Kishu Ken – Full Breed Profile

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Kishu Ken is a one-person dog who enjoys active time. They are also one of the rarest dog breeds alive who could disappear soon. Read on to learn more about this breed.
Dog Breed Group:
Working Dogs
17 to 22 inches
30 to 60 pounds
Life Span:
9 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?

Kishu Ken is a dog of 22 inches and 30 pounds, with a life expectancy between 11 to 13 years.

This is a medium-size dog with a strong body and strong muscles. They come with pricked ears and a curled or sickle tail. Affectionated toward their humans, this breed will always be suspicious of strangers.

If raised with children they will adore them. Still, this doesn’t mean that children shouldn’t be educated on how to behave around dogs.

Due to their strong prey drives, the Kishu Ken may chase small animals, which is better to keep them the only animal in the household. However, if they are raised with smaller animals, such as a cat, they should learn how to tolerate them.

Still, bear in mind that natural instincts are something that will demand everyday care and suppression of certain actions. This Japanese breed of dog was originally bred for boar and deer hunting.

Even today they are used for hunting boar and are often the first choice.

If you are serious about welcoming fantastic Kishu Ken into your home, you should know that they need a proper space to run and exercise.

So a house with a huge yard or an urban environment with a fence would serve properly. They need regular exercise, always on a leash, longer walks, and runs.

They can also be given a job to do to satisfy their exercise needs.

This breed is friendly, agile, and tough, and as such can be a great addition to your family, as long as you have an adequate dog ownership experience.

Quick Facts

Real name: Kishu Ken
Other names: Kishu-Ken, Kishu-Inu
Origin: Japan
Breed type: Working Dogs
Weight: 30 to 60 pounds
Height: 17 to 22 inches
Lifespan: 10 – 12 years
Litter Size: 9 to 13 years
Color: Most commonly white, but may be black and tan, red, or sesame
Coat: Short and straight coat

Kishu Ken History

Kishu Ken is a mix of spitz-type hunting dogs.

They are descended from wolves and are quite similar appearance-wise to Kai Ken and Hokkaido. This breed was carefully bred for hunting wild boar and deer.

This medium-sized dog wasn’t classified until 1934 and even then standards communicate about dogs that are non-white. However, even today this is the dominant color.

With the AKC, this breed is listed as a Foundation Stock breed. Overall, this breed is rare.

Finding Kishu Ken isn’t impossible, but it will demand some time. Even in breed’s native Japan, these dogs are in rapid decline. Their numbers are so low that this breed could easily disappear soon.

Kishu Ken Physical Appearance

Kishu Ken is a medium-sized dog with a strong posture and muscular body. These dogs can enter dog shows only if they are of solid color.

It’s common for this breed to be all white, although they may be seen in other colors as well, including:

  • Sesame
  • Red
  • Black and tan

Kishu Ken will have a black nose, curled tail over the back, a short and straight coat, and ears set straight and toward.

As for the size, they tend to be between 17 and 22 inches and to have 30 to 60 pounds.

If you manage to provide proper care, good nutrition, and regular exercise you can expect your Kishu Ken to live between 9 to 13 years.

Kishu Ken Personality

Kishu Kens are described as affectionate and loyal dogs.

If you want a true family dog this is a breed to consider having. However, this isn’t the breed for you if you have small pets living with you.

They are also a one-person/one-family dog, meaning once you get this dog it’s for life.

Kishu Ken comes with a really strong prey drive and will hunt small animals whenever an opportunity arises.

As for the other dogs, they should get along nicely, if they are raised together.

If there are no boundaries, they may become aggressive toward other dogs, or become aggressive when frustrated. Kishu Ken is a breed that is willful, a bit independent, and often with strong leadership skills.

This is why this breed isn’t recommended for first time dog owners, but to those who know their way around independent dogs.

As loyal and devoted dogs, Kishu Kens will get along with chidlren nicely. That will be the case as long as chidlren know their way around dogs.

Children must be educated on how to behave around dogs, to understand that dogs are territorial animals and that they should be left alone when drinking, eating, playing alone, or just resting in their crate.

These medium-sized dogs can be aloof or shy around strangers.

Kishu Ken Training

Training should start as soon as you bring your Kishu Ken home. Training is what makes a dog a great canine citizen.

Next to consistent training, you should focus on early socialization as an ultimate period to training a dog.

That being said, you should know that early socialization is what will shape your dog’s future behaviors.

By the time early socialization ends, your dog should know the following:

  • Basic commands such as ‘no’
  • House dog rules
  • How to walk on a leash
  • How to behave when a friend enters your home
  • Which house areas are forbidden and which are free to explore
  • If couch is off-limits or not

Once your veterinarian gives you a green light, you can take your Kishu Ken to a dog park.

Be mindful of the dog vaccination schedule and stick to recommended veterinarian check-ups.

If you feel like you could use support during the training sessions think about hiring a professional dog trainer, or enroll your pup in puppy classes.

Both options should speed up the training process and provide pro inputs for further training.

Otherwise, for effective training sessions do the following:

  • Be consistent with training
  • Provide fun and easy to master commands
  • Make training sessions short
  • Use only positive reinforcement methods
  • Always reward a good behavior
  • Never punish your dog

No dog should ever experience any harsh training methods or harsh handling. If training is too much for you feel free to address for the right help. This can be beneficial both for you and your Fido.

Kishu Ken Grooming

The best way to groom your Kishu Ken is to have the right grooming tools on hand – this way you will speed up the grooming process and have fun brushing and trimming time.

Always reward your Fido after a grooming session, to show him what a good boy he is.

Grooming is much more than just brushing your dog. Yet, to keep Ken’s coat neat, clean, tangles-and-debris-free you should provide weekly brushing sessions.

Have a 15-minutes long brushing session twice per week. Use Furminator or Furminator-like tools and brushes to make brushing fast and fun.

While you are brushing your Kishu Ken make sure that you check the skin for fleas and any sign of skin infection.

The rest is basic care:

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

Since this is commonly a white-coated dog make sure that you know how to deal with a light coat on rainy days.

Talk with your veterinarian about the best after-walk cleaning practice. To start, you can always keep a wet cloth near the door and clean him super fast after a rainy walk.

Learn how to maintain a dog’s paws in the winter.

Kishu Ken Healthy

Are you buying a puppy? As mentioned earlier, getting this breed will demand some extra time, so arm yourself with enough patience.

That being said, while waiting for your Kishu Ken to arrive learn more on the breed, do extra research on Kishu Ken dogs and what you can expect health-wise. You may provide the best possible care and your Ken may still get sick.

This doesn’t mean that your Kishu will experience any poor conditions, but it means that you should know about potential issues and do your best to prevent them. This is why regular veterinarian check-ups are so important.

Prevention is the key when it comes to having a healthy and happy dog.

If you are buying a puppy, make sure that you deal only with responsible dog breeders.

This way you will know that your pup has been screened for the most common health conditions in the breed. Moreover, you will get medical documentation telling about your pup’s health.

Responsible dog breeders will always provide you the best tips on overall care, grooming, nutrition, and health.

They will also ask you a lot of questions to make sure that you are the best fit for their pup.

Is Kishu Ken For You?

If you are a first time dog owner, this breed isn’t for you.

This breed needs an experienced dog owner, who knows his way around independent and clingy dogs.

Make sure that you can own a dog, and if you are a member of a big family, that everyone takes in their part into caring for this white-coated fluff – because Kishu Ken loves people.

They will stick to one person and mark them as their person. Or they will have space in their hearts for only one family and won’t do well being left. This is why you must be 100% sure that you have enough time for a dog and that you can meet all of the dog’s needs.

If you are ready for this commitment, and you have a huge experience as a dog owner, and you want a medium-sized dog who is rare then this is the breed to consider having.

Popular Kishu Ken Comparisons

Compare Dog Breeds: