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Top 10 Japanese Dog Breeds Everyone Adores

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Dogs have been around for thousands of years. And over time, their origins have been quite interesting.

Some breeds come from different countries, and we'll discuss a specific one in this blog.

We have a few suggestions if you want to adopt a new dog. This blog will discuss a few of the best Japanese dog breeds.

A long time ago, these Japanese dog breeds were working as hunters of wild boar. But nowadays, they are considered one of the best lap dogs on the planet.

If you like to engage in Japanese culture, here are the top Japanese dog breeds everyone loves.

The dogs listed below are authentic Japanese dogs originating from Japan.

These adorable pups are not only cute and beautiful. They are unique, strong, and smart animals that are once working dogs, now companions.

10 Best Japanese Dog Breeds

If you're trying to find these dogs at a shelter, you should know that there are ten distinct Japanese dog breeds.

But six breeds are “Nihon-ken” or “Nippo,” meaning they are native to Japan.

These breeds are the Akita Inu, Hokkaido, Kai Ken, Kishu, Shikoku, and Shiba Inu.

Other breeds commonly found in Japan are not necessarily native to the country but were brought from other nations over time.

Shiba Inu

1. Shiba Inu

Height: 13.5-16.5 inches (Male Adult Shiba Inu); 13.5-15.5 inches (Female Adult Shiba Inu)

Weight: 23 pounds (male), 18 pounds (female)

Coat and Color: Long coats with colors come in black with sesame, red, or cream/white; the undercoat is cream, gray, or buff

Lifespan: 13-16 years

Shiba Inu is one of the most popular dog breeds originating in Japan.

These dogs were originally bred to be hunting dogs and have been part of Japanese culture since 7000 B.C.

The Shiba Inu have an athletic built body and great agility due to their hunting instincts.

They are intelligent dogs but can be a bit naughty at times.

The Shiba Inu dog breed is known to be a stubborn dog. That's why early training and socialization are advised.

Japanese dog breed Akita

2. Akita

Height: 26-28 inches (Male Adult Akita), 24-26 inches (Female Adult Akita)

Weight: 100-130 pounds (male), 70-100 pounds (female)

Coat and Color: Dense double coat that comes in different colors, including white

Lifespan: 10-13 years

The Akita is the first on our list of the best Japanese dog breeds. The Akita is the largest dog out of the Nihon Ken group.

The Akita is a spitz breed that shares traits with other similar breeds. They are loyal, strong, and loving dogs, making them excellent family pets.

However, the Akita has a thick double coat that requires maintenance.

Keep in mind they are also large-sized dogs that weigh over 100 pounds.

Hokkaido dog breed

3. Hokkaido Inu

Height: 18-20 inches

Weight: 44 pounds (male), 66 pounds (female)

Coat and Color: Double coat in white, red, black, brindle, sesame, or wolf grey. They also have a beautiful undercoat that seasonally sheds.

Lifespan: 12-15 years

One of Japan's oldest and wildest dogs, Hokkaido Inu, is a strong and muscular dog breed originally bred for guarding, hunting, and sledding.

Hokkaido Inu is an extremely rare dog breed outside Japan. These loyal dogs have strong stamina and endurance.

The Hokkaido also has a great sense of smell. They can find their way home even when they are miles afar.

Shikoku Dog

4. Shikoku

Height: 17-22 inches

Weight: 25-55 pounds

Coat and Color: Harsh and straight coat with a soft and dense inner coat. Their coat colors come in red, black, and tan, or sesame.

Lifespan: 12-15 years

The Shikoku, also known as the “Shikoku inu” or “Kochi-ken,” is a Japanese dog breed originally bred to be hunting dogs.

Japanese hunters loved this dog breed because they are excellent trackers (especially for wild boars). They are known for their perseverance, cleverness, and alertness.

Best Japanese Dog Breeds Tosa Inu

5. Tosa Inu

Height: 24-32 inches

Weight: 80-170 pounds

Coat and Color: Short, dense coat that comes in black, red, brindle, fawn, apricot, and black or brindle.

Lifespan: 10-12 years

The Tosa Inu, also known as the Japanese Mastiff, is the largest among the Japanese dog breeds.

These large-sized dogs are gentle, patient, and obedient, making them great family pets.

Originating in the Tosa region, these dogs were once used for dog fighting.

Tosas are loyal dogs with eager-to-please attitudes.

If you want to adopt a Tosa Inu, remember these dogs can weigh up to 200 pounds!

Japanese Chin Dog

6. Japanese Chin

Height: 8-11 inches

Weight: 7-11 pounds

Coat and Color: A long, smooth coat that comes in black and white; black, white, and tan; sable and white; red and white; lemon and white

Lifespan: 10-12 years

Now, we have an impostor in our hands.

