These beautiful dogs originated from the large-sized Japanese hunting dogs that accompanied migrants from the main island of Japan to the island of Hokkaido in the 1140s. They are sometimes referred to as the Ainu-ken in reference to the Ainu (former inhabitants of Hokkaido) that used to breed them for hunting bears and other large game. Today the Hokkaido Inu are used primarily as watchdogs and family companions. As might be expected with anything as regal and rare, this breed was designated as a Natural Monument in 1937 and at this time took on the official name of Hokkaido Inu.
The coat of the Hokkaido Inu is much like that of their fellow Siba Inu breed—short to medium in length and extremely thick allowing it to withstand sever cold weather. However unlike the Shiba Inu the colors acceptable for this breed are much more varied and can range from sesame, brindle, red and black, to black and tan, and even white. Common among many of the hunting breeds from Asia, their tail is rather tightly curled or in a sickle formation.
Take one look at the Hokkaido and you’ll understand at once why they are so well-known for being dignified alert and bold. To compliment these personality traits they are also known for having great stamina, intelligence, and even problem solving abilities. If socialized from an early age these dogs can make great, docile family pets.