts as well.

Why are white coats shunned in the NK?

If you take a look at the present NIPPO standard, white is not a 'non-standard' color. You can register a white Shiba for instance. White is not however, preferred (i.e. will be severely penalized in the ring) in the Shikoku and Shiba. In Akita, Hokkaido, and Kishu, white is allowed. The NIPPO standard specifically calls for all Kai to be brindle, so white is not allowed.

Why is white not preferred? Written into the present NIPPO standard are all manner of details on conformation, among these is a clause calling for all coat coloration to have strong hues, and for judges to watch for lightening or dilution of color. Any dilution of color is seen as a weakening in the coat color genetic code, leading to loss of that color in the breed. Since NIPPO's stated goal is preservation, this is unacceptable. The standard also calls for urajiro in the NK. It is obviously not possible to judge whether a white dog has urajiro, or to judge the color hues of the genes it is carrying (other than white).

Exhibit one, the Kishu. The Kishu was not a predominantly white breed. In the early days of the breed it was predominantly 'yushoku' (having color). There is ancient art from the area depicting hunting dogs from the area as black, and looking back at some of the first NIPPO exhibitions, the numbers show roughly 70% yushoku, with only 30% of the dogs being white. Fast forward to the present day, and the breed is almost entirely white. How did this happen? Apparently there was a line with some outstanding studs who happened to be white, and they were used extensively. General preference leaned toward white these lines, and toward white Kishu in general. White x yushoku breedings result in mixed litters, but white x white breedings result in only white pups (so I've been told and the numbers seem to back that up). So here we are today, the breed has almost completely lost its variety in color.


White dogs can be bred, and litters registered. While this was done possibly more often in the past when a white dog had some outstanding and desired trait, today it is generally not done. As I mentioned earlier, white is severely penalized in the ring, and at best your dog will be given a 'B' grade (cannot receive an excellent). There have been issues in the NK with urajiro creeping up over the body, and into the facial areas, and NIPPO and its members have/are breeding away from that. This issue has been seen recently in the Shiba, along with dilution of coat hues, which has lead to careful selection away from these traits. Other issues that have been seen in the past in coat colors is spotting (i.e. pinto). This is also among the list of unacceptable coat traits, which along with all the other issues involved with preserving color has lead to careful selective breeding when it comes to color, leading NIPPO members to keep the white coloration at arm's length.

1. White Shikoku from a working kennel/line. I'm posting these pictures as examples of what can happen to coat colors in a line that is bred over many generations entirely for hunting ability, with no color selection, however I have nothing more than a cursory knowledge of the lines that this kennel breeds from, and how they manage their breeding system. This line is from the same pool of dogs as the original Shikoku, however the line is not presently registered with NIPPO.

 2. Sesame Shikoku from the same working kennel/line

3. Black sesame Shikoku from the same working kennel/line

4. Black sesame Shikoku from the same working kennel/line

Maki 2
 5. A friend's black sesame female from show lines

Shikoku Female
6. A female sesame with less hue

To side track just a little, black (i.e. black/tan) is allowed in the standard, and while in the medium sized NK it is rare, and dogs with this coloration are not often shown, they are used for breeding to apparently improve coat quality/color. The reason for them not being shown very often is that the facial markings have to be correct, and the black needs to be a solid black hue. Often facial markings (i.e. the 2 spots above the eyes that lead to black often being referred to as 'yotsume' or four-eye) are not clear (ie blurred or misshaped), and urajiro is incorrect, plus many black dogs have red tips on their guard hairs which is not preferred. It is difficult to produce a correctly colored black Shikoku.

Kai Ken Standards

Taken from

 KKA: Height roughly 40cm (15”) - 50cm (19.5”) at withers

 NIPPO: Male standard height: 52cm (20”) Female standard height: 49cm (19”) is a female. On average, males 49cm (19”) from 55cm (21”), and female 46cm (18”) to 52cm (20”).
*NIPPO standard for Kai has been temporarily lowered by 2cm. So male bottom end is 47cm, female 44cm.

 FCI: Dogs 53 cm (approx. 20-21 inches) Bitches 48 cm (approx. 18-19 inches)

 UKC: Desirable height, measured at the withers, ranges from 18½ to 22 inches (47cm-55.9cm) for males, and 17½ to 20 inches (44.5cm-50.8cm) for females. Weight ranges from 25 to 55 pounds.

Desirable height for males 50cm, females 45cm. Allowance +-3cm (males 47-53cm, females 42-48cm).

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Gotenyama Kennel

I went to Gotenyama Kennel this evening to visit my good friend Ogawa-san, and see some recent pups. There are three litters on the ground at the moment, 8 pups total. It was great fun to see all his Kai and Shiba, even if Boss did try to shred my Armani jacket.

I really liked this male aka-tora pup. He has a crazy thick coat.

Here it is.

And here's a cute female from another litter.

Ogawa-san did try to kill me with this mega portion of Ramen. It was terrific, but c'mon...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mountain/Dog Pics

Here's Baron, he's filled out nicely over the off season as you can see. He's got a terrific temperament, and I really couldn't be happier with him. Everyone I hunt with mentions how amazing he is, he hunts well, hunts hard, hunts close, doesn't fight with other dogs, listens to commands, and is friendly. He's chill in the house, and a monster in the mountain.


Here's Rome. Rome's just turned 1, and he's still a bit of puppy inside. He annoys other dogs by continually trying to play, and he can be rather rude about it. He's pretty vocal too. But, he's a sweet heart, and has been chilling out around the time he turned 1. I think he's going to have a nice NK balance of being friendly, but slightly aloof toward strangers. He also looks like he could have some hunting in him (he's from show lines).

And here's a short video of us climbing.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hunting Season

Hunting season opened on the 15th, and I racked up 43km's of walking in the first 3 days. It was tiring, had its ups and downs, but I feel pretty good coming out of it. Day 1 was some group hunting, something I don't do much of, but circumstances being what they were, I dutifully tagged along. Baron and I had the honors, and pressure, of walking the mountain and flushing out game toward ambushes. That was definitely a first for us, and the first time I'd ever walked this particular area. There ended up being no boar, but there were plenty of deer, and one of the hunters bagged one of them. We switched areas for round 2, I walked the long ridge with Baron, and a friend of mine walked the shorter with his Kishu female. A troop of monkeys got in our way early on, but we flushed some deer as well. They managed to skillfully elude the ambushers. On the other ridge there were a couple of deer flushed, and a boar, but they all vanished into the mountain as well. For the last round of the day we ran another gentleman's hound. That was interesting to say the least as there's nothing quite like listening to the bay of a hound bouncing around in the mountain for an hour. Nothing came of it though, and my brother found the sound to be appropriately soothing and managed to take a nap while on ambush duty.

So at the end of day 1 Baron was pretty tired out, I was tired, but we were in decent shape. Group hunting though is really not my thing, there's way too much waiting around for everyone else, and then having to walk the mountain in a pre-decided fashion. There was an unexpected development, a negative actually. In round 1 when Baron flushed the deer, I saw him charge down the face of the mountain to where it was hiding. Just as it flushed, one of the ambushers fired the shot that took it down. Gunfire has never bothered Baron before, but it's always been me doing the firing. I think the first shot of the year, and the unexpected direction it came from startled him, and it came back to bite us later.

Day 2 I took my brother and two of my other friends to a different area. As we were driving up the mountain a small boar bolted across the road in front of the car. We nearly hit it, pulled over, rushed to get the dogs in gear, and then we let Baron and Rome tear after it. I got the last bits of my gear together and ran uphill toward the sound of Baron baying. Unfortunately when I didn't show up right away, he started coming back down. When he ran into me, I encouraged him back uphill, and he and Rome took off on the boar's trail. A couple hundred meters up, the baying started again, and when I got close I could see/hear multiple boar uphill. The scene was a bit of a mess, the dogs a bit confused, and the boars ran over the top of the ridge with the dogs following. Rome was pretty much just having fun running with Baron, and looking a bit unsure about what was going on. The boars never did stop after that, and the dogs lit off after them for another half kilometer before coming back.

