A few questions about Shikoku care
  • bennosukebennosuke
    Posts: 23
    Hey all,

    As mentioned previously, my Fiancé and I are planning on getting a dog in about a year or two when we are working less hours in the day. We are strongly considering a Shikoku, for a number of reasons (happy to discuss if anyone has any questions), but have a few questions in regards to ownership, which I haven't been able to fully find anywhere on the internet.

    How much space at home do you generally recommend for Shikoku Ken? I assume you would recommend a fenced backyard?

    We have read that Shikoku can be head strong, and require good leadership, as well as that they are quick learners and do well with obedience training. Assuming a Shikoku gets good exercise, and is trained appropriately, are Shikoku generally destructive dogs (of course with the understanding that each dog is unique)? For example, growing up I had a Portuguese Water Dog that could do every trick under the sun, and could be walked off leash, but if he was out of sight, would destroy every cushion or upholstered object available to him. I am curious, because I haven't seen this mentioned and know that the Shikoku cousin, Shiba Inu can be a very destructive dog.

    Lastly, because we are still learning about Shikoku Ken, and they are not a common breed, and because we are not looking to purchase immediately, we would like to start building a relationship with breeders. We live in New York, so we would primarily be looking to reach out to the North American Shikoku Kennels. On the website, it appears that there are three breeders in the USA, but I don't know how updated the website is. If possible, we would appreciate some help so that I am neither pestering anyone, nor burning energy reaching out to a kennel that no longer exists. It appears that Airreyelis is still active, but is O'Ikon still in Ohio, or are they now in North Carolina (I have an interview in Cincinnati coming up)? And is Otakasaka still active; I can't seem to find their website?

    Sorry for the wall of text. Thank you in advance to those who have the time and patience to answer our questions.
  • WrylyBrindleWrylyBrindle
    Posts: 3294
    Peggy (O'Ikon) is in North Carolina now. She is wonderful!
    Also, you should look into Samantha Walker's program- She is in Virginia and works closely with Peggy. https://www.facebook.com/HachidoriSou/?ref=br_rs
  • bennosukebennosuke
    Posts: 23
    Thank you! Will do.
  • jigzzorjigzzor
    Posts: 125

    We have 3 shikoku in our pack. All 3 are for O-ikon, and I can vouch for 3 wonderful dogs. Now shikoku can be destructive if you don't take them out for daily walks. Walks don't even have to be long, just as long as they get their outdoor fix. Now do you live in NYS? Or NYC? because if you live in the concrete jungle, you may have a harder time with your shikoku. Though being a native brooklyn resident myself I have a few thoughts in my head about how i'd live in NYC with our 3 pups if I ever decided to move back.

    We live in a 750SQFT apt, no backyard or anything. Just a balcony and to answer your question and this is with 3 shikoku. No they don't need a lot of land, they love being near their owners. The only thing you will need to do is take them out on a regular basis. We do two walks a day and that should be a given however you should always plan on an outdoor activity for your dog at least every other week to help bond with your dog as well as keeping him or her engaged. I should also mention they LOVE routine so if you miss a walk they will start to panic.

    Point being, Shikoku need stimulation. They are a working class dog and love engaging in activities with their owners. Whether it's a small walk, doing some lure work, obedience training, anything really. It must be done, otherwise they will destroy. That being said, they have something called an on and off switch. When they are at home, they tend to be more relaxed assuming you've had your daily walks and will just laze around like potatoes. They are smart, smarter than your average dog and they are constantly trying to figure things out in ways most other breeds will not. It's a typical mindset that most Japanese dog breeds have and will most likely challenge you or try to train you on getting you to do what they want and of course it goes without saying each dog is different. Most of them are not people pleasers, most of the time they want something you have and will appease you to get what they want.

    Feel free to contact the breeders through their facebook pages. There are a total of 4 breeders in the U.S that I know.

    https://www.facebook.com/shikokudog/ (O-ikon, now based in North carolina)
    https://www.facebook.com/airreyalis.shikoku.ken/ (Airreyalis, Based off in southern California)
    https://www.facebook.com/HachidoriSou (Hachidori Sou, Virgina)
    https://www.facebook.com/AkitsuShikokus/ (Akitsu, Florida)

    It's also worth noting Akashima Kennels in British Columbia, Canada. Since it is still north america.

