Sunday, May 30, 2010


I went to Saitama today to attend a gathering of Kai breeders. We were all getting together since the spring Tenrankai season has ended. There were 10 of us all together, and for lunch our host prepared a great bento (Japanese for lunch box?), miso soup, home made pickles, and home made green tea cakes. We talked Kai all day, and I discovered our host has pretty much every out of print book on Kai. I've been looking for these books for ages, so I'm sure it looked like my eyes were popping out of their sockets while I poured over them. I've gotten permission to borrow them in the near future so should be able to get some scans/copies.

It was an extremely informative and fun get together with some very knowledgeable breeders. I'm happy to know them, and have them on hand to answer all my boring questions. Other than one couple that I met for the first time, I've known or been friends with the rest of the breeders for some time now.

I got to take a few pictures of our host's dogs. I decided to post some of this male named Musashi. He's the sire of a pup I sent to a friend in the States a fortnight ago. This is an aka-tora Kai (red brindle).





And here's one of the pup that went to the States' sister.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Group Photo

Had a fun weekend down south with family, in-law's, and friends. We all got together for my youngest brother's wedding. Aside from the weather, everything went smoothly, and we were all able to enjoy a relaxed (or was it just me relaxing?) celebration.

My dogs go with me pretty much everywhere, and this weekend was no exception. Can be a bit taxing at times, and I don't know if I can keep it up when the numbers increase. For now though, three medium sized dogs is not too much of a problem.

My wife snapped a few pictures of the dogs and I on one of our morning walks. Don't worry about Baron, he just finished a serious coat change and looks mangy as hell.

Group Photo

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


So I had a bit of an ironic moment yesterday when out with the dogs in the mountains. After a day of exercise chasing boar around, I was leading the dogs down toward the car. We just had a thread on the Nihon Ken Forum about snake proofing dogs the other day... Well Momo and Baron were walking just in front of me, and in about 5 seconds Momo had jumped into the grass, grabbed a snake, crushed its head, and killed it. Of course Baron thought Momo flailing the snake around looked fun, so came to see what was going on. Haru knows better.



It was a non poisonous grass snake, but either way, it was over so fast I think that even if it was poisonous there was no hope for the snake.

We had a nice walk through the mountains, the three dogs and my bro-in-law. Tried a bit of fishing afterward as well.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Haru and I

Had just finished walking the dogs yesterday when my wife whipped out the camera to snap a few pics of Haru and I. I've got loads of pictures of dogs, but seeing as I'm always behind the camera I have almost none WITH my dogs.

I guess that's pretty much the case with everyone and their dogs, but I figured it would be nice for me to have some pics with me in them as well :P Going to take some more pics with the Kishu later. Baron just blew his coat and looks god awful. I wanted to take a video of the shedding to show you how nuts it was, but didn't get around to it. For some reason Haru's never done a full blown blow like that. Her coat changes are much more subdued.




Tips For Shipping Dogs

I was working on a post about shipping tips when I came across this

It pretty much covered everything I already had listed, and then some, so I'm posting it in it's entirety here.


Flying your dog safely is a concern addressed by the Animal Welfare Act. This Federal law protects animals commercially transported by requiring minimum standards of care. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) enforces this law.

Here are some tips to ensure flying your dog safely:

  1. Take your dog to the Vet. Airlines and state health officials generally require health certificates for all animals transported by air. In most cases, health certificates must be issued by a licensed Vet, who examined your dog within 10 days of transportation.
  2. If you are traveling abroad, check with the country your pet is going to. Most have quarantine policies. Each country has their own set of rules. For specific country info:
  3. Check with the airline well in advance of travel regarding its animal transport rules. A few airline Transport Websites are listed below:
  4. Dogs must be at least 8 weeks old and must have been weened before traveling by air.
  5. Kennels must meet minimum standards for size, strength, sanitation, and ventilation. They must be enclosed and allow room for your dog to stand, sit, and lie in a natural position.
  6. Get your dog used to the kennel it will be traveling in. Let it spend varying lengths of time in the kennel several days before travel. Some dogs get very stressed when placed in a strange cage. An familiarized pet will reduce that stress. Also, you may wish to put some article of clothing that you have worn in the kennel during transportation. This may help calm the pet. An old T-shirt that you have slept in for one or more nights will work well.
  7. Label the pet carrier with your permanent and travel address and phone numbers. Same goes for the ID tag on your dog's collar.
  8. Instructions for feeding and water over a 24 hour period should be attached to the kennel. The 24 hour schedule will help the airline in case the flight is diverted from its original destination.
  9. Sedation of your pet is not generally recommended for air travel. Refer to a statement from the American Veterinary Medial Association (AVMA)
  10. Use direct flights whenever possible. This will minimize your dog's flight time, accidental transfers or delays.
  11. Travel on the same flight as your pet, if possible.
  12. Carry a leash with you. Walk your pet before check-in and after arrival.
  13. Only small dogs can go in the cabin. Some airlines may not even allow them in, and will transport them as special baggage in a heated and ventilated hold. Do not worry, dogs actually travel better this way because it is quieter and they will rest in a darkened environment.
  14. Contact the airline you have selected to confirm that they accept your pet on the day and flight that you prefer. Some airlines restrict the number of animals on a flight so the more advance notice you give them the better it is. Reconfirm at least 48 hours before departure.
  15. Find out how soon before the flight you have to check in. Pets become stressed with all the bustle at an airport, so keep it to a minimum. If your pet is allowed in the cabin, check in as late as possible. If it is going in the hold, check in early so that it can go to the baggage area and be put somewhere quiet and dimly lit in order to relax.
  16. To prepare your pet, reduce the quantity of food the day before but give it enough water; take your dog for a walk before leaving for the airport and again before check-in. A light meal 2 hours before tendering the animal to the carrier will help to calm it and is a legal requirement in the United States.
  17. If you ship your pet as air freight, check with the airline to ensure the air freight facility is open so your pet may be claimed by the consignee.
  18. It is better to ship your pet on weekdays as all staff are working and liaison is easier all along the route. Avoid holidays if possible.
  19. Transport of pug nose dogs, such as boxers, pugs, bulldogs and Pekinese, in hot season is not recommended. These animals have difficulty in maintaining a normal body temperature in hot weather.
  20. Carry a current photo of your dog. If he is accidentally lost, having a current photo will make the search easier.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Exporting Dogs From Japan: Part 2

How much do Nihon Ken cost in Japan? Well the easy answer is: Whatever the breeder decides to charge.

Generally though, most go for between $500-$1500 US. Of course there are exceptions. If you are looking for a particular type, or a pup from a particular breeding, expect to pay a premium (sometimes double the usual price). Shiba are an exception to this price range. I've heard of dogs going for well over $10,000 US. In the sane world of medium sized Nihon Ken, expect to pay around the above amount. Akita pups also tend to cost quite a bit, along the lines of Shiba prices.

So total costs you will be looking could be something like this.

Pup: 100,000 yen
Crate: 10,000 yen
Vaccination: 8,000 yen
Rabies Vaccine: 5,000 yen
Shipping: 20,000 yen - 150,000 yen

There will also most likely be a few odds and ends that come that will need to be paid for, usually another 10,000-20,000 yen.

Bear in mind that these are the prices you are looking at if you can take care of everything yourself. If you go through a 'broker', or have someone doing the translation, paperwork etc for you, you will be looking at higher prices.
I think that pretty much sums up the costs and details about exporting. I'll edit this post if I think of anything. Feel free to ask any relevant questions in the comment box.

Lastly, here are some helpful links.

Nihon Ken Hozonkai (Nippo)
Kai Ken Aigokai
Akita Inu Hozonkai
Hokkaido Ken Kyokai

Animal Quarantine Services

Exporting Dogs From Japan

I get a lot of mail from people overseas asking about the Japanese dog breeds, and how to find/export them. In this post I'm going to try and explain the basics of exporting dogs from Japan. I'm putting out a disclaimer on this that export regulations are subject to change at any time w/o notice, and the information in this post will eventually end up getting outdated. Do your own research and cover all bases. Hopefully though someone will find this information useful.

