Wednesday, December 11, 2019

NIPPO Grand National 2019

So this autumn show season ended up being a bit of a bust. I did show my dogs in September at the Chiba branch show, one of the first scheduled shows of the season. It was hot, and there was a typhoon coming (little did we know how bad it would be) that night. I really don't even remember what placements the dogs got, but we did ok I think. Anyway, that night typhoon 15 (Faxai) smashed us a good one. In the aftermath of that, it was hard to make time to go to shows, or to get the dogs show ready. I had 4 entered in the Tokyo branch show for October, which then got postponed because of another massive typhoon. I can hear the weather gods cackling with glee.

So, I ended up not being able to enter Yoshi in the national, which I whined about earlier on the blog. Bunta was blowing coat and not in show shape, so he was out for the rest of the year, and that left me with Vega and Mei (both in semi respectable condition.

Then 2 weeks before the grand national, after dogs were entered and all travel plans were made, dogs starting to look pretty good (hey we might pull this off), BAM. Kennel cough. A dog I was asked to rehome came to my house, and 3 days later started coughing. So in the end, I ended up going to Okayama sans dogs, with a carload of fun friends instead.

At the national, I ran around talking to everyone, and trying to take pictures of friends' dogs. It was exciting to have one of my favorite Shikoku males take best of breed. Jukaishuu, owned by my friend Kato-san, has always been in the same class as myself and Masamine. He's beaten us at every regional, and at the national all but one year when Masa took second, and Jukaishuu third. It was a long day for Jukaishuu and his owner/handler, but a well deserved win after their adult male 3rd place finish at the national last year. I let out a proper whoop when he beat the female for BOB.

I just read over this post, and I know I can do better as far as writing, grammar, and story telling, but truth be told I'm tired as all heck. December has been busy as all hell, and it's not over yet. Hunting season is open, but in the first month we've been out once. ONCE. Anyway, below are some snaps of the dogs.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

In Cabin? Checked In? Cargo?

So you're flying with your dog (or thinking about flying with your dog), and trying to figure out what all this lingo means. Where do dogs go if they're flying 'in-cabin' or 'checked-in'? What are my options?

Starting with the easy stuff, a dog can be booked on a flight accompanied (on the same flight as you) or unaccompanied (not on the same flight), and there are three classifications:
1. In cabin
2. Checked in
3. Cargo

In cabin means the pup is with you in the passenger area. The airlines that allow this (not all do) have size restrictions since the dog has to be small enough to fit in a crate (usually a soft bag type) under the seat in front of you. For most airlines, the weight restriction that the dog has to be under 8kg (and of course fit in a bag small enough to be under the seat in front of you. It goes without saying that most airlines will also only allow 1 dog per passenger in cabin. You will end up paying a very minimal fee for an in cabin dog, usually somewhere under 150USD in my experience.

If a dog is too big to fit in-cabin, then it will need to be checked in. This means it goes in the baggage hold with your check-in baggage. The area is pressure and temperature controlled. This is the way most dogs will end up flying. Your dog will need to be in a hard crate that fits airline specs. There are various limits on the size of the crate, total weight of dog and crate, breeds allowed etc, but since this varies by airline I won't get into that here. Fees for a checked dog vary by airline and sometimes by crate size, but usually end up around 200-400USD for an international flight.

Cargo. When you are unable to fly with your dog, sometimes this is an option. However it is becoming more and more difficult to ship dogs as cargo internationally. From Japan, cargo prices are ridiculous since regulations require you to go through a shipping agency and you can't deal directly with the airline. You can expect to pay at least the cost of a human's ticket for a small-medium size crate on international flights, and as the crate gets larger, the prices rise. For a large size breed you will easily be paying upward of 3000USD for an international flight from Japan. Moral of the story, don't ship dogs cargo from Japan.