No, this is not Among Us, but the Japanese Chin is not actually from Japan, but they most likely came from Korea or China more than 500 years ago.

The Japanese Chin is a toy dog breed that can be a great family companion.

Japanese Chins are loving, smart, sensitive, and independent dogs.

Kai Ken Japanese Dog Breed

7. Kai Ken

Height: 17-22 inches

Weight: 25-55 pounds

Coat and Color: Brindle; black brindle; red brindle

Lifespan: 13-16 years

Kai Ken is one of the six native Japanese breeds. Due to their brindle coat of golden stripes, they are sometimes referred to as tora or tiger in Japanese.

These dogs were made to work, but in this day and age, they make excellent companions.

kishu inu japanese dog

8. Kishu Ken

Height: 18-22 inches

Weight: 45-65 pounds

Coat and Color: Short, straight, and coarse with a thick undercoat. White; black; tan; gray; red.

Lifespan: 11-13 years

Kishu dogs are also dogs that have been around for thousands of years.

But it wouldn't be surprising if you haven't seen any of them since these majestic dogs are hard to find outside Japan.

Kishu Kens are athletic working dogs that were bred to hunt deer and boar.

They are also loving and affectionate towards their humans or family members.

These medium-sized dogs are super smart. That means you'll need to stimulate your Kishu often mentally.

Japanese Spitz dog breed

9. Japanese Spitz

Height: 10-16 inches

Weight: 17-32 pounds

Coat and Color: Straight outer coat with a short, soft, dense undercoat. Their cute is pure white.

Lifespan: 12-16 years

The Japanese spitz was bred in Japan in the 1920s and 1930s.

They were developed by crossbreeding other spitz-type dogs from various countries such as Australia, Canada, China, Siberia, and the United States.

The Japanese Spitz is one of the best choices if you're looking for a small, cute, and cuddly companion. These dogs are also energetic and will play with you all day.

These pets are great companions even in an apartment-living lifestyle.

Japanese Terrier dog breed

10. Japanese Terrier

Height: 8-13 inches

Weight: 5-10 pounds

Coat and Color: Tricolor (white and tan, black and tan, and black) with a smooth glossy coat.

Lifespan: 12-15 years

The Japanese terrier, also called the Nihon terrier, is another small-sized Japanese dog that is believed to be the first terrier breed from Japan.

This dog breed is intelligent and affectionate around its family.

But don't let their small body fool you.

These dogs are always attentive and on high alert. They make good watchdogs as they will bark loudly toward strangers.

Even though they are native or more common in Japan, you can find Japanese Terriers worldwide.

Popular Japanese Dog Names and Meanings

If you want to adopt a Japanese dog, consider giving it a Japanese name.

Here are a few examples of the best Japanese dog names with meaning.

Japanese Dog Name Meaning
Yuki Good fortune
Tadeo Loyal
Sakura Cherry blossoms
Pochi a classic dog name like “Spot”
Adzuki Red bean
Tarp Boy; Eldest son
Aki Spring
Hana Flower
Haru Sunlight
Akira Intelligent
Kurumi Walnut
Masumi Clarity
Miyu Gentle
Momo Peach
Yuri Lily
Kotaro Small boy
Emi Blessing
Amaya Night rain

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most popular dog in Japan?

Shiba Inu is arguably the most popular dog breed in Japan. This dog breed is considered a Japanese national treasure.

Shiba Inu is known to have a confident and independent personality. They also often develop strong bonds with only one or two people.

What Japanese dogs don't bark?

The Shiba Inu does not bark that much. They are loving and affectionate pets that are popular for apartment living.

However, they can sometimes be aggressive to other dogs and have a high prey drive.

What is the fluffy Japanese dog?

If you're looking for a cuddly, fluffy Japanese dog, look for a Japanese Spitz.

The Japanese Spitz is known for their fluffy coats in tiny little bodies. They also have great personalities as they are energetic, playful, and affectionate dogs.

Japanese Akita breed price

Top Japanese Dog Breeds: Before You Go…

There are six authentic Japanese dog breeds that you should know.

They are the Akita Ken, Hokkaido Inu, Kai Ken, Kishu Inu, Shiba Inu, and the Shikoku Ken.

Dogs have been great companions for humans for many, many years.

But before they became companions, these Japanese dogs were used for work such as hunting or guarding.

Above, we've compiled a list of the best Japanese dog breeds that everyone loves.

The Japanese people are proud and treat their dogs with high praise and honor.

They consider dogs national treasures, so a few of these dog breeds are rare outside Japan.

These popular Japanese dogs are not only beautiful but also possess wonderful histories and origins, making them unique, intelligent, and strong dogs.


Toby loves spending time with his dog and two cats. They are the best stress reliever and affectionate pets, especially his Belgian Malinois, Shawie. Shawie's favorite activity is running or jogging. But their go-to spot is to chill and swim around a nearby river.