Kai Ken

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, this dog breed 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 dog breed even now. The United Kennel Club recognized the dog 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

Sketch of Kai Ken
Average Size
Male Kai Ken size stats
Height: 18-22 inches Weight: 25-55 lbs
Female Kai Ken size stats
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 dog 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).

Appearance of Kai Ken
Eye Color Possibilities
brown Kai Ken eyes
Nose Color Possibilities
black Kai Ken nose
Coat Color Possibilities
black Kai Ken coat
brindle Kai Ken coat
Coat Length
Short Medium Long
Coat Density
Sparse Normal Dense
Coat Texture
Kai Ken straight 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
Kai Ken requires weekly brushing
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, dog training should begin at an early age.

The Kai Ken dog breed 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
$1.75 - $2.25
Monthly Cost
$52.50 - $67.50

Kai Ken Height & Weight

6 Months
Sketch of Kai Ken at six months
Male Kai Ken size stats at six months
Height: 16.0 inches Weight: 20.0 lbs
Female Kai Ken size stats at six months
Height: 14.0 inches Weight: 20.0 lbs
12 Months
Sketch of Kai Ken at 12 months
Male Kai Ken size stats at 12 months
Height: 17.5 inches Weight: 26.5 lbs
Female Kai Ken size stats at 12 months
Height: 16.0 inches Weight: 26.5 lbs
18 Months
Sketch of Kai Ken at 18 months
Male Kai Ken size stats at 18 months
Height: 20.0 inches Weight: 40.0 lbs
Female Kai Ken size stats at 18 months
Height: 18.5 inches Weight: 40.0 lbs

Top Kai Ken Breeders

Check out who made our list for the most reputable Kai Ken breeders of 2021.
Top Kai Ken breeder Mijikai Kennel
Mijikai Kennel
Yale, Michigan
Top Kai Ken breeder Hello kennel
Hello kennel
Sycamore, Illinois
Top Kai Ken breeder O'iKon Nihon Ken
O'iKon Nihon Ken
Timberlake, North Carolina
Top Kai Ken breeder Suteishii Kennels
Suteishii Kennels
New Albany, Ohio
Top Kai Ken breeder Apricity Kennel
Apricity Kennel
Mclean, Virginia
Top Kai Ken breeder Kaiju Kennels
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
3 years, 8 months ago
5 Years
Catch treats
Learn a new trick
I have only knowingly met one Kai Ken in my life, but she is an absolutely incredible dog. I got to know Baku over the course of a weekend where I got to walk her several times each day and feed her dinner. She was a less-than-enthusiastic greeter: she'd lay on the couch and just gaze at me when I walked in. After asking her, "Do you want to go on a walk?" She'd get hyped about the stroll, would lazily stretch off of the couch, and give me a tail wagging greeting. Because of her early docile nature, getting her leashed up and headed out is an easy task. Once she's outside she's fantastic. For the most part she ignores other people or dogs on the stroll (barring one time where she startled me with very loud barking), she keeps up pace fantastically, and does not hunt for ground scores or excessively attempt to stop to sniff things. We tend to stroll together for an hour each time, so we spend a good deal of time exploring Greenpoint or Williamsburg and, since she's in such a central location, we are fortunate to pass through several parks while doing so. This is where Baku's wildly playful side comes out. She has zero interest in playing with sticks, but she loves to be chased. All I have to do is stomp on the ground and she tears in circles around me. She's blindingly fast, easily instigated, and will romp until she tumbles, get back up, and keep on romping. Then, as soon as it all started, she'll get right back into her focused, steady strolling. She's something of an anomaly in this behavior. It does seem that Baku is friendly, however, because she shows a particular lack of interest in attempting to interact with people or other dogs, I tend to loosely keep her away from potential interactions. On one occasion, after a long stroll on a hot day, Baku did get possessive of her space while sitting on the couch and mildly snapped at me when I tried to pat her on the head prior to my departure. Since that unique moment, I have been aware that she has this nature in her, but I have never seen her express any similar sentiment since that time. Overall, Baku is one of my favorite dogs to walk: very sweet, calm, well trained, and surprisingly silly.
3 years, 7 months ago
4 Years
6 People
House & Yard
Tug a war
Play wrestle
I got her and she has changed my life I love her with all my heart and don't know what I would do without her. She has protected me from many things such as strangers coming to my house to bears on my porch.
2 years, 11 months ago
18 Months
3 People
I don't know if she is one kai ken but she sure looks like it.
11 months, 4 weeks ago
13 Years
6 People
House & Yard
I love her a lot she very protective of our house she’s mean to people she doesn’t know. She doesn’t like other dogs but she’s only mindful if I make her she’s have 1 puppy her first heat that 8 her 2 she’s she not having anymore her oldest pup is 1years old and her 2 litter is 5 month they have to dads Pitbull ,and Hound her 1st puppy sure the same father as her pitbull baby today
6 months ago
Book me a walkiee?
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd