Are you considering adding a new furry friend to your family? If so, have you thought about the Hokkaido breed? These dogs, originally from Japan, are known for their loyalty, intelligence, and energy. Hokkaido dogs are a medium-sized breed that can adapt to various living situations, making them a great choice for both city and country dwellers. In this article, we will explore the characteristics and traits of the Hokkaido breed to help you decide if they are the right fit for you and your family.

Breed Category: Working
Country of Origin: Japan
Average Size:48-52 cm (male), 45-49 cm (female)
Average Weight:20-30 kg
Average Life Span: 12-15 years
Grooming Requirements: Moderate
Exercise Requirements:High

History and Origin

The Hokkaido is a breed of dog that originated in Japan. It is also known as the Ainu dog, named after the indigenous people of Hokkaido, the Ainu. The breed was originally used for hunting and guarding, and it is believed to have been developed by crossing various Japanese breeds with European breeds brought over by traders and explorers.

The Hokkaido is a medium-sized dog, with a thick, double coat that comes in a variety of colors, including red, black, and white. It has a strong, muscular build and a broad head with small, triangular ears. The breed is known for its loyalty and intelligence, and it is often used as a police or search and rescue dog.

The Hokkaido was first recognized as a breed in Japan in 1937, and it was later recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) in 1964. The breed was introduced to the United States in the 1980s, and it is now recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as a rare breed.

The history of the Hokkaido is closely tied to the history of the Ainu people, who have lived on the island of Hokkaido for thousands of years. The Ainu used dogs for hunting and as companions, and it is believed that the Hokkaido was developed from these dogs. The breed was also used by the Japanese military during World War II, and it was nearly extinct after the war.

In the years following the war, efforts were made to preserve the breed, and it was eventually recognized as a national treasure of Japan. Today, the Hokkaido is still used for hunting and guarding, and it is also a popular companion dog in Japan and around the world.

Despite its popularity, the Hokkaido remains a rare breed, with only a few thousand dogs registered worldwide. The breed is known for its strong-willed nature and can be difficult to train, but it is also fiercely loyal and protective of its family. With its rich history and unique characteristics, the Hokkaido is a fascinating breed that continues to capture the hearts of dog lovers around the world.

Hokkaido Dog

Size and Breed Category

The Hokkaido is a medium-sized dog breed that originated in Japan. They are known for their muscular build and sturdy frame, which allows them to excel in various physical activities. The breed typically weighs between 20-30 kilograms and stands at a height of 45-55 centimeters at the shoulder. Their coat is thick and double-layered, providing insulation from the harsh winter weather in their native region. The Hokkaido’s coat comes in a variety of colors, including red, black, and white. They have a distinctive appearance, with a broad head and triangular ears that stand erect. The Hokkaido is a member of the Spitz family of dogs, which are known for their wolf-like appearance and independent nature.

The Hokkaido is classified as a working dog breed, which means they were originally bred for specific tasks such as hunting, herding, and guarding. They are highly intelligent and have a strong work ethic, making them excellent companions for active individuals or families. The breed is known for their loyalty and devotion to their owners, and they thrive on human interaction and attention. The Hokkaido is a confident and independent breed, which can make them challenging to train for inexperienced owners. However, with proper socialization and training, they can be well-behaved and obedient pets. Overall, the Hokkaido is a unique and fascinating breed that requires an experienced owner who can provide them with the physical and mental stimulation they need to thrive.

Fur Length and Colour

The Hokkaido has a thick and dense fur coat that is designed to protect them from the harsh winter conditions of their native Japan. The fur is typically around 5cm in length and is made up of two layers. The outer layer is made up of long, coarse guard hairs that help to repel water and snow, while the inner layer is made up of soft, downy fur that provides insulation and warmth. The fur is usually a combination of black, white, and red-brown, with the exact colouration varying between individuals. Some Hokkaido may have a solid colour coat, while others may have a more mottled or speckled appearance.

The fur of the Hokkaido is an important part of their identity and is highly valued by breeders and enthusiasts. The breed standard specifies that the fur should be thick, dense, and of good quality, with a glossy appearance. The fur should also be free from any matting or tangles, and should be well-groomed to maintain its condition. In addition to its practical benefits, the fur of the Hokkaido is also a key part of their aesthetic appeal, with many people admiring the breed for its striking and distinctive appearance.

Termperament and Trainability

Hokkaido dogs are known for their high energy levels and playful nature. They are very active and require plenty of exercise to keep them happy and healthy. These dogs are also very intelligent and eager to please their owners, which makes them highly trainable. They respond well to positive reinforcement training methods and are quick learners. However, they can be stubborn at times and may require a firm hand to keep them in line. Overall, the Hokkaido is a great choice for an active owner who is willing to put in the time and effort to train and exercise their dog.

In terms of temperament, Hokkaido dogs are known for being loyal and affectionate towards their owners. They are also very protective of their family and can be wary of strangers. This makes them great watchdogs, but they may require socialization to prevent them from becoming overly aggressive towards strangers. Hokkaido dogs are also known for being independent and may not always be interested in following commands. However, with proper training and socialization, they can become well-behaved and obedient pets. Overall, the Hokkaido is a great choice for an experienced dog owner who is looking for a loyal and protective companion.

Hokkaido Dog Geared up and prepared for the upcoming training session

Known Health Conditions

Hokkaido dogs are known to be prone to certain health conditions. One of the most common issues is hip dysplasia, which is a genetic condition that affects the hip joint. This can cause pain, stiffness, and difficulty walking, and can lead to arthritis later in life. It is important for breeders to screen their dogs for hip dysplasia and to only breed those with healthy hips. Another health concern for Hokkaido dogs is eye problems, such as cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy. These conditions can cause vision loss and may require surgery or other treatments. Regular eye exams can help detect these issues early on and prevent them from worsening.

