Hokkaido Dog Information & Dog Breed Facts

Collection of all the general dog breed info about Hokkaido Dog so you can get to know the breed more.

Group Working Dogs
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OriginJapan flagJapan
Other Names
What other names does the Hokkaido Dog have?
Ainu-kenDo-kenSetaAinu dog
Breed Type
What type of dog breed is it?

Hokkaido Dog Price and Availability

How much does the Hokkaido Dog puppy cost? What is the price range of this puppy? What is the average price of this dog in the United States? Is this puppy expensive? How much should I pay for it?
If you choose to purchase the Hokkaido Dog, you should know that the mentioned amount of money is an average of the collected data from breeders’ sites and puppy finder places. If you have a Hokkaido Dog for sale, please advertise it on a reliable website to make sure the Hokkaido Dog gets to a happy place.
How easy is it to get a Hokkaido Dog?
Rare: You may rarely see each other in everyday life, but you might catch a glimpse of each other at dog shows.

There are very few of them, and there have been times when they have almost drifted to the brink of extinction, so few are left.

Hokkaido Dog Size

What size is this breed? How big is this dog?
How much does the Hokkaido Dog weigh? Hokkaido Dog weight:
45-65 pounds (20-30 kg)
Average Weight
What is the average weight of the Hokkaido Dog? Hokkaido Dog average weight:
55 pounds (25 kg)
How tall is the Hokkaido Dog? Hokkaido Dog height:
18-22 inches (46-56 cm)
Average Height
What is the average height of this fido? Hokkaido Dog average height:
20 inches (49 cm)

Hokkaido Dog Grooming, Hair and Care

Coat / Hair Types
What type of coat does the Hokkaido Dog have? What does this canine coat/fur look like?
What color is the breed's coat? What color is a proper Hokkaido Dog's coat?
BlackBlack & TanBrindleWhite
How to groom the Hokkaido Dog and how often?
Advanced: The Hokkaido Dog requires a lot of grooming. Cutting the dog's hair by a professional groomer can be helpful sometimes.

Regular brushed dog's coat is less likely to shed. Ears and eyes should be cleaned often to avoid infections.

Don't skip the seasonal flea treatment too. Occasional dog nail trimming and dog baths are important.

Check the local pet store for dog grooming supplies and find the best dog shampoo to keep its coat healthy and to give your Hokkaido Dog a pleasant experience of a dog bath.

If you don't have the time, skill, or money to take care of your Hokkaido Dog, search for the best dog groomer or clipping service in your area and book an appointment.

Maybe you're lucky to have a dog boarding service that includes grooming or walk-in dog bath places nearby.
Shedding Level
How much do Hokkaido Dog dogs shed? How to control, reduce and prevent the shedding of the Ainu-ken?
Hokkaido Dogs shed moderately. It's a natural process of the hair growth cycle. Regular brushing reduces the amount of hair that sheds. It mostly depends on their health status and breed type.
Bath Time / Bathing Frequency
How often does the Hokkaido Dog need a bath? How often should bathe this dog? Can I bathe my Hokkaido Dog every day?
6-8 weeks
Rarely. Bathing your dog is beneficial to them in more ways than just one. It’s also a good time to look for unusual scratches, bumps, fleas, and other irregularities. When their hair is wet and flat against their body, these details are more visible. For example, short-haired dog breeds can go a very long time in between baths. These short-haired breeds shed regularly and that shedding works to naturally remove excess dirt and oil. So unless your weenie dog got into the garbage can, you can probably hold off on a bath for a while.