One thing to keep in mind is that all US airlines other than American Airlines now only accept dogs as cargo. Delta does allow in-cabin dogs, but remember about the size restrictions. If you are a military family PCS'ing, US airlines usually have a special allowance so you will not have to ship your dog as cargo.

Here's a link to help you with IATA approved dog crate measurements and lingo
Some airlines require a water bottle/food dish, some will not allow you to put one on the crate. Check with your airline, and always book space for your dog when you book your flight. Do it in advance, you'll thank me. There is limited space for dogs on flights, and many routes use planes that are not pet friendly. If you're planning to fly with your dog, do your due diligence well in advance.

Friday, December 6, 2019

NIPPO Kanto Branch Shows for Spring 2020

These are the tentative show dates for the Kanto region NIPPO branch shows:

February 23rd TOCHIGI
March 1st SANTAMA
March 8th CHIBA
March 15th GUNMA
March 29th IBARAGI
April 5th KANAGAWA
April 12th TOKYO

Thursday, December 5, 2019


If you follow my Instagram accounts, you may have noticed Akita puppies. Yes, I have had an Akita litter at my house. Long story short, a nice female was in need of a new home. She cleared her health checks, and came into heat before I decided where she should go, so we bred her to a nice local male. My brother has always liked Akita (I don't know why), so he became an AKIHO member, registered his kennel, and walla! We had 4 little Akita potatoes.

This is one of them, a male named Nori.

In this video I am masquerading as an Akita breeder, while also pretending I know how to table stack a puppy. Feel free to criticize! He's 3 months old, and on the table for the first time.

We had a nice little socialization walk with our current puppy pack yesterday. Three Akita (Nori, Ume, Yume), 1 Shikoku (Hina), and 1 Kai (Luka, who is still homeless by the way).

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Nihon Ken Database

On October 8th I decided I was going to finally tackle the issue of a database for all the Nihon Ken that incorporates calculation of COI and AVK, plus tracks health issues. CJ Hammond over in the US helped immensely in setting up the GoFundMe so that I wouldn't have to foot the bill all on my own. I'm a bit late in announcing that we reached our funding goal very quickly (I think it took around a week), so we deactivated the campaign. 2100USD was raised, and after fees I think I received just over 2000USD.
Special thanks to Tain Marie, Mirka Mertanen, Veera Petäjä, Riina Haapakallio, Chrystal Cleary, Alexis Amerosa, Daniel Kopcinski, Robin Grannell, Luisa Boni, Kelsey Christenson, Greg Trimble, Kati Kraemer, Jeannie Tran, Amy Doohan, Aiki Kato, Dmitry Ponomarenko, Alan Yamauchi, Nicholas Nguyen, Rachel Noy, Joyce Szydlowski, Lauren Sohaney, Amanda Knechtel, Tommy Duong, Terri Fitzgerald, Hope Y, Kathy Gima, Samantha Walker, Glenn Phillips, Katherine Greene, Alina Serbyn, Brad Anderson, Deven Gujrathi, Suteishii Kennels, and all the other anonymous donors. All Nihon Ken breeders and owners are going to reap the rewards of your giving.

This is a fairly busy time of year for me, so things haven't moved as crisply as I would like, but we now have a database online that covers the Shikoku, Kai, and Kishu. Of course there are no entries for the Kai, and only a few for the Kishu at the moment, but I'll be working on that. Check out the site! You can toggle between breeds using the bar on the top left of the site (the default is 'ALL BREEDS')

Next year I will be adding functionality for the other three Nihon Ken, the Akita, Shiba, and Hokkaido. Thank you all for your support, I couldn't have done this without you. You all are amazing. Also, a big shout out to the guys behind the scenes at Pedigree Database Online for all their help with the backend of the website. There are still some kinks to iron out, which I will get to as I start to add more data.

