10 Popular Japanese Dog Breeds

Some of these Japanese breeds you'll recognize like the Akita. Yet other breeds in this list may be new to you! After researching this list, there were at least five breeds I'd never heard of! The Japanese Chin is adorable.

According to CertaPet, these breeds are usually named after their native land in Japan, like the Akita Inu from Japan's main island (Akita) ,or the Tosa Inu that hails from Tosa, a city in Shikoku.

Enjoy learning about these ten unique breeds!

10. Japanese Chin

Sometimes as small as a Chihuahua, Japanese Chin typically end up the size of a Maltese, about 8 or 9 pounds. The Japanese Chin is actually believed to have originated in China or Korea.

They do not bark much, are quiet and great apartment companions, and if well-socialized are good with new people.

9. Shiba Inu

The Shiba Inu is a wonderful companion dog. These dogs are the smallest of the spitz-type or spitz breed Japanese dogs; they usually weighs less than 25 pounds and are popular for those living in those small apartments. The Smart Canine says that while they're great watchdogs, they're not ideal for first-time dog owners due to their territorial aggression.

Shibas are lean and muscular, which made them ideal to breed for hunting small wild game. The Shiba Inu make horrifying vocalization called the "shiba scream" when they're distressed or happy.

Check with the American Kennel Club about bloodlines and breeders. This native Japanese dog breed is a national treasure.

8. Kai Ken

Kai Kens are considered to be the purest of all Japanese breeds. This is the rarest of the medium-sized Japanese purebreds.

This natural hunter is driven by curiosity and athleticism. It will even climb trees as a means to escape fences! Although loyal and friendly towards family members, Kai Ken prefer one person type in their company.

7. Akita

This is our fave Japanese breed on this list. PetHelpful explains that this breed has a unique history:

"This breed of dog was originally from the northern part of Honshu and was developed to hunt bears and boar. So, of course, he is big, independent, and strong. The American variety is often over 50 kilos (110 pounds) but those bred in Japan are a little smaller.

"The Akita is another one of the Japanese dog breeds which has been bred to foreign breeds, in this case to gain some size. They were involved in a cross-breeding program with Great Danes and Mastiffs (to develop a large fighting dog) and later were crossed with German Shepherd Dogs to prevent the government killing them off during World War II, when almost all non-military dogs were slaughtered."

6. Tosa

The Tosa Inu is also known as the Japanese Mastiff. These massive dogs are a rare dog breed from the indigenous region of Tosa, Japan.

Like other mastiff-type dogs, the Tosa Inus were first bred as fighting dogs. Today, these big boys are raised to be excellent guard dogs.

5. Japanese Spitz

The Japanese Spitz are closely related to the white Pomeranian, Samoyed dog, and the American Eskimo dog. Like their cousins, the Japanese Spitz makes a great companion.

Interestingly, the Japanese Spitz isn't recognized by the AKC because of their strong similarity to the American Eskimo dog.

4. Hokkaido Dog


The Hokkaido Inu is the only Japanese breed to have a double fur coat, perfectly suited for extremely cold climates.

This breed's lineage traces back to 1140 AD, when the Ainu tribe utilized them for various jobs, especially because one of their greatest strengths is problem-solving. Those double coats mean they must be groomed so this breed is higher maintenance than the others!

3. Shikoku Inu

CertaPet tells us that this breed is another ancient Japanese dog:

"The Shikoku Inu is another native purebred dog who loves to hunt outside and play indoors. Its pack-oriented nature makes it very protective of children. Shikoku dogs love to be around people, and will rarely bite. Instead, they would greet strangers by jumping and licking!"

2.Sanshu Inu

They're a cross between the Chow Chow, Aichi (ancient Japanese dog) and other various Japanese Inus. Sanshu dogs typically grow between 18 and 22 inches tall, depending on their bloodline.

Also, the Sanshu Inu is another Japanese dog breed not recognized by the Japan Kennel Club.

1. Kishu Ken

According to experts at The Smart Canine, this breed is one of the most ancient dog breeds to come out of Japan:

  • The Kishu Ken is one of the few quiet dog breeds that rarely bark.
  • These amazing hunting dogs will often go as far as climbing trees in order to stalk their prey.
  • Some historians claim that these dogs have been bred for over 3,000 years.

Do you know anyone that lives with a Japanese dog breed? Let us know what characteristics you love about this breed!

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