Kishu Ken

30-60 lbs
Kishu, Kishu Inu

The Kishu Ken is a brave and tenacious hunter. He is a typical Japanese breed in that he is a one person or one family dog and will not do well having to move homes. His loyalty to his family makes him an excellent guard dog. However, since his prey drive is so high, small animals should not be in the home with him, this includes cats and toy breed dogs. He is a dominant dog so training is an essential part of his daily routine. Because of his dominance issues, he might not do well with other dogs that also exhibit dominance. 

purpose Purpose
Hunt Deer, Wild Boar and Bear
history Date of Origin
1000 BC
ancestry Ancestry

Kishu Ken Health

Average Size
Male Kishu Ken size stats
Height: 19-22 inches Weight: 30-60 lbs
Female Kishu Ken size stats
Height: 17-19 inches Weight: 30-60 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Usually A Very Healthy Breed
Minor Concerns
  • Hip Dysplasia
Occasional Tests
  • Hip X-Rays

Kishu Ken Breed History

The Kishu Ken’s exact date of origin is unknown but many researchers believe that he dates back about 3,000 years or even longer. Since most Japanese dogs do not have their history written down, it is impossible to say exactly when a breed was developed. It is known that he did originate in the mountainous region of Kyushu, which is located off the mainland of Japan on the southernmost island. He was bred to hunt wild boar, deer and even bear. His job was to track the prey and then hold it until the hunter could catch up. In some regions the Kishu Ken is still used to hunt wild boar, but he is mainly kept as a pet. All Japanese breeds at one time were considered to be one breed and were only separated by their location and their size. The Kishu Ken and Shikoku Ken, both of similar size and region were many times crossbred and thought to be purebred because the Japanese saw all their dogs as being the same. Today, all Japanese dogs are closely related with the exception of the Hokkaido Ken who was isolated from the rest of Japan. The Kishu Ken is also called the Kishu Inu. The words ken and inu both mean dog in Japanese. He is extremely rare outside of Japan and has been on the Japanese Protected Species list since 1934. It is very difficult to import a Kishu Ken from Japan into other countries. Even though it is difficult to export him from Japan, there is enough living within the United States to have enthusiasts of the breed petition the American Kennel Club (AKC) to register the Kishu Ken in their Foundation Stock Service.

Kishu Ken Breed Appearance

The Kishu Ken is a well-muscled and sturdy dog of medium size. He closely resembles his cousins the Shiba Inu, Akita Inu and Hokkaido Ken. His eyes are dark brown, almond shaped and alert. He has small triangular ears that stand up on the top of his head and are slightly slanted forward. His eye rims, nose and lips are black. He can have a brown nose. The Kishu Ken has a broad head that tapers to a blunt muzzle, giving him a noble appearance. His bite can be either a scissors or level, but it can never be undershot. His tail will curl over his back in typical spitz fashion. The Kishu Ken has a course coat that is short, straight and very dense. His undercoat is soft and very thick. His tail is thick and bushy. The hair on the back of his legs is longer, creating a short, dense feathering. His coat color is mostly white but he can be brindle, red or sesame.

Eye Color Possibilities
brown Kishu Ken eyes
Nose Color Possibilities
black Kishu Ken nose
brown Kishu Ken nose
Coat Color Possibilities
white Kishu Ken coat
brindle Kishu Ken coat
red Kishu Ken coat
Coat Length
Short Medium Long
Coat Density
coat density
Sparse Normal Dense
Coat Texture
coat texture
Kishu Ken straight coat texture
Straight Wiry Wavy Curly Corded

Kishu Ken Breed Maintenance

The Kishu Ken is a relatively low maintenance dog when he is not shedding in the spring or fall. Since he has a double coat, his undercoat will shed out seasonally and that is when he will require more intensive grooming. Daily brushing is highly recommended when he is shedding to keep the loose hairs from gathering of carpeting, furniture or clothing. When he is not shedding, weekly brushing is recommended. He is not prone to tangles or matting except when his coat is shedding and is not being properly maintained. He should be groomed with a natural bristle brush and a metal comb. A slicker brush can also be used on his dense coat. Bathe him only when he needs it, usually two to three times a year. Generally, the Kishu Ken does not have a smell. If you notice a smell between baths, he can be washed with a dry shampoo to remove any dirt or smell. Trim his toenails when needed and check his ears about once a week to ensure they are clean and free from infection or wax buildup.

Brushes for Kishu Ken
Slicker Brush
Slicker Brush
Nail Clipper
Nail Clipper
Brushing Frequency
fur daily fur weekly fur monthly
Kishu Ken requires weekly brushing
Daily Weekly Monthly

Kishu Ken Temperament

The Kishu Ken is an extremely loyal and loving dog to his family. When raised with children and properly trained, the Kishu Ken will do well with them. He is aloof with strangers and will not easily warm up to them. Early socialization and daily training are essential in ensuring he is a well-adjusted dog. Housetraining is relatively easy since he is a clean and intelligent dog who wants to please. Homes that have small pets or toy breed dogs should not consider a Kishu Ken. He has a high prey drive and will hunt smaller animals. He tends to do well with dogs of similar size or larger; however, he is a dominant dog and will not tolerate another dog trying to be dominant. He is not a barker, but will stalk his prey, similar to that of a cat. He also has the ability to climb trees or steep slopes in order to catch his prey. Since he is such a strong willed dog, he is not recommended for the first time dog owner.

Activity Level
low activity medium activity high activity
Low Medium High
Rec. Walk Mileage Per Week
8 miles
walk mileage
Minutes of Activity Per Day
30 minutes
activity minutes

Kishu Ken Food Consumption

Cups Per Day
2.5 cups
cup per day cost cup per day cost
Daily Cost
$1.20 - $1.40
food bowls daily cost
Monthly Cost
$34.00 - $45.00
food bag monthly cost

Kishu Ken Height & Weight

6 Months
Male Kishu Ken size stats at six months
Height: 17.0 inches Weight: 20.0 lbs
Female Kishu Ken size stats at six months
Height: 15.5 inches Weight: 20.0 lbs
12 Months
Male Kishu Ken size stats at 12 months
Height: 19.0 inches Weight: 37.5 lbs
Female Kishu Ken size stats at 12 months
Height: 17.0 inches Weight: 37.5 lbs
18 Months
Male Kishu Ken size stats at 18 months
Height: 20.5 inches Weight: 45.0 lbs
Female Kishu Ken size stats at 18 months
Height: 18.0 inches Weight: 45.0 lbs

Kishu Ken Owner Experiences

1 Year
3 People
I love my Max! I highly recommend the Kishu Ken to anyone looking for a forever friend:)
4 years, 8 months ago
Book me a walkiee?
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd