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Hokkaido Dog: Origin | character


The Hokkaido dog, also known as the Ainu dog, has a distinguished and often reserved demeanor. Although he is from Japan, it is not a typical Japanese dog breed. In this article you will learn what characteristics the Hokkaido dog has and for whom the breed is suitable.

Appearance of the Hokkaido Dog

The Hokkaido dog is medium-sized, powerful, and has well-developed muscles. His bone structure is also very robust. The Hokkaido dog has been given the standard number 261 by the FCI, which means that it belongs to Group 5 (spitz and archetypal dogs) and Section 5 (Asian spitz and related breeds).

Its skull is broad and flat, the eyes are small and dark. Hokkaido dogs have triangular ears that are slightly tilted forward and erect. Its nose is black in color, although it can be flesh-colored in white Ainu dogs.

The tail is curled and arched over the back, giving the dog breed its distinguished appearance. The fur colors range from brindle to red, black and white to black and tan. Sesame is also a common coat color of the Hokkaido dog.

While the undercoat is soft and dense, the top coat is hard and straight. The hair stands straight up and is relatively long, especially on the tail. Overall, the Hokkaido dog is perceived by many as a very beautiful breed of dog.

Origin of the Hokkaido Dog

The Hokkaido dog was bred by Hokkaido’s indigenous people, the Ainu, as a hunting dog – especially for hunting bears. Hence its alternative designation as Ainu dog. The slim dog is robust and therefore able to withstand even the harshest weather conditions: heavy snow and extreme cold are no problem for him.

It stands to reason that the Hokkaido dog descended from Japanese dogs brought to Hokkaido by emigrants from Honshu in 1140. However, others claim that he is from Australia or even has Mongolian ancestors. Wherever the dog breed originally comes from, it is very natural and robust and was even honored as a “monument of nature” in 1937.

Character of Hokkaido Dog

The Hokkaido dog is a very proud breed of dog. It therefore requires a lot of training so that he listens to the commands and commands of his master or mistress – because it is in the breed that he likes to ignore them. It therefore means a lot of time and a lot of attention that you have to give the animal when training.

In addition, the Japanese dog breed is extremely loyal: it only serves its “pack leader” and has a very strong protective instinct. Courage and acumen are also characteristics of Hokkaido dogs. Therefore, he is the appropriate choice if you are looking for a personal protection dog.

Due to its slim and muscular physique, the Hokkaido dog is very fast and has stamina. However, the dog breed is not suitable for a pack: It is an absolute one-person dog, which is rather difficult in dealing with conspecifics. Problems arise again and again, especially with dogs of the same sex.

The Hokkaido dog has a distinct temperament as they are not only agile but also very courageous, although they also tend to be stubborn and aggressive in their behavior. In addition, he is reserved and largely ignores other people who are not his owner. The animal does not accept orders and commands from outsiders.

For whom is the Hokkaido dog suitable?

Since the character of the Hokkaido dog is characterized by pride and stubbornness, this dog breed is not for inexperienced dog owners. Even experienced handlers will find their limits with this dominant and stubborn dog if they don’t put in enough time and effort. When it comes to parenting, positive reinforcement has been shown to be more effective than harsh measures.

If the Hokkaido dog feels that it has been treated unfairly, it often reacts stubbornly and withdraws internally. This is not least due to his pronounced intelligence and his sense of justice.

Even as a family dog, the Hokkaido dog is only suitable to a limited extent. While the breed has strong protective instincts, its keen hunting instinct can lead to aggressive behavior. As already mentioned, a Hokkaido dog should not be kept with other dogs either.

Therefore, if children have an Ainu dog in the family, they should respect the animal as a dog and treat it as such. Under no circumstances should they see him as a toy. Therefore, the Hokkaido dog should only come into contact with older children, if at all, and never with small children.

Normal walks are not enough for the Hokkaido dog: He needs many and above all changing impressions and therefore demands extensive forays. In addition, there should not be a lack of employment. Therefore, the dog breed is not suitable for a city apartment or for walking on a short leash.

Due to his protective instinct and the pronounced intelligence, he is able to find his owner over long distances. As a result, the loyal hunting dog fights its way through impassable terrain, as it is very fixated on its master or mistress.

Grooming of the Hokkaido Dog

The coat should be brushed regularly, but the total maintenance effort is limited. Once or twice a week is enough, during the change of coat it is recommended to brush the Hokkaido dog daily so that the dead hair is removed.

It is important to clean your ears and teeth. This should happen about once or twice a week. It is also essential to trim the sharp claws so that the animal does not injure itself.

However, you do not have to bathe the Hokkaido dog. On the one hand, this is because the skin’s own protective barrier could be attacked. On the other hand, the dog often bathes itself because it likes to jump into a river or lake.

The dog breed is not particularly susceptible to diseases. However, there are very few breeders, which is why you should make sure when buying an Ainu dog that no inbreeding has taken place.


If you have little experience in dealing with dogs, you should not get a Hokkaido dog. Only dog ​​owners with a lot of experience who can offer the animal enough attention and activity will do justice to the Hokkaido dog.

You always have to keep in mind that this is a hunting dog that often wants to get its own way and reacts insulted or even aggressively if it feels badly treated. However, once you have won the heart of the Hokkaido dog, he is very loyal and develops an enormous protective instinct. His strong fixation on his owner even means that he finds him again over great distances.


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