Hokkaido Dog Personality / Temperament

What kind of personality does the Hokkaido Dog have? What characteristics or traits does the breed have?
Intelligent Rank
How smart is the Hokkaido Dog? Are they intelligent?
Average: It takes patience to teach this breed any tricks or commands, but the effort is worth it. They understand and remember new commands after an average of 25-40 repetitions.
Are Hokkaido Dog dogs easy to train? Do they go well on dog training?
Hokkaido Dogs are quite easy to train. Sometimes they can be challenging, but if you're consistent in teaching new commands they will obey for sure.
How playful is this breed?
Average: Hokkaido Dogs, like any other dog breed, like playing. Sometimes they bark in excitement for playing, but they are not the most playful dog breed.
Sensitivity Level
How sensitive are they? Hokkaido Dog sensitivity:
They are a little bit more sensitive than other dog breeds. Soft punishment affects them emotionally. Hokkaido Dogs don't tolerate irregular daily routine, noisy household, and frequent guest visits really well. They are receptive to their owner's emotions and make wonderful family companions.
Affection Level
How affectionate are they? Are they affectionate?
High: Hokkaido Dogs are genuinely loyal, soft and gentle, loving and affectionate dogs toward their handlers. They enjoy quality time with their owners despite the activity and are considered great therapy dog for those in need. This breed responds strongly to their handler's emotions because they bond closely. Their happiness is your happiness.
Social Needs
How much social interaction does the Ainu-ken need? Hokkaido Dog social needs:
Hokkaido Dogs are a social breed. They enjoy being around people or other animals. This breed doesn't tolerate being left alone.
Do Hokkaido Dog dogs bark a lot? Are they barkers/noisy? Why does my Ainu-ken bark?
Average: The Hokkaido Dog barks occasionally. They can change their barks depending on their emotional level and what they're trying to say. Different barks could mean the same and the same barks could have different meanings. Top reasons for barking: protection, alarm, fear, boredom, attention-seeking, greeting, separation anxiety, compulsive barking.
Watchdog Ability
Is Hokkaido Dog good as a watchdog? Are they alert at night?
Hokkaido Dogs are good watchdogs. Their main job is to observe and they're consistent in their effort. Good vocal cords and a sense of hearing belong to them. Usually, they're territorial and protective about their property, so the Hokkaido Dogs will alert you if they sense something different.
Guarding Behavior / Territorial
Do Hokkaido Dog dogs have an aggressive behavior to protect their home/house/territory? Do they have guarding instincts?
Hokkaido Dogs are extremely protective guard dogs. This breed doesn't hesitate to protect its territory so the Hokkaido Dog can be a good choice if you want an excellent guard dog. Keep calm and the Hokkaido Dog will take care of unwanted people or animals.
Biting Potential
Do Hokkaido Dog bite humans? How likely are you to get bitten from the Ainu-ken? What are the odds of getting bitten by a Hokkaido Dog? Why do dog bites happen?

Low 🔽

The Hokkaido Dog has a low chance of biting somebody. Top reasons for dog bite: protection, pain, excitement, herding instinct, being provoked. (Data based on the available online bite statistics.)
Bite Force
Does the Hokkaido Dog has a hard bite?

Between 200 and 400 PSI

Hokkaido Dog bite force: Ordinary. Average dogs have a bite force between 200 and 400 PSI. The Hokkaido Dog, and many others, have a fearsome presence because they have significant jaw strength, so it is important not to anger the dog and have it around strangers until it is fully trained. However, they are usually quite calm and good companions, they work well in families and are easy to care for.
How much mouthing/nipping/play biting does the Hokkaido Dog do?
Hokkaido Dogs have an average tendency to nip, chew, play-bite, or herd people. It's a common habit during puppyhood, not aggressive behavior. These "bites" don't hurt, but Hokkaido Dogs need to be taught for a good attitude.
Impulse to Wander or Roam
How likely is the Hokkaido Dog to run away? Does this breed explore or wander a lot? Does Hokkaido Dog roam?
Hokkaido Dogs have average wanderlust potential. Sometimes they like to explore the world and they might escape once or twice, but usually, they prefer staying safely at home. Safer to teach them how to get back to you on command.
Prey Drive
Do this canine have a strong prey drive? Does Hokkaido Dog have high prey drive?
Hokkaido Dogs have an average prey drive, which means that they don't have a high impulse to chase and catch something like a cat or any other small aminals, but it might happen. Training can help to achieve good behavior.
Apartment Friendly
Is Hokkaido Dog good as an apartment dog? Can they live in a flat?
Not an apartment-friendly dog the Hokkaido Dog breed. If you don't have a garden, think carefully about your decision, keeping Hokkaido Dog indoors can cause a lot of problems.
Are they adaptable and easy-going?
Average: Hokkaido Dogs adapt to lifestyle changes and different living environments quite okay usually.
Tolerates Being Left Alone
Can you leave this breed home alone?
Hokkaido Dogs do best when a family member is at home during the day or if their workplace is dog-friendly so they can take the dog at work.

