Coat Color in the Japanese Dog Breeds

Having already discussed the white/cream coloration in the Nihon Ken, and the reasons why it is not very desirable, I've been thinking on, and getting feedback on the accepted colorations in the Japanese breeds.

Pulling out the standard as put forth by NIPPO we see the accepted color variations for the Nihon Ken or Japanese Dog. Here is a quick, rough translation of the original, and not an interpretation of the standard. It is written with a lot of archaic Japanese included, which always makes things a little more taxing to explain/translate.

Coat: Outer coat bristle like and straight, under coat soft and dense, hair on tail is somewhat long and stands open. Coat colors are sesame, red, yellow, black, brindle, and white.

The present day standard for the coat is slightly changed.

Coat: Outer coat bristle like and straight, under coat soft and dense, hair on tail somewhat long, with hairs open and standing. Coat colors are sesame, red, black, brindle, and white. Coat quality and color should express characteristics and features typical of  the Nihon Ken. 

Yellow (fawn) was removed somewhere along the line.

'... hair on tail is somewhat long and stands open .'

Looking back at old pictures of the Nihon Ken, there are some examples of piebald or spotted dogs. The fact that there this variant in coat color has always been in the breed was acknowledged in the original interpretation of the standard, but the choice to breed away from this to establish type, and preserve the other colorations was made. Small amounts of spotting was allowed on the face, chest, legs, and tip of the tail, but the preference was toward solid clean colors on the body.

Point deductions (faults): Buchige (pinto/spots/piebald)

Disqualification: Short coat due to deformity

And from the addendum, names of the the coat color variations.

Sesame: sesame 'goma', white sesame 'shiro-goma', red sesame 'aka-goma', black sesame 'kuro-goma'.
Red: red 'aka', light red 'tan-seki', crimson red 'beni-aka' .
Black: black 'kuro'
Brindle: brindle 'tora', red brindle 'aka-tora', black brindle 'kuro-tora'
White: white 'shiro'

It's 1:30am and time to crash, so this is it for today. In part 2 I will translate the section in the current judging criteria governing coats.


  1. Thanks to share!

    One question: about the addendum, in shibas the white color is not real, white is a dilution about red and is very common a cream color or white color with highlights, do you know the japanese name for this color variation?
    May be "beni-aka" too?
    Argh, my english is pathetic...

    And thanks again :)

  2. Sorry, the direct link to the example of white color with highlights is:

  3. I believe you are referring to a coloration called 'yogore-shiro'. Literally translated this means 'dirty white' or 'stained white'.

    Beni-aka is just a term used to describe the hue of the red in the coat. If I can get a good picture of one in the future I will try and remember to post it here.

  4. Thanks so much one more time, Kato, you are a big help! :)


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