Beautiful Shikoku

The shikoku is a medium sized dog with well balanced and well developed clean muscles. The muscles should be clearly visible, overweight is not prefered. It is an active breed with working capacities and active lifestyle which should be visible in an atletic build. It should have pricked ears, slightly pointed forward and an curled tail.

Coat colors

There are 3 recognized coat colors:
Red (Aka) A mainly red coat with minimal black hairs
Sesame (Goma) A mixture of red and black
Black and Tan (Kuro) A black base with some red and white

Sesame (Goma) can be devided into 3 different shades:
Red Sesame (Aka-Goma) More red than black hairs
Sesame (Goma) Equal mixture of red and black
Black Sesame (Kuro-Goma) more black than red hairs

White/cream (Shiro) may also occure, but not prefered and not recognized

Red (Aka)

A mainly red coat with minimal black hairs

Sesame (Goma)

A mixture of red and black

Black and tan (Kuro)

A black base with some red and white

Red Sesame (Aka-Goma)

A mixture of red and black

Sesame (Goma)

A mixture of red and black

Black Sesame (Kuro-Goma)

A mixture of red and black

A black and tan Shikoku pup

Errors in the FCI standard*

Until 2017 the black and tan color was not recognized by the FCI in Europe due a translation error in the standard. This color is recognized in the country of origin Japan by the Japanese kennel club. In the European standard the colors were explained as followed:

Sesame: Equal mixture of white and black hairs.
Black sesame : More black than white hairs.
Red sesame : Ground colour of hair red, mixture with black hairs.

This explenation makes no sense. If you look at Sesame for an example it says “Equal mixture of white and black hairs”. With this explenation you would get a gray Shikoku, which is not correct. The same counts for the black sesame color. Since 2012 we’re currently doing everything we can to change the breed standard into a correct one and we hope that FCI will add the black and tan to the standard as well.

* Since early 2017 the standard has been finally corrected with the correct coat colors

Hongawa line / Hata line

Originally there were four different Shikoku ken lines, who originated from 4 different and remote areas from Shikoku Island. However two of those lines are mixed together and one disappeared as a result of the hardships caused by World War II and a lack of quality specimens due to cross breeding with outside dogs. So now there are two different shikoku ken lines with both their own characteristics. Most shikokus are a mix from the 2 lines, but in some dogs the Hongawa line is more presented and in other dogs the Hata line is more presented.

Hongawa line

The Hongawa line is from the area around Hongawa Village. Here are some of this line’s traits.

  • Light movement
  • Compact, athletic, muscular, slightly slimmer build
  • Well rounded forehead
  • Nice sharp eyeset
  • Thinner coat than the Hata line
  • Lines between coat colors sometimes blurred
  • Higher incidence of B/T (Kuro)
  • Skin tight over entire body

Hata line

The Hata line is originally from the south eastern part of Shikoku island. Here are some of this line’s traits.

  • Stockier and more thick boned
  • Less of a ‘stop’
  • Looser skin over entire body
  • Ears set slightly high
  • Thicker longer coats
  • Lines between coat colors very defined
  • Higher incidence of white
  • Wider spacing between eyes


All Shikoku should have ‘urajiro’ markings which are markings of a white or cream color presented on the ventral portions of the body and legs, as well as on the cheeks and muzzle. A black and Tan shikoku needs to have ‘yotsume’ (four eye), which is a marking of a small white dot above the eye.

The Shikoku tail

What a lot of people don’t know here in the west and it’s not clearly written in details in the standard, is the Shikoku tail. The preferred Shikoku tail has a looktrough hole in the center and the tip should not point upwards.

Working line Shikoku

The information above is all about the show-type Shikoku ken. But, in Japan, there are still some breeders that breeds the working-type Shikoku ken. The interesting part is that they originally came from the same gene pool as the show-type. They’re selected on their hunting abilities, not on coat color or beauty. This results in dogs that looks totally different from the show-types. Lots of them have no proper urajiro, their coat’s are different in coloration, their tails are not as nice curled like the show-type. But… they are excellent hunting dogs.