Hokkaido Dog Good With

Stranger Friendly
Are they aggressive or friendly towards/with strangers? Hokkaido Dog temperament with other people:
Hokkaido Dogs are average friendly towards strangers.
Pet Friendly
Are they pet-friendly dogs? How well do Hokkaido Dog dogs get along with other pets? Are Hokkaido Dog dogs good with pets? What is this canine temperament with other pets?
Hokkaido Dogs are generally with other pets.
Child Friendly
Are Hokkaido Dog dogs kid-friendly? Are they good with young children? Hokkaido Dog temperament with children:
Hokkaido Dogs are kid-friendly dogs. This breed is a good choice if you have children.
Cat Friendly
How well do Hokkaido Dog dogs get along with cats? Are they good with kittens? What is this fido's temperament with cats? Can they be good with cats?
Hokkaido Dogs are average friendly towards cats.
Dog Friendly
Is Hokkaido Dog good with other dogs? Are they dog-friendly dogs? How well do Hokkaido Dog dogs get along with other dogs? What is this canine temperament with other dogs?
Hokkaido Dogs are dog-friendly dogs. If you want more dogs in your family or you'd like to join dog meetups, the Hokkaido Dog can be a great choice.
Good For First Time Owners
Is Hokkaido Dog breed good for first-time owners? Do they make a good dog for novice owners?
Hokkaido Dogs are good for novice owners, due to their easy-going personality.
Office Friendly
Are Hokkaido Dogs good office dogs? Do Hokkaido Dogs make good office friendly dogs? Can Hokkaido Dogs be office dogs?
Hokkaido Dog is not the best dog breed for office environment.
Senior Citizens Friendly
Are they senior citizens friendly dogs? How well do Hokkaido Dog dogs get along with the elderly people? What is the Ainu-ken temperament with senior people? Are Hokkaido Dog dogs good for elderly owners?
Hokkaido Dogs are usually recommended for elderly people.

Hokkaido Dog Health

Health Issues
Is it a healthy or unhealthy breed? Do Hokkaido Dog dogs have health problems or genetic diseases?
The Hokkaido Dog is a healthy breed, but there are certain health issues that you should check with your vet regularly.
Health Problems
What genetic/health problems does the Hokkaido Dog breed have? What are the health issues and concerns of the Hokkaido Dog breed? Most common health risks of Hokkaido Dog:
AllergiesBlocked Tear DuctsCollie Eye AnomalyCryptorchidismHeart MurmursHypodontia
Veterinarian Visits
How often does the Hokkaido Dog breed need to go to the vet? How often should you take your dog to the vet? How often should the Hokkaido Dog see the vet?
The Hokkaido Dog should have a complete physical check-up at least once per year. If your dog shows any symptoms, call your veterinarian.
Life Expectancy
How long do Hokkaido Dog dogs live? What is the average lifespan of this breed? How old can a Hokkaido Dog be? What is the age limit of the Hokkaido Dog? How many years can the oldest Hokkaido Dog live?
11-13 years
The average lifespan of Hokkaido Dog: 12 years
Is the Hokkaido Dog breed hypoallergenic?
Hokkaido Dogs don't do well with allergy sufferers by causing allergic reaction. Some of the dog breeds are even considered to higher the possibility of an allergic response. Coat type isn't necessarily relevant, because most people are allergic to dander (flakes on the dog's skin) or saliva, not actually to dog hair.
Energy Level
How much energy does the Hokkaido Dog have? What is the activity level of the Hokkaido Dog?
Hokkaido Dogs have an average energy level, so if you live a semi-active life, this breed can be a good choice for you.
Activity Requirement / Exercise Need
How much activity does this dog need? How much exercise do Hokkaido Dog dogs require per day?
Hokkaido Dogs have an average exercise need. This breed is satisfied with short walks every weekday and a long one on weekends.
Sleeping Need
How much sleep does this fido need?
Hokkaido Dogs sleep 12-14 hours a day as an average dog and they're not considered a lazy breed.
Average daily food consumption
How much food does the Hokkaido Dog need? How often should I feed my canine? What dog products should I buy?
2 to 3 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.
Weight Gain Potential / Prone to Obesity
How easy to gain weight for this dog? Hokkaido Dog risk for obesity:
Average: The Hokkaido Dog has an average risk for obesity. Daily walks should be on schedule. To make your dog happy and fit, feed him with quality dry dog food and live an active life together. Try to find the happy medium between exercise and feeding. If you notice any weight gain, consult your veterinarian and make a diet plan. Reduce unhealthy food and snacks, and measure the Hokkaido Dog's weight regularly.
Weather and Climate
Which weather condition is preferred by this dog? Can they tolerate hot or cold weather and climate?
Prefers cold weather
The Hokkaido Dog can adapt well to harsh weather conditions, and also can be a good mountain dog. Dogs can suffer from frostbite and hypothermia in extremely cold weather, so it is important to take precautions to keep your dog safe and comfortable during the winter months.
How stinky is this dog? Why does it smell bad and how to get rid of the smell?