The rest of the morning we did a lot of serious climbing in some serious terrain without running into any game. We broke for lunch, an outdoor boar BBQ that really hit the spot. After lunch I decided to hit the area near the dam where we had been in the afternoon the day before. We got there about 1, and headed into the first ridge and released the dogs. They almost immediately took off on track, Baron toward the left, and Rome the right, at high speed. There's a spot where the mountain slopes down near the path around the dam, and since I didn't want the dogs going that way I sent my brother and friend that direction. As I took off after the dogs, I could hear Baron baying in the distance, and from the tracks it looked like he was on a decent sized boar. At the same time a troop of monkeys were freaking out in the trees about the dogs running through, and I wasn't sure what Rome was up to. As I hurried toward Baron, I realized Rome was coming back toward me on the slope just across, at full speed. Glancing around 40 meters ahead of him I saw the deer he was chasing. I'm not usually a deer hunter, but decided to take one for the freezer, so lined up the sights, figured I'd miss a deer bounding at full speed anyway, and fired. The deer half tripped, ran another 50 meters or so with me and Rome in pursuit, then dropped. It was a perfect shot. Rome was pretty happy with himself, but I had to get to Baron, and get help to get the deer out. All in all, three hours later we had the dogs rounded up, venison packed in the cooler, and were headed home.

Day 3 I hunted the same area alone, and immediately ran into deer. The dogs spent some time bringing them around toward me, but the trees made for an impossible shot. After the dogs came back, we moved further into the mountain and I saw Baron freeze and look down into a gulley. I followed his eye and saw the boar, as Baron charged down the slope, the boar got up, and I had time for one good shot. Unfortunately the boar moved just then and all the shot did was graze him. Here I saw the after effect of the gunshot on day 1. Baron stopped chasing the boar, just as he had the deer on day 1. When I got to where the boar had been it took a bit of excitement and coaxing to get him to start tracking again. We managed to track the boar for a couple hundred meters, and Baron flushed him. As he was chasing, I had another clean shot, so took it. Same result. Baron stopped chasing. We tracked that boar for a good 3 hours after that, but he stayed ahead of us the whole time. After that, we had the long trudge out of the mountain. Rome was so wiped, we had to keep stopping to let him rest. He'd lay down as soon as we'd stop, and settle in for a nap lol.

We had a good time over those three days, there's a good amount of meat in the freezer, and a couple good stories, but now I'm going to have to work with Baron on the gun shyness. Rome on the other hand, well that hard headed Shikoku doesn't give a rat's ass about gunfire. I took some pictures of the dogs, and will post them later.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Big Litters

I heard of a litter of 11 Kai puppies a little while back, and while that's absolutely nuts, I didn't actually see them. Today I went to visit a friend in Tochigi, and got a look at their litter of 7. Kai litters average between 3-5 I guess, maybe more like 3-4. Here's a basket of Kai bear pups.

And one with mom.

Here's the sire.
The dam.

And a couple videos for fun.

Feeding time was like a brawl.

KKA Exhibition Fall 2011

I only had an hour or so to say hello to everyone, so I didn't snap many pics. The weather was perfect for the dogs, and there were over 150 entries.
DSC_0209 DSC_0208 DSC_0212 DSC_0213

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Here's my Shikoku, Rome. He was produced by Nidai Iwahori Sou. He's your typical 1 year old male, fun loving, a bit rude, but a gorgeous, friendly dog.

Monday, October 17, 2011

NIPPO Chiba Regional

Yesterday was the NIPPO Chiba Regional. The weather's been cooling into comfortable autumn temperatures recently, but yesterday was a scorcher, climbing to around 30 degrees centigrade. It was a beautiful day, even if it was a bit more taxing for the dogs under the sun.

I didn't take many pictures again, but I did snap one of the littermate of a male Shikoku who went to Yamabushi Kennel in New Mexico. This is Kaiju's brother, and he took 1st place in his class. The NIPPO breeder who helped to arrange for Kaiju to go to Yamabushi says that looking at recent pics, Kaiju has better conformation and is still by far, his pick out of the two brothers.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Went to the NIPPO Tokyo regional today, and took no pictures. Sorry. It's just not the same running around trying to take them with a mobile phone.