To start with I'd like to answer the most common questions, yes, you can export them, and no, I don't know of any breeders that speak English.

Some myths I've heard about exporting Nihon Ken include:

1. They are Natural Monuments so cannot be exported.
2. Breeders will not send dogs overseas because they are protecting their culture.
3. There is an extremely long quarantine.
4. It costs an arm and a leg.

While the communication barrier makes it extremely hard for someone overseas to find and export a dog from Japan, it's not impossible. I'm going to try and break down the details here for anyone interested.

First, finding a breeder. It is true that most breeders won't send dogs overseas. The reason is not that the Japanese breeds cannot be exported, or that they want to protect their culture. The truth is that most breeders in Japan are older, have little grasp of English, don't know the first thing about exporting animals, and the thought of dealing with all the details that go into export and communicating with a foreigner is terrifying. Almost all Nihon Ken breeders are non profit family run kennels. They are not professionals out to breed/sell dogs. It's a hobby.

All that being said, these are rare breeds even in Japan. Breeders will want to keep their best dogs for breeding, or pass them on to breeders. I have met a few breeders who did not want to send dogs overseas, but they are few and far between. If you don't have any connections with breeders in Japan, calling the Nihon Ken Hozonkai (Japanese Dog Preservation Society) office is an option (though of course you will need to speak Japanese). I know they have helped to arrange for pups to be shipped overseas. If you're looking for a Kai, the Kai Ken Aigokai (Kai Dog Protection Society) would be the place to call. For Hokkaido Ken, call the Hokkaido Ken Kyokai (Hokkaido Dog Association). Lastly if you're looking for Akita, then call the Akita Inu Hozonkai (Akita Dog Preservation Society). When you call any of these Japanese breed associations, it's important to let them know exactly what you are looking for.

Now for the brass tacks.

As far as import restrictions in your country, you will have to do some research. I know that even in the States, restrictions vary from state to state. So, all I can give you is the information you'll need to get them out of the country.

1. The dog must be over 2 months old.
2. A examination reservation will need to be made at the Animal Quarantine Center of the airport the animal will be flying out of, preferably at least 7 days in advance of the flight.
3. The dog will need a health certificate stating that the animal is free from signs of Letopspirosis and Rabies, and is in good health. You can have this examination done at any animal hospital, or can make arrangements for the certificate to be issued at the AQC on the day of the flight. This certificate must be issued a maximum of 7 days prior to the day of the flight.

If over 3 months, the dog will usually need a rabies shot at least 30 days prior to leaving the country. If over 4 months in most cases it is necessary for the dog to be up to date on all vaccinations. Microchips when exporting dogs from Japan are optional, but some countries require imported dogs to be chipped.

Shipping. There are two ways ship a dog out of the country, accompanied (carry on or check in of the flight you are on) and unaccompanied (as cargo). If you are taking pups with you out of the country you will need to make arrangements in advance with your airline. Most airlines require a minimum of 72 hours notice, but it's best to make arrangements when you book your flight. There is a limited number of space for animals on any given flight, and if they are full your dog will not be able to fly with you. To make your reservation you will usually need to give the airline information about the weight/age/type of dog, and the dimensions of the crate you will be shipping it in. Some airlines allow dogs that fit under a size/weight limit to be crated and taken aboard as carry on. This is the exception however.

To ship a pup unaccompanied (as cargo), you will need to make arrangements with a shipping company. In Japan you cannot deal directly with the airline about shipping live animals, they will refer you to a shipping agent. The shipping agent will need to have all the necessary information on the dog and crate size at least 10 days prior to your desired shipping date. The shipping agencies have offices near the international airports here in Japan, and you will usually have to arrange some sort of transport to the office. Some companies offer a pick up service. The dog will need to have its exam at the AQC (booked a week in advance remember!) on the day of the flight, and then needs to be taken to the shipping agent. The shipping agent can make the reservation, do the paperwork and take the dog to its inspection for you for a fee. It usually costs around 25,000 yen. Once at the shipping office they will double check all the details, you will make payment for the shipping, and from there the shipping agent does the rest.

The Crate: Airline's have regulations regarding crates. Most follow IATA guidelines. To put it simply the crate must be big enough for the dog to stand at full height and not have it's ears touching the roof. The dog must also be able to turn around and lie down comfortably. There are other rules regarding the type of crate to be used, but that's the size regulations for you. Each airline has it's own particular regulations, so you'll need to check with your airline.

Shipping Costs: Obviously costs will vary according to destination. Taking a dog back with you as check in though is surprisingly affordable. Fees vary according to airline and destination, but as an example it cost around $200 to take a medium sized crate holding a 2 month old pup to Portland last month.

Shipping a dog as cargo gets a bit pricier. For most destinations in the Continental United States shipping will cost anywhere from $1000-$1500.This is for a medium sized 2-3 month old NK pup in a medium sized crate. It is possible that it may cost more to some destinations Stateside. Shipping a crate with 2 pups to France a couple months back did cost closer to $3000.

Most airlines will allow pups that are under certain age/size limits to be crated together. The age/size varies by airline. When shipping cargo you are billed by crate size, so there is no difference in shipping costs if you ship 1 or 2 pups.
There's a bit more I need to add to this post, but the pups are whining for their evening walk. I'll round this off with a part 2 later tonight or tomorrow. Will add links to relevant websites.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

More Nihon Ken Pictures

Here's another picture from the other day of a Shikoku Ken male.


And one of a Shikoku Ken pup.


Black Shikoku.


Friday, May 7, 2010

More Riku

Another shot of Youtube's Kai Ken 'Riku' with a big smile for his owner.


BBQ Season

We've finally pulled out of winter, and seem to have gone directly into summer.

It was snowing toward the end of April, and this past week we've had blistering heat. I'm down with summer though, so no complaints. We've had 2 BBQ's in the past week. Just thought I'd throw up some pictures. Having the Nikon back in action is bliss.


Momo came along, she was great with the kids.


Seriously tasty grilled chicken going on here.


Thanks to my brother/sister in-law for the great BBQ! They live in a residential area, but it's got plenty of rice fields around. While there I heard a pheasant nearby, so rushed off to snap some shots. Managed to get pretty close. Good thing hunting season is a long way off, or he would have ended up on the grill.


Angry Kai

I was over at my friend's kennel yesterday picking up a pup, and took a few pics of his dogs.

He's got two stud males, Boss and Riki. As you can see from the pictures they don't get along, but it was rather funny watching the way they interact. Two angry males with a lot of posturing going on, each claiming his side of the courtyard.

For the record, the kuro-tora Kai 'Boss' is the boss. Riki puts on a big show, but it's rather hilarious watching him shrink around Boss.




Monday, May 3, 2010

More pictures

This is Riku, a friend's dog. He's probably one of the most famous Kai in the world as his videos have been up on Youtube for quite a while.







Nippo Kanto Rengo

So went to the Nippo Kanto Event today. Crazy traffic on the way, around 40km to be exact. We've just entered 'Golden Week' which is a week or so of holidays here in Japan. Beautiful weather though, it actually got T-shirt hot. This is the last Nippo event till autumn rolls around.

Since the Nikon is functional again my wife ran around snapping pictures. I was busy with dog stuff most of the day, so I'm happy she tagged along. I think this is like the second time I've gotten her to come along to a Japanese dog breed event.

I was so busy greeting/talking to friends, and looking at pups that I missed most of the showing. We got to see a lot of Kai as there are quite a few breeders in the area. Fun day, and there's another Kai pup in the house. For now anyway. She's the cutest pup I've seen in ages, and I've totally fallen in love with her temperament.