'Sae' has several meanings. It can mean clear, bright, sharp, pure, vibrant etc. But one can often hear this word spoken among NIPPO members in regard to a dog's coat color.

Coat colors in the Nihon Ken should carry rich and vibrant hues, so dull colors (ie grey), and faded colors need to be bred away from. You can often hear a mumble that a certain dog is very nice, but in regards to the coat, 'Sae ga nai' (it lacks sae).

Two of the dogs here at my kennel are a fairly good example of this, so here's a pic.

That's Kunitaka Go, a red Shikoku male on the right, and Bishome Go, a sesame female on the left. Notice the difference in the hue and vibrance of the coat in these two dogs? They don't make red Shikoku like this anymore! Even sesame and black sesame Shikoku should have vibrant reds in their coat. I often see black sesame Shikoku with little to no red in their coat, but this is something that needs to be bred away from. I know overseas fanciers find a wolf-like black/grey/white type coat attractive, but this is a Shikoku, not a wolf.

This rule regarding vibrant hues in the NK coat rings true for all the breeds. For example, the brindling in the Kai should be black and red, not black and grey, or black and yellow.


  1. I think the red hue in the coat makes the shikoku really unique. I didn't know it was a specific desired trait. Good to know!

  2. Great article! Thanks for sharing I added some thoughts on Dog Coat sometime ago

  3. Thanks for sharing such a valuable post. Please keep us updated for future posts.


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