Recommended Reading? (& Random Questions)
  • SixSix
    Posts: 87
    It's been a long time since I visited you guys here on the Nihon Ken forum, but I've come to pick your brains if I may!

    For those who don't know me (all of you probably) I am 28, and live in Wiltshire, UK. I currently own three Northern Inuit dogs (2 male and 1 female) and a German Shepherd (male) ranging from 6 to 3 years of age. My males are all neutered, my girl is still entire.

    image

    I work from home as a pet sitter so my dogs are with me all day and very rarely left on their own (never for more than an hour). We have the Salisbury Plain practically on our doorstep which means there are a lot of nice open spaces to explore which is great when you have four large 'scary looking' dogs if you want some peace and quiet!

    I am currently trying to do as much research as possible into both the Shiba Inu and the Shikoku Ken in the hopes that we may be able to add one to our family in the future. As such I would love and appreciate any recommendations that owners or breeders have for reading material or must have knowledge on either of these breeds. Books, websites, kennel recommendations (UK and Europe) or anything else you lovely people can think of which might be informative.

    There are also a few more specific questions that I would really love some opinions on to help me with the decision as to which breed (if either) would better fit in with our lifestyle and family.

    If I were to bring a puppy into the household which already has resident adult dogs are they likely to adapt to living as part of 'the pack'? My dogs live, play and sleep together - although they don't do cuddling up together or getting in each others faces except during play time - they are allowed the run of downstairs during the day and all sleep upstairs with us at night. Bearing in mind the mix of genders and ages I have would it be better to introduce a male or a female?

    I have read in a few places already that these breeds aren't always reliable off lead due to their hunting heritage and instincts. Is this also true for those of you with multi-dog households? Do they tend to follow the other dogs or are they likely to be more independent and go and do their own thing if allowed off lead? How much exercise do you tend to give your dogs?

    When looking for a breeder what are the most important questions I should be asking? Are there health tests or problems in the breed which I should be looking out for? Being the owner of an epileptic dog I would especially like to know if epilepsy is a problem seen in the Nihon Ken as a collective?

    Showing is something I have been interested in but never pursued due to my current breed (the Northern Inuit) being unrecognised by the UK KC. I have entered some fun dog shows but never competed at any kind of level. If I was looking for a puppy to step into the show-ring with what are the most important factors to take into account?

    Any other information or advice that you feel might be useful I would absolutely love to hear from you.

    Thank you all for your time!
    image

    Owned by 3 Northern Inuits, 1 GSDx and 1 Hokkaido.
    Post edited by Six at 2015-11-15 19:02:29
  • CrispyCrispy
    Posts: 1822
    For Shikoku information, I recommend reading the Nihon Ken blog (www.nihonken.blogspot.jp) which is written by a Shikoku breeder and boar hunter involved with the Japanese breeds in Japan. I believe he said he has exported dogs to the UK in past conversations - he's also on the forum as @thewalrus.

    Finding a breeder who has experience exporting dogs to the UK might be helpful, too... I have two people on my waitlist (Kishu Ken) in the UK - one in Scotland and one in England and the process doesn't seem super-difficult, but having someone familiar might make the process less painful for both parties. IDK.

    Another breeder who has exported Shikoku to the UK is http://www.shikoku-ken.org/ - one of their dogs is on Mann, and I think the owner is adding another of their dogs to their household soon. They'd be a good resource, too, maybe, but I don't remember her name on the forum or if the breeder is on this forum...

    That out of the way, epilepsy and epileptic-like conditions/symptoms do appear in the Japanese breeds - at least, I have heard of them in the Shiba, Shikoku, Kishu, and Hokkaido through this forum and on Facebook. I can't say how common or uncommon they are, since the pool I am aware of is kind of small right now. Additionally, autoimmune diseases aren't horribly uncommon in the Japanese breeds - probably due to their tight genepools. Which autoimmune issue(s) seems to vary depending on the breed.