 I had a pretty good time though. The weather was great, it was good to see friends, and of course to take a look at all the up and coming dogs. The NIPPO national is just around the corner.

 There are tons of nice show line Shiba pups available at the moment, so I told everyone I'd mention it on my blog. There's even a sesame pup around.

There are several Shikoku litters on the way, and hopefully some of them will match up with what everyone's been asking me to look for. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

NIPPO 70th Anniversary Picture Book

This is another book I've got on the shelf. It was published to commemorate NIPPO's 70th anniversary, and has pictures of all the winners from the establishment of NIPPO onward. They've got loose pages added to the back of all the winners since the book was published.

It starts in black and white, but the last bit (and all the loose pages) is in color. The book is 90 pages and includes pictures of Shikoku, Kishu, Shiba, and Akita. It's really interesting to see the evolution of the breeds, type becoming more defined as the years go by, and of course it's great to have pictures of some of the amazing dogs of years past.

If anyone's interested in owning a copy, feel free to contact me at and I'll figure out how much the shipping etc will cost. Cost should come to around 3000 yen including international shipping.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Midnight Boredom

I've got the most boring translation project at the moment, and it has me up at 2am. A quick Facebook gander is in order. I seem to eat. A lot.


More Sushi



And when I get really hungry, my mobile

Miraculous how I never put on any weight.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


The hunting season starts in under 2 months, so some friends and I took our dogs out for some boar training. My younger brother came out with me this time, and we had loads of fun. Baron's been staying with him temporarily, and he's done a terrific job with him.

We got there the night before, had a terrific outdoor meal with everyone, and some interesting conversation about the Nihon Ken. The next morn we were up bright and early for a great Japanese breakfast, then on to training.

Baron was amazing, but he's already had plenty of experience in the mountains, and my goal was to let my Shikoku pup Rome see boar again. Unfortunately he was really having any of it and was more interested in playing with the other dogs. We'll see how he develops over the hunting season.

Here's a friend's Kishu baying the boar. Unfortunately we ended up having to use a very large boar. The larger boar don't move around very much, and are much easier for the dogs to bay up. It's like that in the mountains as well. I guess the larger they are, the less of a threat they feel the dogs are to them, plus the larger boar tire faster.

Here are two Shikoku baying. The smaller female is just around a year old, and this was her first time seeing a boar. At first she didn't show any interest, but caught on very quickly. She has amazing potential, and by her second round later in the day was learning by leaps and bounds. You can see the male here gets charged and almost pinned by the boar, but barely manages to counter and flip himself over it.

'Kuro-yotsu-me' (black-four-eye) or B/T Shikoku are a minority in the breed, but yesterday I got a chance to see a mother/son combo baying up a boar. They were very nice dogs, calm, friendly, but tenacious in front of the boar. It's possible that they haven't had enough experience on boar to get the distance between them and their prey right. For everyone that watches watches my videos/reads my blog and thinks it would be fun to test their dogs on boar, or start hunting, well boar are dangerous game. I haven't seen any serious injuries in training, but I've seen my share in the mountains. Yesterday I had an unpleasant reminder of how dangerous boar can be if the dogs are even a millisecond too slow to react.

On another note, talked to the local hunters and found that they are testing wild boar for radiation in most prefectures up north. Some of the numbers I saw for boar in Fukushima/Tochigi were 7 times higher than legal consumption levels. Even in Ibaragi the numbers were 2-3 times over the limit.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


So I was rifling through my old blog yesterday and realized it was a lot more fun. Well it was more of a blog, there were a lot of stories, and somehow since I've set up 'THE NIHON KEN' (caps intended!) I've gotten all serious.

Everyone who knows me will probably agree that I tend to come across rather serious and responsible at first glance. Stick around for a while though and you will see that I am quite a corny goof as well. Actually, there's a fair sampling of corny photos of me on Facebook. So here, from the book of faces, are a few pictures from the other night.

Went out for all-you-can-eat/all-you-can-drink (yes, it's actually economically possible to have that on the menu here) 'shabu-shabu' with friends, and then charged on hard to karaoke.

We start off looking pretty normal.

 And then it gets fun.