Kishu Ken

Kishu Ken

The Kishu is a breed that gives off an air of soboku (natural beauty) and strength. Excellent Kishu Ken had survived in the Kii Peninsula region, especially Kumano and Nachiurago, and in May 1934, the breed was designated as a national natural monument. Medium type and small type Nihon Ken have always had value as hunting dogs, and as such were bred all over the country from prehistoric times. The style of hunting with these dogs is often referred to as ``ichi-juu, ikku (one gun, one dog),'' in which a hunter hunts with one dog. Among the 6 Japanese breeds, the Kishu Ken has a reputation for being so skilled, that it is said that no other breed can surpass it when it comes to hunting wild boar. However, as the number of people making a living through hunting decreased, the majority of Kishu Ken began to be kept by ordinary households. Although in daily life a Kishu may appear calm and peaceful, his inner fighting spirit is immeasurable. They are extremely alert to their surroundings, and their powerful reactions to things deemed suspicious are quite a deterrent. It can be said that many would describe the Kishu Ken as a strong and reliable partner.

Hamaguri Eyes

The eye shape of the Nihon Ken is described as a scalene triangle, but the Kishu Ken's eye shape is often referred to as hamaguri (clam) shaped. The inner vertical line of the eye, from the upper corner to the lower, draws a slight outward arc, and is a characteristic of the Kishu Ken that is not found in other Nihon Ken.

Standard Size


Height: 52m (49cm to 55cm allowed)
Weight: 17kg~23kg


Height: 49cm (46cm to 52cm allowed)
Weight: around 15kg-18kg

*Height: Measured from ground to shoulder

Coat Color

Most Kishu have white coats, but there are some dogs with red or sesame coats. There are various theories and reasons as to why the breed today has predominantly white coats. One is that many of the famous dogs that formed the foundation of the modern Kishu had white coats. It is said that white coats were valued to avoid mistaking dogs for prey when hunting, and also that there was a regional preference toward the color white in the Kii mountains, which encompass the Kumano Kodo trail, because it was a sacred area.

white sesame

Famous Kishu Ken

In the realm of the Kishu Ken, Nachi no Ichi Go is said to have made the most significant contributions to the breed. Quality Kishu of today are all generally considered to have inherited at least some of his bloodline. Iwabuchi no Ken Go was a famous boar hunting dog in the mountain village of Iwabuchi in Tsukimura, and was an ideal Kishu with a strong expression and deep rich colored eyes.

Nachi no Ichi Go
Iwabuchi no Ken Go