Also called Kochi-Ken or Mikawa Inu, this rare Japanese dog breed originated from the island of Shikoku. In 1937 it was recognized as one of Japan’s living national treasures, like the Shiba Inu and the Akita Inu. Because it can only be found in one of the remote regions in Japan, it has remained as one of the purest dog breeds. They weigh between 35 to 50 pounds and stand at a height of 7 to 21 inches. This medium-sized breed has a unique appearance, bearing a slight physical resemblance to the Alaskan Husky but different in size and colour. It has a thick double layer of coat, a wedge-shaped head, dark brown eyes that are almond shaped and slanted. It has triangular ears that are prick and alert and a tail is curled up and well-feathered. Coat colours include red, red-sesame, black or black-sesame and a rare cream colour. The Japanese Kennel Club has identified three varieties of this breed: the Awa, the Hongawa and the Hata.
The Shikoku was originally bred to hunt deer and wild boar in the mountainous terrains of the Kochi prefecture. They are intelligent and learn fast, but because they are natural hunters they tend to be aloof towards strangers and cannot be trusted around non-canine pets. As a companion they are very loyal and obedient and crave affection from their owner. Alert and protective, they can make good watch dogs around the house. Indoors they are quiet and docile but they love outdoor activities. They can live for about 10 to 12 years.