Appearance

The shikoku ken 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.

In Japan, the breed knows four prefered colors:


Red sesame (Aka-Goma)
More red then black colors


Sesame (Goma)
Eaqual mixture of red and black

 


Black sesame (Kuro-Goma)
More black then red colors
 


Black & Tan (Kuro)
A black base with some red and white

 

White (shiro) may also occure (but not preferred):
White Cream (Shiro) – A White/cream base

 

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:

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, with a 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 than the Hongawa line
  • 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

Most shikoku 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.

Urajiro
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 “the four eye”, which is an urajiro marking of a white dot above the eye.

Urajiro markings on the shikoku breed.

Urajiro markings on the shikoku breed.

 

Show type, Working type
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.

A black sesame working type shikoku ken.

A black sesame working type shikoku ken.

A white/cream working type shikoku ken.

A white/cream working type shikoku ken.

A black sesame working type shikoku ken with urajiro.

A black sesame working type shikoku ken with urajiro.

A Black & Tan working type Shikoku ken, on the right pups of the working type.

A Black & Tan working type Shikoku ken, on the right pups of the working type.

  

A special thanks to Shigeru Kato for writing some of the text above.