Hokkaido – Full Breed Profile

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Should you welcome Hokkaido into your home? Could this breed easily fit your lifestyle? Read on and discover.
Dog Breed Group:
Working Dogs
18 to 22 Inches
45 to 65 Pounds
Life Span:
11 to 13 Years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

Hokkaido is a medium-sized dog with a thicker and longer coat, originally from Japan. Opposite to other Japanese breeds, this breed comes with wider chests and smaller ears.

They have a double coat to keep them protected during the harsh weather.

They also have a fine and thick undercoat that sheds seasonally, which means that you will have to invest some of your time into brushing.

The Hokkaido comes in several colors, including red, black, white, sesame, and wolf grey. To have a loyal Hokkaido you need to think about proper training techniques.

Think about positive reinforcement methods, and never apply any harsh training methods, just like with any other breed. This is a dog who wants to please his human family, but it doesn’t mean that he won’t try to outsmart you or become the pack leader.

They are intelligent thinkers and amazing problem solvers, so they will get huge mental satisfaction from any task that you put in front of them.

Outside of Japan, this breed is extremely rare.

If you are thinking about getting Hokkaido arm yourself with patience because it will take some time for you to get your hands on this breed. Still, it will be totally worth the wait.

Quick Facts

Real name: Hokkaido
Other names: Do-ken, Ainu-ken, Seta, Ainu dog, Hokkaido-Ken
Origin: Japan
Breed type: Working Dogs
Weight: 45 to 65 pounds
Height: 18 to 22 inches
Lifespan: 11 – 13 years
Litter Size: 4 – 6 puppies
Color: Commonly red, white, black, brindle, sesame, black and tan, and wolf-gray
Coat: Short and soft coat

Hokkaido History

Hokkaido is one of six famous Japanese spitz breeds, among Akita, Kishu Ken, and others. This is one of the oldest dog breeds alive and a breed to consider having if you love spitz-type breeds.

Dog historians believe that Hokkaido is originally from Honshu, the main island of Japan.

Its believed that they came to Japan sometime in the 1140s, and came to the land with the Ainu people.

Ainu people appreciated these dogs much for their bravery, loyalty, and hunting ability.

The Hokkaido was classified as a Living Natural Monument by the government of Japan in 1937. Outside Japan, seeing Hokkaido is extremely rare.

Hokkaido Physical Appearance

Hokkaido is a medium-sized dog of powerful appearance and strong bones.

These Japanese dogs are muscular, powerful, and well-balanced. Their skull is broad and flat, the muzzle is wedge-shaped, ears are almost triangular and never too small.

The neck is powerful and muscular, while the tail is thick and on high.

As for the coat, the outer coat is harsh and straight, while the undercoat is soft and dense. They come in many colors, including sesame, red, brindle, black, white, or black and tan.

Hokkaido Personality

Hokkaido is a devoted and affectionate breed that is extremely loyal to his owners and family.

They are devoted and playful dogs who are very intelligent. These dogs are barely used as working dogs today, although they are primarily bred to be hunting dogs.

Today, Hokkaido is mostly a full-time pet who will thrive in safe and loving surroundings.

They are vocal, and this is something that should be addressed during the training phase. This is a food-motivated breed, so make sure that you use it to your advantage.

Hokkaido isn’t a breed for first time dog owners, and they will prefer an active family.

Once you get this dog you cannot expect it to stay alone at home. Every family activity is a great opportunity to take Hokkaido with you.

As a highly loyal breed, they will attach to their human strength, and hate being left alone. They will thrive in homes with big backyards as they aren’t the best fit for apartment living.

Hokkaido is a great jumper, and this is something to have on your mind. Make sure that your Hokkaido cannot easily jump over the fence and go for a short visit to your neighbor.

When excited or happy they will be vocal, usually howl or make silly noises. This may be cut to you, but is usually something that your neighbors won’t appreciate much.

Last but least, never leave your Hokkaido home alone all day. When bored or neglected dogs tend to become destructive and this is something that no dog owner wants to deal with.

Hokkaido Training

Training should start as soon as you bring your Hokkaido home.

