Breed Information

Potential Shikoku owners need to consider the Shikokus purpose and the breeding goals that established the breed so many years ago. Classified as a primitive Nordic scent hound these dogs were, and still are, bred to hunt. The traits that make these dogs excellent hunters also determines how these dogs will interact with their environment.

The Shikoku is a very intelligent dog and a quick learner. They are very alert, they watch you and they are willing to work with you. Shikokus enjoy vigorous play. They need quite a bit of exercise. They would be a good dog for active outdoor people. They are very energetic and active outside but are calm and quiet indoors. Courage, skill and stamina allowed the breed to be chosen as a reference point from which a variety of cross breeding followed to bring us the powerful and invincible warrior dog; the Japanese Tosa-Inu.

That said, how does this impact the Shikoku owner? First and foremost, these dogs want to hunt; some more than others. As a result they need to be leashed and require a fenced area outside. Off leash, you cannot be certain that they will recall.

They are primitive. This shows itself in that most Shikokus are dog aggressive; some more than others. As a primitive breed they need early socialization with other dogs as well as people. This is an absolute must to ensure that the Shikoku you have can function well in our social settings. Always keep in mind that these dogs were bred to hunt wild Boar.

Shikoku standing a Large Wild Boar
Shikoku Standing a Wild Boar

Rules of Eligibility

Agriculture Canada requires an ROE so that all breeds be described in general terms with enough detail so that a person can readily identify the breed.:
Size: Medium.
Coat Colour: Black and tan, sesame, black sesame, red sesame.
Colour Markings: Sesame – white hairs, tipped with black;
black sesame – more black than white; red sesame – ground
colour of red with a mixture of black. Urajiro white markings
must occur on the cheeks, the inside of the legs and the tail
under surfaces.
Black dogs may show traditional tan pattern – eyebrows,
cheeks, ears, chest, paws, vent.
Coat Texture/Length: Double coated; harsh straight outer
coat; soft dense under coat.
Body: Deep chest; high at withers.
Ear Shape/Placement: Small triangular and pricked.
Tail Shape/Carriage: Set on high; thick and curled over back.
Unique Characteristics: Sickle tail. Sesame coloured coat.
Genetic/Observable Variability: Urajiro markings (white
pattern on underside).
Feet: Tightly closed with well arched toes.

CKC Breed Standard

Origin & Purpose
This breed goes back to medium-sized dogs that existed in Japan in ancient times. The Shikoku was bred as a hunting dog, mainly for
hunting boar and deer in the mountainous districts of Kochi Prefecture. It is sometimes called “Kochi-ken” (ken = dog). The breed took on the name of the region and was designated as a “natural monument” in 1937. A study in the 1930’s conducted by Japanese cynologist Harvo Isogai classified the native Japanese dog breeds into three categories; large,
medium and small sized. These dogs are tough and sufficiently agile to run through a mountainous region and often referred to as deerhounds. They are characterized by
their sesame coloured coats.
General Appearance
A medium-sized dog with well balanced and well developed clean cut muscles. It has pricked ears and a curled or sickle tail.

Conformation :
strong, well-boned and compact.
Important Proportions : The ratio of height at withers to length of body
is 10 : 11.
Temperament: A dog of marked endurance, keen in sense with a naive feeling, energetic and highly alert; an enthusiastic hunter; docile towards his master.
Height at withers: Dogs – 52 cm (20.5 inches)
Bitches – 46 cm (18 inches)
There is a tolerance of +/- 3 cm (1.2 inches)
Coat & Colour
Hair: Outer coat rather harsh and straight, undercoat soft and dense.
The hair on the tail is rather long.

Sesame, black sesame and red sesame.

Definition of the colour sesame:
Sesame: Equal mixture of white and black hairs. Black sesame: More black than white hairs. Red sesame: Ground colour of hair red, mixture with black hairs.

Skull: Forehead broad. Stop: Shallow, but defined. Nose: Black.
Muzzle: Rather long, wedge-shaped. Nasal bridge straight. Lips: Tight.
Jaws/Teeth: Teeth strong, with a scissor bite. Cheeks: Well developed.
Eyes: Relatively small, triangular, set well apart, dark brown in colour.
Ears: Small, triangular, slightly inclining forward and firmly pricked.
Thick and powerful.

Shoulders: Moderately sloping with developed muscles. Elbows: Set close to the body. Forearms: Straight and clean cut. Pasterns: Slightly inclining.

Withers: High, well developed. Back: Straight and strong. Loins: Broad and muscular. Chest: Deep, ribs well sprung. Belly: Well tucked up.

Hindquarters: Powerful, with muscles well developed Hocks: Moderately angulated and very tough.

Feet: Tightly closed with well arched toes. Pads hard and elastic. Nails hard and black or dark in colour.

Tail: Set on high, thick and carried over the back vigorously curled or curved like a sickle. The tip nearly reaches the hocks when let down.

Gait: Resilient, with rather narrow strides, but light. Action is quick and turning is possible.:

Some Questions and answers about the Shikoku:

Question 1.  White markings on a Shikoku : How far can white socks go? Can they have white spots on their body besides the socks?  Urajiro is a must is that correct?

Answer : Yes, Urajiro is the most important characteristic of all of the Japanese native breeds.  But, too much broad urajiro is a defect.  And it must be gradually changed to lighter color or white from the color part.

The urajiro must be present on the following parts :

  • Muzzle and cheeks, but upper part of the muzzle must have color, the white Mask (reverse mask) isn’t desirable.
  • Under jaw, neck, chest and body
  • Too much expanded urajiro on the chest reaching to the shoulder articulations isn’t desirable
  • Till the code on the front legs, and till the knee articulations on the rear legs.
  • Back side of the tail (till the tip of the tail)

I have to repeat the urajiro is very important for the Japanese native breeds including the Shikoku. The urajiro means the gradual color changing on the lower neck, chest body, legs, back of the upper rear legs, and the tail. Owing to this gradation, the beautiful complex colors of the Japanese breeds is appreciated.

And each hair also has gradation of colors, the most under part has to be white changing to light red and the tip is red or black in case of B&T Shikoku. This complexity of colors is the peculiar taste of the Japanese breeds.

The color tone and the texture of the coat can be changed a little by season.

(Mr. Kan’s comment :  As I couldn’t speak to Mr. Kadota, Mr. Kan answered:  In the standard, the urajiro of the legs is permitted until the code on the front legs and the knee angulation on the rear legs. If the dog is good, the judge can give him (her) an “excellent”.  But, if there is other dog of the same quality and the legs with gradual urajiro, this one will have better placement. )

Q. 2 :  White,  cream and black and tan is a not accepted colour, is that correct?

A :  I’ll explain a little about the coat colors of the Japanese breeds.  The standard of Nippo says :  sesame, red, black and white are the correct colors of the Japanese native breeds.

  • White: different from the Kishu, white Shikoku has pure white coat,  black nose and dark brown eyes.  But, to avoid degeneration of the pigmentation, we don’t give “excellent”.
  • Cream: I suppose cream means the very light red, and this color is considered as the beginning of the despigmentation.  Consequently, we can’t give excellent, although depending on the grade of the color.
  • Black :  Nippo can give high qualification (excellent) to a good black dog.  But, black of the Japanese native breeds isn’t jet black (pure black as a Doberman), but a rusty tone black. The violet tone on the tail isn’t desirable. Anyway, you can learn this correct tone of the black, only looking many good black dogs. 

(Mr. Kan’s comment :  Yes, as Mr. Kadota says a good black & tan Shikoku would have the qualification of “excellent”.  But, actually it’s very rare the correct black tone dog.  So, if a correct tone black dog with excellent structure, head, etc. is shown, this can have good placement.  But, it didn’t happen for many years.)

Q 3 :  Is there a colour red/white (like the Shiba) in the Shikoku breed?

A : Looking the Nippo shows of today, you may observe a little bit different red from the red Shiba, but I consider basically the same red on the shiba.

Q 4 :  Is the Shikoku trainable to run off leash?

A : Yes, it’s trainable. Depending on my own experience, it’s depending on the line.

Q 5 : How do Japanese hunters prepare their dogs for hunting?

A. Basicly, the Shikoku is to use only one dog for hunting. At the beginning, it’s trained with a veteran hunting dog. When the dog has learned, normally it’s used alone. Some hunter use more than two Shikokus together, but never as a pack like other hounds. I think this is because the hunting field in Japan is very mountainous and it’s easier to hunt with only one dog.

Q 6 : What are the most important factors for a Shikoku?

  1. Head = expression
  2. Body structure
  3. Movement

A . I have to answer to this question widening the meaning. Regarding the Japanese breeds including the Shikoku, Nippo standard says “Essence and its expression” and explains “ the dog has a spirited boldness (Kan-I) with a good nature (Ryousei) and a feeling of artlessness (Soboku).  It is alert and able to move quickly with nimble, elastic steps”.  This expression is appeared on the all parts of the dog.”  This essence is expressed by the whole appearance.  If the dog has no Kan-I, his behaviour and movement wouldn’t be lively and spirited, and without Ryousei he would be nervous  and couldn’t show correct eye expression (confident and good character).  Consequently, it should be judged the essence and its expression globally.  Even if a dog has excellent head, he wouldn’t be qualified without correct body structure, and viceversa. In conclusion, the most important factor is the temperament.  The question is how the dog expresses the essence generally.

Q. The preferred eye colour for the Shikoku is dark brown?

A. The eye colours of the Shikoku are as follows :

  1. (best) Dark brown
  2. A little lighter brown
  3. Light brown
  4. Yellow
  5. Grey

The ideal colour is dark brown, but not black. The dark brown pupil must look as solid colour including the iris. A dog with a little lighter brown eyes would have the qualification “excellent”, if the dog is good and correct in other factors.

Q. Gate for the breed

A. Although I don’t think the Shikoku’s gate is very different from that of other Japanese breeds such as the Akita or Shiba, maybe the Shikoku’s movement could be slightly different because of its utility … hunting. The Akita’s gate is heavier and the Shiba has lighter movement.  The Shikoku has powerful and elastic movement because he is originated in precipitous mountains of Shikoku island, and he has to fight with wild boars.

Q. Why is there nothing in the JKC/FCI standard about the urajiro for the Shikoku?

A.  I don’t know why JKC/FCI standard for the Shikoku has no description about the urajiro.  But, as I have repeatedly explained the urajiro is very important for the breed.

And each hair has gradual change of tone, white, light red and red ( in case of black sesame dog, white, light red or brown and black sesame).  This is also very important for the delicate colour tones of the Japanese native dogs, together with the Urajiro.

This gradual change of hairs and urajiro originate the Japanese dogs’ complex beauty.

BUT, the gradual change of hairs and urajiro are not good if those are too much, because it shows degeneration. And, if the dog doesn’t have enough those, his colour is muddy and not brilliant tone as the standard refers, lacking the genuine taste as Japanese breed and being questionable his purity.