    They all work together in some sort of way or have in the past. I haven't interacted much with all of them yet. But from what i gather they all care a great deal about the breed.

  • CaliaCalia
    Posts: 3977
    Welcome!! Where in NY are you located?
  • bennosukebennosuke
    Posts: 23
    @Calia and Jig: I actually live in the Bronx right now, in a one bedroom, about 1000 square feet. We will probably be here for the next three years, then be able to move into a larger space.

    @Jig: Thank you so much for the answers. I really appreciate the input. As far as regular exercise goes, twice a day walks were assumed. On that note, how do the dogs fare on runs? It sounds like the rates of hip displasia and patellar problems are not higher than in other breeds, but they are also known for a strong prey drive, so I don't know if the average Shikoku would have the focus to stick with a run. Honestly, since they are a working breed, I would assume once the dog gets going, it wouldn't be a problem, except for stopping to mark and relieve itself (which wasn't any different than with my portugese water dog).

    Are you home all day with the dogs, or is someone home all day with the dogs; if you don't mind me asking?

    Also, and I know this would be a lot to ask, but would you be at all amenable to my fiance and I coming down to Brooklyn to meet the dogs? Pretty much all my exposure so far has been digital, and I think it would be important to get to see Shikoku Ken in person. Absolutely understand if you are not okay with that, but that would be a lot easier than driving down to Virginia or North Carolina.

    And again, thank you for the answers to the questions, and the information on the breeders!
  • AjaxAjax
    Posts: 123
    We live in a 800 sq foot town townhouse with a postage stamp size yard. We both work and are gone 8 hours a day, though one us usually comes home at lunch to walk him. He normally gets 3 walks a day, morning, lunch, and evening. He's now 1.5 years old and completely uncrated, but he earned his freedom. He is not destructive, no chewing, no marking, or accidents. We try to run him 3 times a week, its not his bones, but the heat that we worry about. He did get stepped on many times while learning to walk/run on a lease.

    Post edited by Ajax at 2017-07-24 02:03:58
  • bennosukebennosuke
    Posts: 23
    And walks are about 30-45 minutes? And I assume you had him since he was a puppy?

    Given our schedules, we were thinking we may have to start with an adult, since even 5 hours is a long time to leave a puppy alone.
  • AjaxAjax
    Posts: 123
    Our default walk is about 30 mins. We got him at 10 weeks. 5 isn't that bad, we were doing four hours almost immediately. Pro Tip if you get a puppy, try to get him at the start of a long weekend (that's what we did) or take a few days off, or get someone to let him out when you're gone for a week or two until he can hold it for 5 hours. The first few days make a big difference in potty training.
    Post edited by Ajax at 2017-07-24 02:04:33
  • jigzzorjigzzor
    Posts: 125
    @bennosuke We're not in Brooklyn, We live in california. I just know the ins and outs of city living and how i'd plan on caring for shikoku in NYC since I'm a native and was raised there almost my entire life.

    When we got katsu (our first one), he was almost 5 months old, he was potty trained-ish but still had to adjust to our schedule. We worked and had him home alone for 8 hours in a crate. We eventually started to trust him and left him outside the crate at about 9 months old. From 5 months old to 9 months old were a huge adjustment period and challenged us a great deal. It was this time that we started to teach him house boundaries. We sprayed apple bitters on things we didn't want him to chew up, and made sure we worked with him on big nono's. He destroyed an entire carpet during this time (which we were prepared for) and that's about it. Since he is a creature of habbit, we didn't worry too much about accidents because he could sleep through the night without needing to go, as well as wait for us to take him out after work.
    Miyuki our 2nd one we got at 8 weeks old, We got her early because I had a goal in mind to make sure she could be completely social. From our experience with the first one we honed in really well on how to raise her and prevent a lot of dumb first timer mistakes. We upgraded from crate to pen(GET A LID FOR THE PEN, They are climbers) We both also worked full time when we got her. When we were home we left her in the pen, When we not home we left her in the pen, and when she sleeps we left her in the pen. We let her out only after a walk and we planned a 2 week vacation when we first got her so that we could instill habits. Potty breaks every hour, which eventually became every 2 hours, to every 3 hours to every 4 hours to every 5 and eventually she could hold her hold her potty in. Making it a routine to go outside to potty. If you cannot afford to take vacation, don't be surprised my accidents, just start teaching your pup proper places they can release. If you use wee wee pads, make sure you line your floors with plastic or something waterproof so that cleaning is easier.