In addition to hip dysplasia and eye problems, Hokkaido dogs may also be prone to allergies and skin issues. This can include itching, redness, and hair loss, and may be caused by environmental factors or food sensitivities. It is important for owners to work with their veterinarian to identify the cause of these issues and to develop a treatment plan. Regular grooming and bathing can also help keep the Hokkaido’s skin healthy and prevent infections. Overall, it is important for owners and breeders to be aware of these potential health concerns and to take steps to prevent and manage them.

Hokkaido Dog Inhaling clean air enhances overall health

Openness to Strangers

Hokkaido dogs, also known as Ainu dogs, are a Japanese breed that originated in the northernmost island of Hokkaido. These dogs are known for their friendly and welcoming nature towards strangers. They are not aggressive and are often used as therapy dogs due to their calm and gentle temperament. Hokkaido dogs are also highly intelligent and trainable, making them great companions for families and individuals alike.

Despite their friendly nature, Hokkaido dogs can be reserved and independent. They are not overly affectionate and prefer to maintain their personal space. However, they are loyal and protective of their owners and will defend them if necessary. Hokkaido dogs are also known for their high energy levels and require regular exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy. Overall, Hokkaido dogs are a great choice for those looking for a friendly and loyal companion that is also intelligent and independent.

Hokkaido Dog Approachability towards unfamiliar individuals

Playfulness Level

The Hokkaido is a highly energetic and playful dog that loves to run and play. They have a high playfulness level and enjoy playing with their owners and other dogs. They are known for their love of toys and will often carry them around in their mouths.

Their playful nature makes them great companions for families with children, as they love to play and interact with them. They are also great for active individuals who enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, running, and playing fetch. The Hokkaido’s playful nature can sometimes lead to them being mischievous, but with proper training and socialization, they can be well-behaved and obedient pets.

Suitability as a Pet for Children

Hokkaido dogs have a friendly and loyal temperament, making them a great choice as a pet for children. They are highly intelligent and easy to train, which means they can quickly learn how to behave around kids. Hokkaido dogs are also very active and love to play, which makes them perfect for families with children who enjoy spending time outdoors. Additionally, they are known for their protective nature, which means they will always keep a watchful eye on their young owners. Overall, Hokkaido dogs are a great choice for families looking for a loyal and active pet that is great with children.

Exercise Needs

Hokkaido dogs require a significant amount of exercise to maintain their physical and mental health. As an active breed, they need daily walks and playtime to burn off their energy. A minimum of 60 minutes of exercise per day is recommended, but they will happily take more if given the opportunity.

In addition to walks, Hokkaido dogs enjoy activities such as hiking, running, and swimming. They also excel in dog sports such as agility and obedience. Mental stimulation is also important for this breed, and they benefit from interactive toys and training sessions. It is important to note that Hokkaido dogs should not be left alone for extended periods of time as they may become destructive or develop separation anxiety.

Hokkaido Dog running exercise

Suitability for a Multi-Pet Family

Hokkaido dogs have a reputation for being friendly towards other pets. They are known to get along well with cats and other dogs, as long as they are socialized properly from a young age. Hokkaido dogs are also known for their loyalty and protective nature, which can make them excellent companions for other pets. However, as with any breed of dog, it is important to supervise interactions between pets to ensure that everyone stays safe and happy.

Housing Requirements

Hokkaido dogs require a spacious and comfortable living environment that can accommodate their active and energetic nature. They need a house with enough space to move around freely and engage in physical activities. The house should have a large yard or garden where they can run, play, and explore. The yard should be securely fenced to prevent them from escaping and getting lost. Hokkaido dogs also need a warm and cozy shelter where they can rest and sleep comfortably. The shelter should be well-insulated and protected from extreme weather conditions such as rain, snow, and wind. It should have a comfortable bed or mat where they can rest and relax after a long day of physical activity.

In addition to a spacious living environment, Hokkaido dogs require a healthy and balanced diet to maintain their physical and mental well-being. They need a diet that is rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals to support their active lifestyle. The diet should be tailored to their age, size, and activity level to ensure that they get the right amount of nutrients they need. Hokkaido dogs also need access to clean and fresh water at all times to stay hydrated and healthy. Owners should provide them with a water bowl that is regularly cleaned and refilled with fresh water. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are essential for the overall health and well-being of Hokkaido dogs.


Hokkaido dogs have a reputation for being loyal and affectionate companions. They are known for their high energy levels and require plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy. As with any pet, potential owners should carefully consider their lifestyle and ability to provide for the needs of a Hokkaido before bringing one into their home.


Hokkaido Dog FAQS

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Hokkaidos are intelligent and eager to please, making them relatively easy to train with consistent and positive reinforcement.

Yes, Hokkaidos are known to be good with children and make great family pets.

Hokkaidos can adapt to apartment living as long as they receive enough exercise and mental stimulation.

Hokkaidos are generally healthy, but can be prone to hip dysplasia and eye problems. Regular vet check-ups are recommended.

Yes, Hokkaidos have a thick double coat and shed moderately throughout the year.

Hokkaidos are an active breed and require at least 1-2 hours of exercise per day.

Hokkaidos require regular grooming, including brushing their coat at least once a week and occasional baths.

A Hokkaido can grow up to 50-55 cm in height.

The average weight of a Hokkaido is between 20-30 kg.

The average lifespan of a Hokkaido is 12-15 years.