Shikoku – Full Breed Profile

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Should you get Shikoku? Is this breed for you? Read on and discover if this breed fits your lifestyle.
Dog Breed Group:
Companion Dogs
17 to 22 inches
35 to 55 pounds
Life Span:
10 to 12 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?

The powerful Shikoku is a dog of strong endurance, energetic and alert temperament during the day and night.

This is an enthusiastic hunter and huge people lover. The original Shikoku, or Kochi-ken, existed in the mountain ranges of Kochi Prefecture on the island of Shikoku.

These dogs were highly respected by Japanese hunters, also known as the Matagi.

As a medium-sized dog, the Shikoku was used as a tracker of the game. Today, they are equally fit as they were in past days, with well-balanced and well-developed bodies.

With pricked ears and a curled or sickle tail, this breed gets a softer look and gentle expression.

They are well-boned and compact. The outer coat is rather harsh and straight, while the entire undercoat is soft and dense.

The tail comes with long hair, and a coat is commonly red, black, and tan, or sesame. Sesame is a color mix of red, black, and white hairs. In terms of color, they are very similar to popular Huskies.

Regular weekly brushing is mandatory to keep the dog’s coat healthy and clean.

Think about exercise and outdoor time – what you can provide to keep this strong breed entertained and happy.

Mix regular walks, with indoor playtime, backyard playtime, and regular visits to the dog park.

Quick Facts

Real name: Shikoku
Other names: Kochi-ken
Origin: Japan
Breed type: Companion Dogs
Weight: 35 to 55 pounds
Height: 17 to 22 inches
Lifespan: 10 – 12 years
Litter Size: 3 – 5 puppies
Color: Sesame, red sesame, or black sesame
Coat: Thick and double coat with strong undercoat

Shikoku History

Shikoku, a powerful dog also known as the Kochi-Ken, are medium-sized dogs from Japan. There is still a lot to be discovered on this breed, but some facts are rock solid.

It’s known that these muscular dogs existed and lived in the mountain ranges of Kochi Prefecture on the island of Shikoku.

This area is even today defined by rough and hard-to-approach terrain.

As such, the area was hard to reach from anyone on the outside. This natural isolation lead to preserved breed traits.

In another word, crossbreeding was almost impossible and these dogs have remained the same to their first look.

Their roots are linked to ancient times and from day one they were bred to assist humans in many duties. Their primary duty was to assist during the hunt.

There were three varieties of this breed:

  • Awa
  • Hongawa
  • Hata

All varieties were named after the area where they were bred. Hongawa is the variety that keep the most purity.

These dogs are not only great runners, but they are great runners in the mountain regions as well. In 1937 the breed was designated as a Natural Monument.

Shikoku Physical Appearance

Today, this ancient breed is described as a medium-sized dog.

They have up to 22 inches and their weight may vary from 35 to 55 pounds. This dog was bred to easily survive rough terrain and even today they are true to their initial purpose.

Their body will always reflect their skills, and Shikoku should always be a well-balanced and well-developed breed with easy-to-spot muscled.

They come with pricked ears that only add to their curious appearance and alert posture. This well-boned breed is characterized by its sesame-colored coats.

Their outer coat is harsh on the touch, while the undercoat is soft and dense. The hair on the rail is always longer.

Shikoku Personality

Shikoku dogs are most appreciated and celebrated for their hunting abilities, but there is much more when it comes to this breed.

For example, if you want a family dog this is a breed to consider. They are territorial, great protectors, loyal, and aren’t afraid to inform you when a stranger approaches.

These dogs will be fast to choose one person to attach to. In fact, they will choose to either attach to one person or to see the whole family as a single person.

This is why this breed couldn’t handle being abandoned or left alone frequently, or for too long.

They may not develop separation anxiety, but demonstrating destructive behavior could be a real possible outcome.

All in all, this breed isn’t for you if you tend to spend a large amount outside working. This is a breed of strong territorial instincts.

Although they will get along with other canines, Shikoku dogs will demonstrate a dominant side.