    For your questions on off-leash reliability... my Shikoku is MUCH more reliable off leash than either of my Kishu, if we're strictly talking from an obedience standpoint. He does not roam as far and recalls faster - but he is reactive to humans in all situations and reactive to dogs on the leash, whereas my Kishu may not be as reliable in their recall, but I don't have to worry about if there's a person around the bend on the trail with them. I still hike with my dogs off leash, I just mind where I'm hiking. I like to give them 3-5 miles a day for walks or adventures. Sometimes they get more if we go out for a big day. They probably don't NEED that much, but that's what I like to do.

    Then, IMO, for adding another dog to a multi-dog household, I'd actually probably recommend maybe a female dog in this case, instead of a male dog - depending on your resident female's temperament/individual personality. The Japanese breeds CAN be scrappers and punks as they grow up. I doubt you'll have too much trouble with a young pup, but a punky teenager might be another story. It might be easier to introduce a female puppy in this case than a male puppy who might scrap with your other males as he ages... but I dunno.
    Akiyama no Roushya || 秋山の狼室 || www.kishu-ken.org
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 3432
    I think bringing in a puppy will be easier for integration...as far as off leash goes and suitability in groups, have you considered Hokkaido? They seem to do pretty well off lead and are very devoted to their owners. You may avoid some of the quarrelsome attributes that Shibas can show.
    info@hokkaidoken.org
    www.hokkaidoken.com
    www.hokkaidousa.wordpress.com
  • KajaKaja
    Posts: 205
    I've only had my shikoku for a year, but in my limited off leash/open wilderness experience with her it doesn't hurt to go 'adventuring' with a pack... even though she has good recall, I am still wary of her off leash. Having more dogs around, and her inclination to 'follow the others' is like a form of extra security for me.

    I'd also suggest going for a girl. :)

    I have no experience with shibas, sorry!


    Post edited by Kaja at 2015-11-16 03:44:45
  • SixSix
    Posts: 87
    Thank you all for your comments so far :)

    Crispy - I actually found the Nihon Ken blog yesterday whilst hopping around the internet and have started reading the author's comments on exporting which are really interesting. I have also previously been in contact with Kasatori Sou; follow their Shikoku over on Facebook and asked them a tonne of questions a couple of years ago about importing. Thank you for being honest with regards to the health issues seen in the breeds in general, it always helps to know what sort of things I need to be asking when looking for a breeder.

    'Teenage stage' in the Nihon Ken sounds quite similar to teenage stage with Inuits. The boys can be complete ASBOs when they hit maturity, more so with new male dogs. My girl on the other hand didn't change in temperament she just decided to be more independent and wander off down the fields whilst I'm stood there looking like an idiot jumping around trying to get her back! Similar to you I allow all my dogs to run off lead but only in places where I can see what's coming. My female Inuit is pretty easygoing, she gets on well with most other dogs regardless of age or sex, she'd probably be happy to have another girl for backup.

    lindsayt - I'll admit I know next to nothing about the Hokkaido as a breed so would love any websites or places you could recommend to learn more about them. Do they mix well with other dogs? And do you know if there are any in the UK or Europe or would I be looking at importing from the USA or Japan?

    Kaja - thank you for your view especially from an owner's standpoint, it really helps to hear experiences from people who actually own the breeds. Is this your first Shikoku? Have you had other breeds before and how do they compare to the training you have to do with your Shikoku?
    image

    Owned by 3 Northern Inuits, 1 GSDx and 1 Hokkaido.
  • the only thing I have to add to the great stuff every else has posted is that the breeds you are considering are much smaller than they look in photos and much smaller than those in your current pack. You have probably seen shiba, but shikoku are also a lot smaller than a GSD. Expect a female shikoku's back to be about knee-high.
  • CrispyCrispy
    Posts: 1822
    I made this funny video once to compare my Shikoku and Kishu at their recall. This was back when I first got my Kishu (who is on the long-line). My Shikoku is older, but had been with me for over a year and a half by this point.



    and I also have video of my Shikoku's behavior when off leash on the trail. This was the first time I let him off leash, actually, after I got him.