Did you know that dogs are more than capable of mastering basic commands as of eight weeks of age? This is something that you should use to your advantage when it comes to training.

To get the maximum out of training sessions, make training:

  • Consistent
  • Fun
  • Short
  • Engaging
  • Reward based
  • Well-structured

If you feel like training your Hokkaido is too much work or that you additional support training -wise you should think about getting the right support.

You can think about hiring a professional dog trainer, or enrolling your pup in puppy classes. Both options should speed up the training process and bond you with your dog further.

Are Hokkaido Dogs Easy To Train?

If you already have experience with dog training Hokkaido shouldn’t be too much of work.

Still, you should be well aware of certain traits that may appear in this breed that could speed up or slow the training process.

Hokkaido is a breed of strong prey drive and will love when there is a job to be done. They are intelligent dogs who thrive in hands of an experienced handler.

As a pack-oriented breed, these active dogs will respect hierarchy. All in all, they’re highly protective of their family, and their territory.

Hokkaido Exercise

Exercise is a great way to keep your dog mentally stimulated and physically fit.

Regular walks are a must and every dog should have enough outdoor time.

Some dogs are more than happy with a brisk walk around the block, while others need long exercise sessions to help them burn that energy off.

Hokkaido comes with a certain level of energy that needs to be channeled properly.

Make sure that you provide at least 30-minutes of intense exercise daily.

Think about dog sports as such, such as agility and obedience.

Make sure that you know some indoor games as well and always provide the right toys and games that will stimulate a dog’s mind.

Hokkaido Grooming

If you are not a fan of grooming and overall long brushing sessions, this breed isn’t for you.

Keeping this dog neat takes a lot of work. After all, they come with a heavy double coat which means hard and time-consuming brushing sessions if you want his coat to be debris-free.

Do Hokkaido Dogs Shed?

Simply said, yes. However although you may expect a heavy shedding, they are moderately heavy shedders.

The tricky part is that they shed all year round. Like other double-coated breeds, these powerful dogs will blow their undercoat twice a year.

The shedding season is in spring and autumn, so make sure that you have a vacuum cleaning during this period.

Regular brushing should remove dead hair. Use a pin brush to make brushing easy and fast.

The rest is basic care:

  • Brush weekly
  • Bathe only when needed
  • Trim or grind nails monthly
  • Clean dog’s ears when needed
  • Check gums weekly
  • Check eyes daily for any sign of eye discharge

Hokkaido Health

Dogs do get sick. No matter how great care you might provide, your Fido still may end up being hurt.

This is why great nutrition, regular veterinarian check-ups, and regular exercise regime are so important.

That being said, some of the issues that may be seen in this breed include:

  • Collie eye anomaly
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Luxating patella
  • Heart murmurs
  • Idiopathic seizures
  • Anxiety
  • Psychogenic polydipsia
  • Pica

This doesn’t mean that your Hokkaido might experience any of the listed conditions.

It just means that you should be aware of these conditions and do your best to prevent them. This is why regular veterinarian check-ups are so important.

Overall, Hokkaido is often described as a healthy breed that can reach up to 13 years.

Once you get a dog you are directly responsible for his weight. Make sure that you know how much to feed your dog, how often, and which food to serve.

Knowing how to read dog food labels can help you create better nutrition and keep your dog’s weight in balance.

Obesity in dogs is on the rise across the States and this is something that you want to avoid seeing in your canine.

Is Hokkaido For You?

As mentioned earlier, Hokkaido isn’t for you if you’re a first time dog owner. This breed isn’t for those who cannot handle a bigger size dog who will easily jump over most of the obstacles.

As a highly loyal breed, this dog will expect a huge amount of love, devotion, and care.

Make sure that your entire family is organized properly and is willing to share dog-related responsibility.

Don’t leave Hokkaido all day alone, or you will discover how does it feel to have a neglected dog.

On the other hand, if you want a breed that is of medium-size dog and is highly devoted, and you have experience as a dog owner, then Hokkaido is a breed to consider having.

Don’t forget that Hokkaido is a rare breed and that you wait longer to get Hokkaido.

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