If you have a familiar knowledge of Japanese geography, you will have a head start on the names of the Japanese dog breeds, since they reflect names of popular areas within the country. Some are named after islands and others after regions. There is the most recognizable Akita from one of the most northern regions of the main island and the lesser known Shikoku from one of the larger southern islands.
Many of the native Japanese dog breeds severely declined during World War II but the situation has significantly improved since. This is mostly due to the efforts of dog lovers, breeders and various protective groups and societies who have labored to protect these breeds while encouraging an effective breeding climate.
Most of the breeds are actually very similar looking but differ mostly in size and temperament. They are basically in the same classification, with numerous sub-groups – large, medium and small. Their faces are very wedge-shaped fronting a square body. The ears tend to be upright and “perky” with the tail following suit.
It should not surprise you that many of the traits of these dogs reflect the Japanese fascination with the mystic. Their spirits tend toward dignity, bravery, loyalty, and calmness. These dogs can be very playful yet restrained again, Japanese traits that could be applied to their owners as well.
Originally, these dogs were bred for hunting. As such, can be quite brave and ferocious if necessary.
These are pack dogs and develop personality issues if continually separated from family or group. In fact, partly due to this, they are best reared indoors.
Not all breeds are native to Japan. The Japanese Spitz, Chin, and Terrier are not considered to be native dogs.
In general, if looking for a loyal, family friendly dog the Japanese dog breeds should seriously be considered.