This dog will want to be dominant around other dogs, and this is something to take into consideration when it comes to dog-to-dog introduction.

Shikoku Training

Shikoku loves when there is a job to be done.

Dogs were bred to perform certain tasks and nothing makes them happier but when there is a purpose to be fulfilled. That being said, although Shikoku dogs are mostly full-time pets nowadays, they will look at training sessions as something to master.

In fact, they will look at training sessions as a work task that needs to be performed.

Use that desire to work and need to please to make training sessions engaging, efficient, and reward-based.

Every dog loves a nice treat after a nicely done job. Shikoku is a wolf-like breed, meaning that they are more of a free spirit, and a bit independent.

This is why they do much better with experienced dog owners who know their way around independent breeds. This isn’t a breed for first time dog owners not for those who don’t enjoy training sessions.

To train this breed properly you should make training short, fun, consistent, and reward-based.

Always use positive reinforcement and never punish your dog. Training can be overwhelming from time to time, but it’s OK to ask for assistance.

There are usually two options that can speed up the training and include hiring a professional dog trainer, or enroll your pup in puppy classes.

Both options should speed up the training process and provide tips on further training.

Shikoku Grooming

To have a good-looking and neat Shikoku, you need to implement a great grooming practice.

This means that you should invest in the right grooming tools to make the grooming process a fast and stress-free process.

To get the most out of the grooming process start with regular weekly brushes. This breed comes with a double coat which means that a 20-minutes long brush, once to twice per week, should be enough to keep his coat debris-free.

Do not trim this breed, but learn how to brush him effectively. This breed will shed, and you can expect extra shedding during the shedding season, in spring and autumn.

During this period, you should have a vacuum cleaner on hand, or remove carpets for a while.

At least these are options if you want to minimize cleaning, otherwise, just organize well.

The rest is basic care:

  • Check gums weekly
  • Bathe only when needed
  • Trim or grind nails monthly
  • Check eyes daily for any sign of eye discharge
  • Learn how to clean dog’s ears and when

Regular brushing and occasional trimming are a must if you want your Shikoku to look his finest.

Shikoku Health

Shikoku is probably one of the healthiest dog breeds alive. This breed has no known inherited health issues that are specific to the breed.

Still, they may get sick. Once you get a dog, you are directly responsible for his weight.

Obesity in dogs is on the rise across the States, and you don’t want your dog to be part of this negative trend.

To help your Shihoku reach his senior years without major health issues you should do the following:

  • Provide high-quality food
  • Provide regular exercise
  • Have training sessions regulalry
  • Learn which human foods is safe to share with your dog
  • Do your best to keep dog’s joints healthy and strong
  • Learn to read dog food labels
  • Stick to recommended vaccination schedule
  • Provide regular veterinarian check-ups
  • Make playing sessions with other dogs

Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age, size, and activity level. Puppies cannot benefit from senior food and vice versa. If you have any concerns about your dog’s health, weight or diet talk with your veterinarian.

Is Shikoku For You

Are you a first time dog owner? If the answer is yes, this breed isn’t for you.

Powerful and a bit independent dogs are recommended only to experience dog owners, who know their way around independent dog breeds.

If you need training assistance, make sure that you find a trainer who knows how to work with wolf-like breeds in general.

This way you will get more effective tips and significantly speed up the training process.

That being said, if you are not ready to spend enough time outdoors to meet the dog’s needs tan this bred isn’t for you.

This breed is for you if you want a dog who is:

  • Independent thinker
  • Loves to work
  • Loves being active
  • Enjoys outdoor sessions
  • Isn’t scared of harsh weather or rough terrain
  • You want a hiking partner
  • You want a loyal dog who is highly teritorial

Shikoku may be originally a hunting breed but in his heart, this is a full-time pet. This dog will be fast to bond with family members and constantly watch around them to keep them safe.

Shikoku may be originally a hunting breed, but in his heart, this is a full-time pet.

This dog will be fast to bond with family members and constantly watch around them to keep them safe.

Once you get this dog know that you got yourself a friend for life.

Popular Shikoku Comparisons

Compare Dog Breeds: