It is believed that Shikoku was developed in Kochi Prefecture Mountains by the Matagi people. They wanted to create a tenacious and an athletic dog that could hunt for deer and boars. This breed has been in existence across Japan from the ancient times. Earlier popular as Tosa Ken, it was renamed later to avoid confusion with Tosa Inu. After the 1st world war, the population of Shikoku Inu decreased drastically.
NIPPO or Nihon Ken Hozonka was developed in the year 1928 fo its preservation along with 5 other Japanese dog breeds. Presently, Shikoku is one of the rarest breeds with a total population of about 5000-8000 in Japan with about 300-500 yearly registrations.
Temperament & Personality
It is a family loving pet that also likes to mix with unknown people. It greets guests by jumping or wagging the tail. However, it remains alert, and if it finds out any suspicious activity, it immediately informs its owner by excessive barking making it a great watchdog.
Being a hunting breed, it has a high prey drive and is always seen chasing moving objects or small animals. Due to its hunting instincts, it is independent and impulsive by nature. Early socialization is important and can help it possess a happy disposition, otherwise, it can become very destructive. They go well with kids if they both grow up together, but their interactions require supervision. However, the dog is not an excellent option for first-time owners.
It is an active breed and requires a heavy exercising schedule. They like to go for running sessions or long walks and the most cherished method of exercising are interactive games like fetching, Frisbee, hide and seek, the ball rolling, etc. Shikoku Inu also requires a free play time in a fenced yard or in a park where they can move and play on their own. It is advisable to offer them chews, puzzle toys or agility and obedience training to keep them mentally fit.
Shikoku has a thick double coat which needs brushing once or twice a week. It sheds heavily twice a year requiring regular cleaning to remove dirt and debris from its coat. Ideal brush is a metal comb, slicker brush, and a de-shedder. However, do not over bathe them as doing so will wash off the essential oils from its coat. Bathe them when needed or twice or most thrice a year. To bathe them use a vet prescribed mild shampoo. It will not only keep its coat clean but will also prevent irritation.
Their ears can catch up infections due to water, dirt buildup and need regular checking to prevent infections and pain. Clean them using a Vet prescribed ear solution. Clean corner of the eyes with a damp cloth to remove tear stains. Like other dogs, they tend to grow nails faster than other breeds which can crack if not trimmed appropriately 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.
Shikoku is generally a healthy breed and does not suffer from significant health issues. But some dogs can suffer from Elbow and Hip Dysplasia. However, random tests like complete physical examination, OFA of elbows and hips, X-Ray, etc will keep it healthy and minimize the risk.
Despite being an intelligent breed, it may become stubborn requiring a consistent and patient trainer. Like all dogs, they do well with positive training techniques and short training sessions. Socialization is natural if they are taken 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 making them more flexible.
Leash training is crucial for lowering their chasing instincts. Start from puppyhood to make it familiar with the leash. Use it when it plays or during its meal time apply the leash and take a short walk around the room or the garden and when it ultimately gets familiar take them out.
Obedience training is crucial to reduce the pack of the leader issue. Command training is essential to polish their skills, enhance the relationship between the dog and the owner and minimize their excessive barking behavior. Commands like ‘no,’ ‘yes,’ ’stop,’ ‘come’ are some simple commands but essential.
They do well on a high-quality food commercially manufactured or homemade. A nutrient-rich diet like dry food with 12-15 % fat, 20-25% protein with low moisture and moderate carbohydrate level is ideal. But it is essential to visit a dietician or a vet before opting for the food. Diet should be made depending upon the dog’s size, age, and activity level.
Feed them 2-3 small meals every day. Some dogs tend to become obese which can cause flexibility issues in later life, and the owners should check their weight level and calorie consumption. If they gain weight minimize table scraps, treats, etc.