The Kishu Ken, also known as the Kishu Inu or Kishu, is a Japanese dog breed with a long history that dates back to ancient times. It hails from the Kii Peninsula in the Kishu region of Japan, which is now part of Wakayama Prefecture. The breed was primarily developed for hunting purposes, specifically for tracking and capturing wild boar and deer in the mountainous regions of Japan. The Kishu Ken is a medium-sized breed that belongs to the Spitz family of dogs. They have a well-proportioned and muscular body, with a wedge-shaped head, pointed erect ears, and a curled tail. The Kishu Ken is considered one of the six native Japanese dog breeds recognized by the Japanese government.
The Kishu breed is generally healthy and have no known testable genetic conditions, however, they may suffer from allergies, autoimmune thyroiditis, Addison's disease, cutaneous and discoid lupus, and systemic lupus erythematosus. Genetic testing is recommended, including for the following additional conditions: hyperuricosoria, degenerative myelopathy, and progressive rod-cone degeneration.
The Kishu Ken is known for its loyal, dignified, and alert nature. They are generally reserved and aloof with strangers but are deeply devoted and affectionate towards their family. This breed is intelligent and independent, which can sometimes make training a challenge. Early socialization and consistent, positive reinforcement training are essential to develop a well-mannered Kishu Ken. They also require a lot of physical and mental stimulation, so they are happiest when active.
Despite their hunting background, Kishu Kens can be gentle and get along well with children if raised with them. However, due to their strong prey drive, they may not be suitable for households with small pets unless introduced and socialized carefully from a young age.
The Kishu Ken is one of the oldest Japanese dog breeds, with a history dating back over a thousand years.
The breed is sometimes called "Kishu Inu" or simply "Kishu" in Japan, with "Inu" meaning "dog" in Japanese. In the past, the Kishu has been called by other names based on the area where the founding dogs came from; the Kumano Ken and Taichi Ken are among these historic names.
Kishu Kens have a strong sense of loyalty and are known for their quiet and calm demeanor.