Shikoku: how long till the inevitable?

I've been seeing a lot of talk regarding the Shikoku bloodlines. I don't know whether it's overexaggerated or not but it sounds like it won't be long until the breed doesn't have a sufficient genepool to be diverse and healthy enough? I'm curious, can some of you who have spoken about the subject (Brad, Shigs, etc.) let me know what we're looking at here? With 300 registrations a year in Japan alone, how long do you think we're looking at here? Or are there enough people taking steps to help re-invigorate the breed?



  • I have a question - are the number of registrations decreasing with time?
  • I am VERY sad at the idea of no more shikoku.
  • It's been worrying me as well since I saw that come up in the other thread the other day. I really hope it doesn't come to that :(
  • Maybe there should be a North American Shikoku Preservation.
  • I can only speak to what Shigeru and the breeders I met have told me. From my understanding, registration for the breed in Japan is on the decline, while it is on the rise in the rest of the world.

    From what Shigeru has said, the reason for the decline in Japan is due to the aging population of breeders and the difficulty in placing the dogs. There is little demand for Shikoku in Japan, and as the Shikoku breeders in Japan age they are less interested in being stuck with unsold puppies. When you add the relatively poor health of the breed to that situation, yes, it paints a rather grim picture IMHO. And it's my personal opinion that it's all exacerbatedpast by the strict type (selection) that NIPPO pushes for - the breed is getting more and more refined which shrinks the population's diversity.

    If you compare the breed to the Kai, for example, where the KKA standard is more flexible and loose, and where the breed's numbers are actually on the increase in Japan, and a large variety in type can be seen across the breed (look at the diversity in our kennel alone)... Well, when I compare the 2 breeds it really looks, IMHO, that the Shikoku is on a path to extinction. How long will it take? I have no idea, but it does appear, IMHO, to be an exponential decline.

    Having written all that, Shigeru has been meeting with breeders and pushing them to breed more promising he can find homes for the puppies. So, if you want to help the breed, help Shigeru find homes for those pups!

  • Reason a million why I need to get back to living in the country!
  • @the_november_rain - In theory, a Shikoku preservation is a wonderful idea. In practice, there are some strong cultural pressures that need to be overcome, as well as some obvious logistical challenges.

    If you look back at successful preservation efforts in breeds like the Vizsla or WPG, two things stand out as being absolutely critical to their success: 1) complete cooperation and buy in from breeders, and 2) a healthy and continual infusion of new lines. With only 300 registrations a year in Japan, and far fewer here in the states, it will be very difficult to get a healthy infusion of new blood, let alone a continual one. As for cooperation among breeders, I know they'd all support the idea of a preservation effort, but I have yet to see any real indication of a coordinated community effort.

    All it takes is one dedicated person to get the whole thing started (well, that and a pretty significant supply of cash).
  • edited November 2011
    There is also the issue that a lot of the Shikoku breeders in Japan don't want their dogs going overseas, or at least they don't want the "pick" puppies leaving Japan.

    I'd take on the Shikoku effort, but frankly the cost is too significant. The breed is uber-expensive, and when you consider the health issues, I just don't have deep enough pockets.

    Kaiju, and maybe a few other imports down the road, will be Jan and my contribution to preservation.

    I think a better strategy, instead of trying to take on the preservation of the breed here, would be for people to import Shikoku from Japan. Helping Shigeru place those puppies he has promised to place... Well, that might push breeders to breed more in Japan, and that would increase the numbers. Let the Japanese breeders keep the "pick" pups, but give them a reason to breed more often. Increase the registration numbers in Japan (which includes pups that get exported) and the breed will be on a much better path.

  • This may just have changed my plans for adding a shikoku. I'm wayyyy more interested in importing and keeping intact for preservation now. But it'll still be a few years down the road...
  • I will totally import a Shikoku puppy... just let me finish school and stop being poor.
  • "...just let me finish school..."

    ^^My answer to everything in life right now lol
  • Yes, it is sad to think about. Hopefully the growth in the Western world will help minimize the decline in Japan. Trying to do my part, as they are very nice dogs.
  • I would definitely import a puppy. Right now I am waiting for Kuma and Sachi to be breed :)
    But if importing from Japan will help the breed then I'm all for it. I just wouldn't know where to begin...
  • aykayk
    edited November 2011
    I wish there were university research programs or at least several ambitious grad students that would take on evaluating the Shikoku's breed health:

    -Some population geneticists who would be willing to convert the pedigree data into an electronic format so that overall probable inbreeding in the breed could be calculated and moved away from.

    -Some geneticists/molecular biologists who could evaluate the actual loss of diversity in the breed. If not for every gene (which would take too long) but for at least the MHC which is immune-related.

    -Some statisticians who can pull out trends and correlations from all the gathered info. Litter size is probably the easiest info to track since the info is usually asked for in registrations. Lifespan and health is too hard.