    I NEVER recommend anyone to allow their puppy to go full on jogs until they are about 1.5 years old when they are more developed. HD and Luxating patella isn't common with the breed, but it does exist. From my experience, do not neuter early, and do not over exercise your dog. As long as you maintain a healthy diet for your pup you will have great odds at not running into HD or LP.

    As far as running with your dog, it's the same as most other breeds to be honest. You have to train them to be good jogging partners. Start with good leash work, obedience training, and learn your dogs interests. Squeaky toys, food, whatever your dog is interested in you use to your advantage. As far as the prey drive, we raise all 3 differently. So it depends on what you want from them. One of our dogs is a small game hunter and gets rewarded for alerting us that small game is available. One of our dogs is a social dog and can do whatever we want outdoors that allows dogs(restaurants, people, large crowds) and one of our dogs is currently being rehabilitated as he was a recent rescue we're thinking lure course and barn yard for him.

    Now... after raising all 3 of them, I feel like I could write a guide on raising a Shikoku puppy. However if you want, just create a list of questions so that someone could go over each question. A lot goes into raising dogs in general, So with that being said, take your time and make sure you understand the breeds so you're not surprised by anything. You should not only contact the breeders, but try to meet anyone with a shikoku from the breeders you're looking at. The parents of the dog play a big role in the personality of your pup,
  • bennosukebennosuke
    Posts: 23
    Thank you to both of you for all the input! I'm very glad I joined this forum, and am very thankful for all the insight!

    @Jigzzor: Hope you are enjoying the west coast! I grew up in the Bay Area, and when we are done with our training, my Fiance and I will probably move back to the West Coast. We may even wait till we move before getting a dog, since we will have more space, although it now sounds like space is not so much of an issue. Thank you for all the information on Pup raising. Now I just have to hope that someone who lives in the NYC area checks this thread and offers to meet up, though I won't keep my fingers crossed. I will reach out to some of the breeders soon, and try to plan a weekend trip.

    @Calia: Any chance you are in the NYC area???? :P

    Another question for anyone: Has anyone gotten an adult Shikoku, and did they have any problems as a result of not getting the dog as a puppy (that were out of the ordinary)?
    Post edited by bennosuke at 2017-07-24 12:56:22
  • GrayJJGrayJJ
    Posts: 281
    I'll chime in, although you've got some great answers already!

    I walk my dogs at least 1.5-2 hours per day. This is in addition to playing/training time etc. On horrible weather days, i would cut that to a few shorter walks (20 mins). Shikoku's are really calm indoors...outdoors is another story :D

    My Shikoku is definitely less destructive! Hasn't ruined anything that he's not allowed to (within reach). He does love hats and shoes, but we know to put those away! - But he probably has the highest level prey-drive possible. He will be completely in the zone/distracted and determined to hunt whatever critter is in the distance.

    There's someone nearby who took in an adult Shikoku, and they adapted quickly, no issues. There were no other pets in the house. I think that's the benefit of having an already well-socialized/trained dog. However every dog is different so bonding, listening, shyness levels may vary and are all things to keep in mind when you meet your potential dog. Shikoku's are a bit weary of strangers, so if you do bring an adult home be prepared for that adjustment. It may take time to handle and pet them, or even accept treats from you, etc.

    I don't recall any Shikoku's in NYC proper, are you on Instagram? @shibaoffleash is from NY state but not city.... But might be closer for you to at least meet one. They're the only ones I've heard of so far. It's def worth a road trip to meet some more though :) any of the breeders mentioned would be well worth the trip! Try to meet both males and females and as many as you can.
  • bennosukebennosuke
    Posts: 23
    Thank you for the information, especially regarding raising adult Shikoku. We have no pets right now, so I guess that will be one less problem in the future.

    I'm not on Instagram, but the Fiance is. I guess we will have to look into that website. I have a car, so I should be able to get upstate if anyone isn't too too far away.

    Again, thank you for the advice; all of it is appreciated.
  • emi802emi802
    Posts: 296
    If you ever come back to the bay area for Thanksgiving or Christmas, jigz and I live in San Jose. :) Feel free to swing by and meet our pups. There are quite a few shikoku in the bay now.
  • bennosukebennosuke
    Posts: 23
    Thank you very much for the invitation.

    We are actually coming out to California in mid-September, and spending half the time in LA, the other half in the bay area. We were actually hoping to visit Airreyalis while we were in SoCal, but have not been able to set anything up. If we can find an appropriate time (will have to borrow family's car), we would absolutely love to set something up!
  • bennosukebennosuke
    Posts: 23
    Another question, which I have seen a bit about already, but would like to hear peoples' opinions; how much socialization do you give your Shikoku puppies? I've read a lot about their natural Dog Aggression, and it sounds like there is quiet a range of personalities that Shikoku can have to this (though they tend to be on the aggressive side with a bit more fearsome play as well). Just curious about people's thoughts.
  • ImanIman
    Posts: 37
    I've been socializing my Shikoku puppy a decent amount - the first few weeks with her, we took her out to a bunch of different places every couple days and introduced new objects, as well as taking her to puppy socialization classes where she got to play with other puppies and meet a variety of humans in a controlled environment. We weren't super aggressive about it but so far, she loves humans and other dogs (which actually makes everyday walks more difficult when she catches sight of them!) and she doesn't fear random objects that we encounter either, outside of the fear period that I think she went through. We still regularly take her to new places for new experiences and so far so good!

    Her play is definitely more on the rambunctious side of things - when we met up with @Shibafox (who has been doing much more socialization than I!), the two puppies were all teeth and growling and barking, but still playing! We were at a dog park and the other owners probably were very wary about our pups. With other dog breeds, larger or smaller, she'll play chase or try to jump on them or play bitey-face, so she tends to know how to choose appropriate play for the dog she's trying to play with. Koharu also knows how to give appropriate body language to other dogs about whether she wants to play or be left alone, and I haven't had to pull her away for a while now - whether for her own sake or another dog's. She also generally interacts better in one-on-one situations and tends to be shy in dog parks until she finds one dog she likes.

    However, she's still really young (6 months!) and she might change as she gets older and become less tolerant to other dogs - I do wonder if her current playfulness is due to her still being a puppy. The adult Shikokus we've met seem to be less dog-tolerant.
  • bennosukebennosuke
    Posts: 23
    Sounds like a positive experience so far, thank you. That is interesting about the adults being less tolerant. You tend to think of wanting to socialize a dog early so that it is more tolerant as an adult. I feel like this is an area where I have heard a lot of variety in terms of personality.
  • jigzzorjigzzor
    Posts: 125
    All of our pups have been socialized. However, we missed the fear stage and most of the social stage for our first dog katsu. We got him towards his 5th month and so we missed a vast majority of puppyhood socialization and bonding. Now even then we still took him around to socialize, puppy classes and meets. On day one when we first got him he showed signs of human aggression as well as dog reactivity. For the most part, he liked dogs more than humans. So, in my opinion, get them earlier if you want a better socializing experience. Katsu is by far the most dog and human and dog aggressive and I don't simply say aggressive because I don't know the difference between aggressive and reactive.

    Miyuki the 2nd one we got was socialized in a more practical manner. We didn't take her out as much as we did katsu and we only did puppy classes for doggy socialization. We found that being less aggressive about socialization leads to a better-minded dog. She's the most confident dog we have and is not a dog or human aggressive dog, she's not even reactive. She's vocal though while on a leash and likes to sound growly and maybe bark. But when given the opportunity to greet the dog it plays bows and fun for her. She is our every where dog. We can go and do anything with her without worrying about what she's going to do. We more likely have to worry about her eating random things because this little girl loves food. Every interaction we had with her while growing up was 98% positive and it was because every environment we put her in was controlled.

    Shou our 3rd and most recent one is Katsu's littermate(birth brother from the same litter). This one was over socialized and you can tell because he picked up a lot of bad habits. Like peeing and pooping while indoors because that's what he did in the daycare. When he was younger, his first owner worked at a doggy daycare and he and his sister got to go every day 5 days a week and 8 hours+ a day. Which in theory sounds great, but she neglected things like doggy school and formal training. You can tell he was trained for just the tricks and not obedience.

    Here are 3 very different dogs that were socialized differently so, in my opinion, our approach with Miyuki was the best. Positive interactions only, and try your best to not let her experience anything negative. The more positives she has with the world around her the less likely you'll have a troublesome dog. To do this you must understand your community, your neighborhood, your local dog communities, and you should start meeting people with very socialized dogs before you get your dog so you could get into a relationship with a friendly dog to help raise your dog. Start off by finding puppy schools that work on R+ training and talk to the local community that takes classes there. Do you plan on getting a dog while in NYC? Because if so there are virtually no R+ environment classes in the Bronx and my experience with dogs in the Bronx has always been the old school methods of raising a dog. You're going to have to travel between to Manhattan, Brooklyn, and maybe even Queens to find good dog communities.
    Post edited by jigzzor at 2017-07-27 20:15:35
  • bennosukebennosuke
    Posts: 23
    Hey Jigzzor, thank you for the input. We may be waiting till we move to the West Coast before we get a dog. If we do get a dog before then, it would likely be an adult dog, but a lot of this will depend on what we learn, both from this forum, and first hand as we evaluate our life going forward.

    I know that is a fairly vague answer, but we know that now is not the right time for a dog, and yet we are still doing as much planning as possible for the future, because we know it is something we want and will be ready for within the next year or two. My thought is, especially with a breed such as Shikoku Ken, it is important to plan well in advance, and that includes developing a working relationship with the community and the breeders.
  • Another couple of questions, assuming people are still willing to answer :D

    I've read about how Shikokus blow coat once or twice a year, and that they are dogs that should not be bathed too often, but how is their shedding outside of blowing coat, and how often are owners recommended to brush their dogs? The Portuguese water dog we owned got brushed a couple times a week (and he loved it), so this is not something I have an issue with, but I am curious what people's experiences are. Along with this, how well do Shikokus usually handle being brushed (I am sure this is very dependent on each dog, just curious to hear people's stories).
  • AjaxAjax
    Posts: 123
    I have a feeling that heath, diet, weather play a part in shedding, but for the most part, Ajax doesn't shed much except for his twice a year blows. Then it is he furpocalypse. If you live in an area with 4 defined seasons, you will see two periods of shedding a year. I can't speak to the effects that living someplace extreme or not getting exposure to the elements will have, but that is possible explanation for the once a year blows. We don't even brush Ajax much except when he's shedding. Nothing special to note on tolerance to brushing, just expose them to it as you would any puppy. Dirt just seems to fall out of his coat. We only bath him when he rolls in something really awful or starts to leave dirt outlines when he lies down lol.
  • jigzzorjigzzor
    Posts: 125
    I also agree with Ajax, There's a confirmed twice a year blowing. But sometimes your dog will let loose fur all year round or not depend on those variables.

    This doofus is all year round with a twice of year full coat blow. https://www.instagram.com/p/BXJwVHnhzBx/
    These two goofballs blow twice a year. https://www.instagram.com/p/BXBv-wVhEZ5/

    They all have different fur types though, so there's also that.
    Fur types meaning one course, one puffy, and the last one is silky and smooth. All the same, diets too so their DNA combinations probably play a factor. Because the puffy one and the silky one are brothers.
  • yo_eddyyo_eddy
    Posts: 90
    Yuki blows his coat twice per year. It looks like he sheds twice his body weight. We usually comb him once a day or just pull out the big tufts when he is in full coat blow. He doesn't mind it.

    I think he has had one bath in three years. Even then he didn't need it, but the boarding place offered it so I figured why not. Not sure how he took it, but they didn't mention any issues
  • Thank you for the answers, and Jigzzor, those photos are great!

    @Jigzorr, do you find the relatively stable weather (relative to the East Coast) plays much of a factor?
  • jigzzorjigzzor
    Posts: 125
    No, I just think they have an internal clock that affects when they shed. They have a thick coat season and a slim coat season every year so far so i'm pretty sure weather plays some part in it but probably not that much
  • CrispyCrispy
    Posts: 1907
    I thought dogs shed from a couple things--

    The most major things I've figured are...

