Shikoku vs Kai



  • edited November 2018
    My experience with vocalness in the Hokkaido is about the same. My girl will appropriately alarm bark at intruders and stop when we tell her it’s okay. She doesn’t just bark excessively or for long durations like my friend’s Labs do when they get excited about literally anything. She is very growly and snarly sounding during playtime and sometimes talks to us (not often). Other than that she’s pretty silent. She is definitely more vocal compared to my JA however who pretty much ONLY make noise to alarm bark, if they even do that, or woo-woo for dinner.

    The other night my Hokkaido did a woo-woo but she was growling at the same time, to get my youngest JA to play with her, and it was the cutest thing ever.
  • edited November 2018
    “can happen to pretty much any dog of any breed”

    Yes but that panicked flight seems to happen disproportionately more among the Kai compared to other NK, whether it’s due to nature of the breed, the lines being used in the US, or perhaps an unlucky number of inexperienced owners. I make no claims about causation only correlation.

    Moreover my comment was in response to Riverbend’s desire for a dog with quick recovery. It’s one thing for a dog to be startled or panic, and yeah can totally just happen to any dog in a lot of situations. But the recovery is the important part. Can the dog get over it after a few moments or do they continue to flee in terror, ignoring all attempts to calm or call them back? Do they remain lost for years - as you brought up! - because they’re terrified of all humanity and have to be trapped like a wild animal?
  • Just wanted to add a couple things about Hokkaido, though I cannot compare to Kai as I've not had the pleasure of meeting one yet (I hope to meet Dana and Akiko next year).

    The vocal thing - I find that Kirin is a 'vocal' dog but not in an obnoxious way. She greets you with little happy 'woo' noises which personally I think are adorable. There are also different length woo noises depending on how exciting a situation is (going for a walk, dinnertime, omg you just went to the toilet etc.). She has different barks for warnings and being startled. There's also a little huff noise which is: "there's someone walking past outside and I just thought you should know". She isn't a dog who makes a noise all day or without cause. There's always a reason for whatever vocalisation she makes. I have a couple videos of Kirin's woo-woo noises I think I can link them...let's see.

    I want frankfurters woo woos.

    I don't want to go to bed!

    For temperament and sociability - Kirin works as a meet-and-greet dog at public events. She interacts with adults, kids and other dogs in a high traffic environment which can be stressful for any dog of any breed. She also travels to these events with me via train and the London Underground (which stress ME out) and barely even blinks an eye. She is picky about her canine companions, mostly she will ignore other dogs if she doesn't find them to be worth her time; sometimes she will find a dog to instigate play with; and on a very rare occasion she has seen fit to tell of a dog if their manner of introducing themselves is 'rude' or overbearing. Kirin lives with 3 other dogs (male and female) who are all 3x her size and weight, so she isn't intimidated by anything. The biggest challenge we had to overcome was with kids and it's taken us a while as we do not have kids ourselves and don't get visitors with kids to interact with the dogs either. She used to make little noises with kids around (her way of telling me that she was uncomfortable with the situation) although she would allow them to make contact it was clear she wasn't completely happy with it. It took a good 6 months of asking ALL children to approach her slowly and quietly and offer her treats before attempting to make contact. At this point, she will now seek out contact with calm children and on my part she knows I will protect her from the more 'rowdy' children (kids who run, jump around, scream or make close and direct constant eye contact).

    My experience with Kirin says that she bounces back very quickly from stressful situations, BUT she also remembers them and as such will make a decision on another situation based on the outcome of a previous one.

