Hokkaido Dog Breed

Meet the Hokkaido Dog, a breed that originated in Japan and is often referred to as the Ainu Dog. This loyal and energetic breed is gaining popularity around the world, thanks to its unique personality and adorable looks. If you’re considering adding a Hokkaido Dog to your family, read on for everything you need to know about this incredible breed.

History of the Hokkaido Dog

The Hokkaido Dog is one of Japan’s oldest dog breeds, with a history that dates back to the Jomon period. The Ainu people, a group of indigenous people who lived in Hokkaido, used these dogs for hunting and as guard dogs. It wasn’t until the Meiji period that the breed was officially recognized and given the name Hokkaido Dog.

Although the Hokkaido Dog’s popularity began to decline during the wars, dedicated breeders managed to preserve their numbers. Today, the breed is recognized by the Japanese Kennel Club and enjoys popularity as a loving family pet around the world.

Hokkaido Dog Puppy

Location of Origins

The Hokkaido Dog comes from the northern island of Japan, known as Hokkaido, which is where the breed derived its name. The Ainu people, who were the first to tame and use this dog as a hunting companion, are still present on Hokkaido today.

While the Hokkaido Dog was an essential partner for Ainu people, the breed’s versatility has seen them accompany hunters in other parts of Japan. They were bred for the harsh conditions of Hokkaido with cold winters where heavy snowfall can make staying outdoors difficult.

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Hokkaido Dog Breed

Characteristics of the Hokkaido Dog

The Hokkaido Dog is a medium-sized dog that stands between 18 and 20 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs between 44 and 66 pounds. They have a wedge-shaped head, with triangular ears standing erect. Their tail is thick and curled over their backs in a crescent shape, a unique feature to this dog breed.

As a working dog, the Hokkaido Dog is considered intelligent, loyal, and energetic. They are fiercely loyal to their pack leader-like family members while adaptable to a variety of activities, from hunting to obedience, and agility training. However, they can be challenging to train for inexperienced dog owners because of their strong-willed personality and their tendency to display stubbornness at times.

Their thick double coat, designed to withstand the frigid Hokkaido winters, has a soft and dense undercoat and a longer outer coat. They come in a range of colors, including red, black, white, or brindle. Grooming their coat regularly to control shedding is essential to keep them healthy, shiny and help maintain their thick coat.

Choosing the Best Food for Your Hokkaido Dog

Feeding a Hokkaido Dog should depend on their age, size, and activity level. Like any other dogs, they should consume high-quality protein, fat, and carbohydrates macro-nutrients. They also need to feed with the number of calories that is appropriate for their age and activity level.

Preferably, feed your Hokkaido Dog with formulated dog food, which has a well-balanced meal with necessary nutrients for their physical and emotional development. Alternatively, fresh food such as whole chicken, beef, turkey, and vegetables can be included in your Hokkaido’s diet to give them the additional raw food nutrient benefits.

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As sensitive eaters, their diet should contain a variety of healthy ingredients, considering their digestion ability. Talk to your veterinarian if you are in doubt about what to feed your Hokkaido Dog, especially when choosing appropriate brand and quantity of dog food suitable for their size.

Training Your Hokkaido Dog

Hokkaido Dogs are usually confident and intelligent, but their strong will and stubbornness make them minimal conformists to easy and straightforward training drills. Patience is essential. As part of the positive reinforcement approach, use plenty of encouragement, praise, and rewards to get your dog to learn basic obedience commands, leash training, socialization, among others

Moreover, maintaining consistency across all training activities also helps keep the dog-focused and cooperative. Professional dog trainers can help simplify the training and make it fun and interactive for both you and your dog.

Taking Care of Your Hokkaido Dog

The Hokkaido Dog is a robust breed that requires regular exercise in outdoor activities and requires a moderate level of care. As dogs that are athletic, lively, and always into activities, they need to have a fair share of activity to release all their energy built up.

Exercising involves walks, jogging, playing in the yard, chasing, and any other outdoor activities that improve their physical and mental health. It would be best if you kept a close eye on any physical changes in your dog and take them for routine checkups and vaccinations.

In addition, they need frequent grooming to help maintain their characteristic thick coat, which helps them regulate their body temperatures. Regular teeth brushing, ear cleaning, and nail clipping are also key to your Hokkaido Dog’s overall wellbeing.

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How long can a Hokkaido live?

Hokkaido Dogs usually have a lifespan of between 11 to 15 years. However, with proper nutrition, care, exercise, and vaccinations, some pets have lived for longer than 15 years.

Are Hokkaido Dogs good with children?

Yes, they are great with children when adequately trained, socialized, and exposed to children early on. They are loyal and affectionate with their family and may need supervision around toddlers to avoid any rough play that leads to painful bites.

Can Hokkaido Dogs live in apartments?

Hokkaido dogs require a fair share of exercise, and as such, may not be the best companions for apartment dwellers. They need lots of space to play and run around. However, you can still keep them in apartments if there’s enough room for them to move and play around.


The Hokkaido Dog is an incredible breed that continues to grow in popularity because of its unique qualities, such as loyalty, intelligence, and adaptability. This breed is best for people who love to exercise, have outdoor activities and desire a loyal, energetic, and robust dog. However, they may require a good amount of training in obedience and socialization, but with patience and consistency, it can bring out the best of these amazing animals.

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