Hokkaido, Ainu inu

The Hokkaido, also known as Ainu inu and Hokkaido ken, is a medium-sized Asian spitz. It is believed to have originated from medium-sized Japanese dogs that accompanied migrants from Honshu (the main island of Japan) to Hokkaido (the northern island of Japan) in the 12th century. The breed is also known as Ainu-ken, named after Ainu, the Japan's native people. The breed has been used for centuries to hund big game (especially bears), to pull carts and sleds, and guard property. In the 1930s, the Hokkaido, among other Japanese breeds, has been given a status of endangered national asset.

HokkaidoPhoto courtesy of Akita inu and Hokkaido ken

Foxlike in appearance, the Hokkaido is a thin, muscular, sturdy-looking dog. The double coat consists of harsh, straight outercoat and soft and dense undercoat. The coat sheds twice yearly. Accepted colors include sesame (red fawn hairs with black tips), brindle, red, black, black and tan, and white. According to the breed standard, the ideal height at the shoulders should be between 18 and 22 inches.

Faithful, docile, very alert and bold, the Hokkaido is locally renowned for its bravery in fighting the brown bear and also for its great endurance. Extremely protective of his family, they are never aggressive. The Hokkaido has a very strong prey instinct and may kill small animals and pets unless raised with them from puppyhood. This breed requires vigorous daily exercise and various activities to keep his mind active. Firm and consistent training should never be harsh.


  1. FCI-Standard # 261