The Hokkaido Dog has an average chance of bad smell. Top reasons for dog stinkiness: infection of bad tooth/ear/skin folds, gas attacks.
Drooling Tendency
Does the Hokkaido Dog drool?
The Hokkaido Dog is an average drooler. Drooling is the unintentional saliva flowing outside of the mouth. It can be completely normal or a sign of a health problem. If you notice any change in your dog's drooling habit, you should contact a vet as soon as possible.

Hokkaido Dog As a Working Dog

Service Dog
Are they good as service dogs? Can Hokkaido Dog be a guide dog? Are they used as seeing-eye dogs?

Not really

This breed generally not used as a service dog. A service dog is a term used in the USA to refer to any type of assistance dog specifically trained to help people who have disabilities, such as visual impairment, hearing impairments, mental disorders, seizures, mobility impairment, and diabetes. Service dogs are protected under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). Hokkaido Dog is not the best breed for service purposes.
Therapy Dog
Are they good as therapy dogs? Can Hokkaido Dog be a therapy dog? Are they good anxiety dogs? Can a Hokkaido Dog be an emotional support animal?

Not really

This breed generally not used as a therapy dog. A therapy dog is a dog that might be trained to provide affection, comfort, and love to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, hospices, disaster areas, and to people with anxiety disorders or autism. Hokkaido Dog is not the best breed for therapeutic purposes.
Detection Dog or Sniffer Dog
Are they good as detection dogs? Can Hokkaido Dog be a sniffer dog?

Not really

They are not typically employed for this type of work, but there may be exceptional cases. A detection dog or sniffer dog is a dog that is trained to use its senses (mostly its smell) to detect substances such as explosives, illegal drugs, wildlife scat, currency, blood, and contraband electronics such as illicit mobile phones. Hokkaido Dog is not the best breed for detection purposes.
Search and Rescue Dog (SAR)
Are they good as SAR dogs? Can Hokkaido Dog be a search and rescue dog?

Not really

This dog breed is not typically used as a search and rescue dog. The use of dogs in search and rescue (SAR) is a valuable component in wilderness tracking, natural disasters, mass casualty events, and locating missing people. The Hokkaido Dog is not the best breed for SAR purposes.
Boat and Sailor Dog
Are they good as boat dogs? Can Hokkaido Dog be a boat dog?

Not really

Hokkaido Dog breed usually doesn't like being on a boat.

Boat dogs were typically bred for their strength, stamina, and water resistance, as they were often required to perform tasks such as pulling in fishing nets, and jumping into the water to retrieve ropes or lines, or helping to move cargo.

Sailor dog is a type of dog that was bred to accompany sailors on their voyages. They were typically used for three purposes: as a working dog, a watchdog, and as a companion. A boat dog is a term used to describe a type of dog that was traditionally bred and used as a working dog on boats.

Cart Pulling or Drafting Dog
Are they good as cart pulling dogs? Can Hokkaido Dog be a drafting dog?

Not really

A drafting dog or draft dog is a dog bred and used for cart pulling. Dogs bred for this work have strong builds and qualities that are needed, strength and determination. Hokkaido Dog is not the best breed for drafting purposes.
Fighting Dog / Military Dog
Where Hokkaido Dog dogs used as fighting / military dogs in history?

Not really

In history, this breed was not really used for combat dog.

Hokkaido Dog Reproducibility

Gestation Length
How long does this dog's pregnancy last? How long does this dog pregnant? How long does it take to have puppies?

60-64 days

Reproductive cycle of the female Hokkaido Dog: The first period called Proestrus lasts for about 9 days. During this time the females start to attract males. You can notice by swelling vulva and bloody discharge. The second part is the Estrus when the female is receptive for the male. It lasts for about 3 to 11 days. The sign of the proestrus part is the soft and enlarged vulva. The discharge decreases and lightens in color. The third part is the Diestrus. Normally, it occurs around day 14. In this period the female’s discharge changes for vivid red and coming to its end. The vulva returns to average, and she will no longer permit mating. The fourth part called the Anestrus. The time frame between heat periods normally lasts about six months.
Litter Frequency

Once a year.