One thing that has changed from my original site is that dog names and kennel names are now entered in the same field in a continuous line eg. Masamine Go 雅峰号 Futomi Sou 太海荘 
So English name, Japanese name, English kennel name, Japanese kennel name.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

NIPPO Grand National 2019 Entry Numbers

All told there are 684 dogs entered in the national this year, plus 2 'sankouken' (reference dogs). Last year we had 620 entries (plus reference dogs), so that was a nice surprise. Biggest change in numbers goes to the Shikoku, seeing as last year there were only 66 entries. Go, go, Shikoku!

Shiba: 497 (260 male, 237 female)
Kishu: 78 (36 male, 42 female)
Shikoku: 103 (64 male, 39 female)
Kai: 5 (1 male, 4 female)
Hokkaido: 1 (male)

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Immune-Mediated Polyarthritis

So we have a possible culprit for the mystery Shikoku limp. Up until now panosteitis has been the suspect, and in at least 1 case a diagnosis was made based on x-rays. However, some things about the Shikoku mystery leg pain do not add up to pano. Panosteitis is supposedly self resolving in that dogs grow out of it at around 18 months. However, the symptoms in Shikoku are often lifelong.

I have been working to try and track the issue in the breed, since it seems to almost certainly be hereditary, and my veterinarians have been supportive in trying to help diagnose the issue. And (drumroll please) we have a new prime suspect: Immune-Mediated Polyarthritis aka IMPA.

Immune-mediated (aka autoimmune) conditions occur when the immune system is overactive and attacks the body in various ways. Hyperactive may be a more appropriate term because one part of the immune system is revved up and working in overdrive.  Immune-mediated disorders have an underlying genetic predisposition, like they do in humans; this genotype association in affected dogs has recently been located on the DLA-79 allele (Dog Leukocyte Antigen) of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) system. Other factors predisposing to overactive immune system responses include environmental factors like vaccines, drugs, food, chemicals or drugs as well as stress situations that act as “triggers” of this immune response.
Polyarthritis is an inflammation of multiple joints.
In the case of IMPA, white blood cells (aka neutrophils) invade the joints of the body. They are not supposed to be there. They are supposed to be fighting bacteria and pathogens in the surrounding tissues. This causes swelling of the joints, pain, and difficulty walking or standing. Other symptoms may crop up, too, such as weight loss, anorexia, fever, fatigue and can affect the lymph nodes draining the inflamed areas.

The fact that it is an immune system related issue comes as no shock to me. We know the Japanese breeds are very inbred off a very small number of breed founders. Since there are a number of other immune related issues seen in the Japanese breeds such as VKH in the Akita, severe allergy/skin issues in the Kishu etc, a diagnosis of IMPA in the Shikoku makes a lot of sense. It has also already been found in the Akita. The one promising line in the above text I pasted is this genotype association in affected dogs has recently been located on the DLA-79 allele (Dog Leukocyte Antigen) of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) system

Is it possible that we could find out if the marker for this issue in the Shikoku can be found and tested for? C'mon my genetic geek friends, show me your skills :)

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Typhoons, Typhoons

That's probably how I'll remember this year. Not as the year we had a new emperor ascend the chrysanthemum throne, or that Japan took 4 wins in the rugby world cup and made it to the semi-finals. No, I'll remember Typhoon 15 and Typhoon 19 (we number them here in Japan).

If I blogged as much as I used to, you would know all about the carnage from Typhoon 15 hitting us smack in the face down here in Tateyama City, the ensuing week (double that for some people) of power outages, water outages, gasoline rationing (when you could find a gas station that was open), all the staples of a proper disaster. But hey, we got on with it and do what people do. We helped each other, got past the nasty bits, and now we're rebuilding. Well we were, and then Typhoon 19 (Hagibis) came through and socked Japan a good one. Luckily for us in Tateyama, it didn't come ashore in our neck of the woods (which was the initial projection). That would have been catastrophic. As it was, there were over 70 people killed all over Japan, with damage spread through multiple prefectures. This time we only lost power for 3 days.

