Recognizing a Kai Ken
  • I was curious...as to the physical way to recognize a full blooded kai ken. I've been looking at pictures lately. Now I know my Kage is a pure blooded kai. I even have paper work with him, however a few things I see differ in some pictures so I was curious about a few things.

    For example I know Kai Ken:
    - have a double coat
    - pointed ears that stand up
    - brindle coat (that can vary in amount of brindle and few slight different shades of brown, red, grey) but mostly black
    - Tail is curled
    - medium sized dogs
    - coat is thick and straight (which they will blow twice a year)
    - nose black
    - eyes brown

    Now one thing I could have sworn was told to me is that their tongues are marbled. Mostly pink but marbled with darker blue almost black splotches. I see this with Kage's tongue but I see alot of pictures online where the Kai's tongue are pure pink.

    I also see some Kai who have a much much shorter coat then Kage's

    I also see some Kai that are almost completely brown with black stripes...

    So I was curious on these last 3...are these also Kai? or is this an indication they are mixed with another breed?

  • Pictures of the dogs in question would really help this thread, but I'll take a stab at some of it:

    Lots of dogs/breeds in general can have a dark spot on the tongue. It doesn't identify any breed. More Kai than not have some degree of spotting. Some have none, and my male has a completely black tongue. By the KKA breed standard, tongue spotting is allowed (more so than the NIPPO standard, hence one of the reasons for the formation of a separate standard). Judges will not boot a Kai with spots on the tongue but they prefer less, like a fingertip sized spot. But a brindle dog with tongue spotting doest not definitively Identify a Kai Ken or mix.

    Kai should be brindle. The color under the brindle is some shade of red- ideally a deep rich red, but realistically it ranges from goldish brown to a deep almost mahogany. Some Kai rarely have no brindle, or are so diluted in the base coat that they can look light colored. They are still Kai, but the lack of brindle showing up is not standard.

    I am sure someone else who knows more nuts and bolts about coat color genetics will wander in shortly to explain this in 4 part harmony with full orchestration, so I will stand by and let that happen. @Crispy - really knows her stuff on that!

    Coat length- I don't think I know Kage, so I don't know how long his coat is, but Kai should have the double coat and a thicker mane. They should *look* like a Northern dog. I have a female who probably carries one copy of the long coat marker (she has a niece that has it, too) and her coat is longer than my other Kai, without actually being a full long coat. Sometimes if a dog has one LC gene, the expression "leaks" out and the dog has a somewhat longer coat than the typical coat length.

    I think to identify a Kai you'd need to look for shapes, ear shape (and Size), eye shape, and many of the general Japanese dog proportions common to all NK. Mixed brindle dogs of other breeds can look *like* a Kai at a glance, but closer study of the shape of the muzzle, the eyes, the rear leg angles, the size of the dog overall, the tail set will usually rule it out to be another, more common, prick-eared dog.
  • Yeah, you can’t just go by the description you have to really see the head and expression to know it. A lot of dogs can look similar by text description alone. The eyes especially are a clue but... yeah, photos needed.

    Regarding tongue spotting, it’s just an indicator of really heavy black pigment. It’s the same thing that causes black lips, eyerims, paw pads, testicles, or anus only more. It’s one of those things that is a trade off - if you want a really heavily striped kurotora it will probably have tongue spots.

    (A similar tradeoff is that the brighter white you want your Japanese Akita, the pinker it’s nose is going to be for the same reason. Less pigment is less pigment everywhere.)
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  • thanks a lot for all the information. i've always been wondering about how to recognize a kai ken. im thinking to get a kai ken now.