The Kishu is a medium-sized hunting dog from Japan used to hunt wild boar, deer, and rabbits. The breed takes its name after the southern part of the Kii Peninsula. According to local myths, the first dog of the area was obtained by a hunter as a gift from a wolf from one of its cubs fro saving the wolf's life. Kishu dogs are known for their distinctive appearance - white coat, narrow eyes, pointed ears, curved upright tails, robust bodies, agility and endurance. Among the signs of the wolfish character of this breed that are often mentioned are web-feet and fangs. Eben today, Kishu dogs are commonly named after the wolf: Tetsuro ("Iron Wolf"), Hakuro ("White Wolf"), and Shiro ("Warrior Wolf").
Nowadays found throughout Japan, the Kishu breed is something of a national symbol, and for many fanciers of the breed the dog stands for a Japan of the past. It is also officially designated as a "national treasure" of the nation.
Kishu dogs are categorized into three varieties according to the game they are trained to hunt. Wild boar dogs have a strong, muscular build and a fierce disposition, while the other two varieties have slender bodies and a very agile. Of the three varieties, the most typical of the breed is the boar dog.
The double coat consists of the harsh outer coat and soft and dense undercoat. According to the breed standard, the coat color must be white or red and sesame (red fawn hair with black tips). Today, nearly all Kishu dogs are white. The ideal height at the shoulders must be between 46 and 52 cm. The Kishu is always alert, docile and very loyal to his master, but not reliable with other people. This breed makes a good watchdog.
- FCI-Standard #318
- John Knight. Waiting for wolves in Japan
- Michiko Chiba, Lucy North. Japanese Dogs: Akita, Shiba, and Other Breeds