All in all, it's kind of ruined any plans for September/October, and now the NIPPO Grand National (and the hunting season!) approaches, and my dogs and I are in no state of mind or physical shape to really compete. But, I will still go, and since I am going to Okayama I have entered 2 of my dogs. We'll see if I actually take them. I wanted to show Yoshi, but thanks to the typhoons we were unable to attend regional shows that we had sent in entries for, so didn't get a 'yuryo' (excellent) result which means he is ineligible for the national. Sorry, Yoshi. He's actually the most show ready of my dogs, so that was a bit of a bummer.

But hey, we'll keep plodding on. There's always next year. Well there are two more typhoons out there in the Pacific right now. If we're lucky they'll just go away. But you know, this year has been weird.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Nihon Ken Database

I am doing it. Everyone who reads my blog has probably seen my Shikoku pedigree database that tracks health issues in the breed, as well as calculates COI/AVK. Well it needed to be out there for the other Nihon Ken, and I've just been holding back because of the amount of time and costs involved. But hey, I had a beer the other day and said fuck it. Let's do it. So it is happening, and CJ helped me set up a Gofundme to let everyone pitch in and help (I want to be kind to myself this time and not run myself ragged).

Here's my blurb from the Gofundme pitch:

The 6 aboriginal Japanese breeds (the Nihon Ken) are the Akita, Shiba, Kishu, Shikoku, Hokkaido, and the Kai. As most of you are aware, there is no testing for health issues being done on the breeding stock here in Japan. As with all breeds, hereditary health issues exist. The key is to be aware of them, and collect as much data possible to track and reduce/remove these issues from the Nihon Ken. Better breeding, leading to happier dogs and owners.

As more of the Nihon Ken have been exported or born out side of Japan, breeders and dog owners overseas have been discussing and reporting the health issues that have popped up. It is in the best interest of the Nihon Ken for all of us to work to better the health of these breeds. To track the health issues, a pedigree database that has this capability is essential.

As rare breeds with small populations, the Nihon Ken also suffer from a lack of genetic diversity. A 4 or 5 generation pedigree is a very meager tool for a breeder to try and make healthy decisions regarding the direction of their breeding program, what dogs to use, which to remove. We've got modern tools to help us head in the right direction (COI, AVK calculation, DNA diversity testing), but none of the current online breed pedigree databases had the capability to calculate COI/AVK.

I've been involved with the Nihon Ken for over 10 years now, starting with my own interest in hunting with them, then blogging to correct a lot of the online misinformation about the breeds.

My original blog 
Current blog 

Japanese blog (just started recently to try to increase awareness about the breeds within Japan) 

As time went on I realized with the lack of interest in the Nihon Ken within Japan, and the increasing interest in the breeds overseas, it was important to help get good dogs overseas and establish solid gene pools. So I started helping with exporting the Japanese breeds. 

One of these days the overseas gene pools will likely save some of the breeds from extinction. Obviously we want these gene pools to be healthy as possible, so as part of this effort last year I finally got a pedigree database online for the Shikoku Ken that calculates COI, AVK, and collects data on health issues. If you haven't already, please take a look. 

This was made possible through the help and advice of a lot of people. Thanks to Nico Reimerink for blazing the path with the first Shikoku database, Tetsuji Ishihara for collecting decades worth of Shikoku pedigree data and making it available, Laura Quadri for her programming expertise, Ann Kim for her advice and knowledge, and the good folks over at  for setting up the system. It took a lot of my time, work, and cash to get it up and running, and there are also the yearly fees to keep it maintained (and the work to continue adding data). I'm currently tracking issues in the Shikoku like hip dysplasia, entropion, the dreaded lipid storage disorder, and epilepsy etc.

Recently, there has been an uptick in reported issues in the Kai (PRA and other eye issues) and in the Kishu (thyroid and allergy). The Hokkaido also has collie eye anomaly, cataracts, and PRA that need to be tracked. I've known that we need to move quickly to collate the data, and that a copy of the database I set up for the Shikoku would be very useful for everyone. What was holding me back is the amount of work and cash that will go into this project. So here we are. Help me help you and the Nihon Ken and 'Pay Shig To Make a Nihonken Pedigree Database!' Catchy, I know. I will do this regardless of how much everyone donates, and 2000USD is just a number that will pay for databases for the Shikoku, Kai, and Kishu and keep them up for the next 2 years. With any extra time/cash I will set one up for the Hokkaido next, and if I ever feel extremely adventurous I will add the Akita and Shiba.

Feel free to contact me directly with any questions or advice you may have. I apologize in advance for the fact that I am notoriously slow in replying since I am generally swamped by correspondence regarding the Nihon Ken.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Flying With Dogs Between Japan and the US

It used to be the easiest thing to transport puppies from Japan to the US, but oh how things have changed. I'm just listing some of the most commonly used airlines for flights from Japan to the US, and their current rules.

The current (last clarification September 2019) US import regulations are that a pup must be over 2 months old for import from a rabies free zone (which Japan is). This may change at any time, so confirm before you try to travel with a pet. There is nowhere on the CDC website that explicitly states this, but I have gotten email replies from the CDC confirming that this is the case.

My opinion is that the reason so many airlines have changed their age regulations from 2 months old to 4 months old is that the CDC updated their site a while back, and the wording they used was confusing. It stated that puppies needed to be rabies vaccinated, and because they needed to be a minimum of 3 months old (and have a 30 day quarantine), a pup would be 4 months old before entering the US. The website did not make it clear that this did not apply to rabies free zones like Japan, so I think airlines just updated their guidelines for the US and changed the age to 4 months.
Over 4 months old for international flights
Over 8 weeks old (this is the rule listed on JAL's website, however to the US I have heard them say the pup needs to be 4 months old - I have recently travelled to the US with a 2 month old pup with JAL however)
Over 16 weeks for international flights (I have very recently flown with 2 month old pups with AA after confirming with the Japan office that it was not a problem. However I think this is due to the Japanese office not updating their staff manual, as it clearly states 16 weeks on their website).
Over 16 weeks for international flights (15 weeks from EU)
Only small dogs that fit in a soft crate under the seat allowed in cabin.
Any dogs not fitting into the in cabin regulations will have to be shipped as cargo.
Over 4 months (16 weeks) for international flights
Only small dogs that fit in a soft crate under the seat allowed in cabin.
Any dogs not fitting into the in cabin regulations will have to be shipped as cargo.
Pets that are under 16 weeks old or given a stabilizer/sleep medicine cannot be transported. (Starting July 1, 2019)
Allos dogs, cats and birds to be carried in the cabin if they are older than 8 weeks of age and to be carried in the cargo compartment if they are older than 16 weeks of age.

The IATA guidelines for pet transport are what most airlines follow. The dog is supposed to be able to stand without its head/ears touching the roof of the kennel (some airlines require a 1 inch clearance above the head/ears), and be able to turn around/lay down in the kennel comfortably. As you can imagine, for larger dogs this means that the kennel has to be pretty massive. The largest most airlines will accept is a 500 size XL crate
although some flights can only accept a 400 size, and some cargo routes will accept a 700 size.

Now these guidelines for head clearance are only strictly enforced when you ship your dog as cargo. If you're dog is flying with you as check in, as long as the dog is not cramped in an inordinately small crate, airlines will generally accept it. But I have seen 1 dog be refused at the counter because the staff deemed the crate too small. Airlines generally do not have crates to sell or lend at the check in counter, so either your dog or you and your dog may miss your flight if the crate is too small.

For international cargo shipping from Japan to overseas destinations, make sure that your dog's head/ears do not touch the top of the crate when the animal is standing/sitting inside.

If you are planning to fly with a dog, book your flight over the phone, and explain that you will be flying with a dog. They will need the breed/age of your dog, and the size/weight of the crate. The reservation staff will need to check the route and make sure that all planes on the route have space for your dog. It may take a few days to have confirmation, so reserve your flight in such a way that you are able to cancel it if they don't accept your dog. Always ask what the costs will be, since some airlines charge quite a bit for dogs flying as check in (I think China Airlines was one of those). For most airlines you will end up paying 100-500 USD in fees for 1 check in crate. Be aware that many US based airlines will not accept dogs if the total travel time from check in exceeds a certain amount of hours (usually somewhere around 12), so try to look for direct flights whenever possible. What I often do is book two flights separately through LAX (short route from Tokyo), and then spend a couple hours with the dog in LAX taking a break and getting some feeding/toilet/play in before jumping onto the next flight to my destination.

Cargo costs will be much higher (upward of 1000USD for a small crate, and the numbers balloon as crates get larger) to the US and Europe, so if at all possible, fly with your dog!

Saturday, September 7, 2019

5 Generations of Shikoku Females

I thought it would be fun to put up pictures of the dam's side of my current Shikoku litter. Just to see the progression of the dogs etc etc

1. Ibuhime Go Iyo Tenman Sou

2. Sekihoume Go Iyo Tenman Sou

3. Chacha Go Nidai Iwahori Sou

4. Awa no Kotogiku Go Awa Yamainu Sou

5. Awa no Kotohina Go Awa Yamainu Sou

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Koto's Shikoku Puppies Have Hit 2 Weeks Old

Koto's pups are growing well, and just yesterday those tiny little eyes opened.
The female looks very feminine, the male very masculine, just the way it should be. Koto's been a very good mother, takes care of the pups, but is not neurotic about it or overly attentive, and doesn't get stressed about me or other people handling the pups.

I'm quite happy about these little guys, and they have that fresh puppy smell (you have to try it sometime).

Friday, June 28, 2019

And Then There Were Puppehs

The last litter of puppies born at my house was in 2017 (some breeder I am huh?), and that was the Shikoku litter that Koto was out of. Here we are 2019 and Koto just had two pups on the morning of the 22nd of June.

I was up with all her all night, and got to see the pups popping out into the world. The male came first, and he looks like Masa, a sesame. The female looks a lot like Koto, a red with almost no sesame.

I've had a lot of requests for the pups already, but I think I'll take a bit more time before deciding where they go.

The male:

The female:

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Break my Brain

Perhaps with my 40th birthday around the corner I'm getting old and cranky. But, I'm getting tired and less patient with people who contact me about the Nihon Ken, and when I can tell it's gonna be a long ride, well I'd prefer you talk to someone else.

I've put the information out there, it's on my blog. You can research the Japanese breeds, you can see what the breeding situation here is like, but then you want to tell me that you don't see 'x' female's health information on the pedigree.

Well, the fact that you see any information at all on dogs that are in Japan is a miracle. The fact that I've actually x-rayed the father's hips is a miracle. The fact that I've actually made a database to calculate COI, and entered 1300 dogs manually, to tell you that the COI is less than 10 percent, is a miracle.

I don't judge your ethics or decision making. I just take issue with the fact that you are being very 'serious' about your decisions regarding Shikoku, obviously without doing your due diligence about the breed. This does not tell me there's anything wrong with you, other than that you are lazy (and have not done your research).

And also if you ask me for a coat color in a breed where there's only 200 pups born nationally, lets break down the numbers. If you ask for a female, there's 100 pups in a year. If you ask for a color that is less than 5 percent of the population (so 5 female's born nationally in a year) and complain that you've been waiting for 2 years for a pup, and you want one by September, well all I have to say to you is good luck, and talk to someone else.

Even my export service is a not for profit business. I'm just trying to help the Japanese breeds survive and be promoted. Your pup that you want as a pet will likely help the breed in being more visible, but will do absolutely nothing in terms of genetics. So, you will be toward the bottom of my list of priorities. Sorry, but that's the truth. And if you keep bugging me about when your unicorn will be available, chances are I will just not be bothered to reply.