Kai Ken – Full Breed Profile

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Do you fancy Japanese dog breeds? If so, you should check the brindle, Kai Ken. These dogs are loyal, independent, and great protectors. Read on to discover more about this breed.
Dog Breed Group:
Companion Dogs
17 to 22 inches
25 to 45 pounds
Life Span:
12 to 16 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?

Kai Ken is one of the six native dog breeds of Japan. This is a well-respected and loved animal across Japan and beyond.

As a highly intelligent breed, the Kai Ken will carefully choose to whom to attach. As such, they will pick one person and make them theirs.

Their special person is someone who they will protect no matter what and leave them behind. Originally, this breed was used as a versatile hunting dog.

Well known for his brindle coat, Kai Ken can enable a natural camouflage perfectly aligned for this breed’s need of the mountainous terrain.

The Kai Ken is the perfect choice when it comes to working outside, or just going on a longer hike, or participating in dog sports, such as agility.

Kai Ken is a highly loyal dog who prefers experienced dog owners. They are very fond of children but prefer to be the only animal in the household, and they won’t mind showing that preference.

Since the Kai Ken is a highly trainable and loyal dog, this breed is a joy to train. They learn new tricks fast as they enjoy working with their owners for hours.

All in, this breed will always enjoy positive reinforcement and never tolerate any harsh methods.

To keep this breed happy and healthy provide enough exercise and occasional swimming time.

To help your Kai Ken live a long, happy, and healthy life, you should provide high-quality food and regular veterinarian check-ups.

Quick Facts

Real name: Kai Ken
Other names: Kai
Common nickname: Tora Dog
Origin: Japan
Breed type: Companion Dogs
Weight: 25 to 45 pounds
Height: 17 to 22 inches
Lifespan: 12 to 16 years
Litter Size: 2 – 4 puppies
Color: Black brindle, red brindle and brindle
Coat: Double coat of medium length

Kai Ken History

Kai Ken is one of the rarest dog breeds alive. They are loved and respected in their native country of Japan, and protected by the Nihon Ken Hozonkai as one of the six native Japanese dog breeds.

Nihon Ken Hozonkai or NIPPO is a preserver and main protector for the six native Japanese dog breeds:

  • Akita Inu
  • Hokkaido
  • Kai Ken
  • Kishu
  • Shikoku
  • Shiba Inu

Every year NIPPO holds one national show of the dogs in the fall, and regional shows in spring and fall.

Kai Ken is an agile dog from the mountainous region of Japan near Mount Fuji. Their name comes from the Kao province.

Originally, they were used to pursue and hunt a wide variety of prey. The Japanese Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1934.

Now, let’s see what a future owner of Kai Ken can expect to see in this dog appearance-wise.

Kai Ken Physical Appearance

Kai Kens are agile and active dogs with a body that illustrates that perfectly.

They are of medium size, usually weighing between 25 to 45 pounds, and standing 17 to 22 inches.

If you manage to provide high-quality food, regular veterinarian check-ups, and an overall healthy and active life, you can expect Kai Ken to live between 12 to 16 years.

This medium-sized dog comes with a wedge-shaped head and erect ears.

Males are commonly bigger than females, who have more elegant posture. Their tail should be curled over the back, while the coat is of harsh texture and medium length.

As for the coat color, Kai Kens can be seen in various shades of brindle. Three main shades of brindle are:

  • Aka-tora (red)
  • Chu-tora (middle)
  • Kuro-tora (black)

Puppies are always born a solid color and they may have some brindle markings as they age. It’s not uncommon for markings to show after five years.

Kai Ken Personality

Kai Kens may be high-energy dogs, but that won’t stop them from demanding extra care and love.

They are beyond average friendly dogs, who tend to bond closely with their family members. They do great with children when there are boundaries.

Dogs should know dog house rules, and which areas are off-limits, while children should know how to interact with dogs safely.

These agile dogs aren’t known for being aggressive toward other dogs, although proper socialization is the key when it comes to having a well-behaved canine citizen.

Kai Kens have great watching skills, which makes them alert and free to bark if they feel like it. They will naturally protect their home and their people. Moreover, they will be fast to bark and alert their owners of any intruders.

Kai Ken is a bit clingy. As such, they won’t be happy when left alone for too long.

It’s best to split dog responsibilities among family members and make sure that someone is always with your Kai Ken.

Kai Ken Training

Training should start as soon as you bring your Kai Ken home.

These dogs will love training sessions. To get maximum results, make training sessions fun, short, constant, and packed with treats.

Dogs love when there is a reward. Use only the positive reinforcement method, and never punish your dog.

If you feel like you could use help training your Kai Ken think about hiring a professional dog trainer or think about enrolling your pup in puppy class.

Kai Kens are intelligent dogs and they will love having a job to do. Plus, training sessions are a great way to keep his mind sharp and his joints strong.

Kai Ken Exercise

If you want your Kai Ken to be fit you should provide enough exercise.

Additional exercise is what will keep your dog happy and physically fit. Regular walks are mandatory and often seen as toilet time.

Do you know how many times per day should dogs pee? Learn that here, and make sure that you provide mandatory toilet walks.

Next to regular walks, provide extra exercise. Kai Kens are a bit prone to weight gain, so exercise should keep their weight in balance.

Obesity in dogs is on the rise across the States and you don’t want your Kai Ken to be part of this growing trend.

Provide great nutrition, high-quality food, and enough exercise to keep his weight in balance.

How much exercise does a Kai Ken need? This breed needs around half-hour to hour-long intense walks or freestyle run at the dog park.

Be careful with puppies. They are growing and their muscles are developing, so make sure that their joints remain strong and whole.

Kai Ken Grooming

Kai Kens are clean dogs.

If you want a medium-sized dog that has no odor, the Kai Ken is the breed to consider having.

They still need a grooming routine and bathe from time to time to keep their skin clean.

Make sure that you only use shampoos that are carefully designed for dogs. This way you won’t have to fear that you might damage the dog’s skin.

Their coat may be short, but it’s thick and double making brushing time mandatory.

They do shed. Expect heavy shedding during the shedding season which occurs in spring and autumn.

During this season you could benefit from having a vacuum cleaner on hand.

If your veterinarian recommends it brush his teeth daily, just make sure that you use shampoo specially designed for dogs.

The rest is basic care:

  • Grind or trim nails monthly
  • Bathe only when needed, and make sure that you use shampoo specially designed for dogs
  • Check gums weekly
  • Check eyes daily for any sign of eye discharge
  • Learn how to clean dog’s ears and when to do it

Kai Ken Health

If you want a healthy Kai Ken you should focus on working only with responsible dog breeders.

They will screen puppies for most common health issues and present you with medical documentation on puppies.

Not only that, but they will give you straightforward inputs on how to keep your dog healthy, well-groomed, and overall well taken care of.

Kai Kens are considered to be healthy dogs. Still, once you get your puppy you should take him to your vet for a full check-up.

Do not forget to give him a treat for being a good boy during the examination.

Kai Kens are rare dogs and breeders are really doing their best to deliver the healthiest specimens possible.

Still, no matter how healthy they might be as puppies, or how amazing your care is, your Kai Ken can still get some health issues.

So far it’s known that this breed is prone to allergies.

Is Kai Ken For You?

Kai Kens are a rare breed that will thrive in the home of an experienced dog owner.

They’re loyal and true family dogs who will love being part of any family activity.

Kai Kens are great dogs for both big families and single-dwellers. However, they are not recommended for first time dog owners.

If you are an experienced dog owner, and you want a medium-size dog of ancient roots and great personality, this is a bred to consider having.

Do not forget that this is a breed of high energy level and if their exercise needs aren’t met they will become destructive.

Make sure that you provide proper training, regular walks, and additional exercise to keep your Kai Ken both mentally and physically fit.

Not sure how to name your Kai Ken? Check most common Disney names for dogs.

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