Hailing from the Japanese mountains, especially in the Wakayama and Mie prefectures, this breed extends back to before recorded history. Although it was first a boar hunter, today it mainly serves as a domestic pet.


Also known as the Kishi Shika Inu, the Kishu Ken or the Kyushu, this breed was developed as a general-purpose hunting dog. It was used mainly against deer, assisting the Matagi, or local hunters.

Renowned for its courage, the Kishu was known to rush to protect its master from the charge of an angry, wounded boar, giving the hunter sufficient time to arm and fire again.

In its earlier days it had extremely varied colour-patterns. Today Kishus with all-white coats seem to be the most popular.


With large-game hunting dramatically reduced in recent years, many Kishus are now kept as companion dogs. In the home they are clean, quiet, contented and docile.


The breed should stand about 17-21 inches/ 43-53 cm at its withers. Although the Japanese spitz breeds differ in size, they share some features.

The Kishu is well-balanced in bone structure and muscles. It has considerable stamina and a rhythmical gait; rather plain, yet noble, looks; and a straight back and wide, strong loins; a wide forehead combined with a slightly thick, wedge-shaped muzzle separated by a clearly defined stop; relatively well-developed cheeks; a scissor bite; small, dark fawn eyes with the edges pointing slightly upward; erect triangular ears; and a curved tail held over the back or carried high. Its undercoat is soft and dense while the outercoat is hard and straight, slightly longer on the cheeks and tail, and is usually solid white, although other colors such as red sesame are acceptable.

It is most unusual to come across the Kishu outside Japan.

Care and Exercise

Usually light daily brushing is sufficient, but during the shedding season careful combing is necessary. Daily exercise of thirty to forty minutes on a lead is needed.

Puppies and Training

The three to seven puppies per litter are susceptible to the cold, and as the mother is skittish around strangers, she should be given a warm, secluded area for delivery during the winter.

Gallery of Kishu