Shikoku Ken Related Questions

The following are some of the most common questions that prospective Shikoku owners have about the breed. The NASC recommends discussing your lifestyle and expectations for your next dog with your breeder to further determine if the breed is a good fit for you. It is also highly recommended that you meet as many Shikoku in person as possible to experience their unique breed traits first-hand.

A great way to connect with experienced Shikoku owners and breeders is through the Facebook group “I Love my Shikoku” and “The Nihon Ken Forum”.

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How much do Shikoku cost?


The price of a Shikoku Ken will vary depending on many factors. Truth be told, the initial cost of buying a puppy is only a small fraction of what you will need to spend on the dog over its lifetime, assuming the dog is perfectly healthy. The Shikoku tends to be a hardy dog and while there have been relatively few documented instances of health problems, not all issues can be screened for yet. A total bill for the puppy and shipping fees may range between $3,000-$6,000 or even more, depending on dog quality, shipping and/or applicable import fees. There is a wide range of estimates on the web of the total cost of dog ownership that put the annual cost for a healthy dog between $300 and $2,500. As with any dog, there are always risks of accidental injury or illness, so it is recommended that owners are prepared for these costs.

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How long is the wait to get a Shikoku puppy?

This depends on a number of factors including the breeder you choose, the number of people on the waiting list, any specific preferences for sex, color, etc. that you may have, and how successful the breeding efforts are. Shikoku females tend to only have one to two heat cycles a year, so if a breeding is unsuccessful it may be awhile before another attempt can be made. Some Shikoku owners report getting lucky and only having to wait a few months for a puppy, but more often the wait for a puppy will be between one and two years, and could be longer if you are very specific about the sex and color you want.

Photo credit: IG @loki_theshikoku


What should I feed my Shikoku?

The Shikoku has no specific nutritional requirements; however, as with all dogs, we recommend feeding either a high quality kibble or raw diet. A general rule of thumb is that if you can buy the kibble in your grocery store, you should not feed it to your dog. Most breeders have their own preferences and experiences with different diets, so it is important to discuss this with them.

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Do Shikoku shed?

Yes! At least once, but more often than not twice, a year Shikoku will "blow coat." Being a double coated breed, Shikoku will completely shed their dense undercoat and regrow a new one. During these two to three week periods of heavy shedding, it may be necessary to brush a Shikoku twice a day. Deshedding tools like the "furminator" should be used sparingly as they can cause damage to the coat. The rest of the year Shikoku tend to shed minimally.

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How often should Shikoku be bathed?

Like all of the Nihon Ken, Shikoku are fastidious in their cleanliness. Shikoku tend not to have a "dog smell", especially when fed a high quality kibble or raw diet. Many Shikoku owners report only needing (or wanting) to bathe their dogs once a year on average. However, as long as you use a natural shampoo that is formulated for dogs you can safely bathe your Shikoku more frequently if preferred. Additional baths during the shedding season can drastically reduce the amount of hair you’ll find in your home. Bathing at least once or twice a year will help remove any dirt or irritants that may have gotten trapped against the skin, as well as ensuring that the coat does not become impacted which can interfere with airflow through the undercoat which helps keep dogs from overheating in warmer weather.

Photo credit: IG @ezratheshikoku


Can Shikoku Ken live with other animals?

The general rule is that if you want your Shikoku to coexist with other animals they need to be raised with them, and even then there may need to be careful management since Shikoku are hardwired to chase. While there are many shikoku living side by side with other dogs, cats, birds, and rabbits without posing any threat to them, there are also owners that need to closely monitor or keep their Shikoku separate altogether. It is important to remember that Shikoku are a hunting breed with a high prey drive, and all it takes to trigger that prey drive is for a small animal to move too quickly. Keep this in mind when socializing your puppy Shikoku with other dogs. You don’t want the first time your Shikoku experiences a tiny Chihuahua or Yorkie running and squeaking like a toy to be when your dog is fully grown and capable of serious damage. Remember, the Shikoku were bred to hunt, so when trying to stop a dog from chasing you are fighting against thousands of years of instinct.

Training an “on” and “off” command for a Shikoku can be a huge help when it comes to prey drive and impulse control. You can do this by training “Zen” - asking your dog to wait for you to give the okay to take a treat or toy - and using a flirt pole to give them an appropriate outlet for chasing things as well as teaching them when it’s time to stop. For more details, look for “Training” under the Links tab.

I have a Shiba Inu and am now interested in a Shikoku, do they work well together?

A Shiba and a Shikoku can learn to live together peacefully, but most owners that have paired a Shiba and a Shikoku together will tell you it isn't an easy transition. Shiba are generally very sensitive and dramatic dogs that don't respond well when their space is violated. Shikoku are generally very nosy dogs that like to pressure other dogs' space. Your Shiba will get frustrated about a space violation, your Shikoku will react and they will go back and forth attempting to correct each other. If you have two well socialized dogs, those arguments will be nothing more than a lot of noise and some posturing. If you have a very reactive or poorly socialized dog, those arguments can escalate and become a serious and potentially dangerous problem. Even if your Shiba and Shikoku get along, you may later realize your Shikoku would benefit from having another dog around with a more compatible play style, like another Shikoku or Kishu Ken. In general, a Kai Ken may be a much better choice of Nihon Ken to pair with a Shiba.

Photo credit: IG @lifewithshikoku


Do Shikoku excel at performance sports?

Yes! Shikoku are very athletic and relatively eager to please their handlers. In capable hands, Shikoku can do well at agility or competitive obedience, barn hunt, and nosework. Below is a video of Kuma, who belongs to Kris Schuler, doing an obedience routine at 11 months old. Kris is an experienced obedience trainer, so your results may vary depending on the temperament of your dog and your level of training experience. Another activity that several Shikoku enjoy is lure coursing, which gives them an excellent outlet for their high prey drive.

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Are Shikoku fighting dogs?

The agility, power, stamina, and tenacity of the Shikoku Ken made them highly desirable to own in the late 19th and early 20th century---a time period in Japan where dog fighting was popular. These characteristics combined with the popularity of dog fighting led the Shikoku Ken to contribute to the development of the Tosa Inu, or Tosa Fighting Dog; however, the Shikoku Ken is *NOT* a fighting dog, they are a hunting dog. The fact that the Shikoku was a component in a breed created for fighting does not make them a fighting breed. Further, dog fighting in Japan, known as Tōken, does not reward vicious or dangerous behavior like dog fighting in North America. In Tōken, the fight ends if a dog barks, yelps, loses the will to continue, or if a doctor judges continuing to be a potential danger to a participant's health. Thus, the weak association that the Shikoku has to dog fighting is completely unrelated to the vicious and illegal fighting that is unfortunately too common in North America. We will reiterate, because this point is very important, the Shikoku is *NOT* a fighting dog.

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How much exercise does a Shikoku need?

Contrary to perception, a Shikoku is not a larger, lazier shiba. Some Shikoku may be on the more laid-back side, but generally Shikoku have a lot of stamina and needs long daily walks, play, and mental stimulation. While they are calm indoors, Shikoku are filled with energy outdoors. Similar to a Husky, a Shikoku requires adequate exercise or can become anxious and destructive.

Photo credit: IG @lifewithshikoku