Kai Ken

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25-55 lbs
Kai Dog, Kai Inu, Tora Inu, Tiger Dog

The Kai Ken was isolated from the rest of the world for a long time due to the makeup of its homeland, an island surrounded by mountains. Once firearms became more widespread – and with it big game hunting – the Kai Ken also became more well-known. A ferocious hunter, he has been said to climb trees in an effort to get his prey. It is a brave dog who was not always a companion dog; however, once it came to the United States, many families adopted it as a family pet. The Kai Ken was not recognized officially in Japan until 1934, and it is a rare breed even now. The United Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1997, but the American Kennel Club still does not recognize the dog.

Date of Origin
ancient times
wild mountain dog

Kai Ken Health

Average Size
Height: 18-22 inches Weight: 25-55 lbs
Height: 17-20 inches Weight: 25-55 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Usually A Very Healthy Breed
Minor Concerns
  • Usually A Very Healthy Breed
Occasional Tests
  • Blood Test
  • Eye Examination
  • Physical Examination

Kai Ken Breed History

The original Kai Ken, often referred to as the “Tiger” dog, descended from hunting dogs native to the mountain province of Kai, an island in Honshu. For many years, the Kai Ken was isolated to the area because Honshu is encircled by mountains. Even today the Kai Ken is a rare breed. These dogs have been known to swim after prey or climb a tree in order to get to its prey. The first Kai Ken dogs were thought to be brought to the United States in the 1950’s by service men who had served in Japan. These canines were taken to Salt Lake City, but it is unknown what happened to them. In 1990, a four year old male was brought over and shortly after three females arrived. In 1991, six more puppies were brought over. In 1992 one more male puppy was imported. These Kai made up the genetic pool for all the American bred Kai Ken.

Kai Ken Breed Appearance

The Kai Ken is a sturdy, medium-sized dog with a wedge-shaped head and a tapered muzzle. He has strong white teeth which meet in a scissors bite. Triangular ears are often thought to seem disproportionate to the rest of the dog. He has muscular shoulders and thighs and the sturdy legs are quite powerful. This agile breed has a thick tail “carried like a sickle.” The Kai Ken has a double coat; its outer coat is of medium to long length and is rough. The undercoat is thick, soft and dense. The Kai Ken is usually brindle in color, but the puppies are typically born with black coats. As the Kai Ken matures, his coat will be brown with stripes (brindle).

Eye Color Possibilities
Nose Color Possibilities
Coat Color Possibilities
Coat Length
Short Medium Long
Coat Density
Sparse Normal Dense
Coat Texture
Straight Wiry Wavy Curly Corded

Kai Ken Breed Maintenance

The Kai Ken requires only minimal coat care. He needs brushing only occasionally; the most important thing is making sure that there is no matting in his undercoat. It is recommended that he be bathed only occasionally as well. He may benefit from a dry shampoo along with occasional brushing. Their double coat sheds at least twice a year; you may need to strip his coat in order to help remove the old coat so that he will remain looking healthy. The Kai Ken is highly energetic, so it is a good idea to give him as much exercise as possible. The Kai Ken enjoys long walks with his master; he also loves play time of any sort. Owners should focus on playing games that give this inquisitive dog the mental stimulation he craves. It is important that your dog be kept on a leash; he will run if he is not kept restrained beside you. This canine can be happy in an apartment if he has a huge wooded area provided to run in so that he gets adequate exercise every day; however, most experts do not recommend that the Kai Ken live in an apartment unless the owner is prepared to devote at least an hour daily to free play. This breed is known to be very clean and virtually odor-free.

Brushes for Kai Ken
Pin Brush
Nail Clipper
Brushing Frequency
Daily Weekly Monthly

Kai Ken Temperament

The Kai Ken is a natural hunter. He is also a superior guard dog, keeping a watchful eye over his family at all times. He is usually reserved, even suspicious of strangers. This trait makes him a superior watch dog. When he is with people he knows, he is often quite friendly.  This affectionate dog is extremely devoted to its family and requires a fair amount of love and attention from their owner in order to be happy. However, the Kai Ken is often likely to attach himself to one member of the family. For all his watchfulness and protective nature, he is rarely aggressive. He can be stubborn and rather dominant; in this case, training should begin at an early age. He is good with other dogs and children, although it is recommended that the Kai Ken be socialized a good bit as a puppy in order to prepare him for dealing with other animals and children in the future. He is very alert and attentive. They will do best kept as inside house dogs. The Kai is a great dog for housebreaking. Sometimes they are housetrained within a matter of days.
Activity Level
Low Medium High
Rec. Walk Mileage Per Week
12 miles
Minutes of Activity Per Day
70 minutes

Kai Ken Food Consumption

Cups Per Day
2.5 cups
Daily Cost
$1.8 - $2.3
Monthly Cost
$52.5 - $67.5

Kai Ken Height & Weight

6 Months
Height: 16 inches Weight: 20 lbs
Height: 14 inches Weight: 20 lbs
12 Months
Height: 17 inches Weight: 26 lbs
Height: 16 inches Weight: 26 lbs
18 Months
Height: 20 inches Weight: 40 lbs
Height: 18 inches Weight: 40 lbs

Top Kai Ken Breeders

Check out who made our list for the most reputable Kai Ken breeders of 2017.
Mijikai Kennel
Yale, Michigan
Hello kennel
Sycamore, Illinois
O'iKon Nihon Ken
Timberlake, North Carolina
Suteishii Kennels
New Albany, Ohio
Apricity Kennel
Mclean, Virginia
Kaiju Kennels
Buena Park, California

Kai Ken Owner Experiences

10 Years
2 People
I love my Kai Ken. Found him in a pound as a puppy. Wish I knew more about where he came from
6 days, 12 hours ago