Hokkaido Breed description: Character & Co


Origin & History

The Hokkaido is one of six native Japanese dog breeds and is often referred to as the Hokkaido Inu or Hokkaido Ken. Originally, this hardy dog comes from the northernmost island of Japan, Hokkaido.

  • Ancient Roots: It is believed that the Ainu, the indigenous people of Hokkaido, brought these dogs with them over 3,000 years ago when they moved to Hokkaido from Honshu, the main island of Japan.
  • Role as a hunting dog: For centuries, the Hokkaido was used as a hunting dog, especially when hunting large prey such as bears. Its courageous character and ability to work in extremely cold conditions made it an irreplaceable companion for the Ainu.


The Hokkaido is not only a talented hunting dog, but has also made a name for itself as a loyal family dog:

  • Loyalty & Intelligence: He is known for his loyalty and intelligence. A Hokkaido can pick up complex commands quickly and has a good memory.
  • Cautious of Strangers: Despite his affectionate nature towards his family, the Hokkaido can be initially suspicious of strangers. Early socialization is important to foster a balanced character.
  • Energy Level: As an active breed, the Hokkaido requires regular exercise. He is particularly suited to active families or individuals who can provide him with sufficient exercise and mental stimulation.
  • Climate Resistance: His dense coat provides protection from cold weather, making him especially suited for regions with cooler temperatures.

Overall, the Hokkaido is an exceptional companion that shines in both work and family life. His unique history and versatile abilities make him a special breed of dog that is recognized both in Japan and internationally.

Banner: Depositphotos / gurinaleksandr
Two Hokkaido dogs on green grass White Hokkaido dog runs fast Hokkaido Japanese dog breed stands sideways Hokkaido dog runs fast
Alternate Name Hokkaido Dog, Ainu Dog, Ainu Inu, Hokkaido Ken
Origin Japan
Life expectancy - years
Care requirements -
Activity level -
FCI group Asian Spitz and related breeds
AKC group not recognised
KC group not recognised

A courageous and loyal companion

Often referred to as the Hokkaido Inu or Hokkaido Ken, the Hokkaido is characterized by his strong sense of self and courage. Its past as a hunting dog in the harshest conditions has given it a special ruggedness and determination.

Main characteristics of the breed

  • Loyalty: A prominent characteristic of the Hokkaido is his deep bond and loyalty to his family. Once a bond is formed, he becomes a tireless protector and companion.

  • Intelligence & Ability to Learn: The Hokkaido is exceptionally intelligent and has the potential to learn a variety of commands in a short period of time.

  • Independence: Despite his ability to bond, the Hokkaido also has an independent side. He can sometimes make decisions on his own, which should be especially noted during training.

  • Caution towards Strangers: While he is very affectionate towards his family, he can be reserved or suspicious of strangers at first. It is important to socialize him well from a young age.

Ideal living conditions

The Hokkaido is best suited to experienced dog owners who understand and appreciate his independent nature. Regular exercise and mental stimulation are essential to having a happy and balanced Hokkaido.

In summary, the Hokkaido is a deep, loyal and intelligent dog that needs the right leadership and environment to shine. With proper socialization and training, he will become an incomparable family member.

Japanese Hokkaido dog lying on the grass

Care of the dense coat

The Hokkaido has a double-layered coat that requires regular attention:

  • Brushing: It is recommended that the Hokkaido's coat be brushed at least once a week to prevent matting and keep the skin healthy. During molting, this should be done more frequently.

  • Bathing: Bathing should only be done when necessary, as too frequent washing can strip the coat of its natural oils.

Health monitoring

The Hokkaido is generally a hardy dog, but like all breeds, it can be prone to certain health problems:

  • Hip dysplasia: Some Hokkaido's may suffer from this genetic condition. Regular checkups and a healthy diet can help minimize the risk.

  • Eye problems: regular examinations by a veterinarian are recommended to detect eye disease early.

  • Allergies: Some Hokkaido may be allergic to certain foods or environmental factors. If there are signs of allergy, a veterinarian should be consulted immediately.

Breeding recommendations

Breeding the Hokkaido should be done responsibly and with the goal of maintaining the health and temperament of the breed:

  • Health testing: before breeding, both parents should be tested for common genetic diseases.

  • Socialization: Puppies should be socialized and introduced to different environments, people and other animals at an early age.

  • Breeding Guidelines: It is recommended to follow the breeding guidelines and standards of recognized breeding associations.

In summary, the Hokkaido is a breed that requires special attention in terms of care as well as health monitoring and breeding. However, with responsible husbandry and care, this impressive dog will be a loyal and healthy companion.

Japanese Hokkaido dog smiling with tongue

The Hokkaido, also known as the Hokkaido Ken or Ainu, impresses with its rugged appearance and thick, weather-resistant coat, which serves it well in the cold regions of Japan. His appearance exudes endurance and ferocity, combined with a certain elegance.

Coat texture and color

  • Texture: The Hokkaido has a double-layered coat. The outer layer is rough and straight, while the undercoat is soft and dense. This provides him protection from extreme weather conditions.

  • Color Variety: The Hokkaido's coat can come in a variety of colors, including red, brindle, black, sesame, white, and wolf-gray.

Physical characteristics

  • Size: adult Hokkaido reach a height of 48 to 52 cm for males and 45 to 49 cm for females.

  • Weight: An adult Hokkaido weighs between 20 and 30 kg, with males usually heavier than females.

Face and expression

His face, characterized by triangular, forward-pointing ears and dark, almond-shaped eyes, gives him an alert and intelligent expression. The Hokkaido has a strong jaw structure and a black or flesh colored nose, depending on the coat color.

In conclusion, the Hokkaido stands out not only for its physical features, but also for its robust yet elegant appearance. Its weather-resistant coat and remarkable stature reflect its centuries-long history as a working dog in the harsh conditions of northern Japan.

Fur length -
Fur -
Ear shape -
Tail -
Anatomy -
Size ♀ - cm
Weight ♀ - kg
Size ♂ - cm
Weight ♂ - kg
Suitable For -
Hokkaido Japanese dog breed stands sideways
Hokkaido dog runs fast
Japanese Hokkaido dog lying on the grass

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