More frequent breeding is not healthy. It is very important not to buy a dog from a puppy mill, where the needs of the pups and their mothers are ignored. It's an inhumane high-volume dog breeding facility, where puppies born several times a year.
Litter Size
How many puppies can the Hokkaido Dog have? What is the average litter size of this fido?
3-7 puppies

Hokkaido Dog Recognition

AKC Group
Is Hokkaido Dog recognized by the American Kennel Club?
Not recognized by the American Kennel Club.
FCI Group
Is Hokkaido Dog recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI)?
Not recognized by FCI.
Breed Recognition
What kennel clubs and organizations recognize or register the Hokkaido Dog breed?
America's Pet RegistryContinental Kennel ClubDog Registry of America Inc.Federation Cynologique InternationaleFoundation Stock ServiceAmerican Canine Association, Inc.

Hokkaido Dog Pros and Cons

  • Watchdog Ability: Hokkaido Dogs are good watchdogs.
  • Child Friendly: Hokkaido Dogs are kid-friendly dogs.
  • Dog Friendly: Hokkaido Dogs are dog-friendly dogs.
  • Senior Citizens Friendly: Hokkaido Dogs are usually recommended for elderly people.
  • Good For First Time Owners: Hokkaido Dogs are good for novice owners, due to their easy-going personality.
  • Hypoallergenic: Hokkaido Dogs don't do well with allergy sufferers by causing allergic reaction.
  • Apartment Friendly: Not an apartment-friendly dog the Hokkaido Dog breed.
  • Grooming: Advanced: The Hokkaido Dog requires a lot of grooming.
  • Tolerates Being Left Alone: Hokkaido Dogs do best when a family member is at home during the day or if their workplace is dog-friendly so they can take the dog at work.
  • Office Friendly: Hokkaido Dog is not the best dog breed for office environment.

Hokkaido Dog History

With roots extending back over 8,000 years, the Hokkaido is possibly the oldest of the six native Japanese spitz breeds. Their first recorded history is from 300 AD to 710 AD when the Yamato people pushed the indigenous Ainu people (and their hunting dogs) out of the main island of Japan and up into the northernmost island of Japan, known as "Hokkaido." There, the canines interbred with some of the island's indigenous Matagi Ken and Jon dogs.

The Ainu people and their canines evolved over time to survive the harsh winter temperature and mountainous Hokkaido landscape. Thick weatherproof coats, large paws, small ears, powerful chests, strong jaws, and robust traits developed in these dogs. The Ainu people admired them for their steadfast loyalty, bravery, and ability to hunt large game.

The Hokkaido dog was found in Japan in 1869 by British biologist Thomas Blakiston, who gave it its modern name.

The Hokkaido was originally bred as a hunting dog, therefore their genetic makeup has been mostly unaffected by crossbreeding with other dog breeds. The blue and black tongue of many Hokkaido dogs could indicate that they are related to Chow-Chows and/or Shar-Pei canines. This breed was designated as a living natural monument in Japan in 1937, and they are now protected by law.

Long before weapons were invented, the Japanese trained dogs to accompany them on hunting trips. These intrepid medium-sized dogs would take on even the most ferocious of bears. They were also incredibly resourceful, easily catching fish in streams. They are taught to assist in search and rescue efforts due to their high intelligence, yet they are generally kept as family pets nowadays.

A population crisis of the breed started in 1949, and the Hokkaido breed was on the verge of extinction. The Hokkaido Ken Hozonkai (DOKENHO) was founded in February 1954 to protect and maintain the Hokkaido breed for future generations. Today, the Hokkaido Ken Hozonkai is dedicated to preserving the Hokkaido's natural beauty and exceptional hunting abilities. They arrange monthly shows to evaluate a breeding stock in comparison to the stated Hokkaido breed standard. DOKENHO also allows bear instinct testing to determine a dog's ability to hunt huge animals. Dogs are shown a live bear (either tethered or caged), and their movement, reactivity, and general hunting drive are assessed.

Despite their best efforts, breed numbers continued to decline over the next few decades, with worldwide populations averaging 10,000 to 12,000 canines and annual registrations totaling around 5,000 dogs. This began to alter in 2007 when a commercial series starring a talking white Hokkaido in the role of Ocean aired on the Japanese telecom corporation Softbank. Since then, the breed has seen a surge in popularity not just in Japan, but also in Europe and North America.

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