    For less-fun but also informative stuff, there are a bunch of threads on Shikoku health on the forum if you search for them. I don't want to dig them up and link them to overwhelm you all at once, lol, but they're worth a read if you want to see everything we know about the Shikoku's health right now. Not to scare you off! I think it might be overwhelming to read about on the forum because we're always learning more and it comes up in discussion pretty often. They're just good to be aware of.

    @WrylyBrindle makes a good point, too - these are kind of medium-small sized dogs. My Shikoku is on the larger side and still about the size of a female Siberian Husky.
    Akiyama no Roushya || 秋山の狼室 || www.kishu-ken.org
  • SixSix
    Posts: 87
    I am aware that the breeds are smaller than the dogs I have now :) I've met quite a few Shibas over the years visiting Crufts, Discover Dogs and a few other fun dog shows. I have sadly never had the opportunity to meet a Shikoku in the fur but from what I understand they are a little bigger than the Shiba and up to about 20-25kg in weight?

    I would quite like a smaller dog in the house. We have looked after a range of sizes over the years from Chihuahua to American Akita, think the biggest was possibly a Newfie pup we had every weekday from 10 weeks old to just over a year - so my dogs are used to having smallies around, their play style does differ with smaller dogs - however it would still need to be a dog that wouldn't be afraid to stand up to them.

    Awww your Kishu looks like he's sitting there saying, "But why should I walk all the way over to you when you can just as easily come to me mum?" that is such a familiar look heehee!
    image

    Owned by 3 Northern Inuits, 1 GSDx and 1 Hokkaido.
  • KajaKaja
    Posts: 205
    My shikoku girl is about 14kg in weight, haha. She's only a year old, though... and still has some thickening out to do. I can whisk her up in my arms very easily. She's a perfect sized dog for me. She also loves to play with dogs of all sizes, though she can be very exuberant in her play so we have to judge whether or not it's ok for her to play with certain small dogs. But large dogs? No problem! She wrestles with a molosser dog regularly, and even bounds around with a Great Pyrenees when she gets the chance. So while smaller than your current dogs, a shikoku has the potential to not be bothered by that difference and can hold her own. :)

    I have spent a good deal of time socializing Kaja with dogs other than ours (she has clocked over a thousand hours of 'playtime' with random dogs). It was something I felt was important for her, and if you do pet sitting, I can imagine your dog would also be very socialized! Despite all that, Kaja is vocal, though... both to dogs, and to strangers. I have to explain to people that she's not being mean, she's just dog-talking. I imagine a shiba would be much more vocal, though (not to mention the infamous shiba scream!).

    For me the biggest thing with Kaja was training her recall. I have never had a shikoku before. I have had other dogs... but all different than her. They were working breeds meant for cattle, and thus very attentive to how they move and how you want them to move. My shikoku isn't like that, and I don't expect her to be like that. She is obedient, and if I call her name and walk in the opposite direction she is sure to come running. But I don't trust her off leash like I trust my corgi mix, for example. Kaja likes to explore... and chase things. :P

    Of course take what I say with a grain of salt, because there are much more seasoned shikoku owners here :D
    Post edited by Kaja at 2015-11-16 17:25:40
  • jigzzorjigzzor
    Posts: 118
    I personally prefer Shikoku vs shiba, I hear the Hokkaido are great as well, As far as Kishu go, i only ever met two of them. I did however fell in love with @thewalrus's baron, Quite the hard battle between crispy's TK, but in the end TK is my dog crush.

    For reasons I like Shikoku because of their nature at home and their nature outdoors. Katsu to me is a wild child and by no means was easy to raise. He is very loving when he wants to be and on the flip side he can also be very mean. Indoors he's mostly just chilled and relaxed and very territorial with strangers. If a stranger wants to interact with him, they have to 100% be on his terms, and once you do that it'll be arm hugs and kisses from him nonstop.

    If you haven't checked yet, http://www.shikokuclub.org/ it lists personality traits common with shikoku. Katsu is 90% exactly as that website states Shikoku tend to be. You really need to socialize the heck out of these pups if you want them to be canine good citizens. Train only by positive reinforcement, and be very patient with them. They're really smart, so they will object quite often, or may even try to out smart you. If you do manage to get one and go through with the first two years hurdle, you'll have an amazing companion, Katsu isn't 2 years old yet, but he's changed so much within the past couple of months and while he isn't perfect, he's probably the ideal dog for me.
  • KajaKaja
    Posts: 205
    I second reading the information on the Shikoku Club's website. It is definitely 'recommended reading'. ;)
  • SixSix
    Posts: 87
    Thank you for the Shikoku Club recommendation, very informative website :) the more I read about the breed the more similar they seem to my Inuits in general temperament. Obviously not in size and heritage, but in their attitude for sure!
    image

    Owned by 3 Northern Inuits, 1 GSDx and 1 Hokkaido.
  • T_DogT_Dog
    Posts: 331
    I have a Shiba that lives with three Akita. My Shiba has an Shiba attitude like others have explained. He trys to be the boss. But he knows when to submit in a tuff guy kinda way. At this time my Akita are not getting along as well as I would like. But all three of them get along with the Shiba. Ironically tho my Shiba is the oldest and he wanted to pretty much kill the puppies when they was to small to handle him. But yours will be a puppy growing up with the others so you won't have that issue. If trained young a Shiba can have a pretty good recall. Meaning he will eventually come. But not reliable enough to stop him from entering a street or chasing a squirrel for a mile before turning back. But in the fenced yard his recall is great. He knows tons of commands and will gleefully do them for a treat. With better training and more time spent on recall I think my Shiba could be much better. They are super smart. I think a Shiba could work out well. But I hear that most Japanese dogs don't have a real consistent recall. They are kinda independent like a cat. A cat will come when called too. When. It wants to. Most the time with average owners. That's the type of recall your looking at. I let my Shiba off leash in the woods once. I only did it once. Lol. I thought I lost him forever before he appeared from the brush. Not sure how far he chased the squirrel. I guess if I had your pack and a Shiba off leash I would tether the Shiba to a dog with good recall and lots of patients towards the Shiba. Shiba can be snippy and scream at his pack mates for little reason. At least that my experience with my Shiba.
  • omgtainomgtain
    Posts: 240
    tbh i've heard that shikoku and shibas tend to clash the most personality wise, so if your pack is more like shikoku in behavior i would get a shikoku.

    this is my gsd being a shiba.

    image

    i dont have a shikoku or a shiba, but i've got a Kai Ken.
    i've met all of the japanese dog breeds and think a shikoku is a great option but a Kai might just suit you too.
    they're kind of like little gsds with their own flair. mine loves to please, is very go with the flow, gets along with all dogs, super happy go lucky, etc. good traits to have with rough and tumble players like gsds and northern spitz.
    i feel like shibas might get offended, as hokka might as well.

    if you'd like an idea of size for some japanese breeds..

    left: Meitou, Hokkaido male
    mid: Fionna, Kishu female
    right: Tavi, Kai Ken female (25lb / 17")
    car: @Crispy 's

    image



    this is tavi next to my gsd (male 75lb / 24")

    image
    image

    Tain, Nare the GSD/Husky, and Tavi the Kaigirl!
    Post edited by omgtain at 2015-11-20 01:53:19
  • JaanaSJaanaS
    Posts: 68
    I'm not 100% sure but if you want to show your dog, shiba may be the only option of those breeds. To my understanding UK KC has a lot less breeds than the FCI countries and mid-sized nihon kens aren't included.
  • SixSix
    Posts: 87
    The last few days I've been really trying to read up about the breeds that up until venturing here I hadn't really heard of before. Learning a lot by going through all the threads here on the forums and also checking out as many websites as I can find. The export blog was excellent.