    1) Prolactin/hormones (both males and female hormonal chances - this is why females blow coat when nursing, but prolactin affects males, too)
    2) Sun damage (my dogs tend blow coat more often if they've seen more outdoors that year, idk. Just figured it was related.)

    My neutered Shikoku sheds most of the year, but blows his coat twice a year, with it being worse in the spring (which I expect, now that I know), while my Kishu don't shed once they're done with their spring coat blow, really, but their spring coat blow is hellish. Like, crying levels of hair. They're professional shedders.
    Akiyama no Roushya || 秋山の狼室 || www.kishu-ken.org
    Post edited by Crispy at 2017-08-07 14:26:39
  • As always, thank you for the insight everyone!
  • Okay, last questions... maybe. You guys have been a great resource, probably better than I could ask for, but along with some of the basic websites, are there any resources you guys recommend specifically on raising Shikoku and Shikoku care? I found a book on Amazon with no reviews, which looks very simplistic, but has anyone found anything resource that they thought really helped (other than this website)?
  • Shikokuclub.org or this site.

    There is a book called Training the Hard To Train Dog by Peggy Swager - which, no lie, has a shiba inu on the cover sticking its tongue out (nyah! nyah!). This book is not absolutely perfect in every paragraph, but it's very good and lots better than a basic everydog training book- it covers training with different personality types and reminds you how to appeal to various motivations, drive levels and persistences.
  • Thank you WrylyBrindle. I've been up and down the North American Shikoku Club Site, but will definitely take a look into the book.
  • KajaKaja
    Posts: 216
    Kaja doesn't shed year round, but will blow her coat twice a year. My partner developed allergies to our corgi/chi mix, who sheds year round, but he is absolutely fine with Kaja our Shikoku.

    When Kaja starts to have hair coming loose in tufts, or even a bunch coming out after petting, I know it's time to give her a bath and a good brushing. If you brush regularly for that week, there's very little fall off and you can catch it all pretty nicely. Baths are essential because they loosen up the stuff deep down and makes it a lot more efficient process. When she blows coat, Kaja will always, always be getting a bath. And while you don't have to bathe them/they clean themselves nicely, I use a pretty gentle and conditioning treatment that isn't that bad. She is absolutely fine in baths/showers. Just stands still and deals with it (I feel that is a key element of the shikoku temperament. They put up with a lot of sh!t. rofl)

    For catching the blow, I find a rake and a stripping blade absolutely essential. Just don't go hard, they are metal and can hurt your dog if you apply too much pressure. Kaja used to bite at them until she got used to it xD
    Post edited by Kaja at 2017-08-10 16:20:57
  • GrayJJGrayJJ
    Posts: 281
    I recommend reading this forum front to back ;) especially the Shikoku section, if you haven't already. I find it really helpful in preparation.

    Authors for books on training,I recommend Patricia McConnell and Dr. Sophia Yin
  • Thank you everyone with the help so far. Already started reading "Training the Hard to Train Dog". We also managed to get a hold of Corina Gonzalez, and will be visiting her Kennel, and have been lucky enough to set up a few potential meet ups with Shikoku owners. We are just so grateful for all of the help this Website's Community has provided. Thank you everyone for the help so far.
  • That is excellent that you are meeting Corina and her dogs, as well as other owners! You are doing great in your research! :D
  • Thank you. We were hoping to get the chance to visit アレヤリス while in California, and I'm really glad we were able to set something up! Again, we are also very fortunate to have the guidance and help from the community on this forum, and the other meet ups are essentially with members who have been kind enough to reach out and offer to let us visit them.
  • Hey all,

    I'm gonna commit a pseudo-faux pas and resurrect this thread to ask ANOTHER question that came up for me recently. I was lucky to meet up with a Shikoku owner in my general area who made a comment that made sense to me but that I hadn't heard before. Specifically, the owner stated that Females tended to have less behavioral issues in terms of doggy and people aggression, and were generally easier to raise. While this had not occurred to me, it does make sense in terms of primitive canine male roles. Also while with a breeder, it did appear that she was more guarded with the male dogs she introduced.

    So, my question after the wall of text, is for those of you who have had experiences with multiple Shikoku Ken, do you notice a significant personality between the genders, or in terms of trainability?

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