    Prey drive - Kirin has a very strong prey drive, once her nose is on something she fixates and wants to follow that scent no matter what. Now, even though I've been told by multiple people that the Hokkaido is a 'sticky' breed and will check in with you periodically...having lost a dog 6 years ago...I will no longer allow my dogs to be put in situations where they might go out of my sight after what they perceive as 'prey'. So Kirin is a long-line dog, and I do not allow her off leash unless she is in a secure area. To each their own in this regard but for me the risk isn't worth it.
  • edited November 2018
    @Six those are good points about prey drive. I say I would trust my girl off leash but the fact is that I have not put my money where my mouth is. I don’t live anywhere where off leash or even drag lines is an option. I do know my girl has both prey drive and hunt drive at intense levels. She will kill my youngest cat (I think because he’s small - she doesn’t care about the others) if given the chance. She is also obsessed with my pet rats. But I can call her off to go to bed. It definitely might be different in an open area where the prey has infinite space to flee to; she just corners my cat on a cat tree and the rats obviously are caged. Prey drive is likely the exception for me as far as off leash stuff goes; I don’t worry about her trotting off for no reason and ignoring me the way my Akita would lol.
  • @PoetikDragon I had Kirin off leash until she was around 1 year old. She was very 'sticky' for those first few months, but the more confident she got, the further she would range. She would still listen, but not always respond to the first call. My Inuits are not good teachers as far as recall goes and will chase deer if given the opportunity.

    They have now all been on-leash dogs for the last 15 months after the Inuits 'chased' nothing out onto a road. I won't take that risk again. The deer population here in the UK is out of control and we see more and more of them every day. Hunting is illegal here for the most part and they do nothing to control the population out on the Salisbury Plain. Since they have no natural predators the problem is just getting worse.

    Kirin's last time off leash, she went after a ground bird and disappeared for 10 minutes (I had GPS on her but signal can be sketchy out on the plain). She ended up in the middle of a field full of cows and thought it was great fun to have them chase her around the field. Even though she's now coming out of her 'teenage' stage and listens a lot better, I still don't feel confident that I could call her off a 'hot' scent.

    Now we rent a field once a week for an hour, secure, private and 6ft fenced so they can run and hunt the mice to their heart's content without giving me a heart attack.
  • You all are amazing! Seriously, I can't thank you enough.

    PoetikDragon, your comment in regards to 'quick recovery' is exactly what I meant and was hoping to avoid. I don't mind a dog startling easily as long as they can 'stay in the game with me'. Would be even better if the dog startled and its first response was to look towards me. Now, I know that takes training and a bond and trust to form but again, genetics are strong and I believe they play a huge role in how the dog is wired to respond to a stressful situation.

    Six, thank you for sharing your experience with your Hokkaido, Kirin. Those videos are super cute and I love when dogs woo or talk like yours does! That type of vocalness would be welcomed and even encouraged if I end up with a Hokkaido! I'm glad to hear from you and others that you don't find them to be excessive barkers.

    Okay, one more question....for now.... :)

    I've read and been told that Kais tend to bond with only one person. Does the same hold true for the Hokkaido? Or do they tend to bond well/equally with all family members?
  • edited November 2018
    People say the same about Japanese Akita (and maybe all NK I don't know). All of my dogs have bonded with all of my immediate family, my husband and I and my parents and closest friend. My Hokkaido is hard to win over with strangers, likely due to her origins, but once she likes you she *loves* you. She's more affectionate and more "dog like" than the Akita, and is super attached to my parents as well as me.

    ETA: My Hokka is friendly towards new people and actively seeks to engage them more than my Akita do, but hates to be touched by strangers. So that's what I mean about winning over.
  • PoetikDragon, thank you. I love your descriptions of your dogs. I feel like I can get a really good sense of what they are like through your posts. I just saw a picture of Minira btw; she is gorgeous. :)
  • “can happen to pretty much any dog of any breed”

    Yes but that panicked flight seems to happen disproportionately more among the Kai compared to other NK, whether it’s due to nature of the breed, the lines being used in the US, or perhaps an unlucky number of inexperienced owners. I make no claims about causation only correlation.

    Moreover my comment was in response to Riverbend’s desire for a dog with quick recovery. It’s one thing for a dog to be startled or panic, and yeah can totally just happen to any dog in a lot of situations. But the recovery is the important part. Can the dog get over it after a few moments or do they continue to flee in terror, ignoring all attempts to calm or call them back? Do they remain lost for years - as you brought up! - because they’re terrified of all humanity and have to be trapped like a wild animal?
    I wouldn't necessarily say that panicked flight happens more among Kai, sure they are generally less confrontational than other NK but I wouldn't consider that cause to label them as skittish. Still, there are lot more Kai that have been rehomed (at various ages) successfully than there are that have had escape incidents. And those few incidents that had occurred did receive a lot of publicity within the community, I'm not surprised if it painted the wrong picture with those who aren't very experienced with the breed.

    And as far as the one that was lost for several years, it didn't help that recovery attempts were being sabotaged, who knows what that dog has been through during those feral years so we can't truthfully claim that his time in the wild is due to being terrified of humanity.

    When it comes to recovery, I would say that any dog put into a stressful situation, especially those not used to working off leash, will be hard to calm or call back. It's common for any NK breed to ignore their humans when given a rare moment of freedom, so much so that it's practically in all of the NK breed descriptions to not take them off leash and really practice recall (even though, let's face it, most don't follow through or have the knowledge to make it solid). So I wouldn't label the Kai as having any worse recovery than any of the other NK, I've even seen some pretty poor stress recovery in Shibas and Akitas, some of which had a far worse outcome than being "trapped like a wild animal" or living feral for a few years.
  • Calia, thank you. This has been so helpful for me. I know that any of these NK breeds are going to have a certain 'wildness' about them, I just want to make sure I don't force a dog into being something that they're not. My dogs go everywhere with me, we don't even go on vacations without bringing the pups with us! I want to make sure my dog can not only handle that but enjoy going new places with us!

    Now, don't get me wrong, just because we take our dogs to new places, doesn't mean that we force them to do things they're uncomfortable with. For example, my lab/rottie mix is good with any dog, any person, and any situation. My other dog, however, that is half Shiba, won't greet people in new environments, at least not right away. If he's on a leash, I tell people not to pet him. If I can let him off the leash, I just let him run circles around them and he's very confident in his abilities to out run and maneuver the slow humans. My Shiba mix startles easily but he quickly recovers and then looks to me for support. I did not trust him to do this until he hit about 2. It did take work to get there certainly, but he also had it in him genetically to do so.

    I don't mind if my dog startles, is cautious or has 'stranger danger'. What i'd like to see, however, is that the dog's mind doesn't 'shut off' for an extended period of time. I want to see some processing as opposed to wild instincts kicking in. Until that trust develops, my dog will be on a leash, but a leash can slip from hands or the dog can get out of a collar if they becoming extremely fearful and determined to flee.

    I'm just trying to understand how strong some of these fear responses or instincts are for these breeds. It seems like a lot of the Kais coming from Yamabushi kennel (but also others too!) have great relationships with their owners and have also developed some good coping techniques. Again, I'm not looking for a dog that never startles and I expect a lot of work and care in the first couple years of the dog's life with any of the breeds. I just want to know that there's light at the end of the tunnel.
  • edited November 2018
    Personally I don’t want a dog that doesn’t startle. Like @poeticdragon says, the real key is what happens next. Umma does startle, sometimes dramatically, but she recovers pretty quickly. If it’s a situation she doesn’t like and wants to get away from, once we do she’s fine. She forgets and recovers pretty well.

    As for the on/off leash question, that’s hard for me to answer. My dogs are never off leash outside of the backyard because of where we live. Perhaps if we lived in a place where they had space to run and they could get used to it would be different, but Portland’s suburbia is not that place. We don’t trust people enough.
  • Oh, the bonding question. Umma and Fuchi both seem to have bonded to my wife and I pretty equally. Umma isn’t looking for new people to add to her circle, but if she lets you in you are in forever. And somehow she knows if you have Nihonken and that’s like getting a free ride to the inner circle.
  • I had a Kai boy for less than a year, after I got my Shibas and before I got into Hokkaido. They were more similar than different for behavior, except the Hokkaido maybe more reactive towards other dogs. I cant generalize about all the Kai, even though I've had several here for short and extended stays, but for the Hokkaido, they seem to universally become very bonded to family to the point of often being rather vocal and distressed when not included in the human activity. that extends to the breed having good recall ime.

    I've also experienced a wide range of temperaments in the 20+ Hokkaido I've lived with, some very bubbly gregarious dogs, many of the females have tended towards being more reserved and cautious, and all of them pretty much happy all the time as long as they are not by themselves. They seem to have pretty good recovery, and lack of fear about getting up on objects or launching themselves into brush. They don't forget negative experiences easily. They are impulsive and require patience to help them harness the enthusiasm (they operate very enthusiastically! For almost everything lol). They also really care about how well they can please you (more than Kai and Shibas by far). Once you're a friend of one, you're a friend for life.
  • Sorry for the delay in posting. Nwexperience, I'm glad to hear another testimony of the Hokkaido being quick to recover and move on from a stressful situation. I'm also happy to know that both of your dogs bond equally with you and your wife. I know my feelings would be hurt if my dog didn't seem to like me anywhere near as much as my husband. :(

    Lindsayt, thank you so much for shedding some more light on the Hokkaido. I really like a lot of the qualities mentioned here about the breed. I think my biggest concern is their vocalness and tendencies toward anxiety or strong desire to always be with their people and not left out of the loop. In fact, I was dealing with my Shiba mix throwing a tantrum today because he wasn't a part of the party. More on that later but I'm not sure I want to have two impulsive and vocal dogs under one roof...

    I'd still really like to meet a Hokkaido as I love so many of the things people have described here; especially when it comes to that quick recovery part of their temperament.

    I'm sure you're all getting tired of me saying it by now but I still can't believe all of the support and help I have gotten from posting this thread. I've spent hours upon hours researching but it pales in comparison to what you all have given me when you post about your dogs and experience with these breeds. Thank you.
  • On another note....I got to meet my first Kai today!! Actually a few Kais: an adult female and two 9 week old puppies. Tain was so generous with her time and drove over an hour to our home. She then spent over two hours with us, sharing her knowledge about the breed and letting us get to know her dogs.

    I was so impressed on so many levels. First, the puppies: super confident! They came into our yard, a totally new environment, like it wasn't a thing. Came right up to both my husband and I; and I would say there was the ever so slightest hesitation for maybe 5 seconds at first, which I actually liked seeing. I equate it more to humbleness or perhaps slightly cautious but they certainly weren't shy or skittish. Both did nicely in the home as well but were pretty tired at that point. They met all three of our dogs and were excellent with their handling. I know they're only puppies but I was pretty impressed by their resilience. I think Tain has done an amazing job socializing these pups.

    Even though I was taken aback and pleasantly surprised with how social the puppies were, Tavi was even more impressive. When we let the puppies out to play in the yard, Tavi patiently waited in the car. She didn't bark or whine and wasn't anxious. Meanwhile my dogs are going nuts! Well, mostly our Shiba mix; he couldn't stand the fact that there were dogs in his yard and he wasn't getting to greet them and be a part of the party. He has had a bit of a rough week with our female coming into heat but still...Tavi was calm and collected while we played and interacted with her puppies and my dog couldn't even hold it together lol.

    After we got our time with the puppies, Tain brought Tavi in and she was just perfect. She interacted with us but was never invasive. She was relaxed in our house and within minutes was rolling on her back and playing with her puppies. She even showed off a couple of her tricks!

    I know that Tavi is only one Kai and I'm hoping to meet more before deciding but I am so happy and grateful to Tain for letting us see what the Kai is all about. Or, at least, what good breeding and socialization can do for the breed. I wanted to share in case others are reading this and maybe in the same position as I am. Like WrylyBrindle pointed out to me earlier, I think it's so important to meet the breed in person. Next, I'm hoping to get the opportunity to meet a Hokkaido or two so I can make up my mind on which breed to get. :)

    Big shout out and thank you to Tain if she's on this forum and reading this. Great experience today and I can't thank her enough.
  • Tain brought Tavi and her pups over to our house, too. They are very confident, calm, happy little pups! And Tavi is a sweetheart.
  • Tavi is an awesome Kai!
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