This is a personal top that I felt the need to make after seeing two films based on the moving true story of a Japanese dog named Hachiko that spent 9 years waiting every day for his (dead) master until its own death and became the epitome of loyalty for the Japanese nation that this year faced one of its most difficult moments in history. This list is dedicated to the memory of Hachiko and to the Japanese people.
Also called Tosa Ken, Tosa Token, Japanese Fighting Dog, or Japanese Mastiff, the Tosa is considered a rare breed. It was originally bred in Tosa, present day Kochi, as a fighting dog. Their coat is short and smooth, and is often red, brindle, or fawn. This breed originated in the second half of the 19th century by crossbreeding of the Shikoku-Inu with European dog breeds, such as the Old English Bulldog, Mastiff, St. Bernard, German Pointer, Great Dane, and the Bull Terrier.
Also named Tora Inu or Tiger Dog, the Kai Ken is a national treasure in Japan since 1934 and has been bred for centuries. It is considered to be the most ancient and purest dog breed in Japan. Kai were used to hunt boar and deer. It is an extremely rare dog and is related to the Japanese Spitz dog type. It is a medium sized dog. The tail may be curled over the back, or carried in a sickle position. The coat is of harsh texture, medium length, and comes in various shades of brindle. They are intelligent, agile, alert, friendly and brave dogs. They make good guard dogs, being reserved with strangers but loyal to their families.
This small to medium dog breed is a companion dog and pet. It has a deep chest, and a very thick, pure white double coat. The tail is long, heavily covered with long fur, and is carried curled over and lying on the dog’s back. It was created in Japan in the 1920s-1930s by crossbreeding a number of other Spitz breeds. Life expectancy is 12-16 years. They are active, loyal, obedient, and bright dogs, known for their great courage, affection, and devotion. They are great watchdogs and ideal companions for older people and small children.
7. Sakhalin Husky
Also named Karafuto-Ken, this breed is used as a sled dog. It is a spitz type, related to other Japanese dogs such as the Akita Inu. The ears are small, pointed. It comes in many colours, the hair is fine and thick, with an undercoat of very dense hair, similar to that of the Greenland Dog. The breed gained popularity with the release of the 1983 film Nankyoky Monogatari, about Taro and Jiro, two Sakhalin Huskies that became heroes after surviving in Antarctica for a year with almost no food. After their deaths some years later they were made into specimens and placed in the National Science Museum at Ueno, Tokyo. There is also a statue of the dogs in the city of Nagoya.
Also known as Kochi-Ken, Mikawa Inu, and Japanese Wolfdog, the Shikoku is a native, primitive Japanese dog breed from the island of the same name. It is intermediate in size between the large Akita Inu and the small Shiba Inu, and is also part of the Spitz family of dogs. It was bred mainly for hunting deer and boar. It is cautious and brave, intelligent and loyal. They are ideal companions for active outdoor people. It comes in sesame, black and tan, or cream. It has a life span of 10-12 years.
The Kishu is descended from ancient medium-sized breeds and named after the Kishu region. Is bears similarities to the Akita Inu, the Shiba Inu, the Hokkaido, and the Japanese Spitz. This breed was originally used for boar and deer hunting. Like the Shiba, they are often quiet. The colour of the short, straight, and coarse coat is generally white. This breed is tough, agile, and friendly. Kishu Kens are a one person/ one family dog.
Nicknamed Do-ken, Ainu-ken, and Ainu Dog, the Hokkaido is a native to the Japanese prefecture of the same name. The breed is medium in size, it has small eyes and ears, a coat of long, stiff fur, and a second, shorter coat of soft fur. Colours include red, white, black, tiger, sesame, and wolf-gray. They are known for their faithfulness to their owners, bravery, and the ability to withstand the cold.
Also called Japanese Small Size Dog, the Shiba Inu is a small, agile dog that was originally bred for hunting. It bears similarity in appearance to the Akita, but it is much smaller in stature. The outer coat is stiff and straight and the undercoat soft and thick. Shibas may be red, black and tan, sesame, or cream. They are independent and intelligent dogs and have an average life expectancy from 12-15 years. The Shiba Inu is one of the oldest dog breeds, dating back to the 3rd century BC.
Like the similar breed, Akita Inu, the American Akita is a dog breed from the mountainous northern regions of Japan. Its characteristic physical traits include a large, bear-like head, its eyes are small, dark, deeply set and triangular in shape. Akitas have thick double coats. Their trails have the shape of a gentle curl or a double curl. This breed is a unique combination of dignity, courage, alertness, and devotion to its family. Because it is a large, powerful dog, it is not a breed for everyone. In 1931, the Akita was officially declared a Japanese Natural Monument.
This dog, also named Great Japanese Dog, is one of the cutest, most loyal and intelligent breeds in the world. It has been discovered that the Akita Inu is among the most ancient dog breeds. Its traits include a coarse, straight coat, with soft undercoat, it can have different colours: red, fawn, sesame, brindle, pure white or black and a life span of 11-15 years.
The loyalty of the famous Akita Hachiko, who waited almost 10 years at the Shibusa railway station in Tokyo for his deceased master to return, is remarkable. In April 1934, one year before Hachiko’s death, a bronze statue representing the loyal dog was erected at Shibuya Station. Hachiko’s stuffed and mounted remains are exhibited at the National Science Museum of Japan in Uedo, Tokyo.