Japanese dog breeds are ancient and descended from a common ancestor. Spitz-type hunting dogs (canis familiaris palustris) lived in Japan about 3000 years ago. Kishu Ken (ken means “dog” in Japanese) evolved from robust, medium-sized dogs that roamed Japan’s highlands decades ago. They were matagi’s dogs, and they hunted boar and deer. Wakayama, Japan, is best known for the breeding and development of the Kishu. The hunters favored white because it was easy to see. Working dogs were bred to be useful and efficient. Prior to 1934, Kishus came in white, red, brindle, and spotted varieties. However, solid colors became the only acceptable colors, and the spotted-coat Kishus vanished by 1945.
The Kishu was designated a “Memorial of Nature” in its home country in 1934. The Japanese people are very proud of their dogs and lavish them with accolades and praise. Because of their pride and loyalty to their national treasures, of which the Kishu is one, the Kishus are rarely exported.