    -Some high level scientist who can present all the info to NIPPO breeders and present ways to reverse the direction of the breed's future even despite low registration numbers.

  • I am more than happy to lend my time and statistics knowledge to the effort. I suspect that will be an empty offer though, as the lion's share of the work will be in getting the data and translating it.
  • edited November 2011
    @ayk, would Breeder Assistant (software) help with that?

    We could still start the NASP and then decide the best approach, possibly a combination of the two above. I thought it would be a good idea to raise money and send some delegates to the NIPPO shows to meet and greet breeders. We can all crash at Shig's house...j/k!

    A good understanding of other successful preservation efforts would be a great place to start, so we know the level of work, commitment and collaboration that is needed. That way people can decide if they want to participate and know what they can bring to the table.

    Just some ideas....
  • Although a political landmine, I think the WPG is a model preservation effort. You can read the history of it here:

    Keep in mind, that there are no "breeders" in the WPGCA. Everybody that owns a WPGCA dog is committing to producing any litter the breeding committee asks them to at any time. If you want a WPGCA dog, you can't go find a breeder, you have to apply for one from the club, and you will be told which dog is yours. You will also be committing to training and running that dog in hunt tests, genetic testing, etc. It's VERY strict, but ultimately has made a HUGE difference in the breed. WPGCA dogs are highly covetted among hunters, not so much for dogs affiliated with the sister AKC club, the AWPGA.
  • @the_november_rain

    There should be a bunch of existing software that can handle the population genetics aspects, and as of late, there are also some impressive web-based databases that can handle it too (though I would frequently back it up). But like Dave said, the slow part will be getting the raw data. Even if it was only a NIPPO number and no translation of a dog's name, that's still 300 forms/yr to go through.

    I no longer have contacts with UC-Davis, but they used to have (and maybe still has) a veterinary genetics department that would do dog lineage tree projects. They would only need a buccal sample (cheek swab) to do their DNA analyses. Maybe someone would like to approach them about doing something for the Shikoku?

  • I have contacts with the theriogenology service at NCSU, but I don't know if they'd be interested in a genetics project. If you think it would help, @ayk, I'd be happy to approach them if you can provide me with some details of what I'd be asking them to do.
  • @the_november_rain - I like your idea. Count me in!
  • @the_november_rain - Jessika, I like your idea too. Would hate to not see the breed preserved.
  • I am expecting to be on an appropriately zoned piece of land a bit further south at some point this coming spring. Assuming things go relatively according to plan, I have no problems adjusting my intended breeder assist program of a half dozen dogs to something more. Aside from adequate space and proper environs I am guessing focus on genetic diversity would be the key aspect for a preservation effort.

    Is there a current record of existing lines; NA and J, and/or those available for import?

    If Shigeru has the time and can find suitable new candidates, we should be set to host more than a few.

    My original idea involved obtaining breeding stock from the current NA lines and atleast one new import; this could readily be changed to encompass primarily import pups from differing lines, assuming contacts are in place, animals are available, etc.

    Careful planning and management would be needed to maximize the results.

    If a society is established, I am sure community support by way of donations would help offset some of the costs involved with import fees etc associated with obtaining new animals. Those who contribute, and would like to have a Shikoku in the future, could be placed on a wait list; with a pup as eventual compensation for their efforts. The goal is preservation of the breed, not financial gain; and this may provide an opportunity for those who cannot currently afford a Shikoku, to own one for less... ie; Someone donates what equates to a quarter price of the import, three others opt in, the import is purchased and registered to the society, and the contributors return on investment, if desired, is a pup from a choice future breeding. This helps establish some additional bloodlines in NA, gives those who are not ready for a Shikoku of their own just yet a chance to help, and increases the viability of the breed in general.

    My family and I love the Shikoku and would be happy to do what we can to help. Space, time, and the ability to feed and care for a number of Shikoku would be our greatest contributions.
  • "The goal is preservation of the breed, not financial gain; and this may provide an opportunity for those who cannot currently afford a Shikoku, to own one for less... ie; Someone donates what equates to a quarter price of the import, three others opt in, the import is purchased and registered to the society, and the contributors return on investment, if desired, is a pup from a choice future breeding. "

    That's a really interesting concept, and in theory a great idea, but without proper paperwork made and legal stuff sorted through I can picture something really sour coming from it. Though I imagine that if it was a group of people who really knew each other and formed a mutual agreement, it could work out well.
  • edited November 2011
    I have read through a lot of the WPGCA. And one question keeps popping up. What would we use as progeny testing for our shikoku?
  • Take a look at the thread on Kai Ken Health checks. You'll see that question is nearly impossible to answer. :-(

    The right thing to do would be to get a sample of Shikoku in the states, and do a full genetic workup on them to determine what issues might be prevalent, and identify which tests would be the most beneficial as a result. I don't know what it costs to sequence a dog's genome, but I know the human genome is going for ~$100,000 these days. :-(
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