Hokkaido is possibly one of the oldest Japanese breeds. It is assumed to be the descendant of the Matagi-Ken, hunting dogs of medium size which were used as companion dogs by the Ainu people about 3000 years ago. But due to a surge in the Japanese population, the Ainu people were separated. Therefore this dog has some influence of other breeds.
English Zoologist Thomas Blankiston named this dog as Hokkaido in 1869. This breed took part in the search operation for survivors of a trip that was jammed in the strong snow in Hakkoda Mountains. Ministry of Education in Japan announced this breed as rare species in 1937.
Temperament & Personality
Hokkaido is a relentless defender, guard dog and hunter. It also has a fun-loving attitude with all the qualities of a companion dog. They have a prey drive, and are generally seen running after small animals and moving objects. Hence, they need adequate socialization from a younger age to mix appropriately with other household pets and kids. They are home loving, obedient and gentle which makes them a perfect family pet.
They are inborn hunters and have a great zeal for stamina, judgment, smelling sense and strength in the hunting field. While hunting it uses its special signals like short barks, howls, etc. They can easily bear cold weather and are strong enough to fight with Hokkaido brown bears and wild boars.
They are energetic dogs and require a heavy exercising schedule. It likes to go for long distance walks, jogs and makes an ideal exercising partner for active owners. Hokkaido excels in sports like flyball, weight pull, lure coursing, dock diving, rally, agility, etc. To provide them with mental stimulation, offer them puzzle toys or training sessions.
Due to their double and dense coat, they need frequent brushing to keep away the dead and loose hairs. To clean its undercoat thoroughly pin brush is an excellent choice. They shed seasonally, and during this time, one should brush them regularly to prevent falling off loose hairs around.
Other grooming requirements are like other dogs like their ears can catch up infections due to water, dirt buildup and need regular checking to prevent infections and pain. Clean their ears with Vet prescribed ear solution. Like other dogs, they tend to grow nails faster than other breeds which can crack if not appropriately trimmed and hinder regular activities like walking, run, etc. However, cutting them twice a month will serve the purpose. Brush their teeth twice a week to avoid development tartar and oral problems. Clean their corner of the eyes with a damp cloth to remove tear stains.
It suffers from some diseases like collie eye anomaly, hip dysplasia, seizures, anxiety, luxating patella, pica, heart murmurs, psychogenic polydipsia, cryptorchidism, etc. But occasional tests like full physical examination, OFA, X-rays, CERF and random vet visits will keep the dog fit and sound.
With their true personality and learning, eagerness makes them easy to train. Positive reinforcements and short and varied sessions will allow them to learn tricks quickly.
Obedience training is crucial to reduce the pack of the leader issue. Being a stubborn hunter, they try to have control over everything. Therefore it is essential to make them obey commands and orders. It should know how to respond to regular commands. Also, command training is necessary to polish their skills, enhance the relationship between the dog and the owner and to minimize their excessive barking behavior. Commands like ‘no,’ ‘yes,’ ’stop,’ ‘come’ are some simple commands which are essential.
Socialize them naturally by taking them to different busy places like a supermarket, bus stops busy roads and Dogs Park, etc. It will allow them to meet unknown faces, different sounds and situations and make them more flexible. Also, introduce them to neighbors and friends, if possible set a schedule to meet them weekly.
They do well with a high-quality food with fats, balanced proteins, carbohydrates specially made for large dog breeds or homemade food. But it is essential to visit a dietician or a vet before opting for the food. Diet should be created depending upon the dog’s size, age, and activity level. The owner should offer them small meals multiple times a day and prevent heavy exercises to minimize the risk. Owners should check their weight level and calorie consumption. If they gain weight reduce table scraps, treats, etc.