    @T_Dog - I was hoping bringing in a puppy when the rest of my lot are all adults (in size if not in their brain) would be easier than the other way around. I was wondering if a pup of any of the Nihon Ken breeds would end up taking traits from the dogs they live with or if their natures tend to be more nature than nurture? Inuits don't really do 'good recall' either, they are very good at "we'll come back if you have tasty food and nothing more interesting is around. But we'll make sure to take a good look around before we decide whether it's worth coming back to you or not!"

    Thank you so much for the size comparison @omgtain that's actually really helpful. Reading average weights and heights is all well and good but having a photo comparison is brilliant! My Inuits & the GSD are all around 90lbs in weight and 28" (approx) to the shoulder, so obviously a lot bigger than most of the Nihon Ken but from the sounds of it the size doesn't matter so much to them as the manners.

    @JaanaS I believe the Shiba and Akita are the only breeds recognised by the UK KC at the moment. I wouldn't be opposed to travelling to Europe to enter the showring, although perhaps it wouldn't be the best idea for a beginner :) I suppose the more Nihon Ken imported to the UK the more chance there is of the breeds being recognised in the future?
    image

    Owned by 3 Northern Inuits, 1 GSDx and 1 Hokkaido.
  • T_DogT_Dog
    Posts: 331
    In my opinion based on my experience with the Shiba they stay pretty true to the temperament described in the standard. So do the Akita. I am a nature guy myself. I believe that nurture only goes so far. The rest is genetics. A Shiba is nick named the mini Akita. They are very much the same temperament. I can only speak of the Shiba and Akita cuz that's what I have. A Shiba that grows up with the pack would learn its place and fit in well. Only thing to watch for is that the other dogs don't Traumatize him in his developmental stages. The good thing for you is this puppy will start at the bottom and will stay there. He will be less likely to challenge the ones he grew up with. But he is a Shiba. So it may still happen. My Shiba will still challenge my AA. But my shiba is the eldest. My AA will twist his head and twist his ears and give him a look like are you sure you want to do this little guy. My Shiba will be like yep i do. Then my AA will growl a little. Saying are you really sure. Then my Shiba will say ok. I will let it go this time. Now if my Shiba says ya i am really sure i want to do this. My Shiba gets pinned under my AA as they finsh their negotiations in a series of growls before the Shiba submits. That said I was fortunate. Non of my Akita have felt the need to do more than make him limp around for a couple hours to remind him of his place. Currently they do not show that same regard for each other. Currently my three Akita are trying to establish the high archy of the pack. It is a hard task for me, for them to figure this out and no one gets hurt. I should also note that my dogs get lots of nurture and up till just recently co existed very well. But hey the Shiba gets along pretty well for living with three male and intact Akita.
  • SixSix
    Posts: 87
    Have been doing a lot of reading the past few days on the Shikoku and the Hokkaido and have approached a European breeder of Hokkaido with some questions. obviously it might not be something we can do in the next 6 months or even 12 months but I will definitely be adding to my pack at sometime in the future :-)
    image

    Owned by 3 Northern Inuits, 1 GSDx and 1 Hokkaido.
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 3432
    Hokkaido webpage for US club:

    www.hokkaidoken.com

    www.hokkaidousa.wordpress.com
    info@hokkaidoken.org
    www.hokkaidoken.com
    www.hokkaidousa.wordpress.com
  • alyssabalyssab
    Posts: 24
    I've found that Kuma, hokkaido, plays better with more northern breeds than he does anyone else. He's 42 lb and comes up to my knee. As for recall I personally keep him on leash just because of other people/dogs. When he is off leash he likes to explore but doesn't keep too much distant between us. His recall is okay but getting better. He is extremely loyal and constantly "checks in" all the time and must remain within eye contact. So he follows me every where...
    i know this wasn't really about hokkaidos buuuut i'm biased :P
    Kuma 熊 - Hokkaido
    Post edited by alyssab at 2016-06-01 18:18:16

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