Kai Ken – A Complete Guide To An Unusual Japanese Breed
What Is Kai Ken?
A Kai Ken is a small, short-haired, medium sized dog with a round face and pointed ears. They are found in Japan, Korea and China. There are two types of kai kens: Red and Black. The black type is usually smaller than the red variety.
The name “kai” means “dog”, while the kanji character 法 (ken) means “round”. The word ken literally translates into “small dog”. So it’s like saying a small dog is round.
In Japanese, the pronunciation of 南 (kensu), which roughly translates to “red dog”, is pronounced as かいけん or しきん. However, the actual meaning of the kanji character is 黒狼 (kuroku). The kanji character 白狼 (kyūru) means “black wolf”. So it’s like saying a black wolf is red.
So basically, Kai Ken are called red wolves. But they’re not really wolves at all! They are actually dogs! The name “wolf” comes from their coloration and because they look scary looking when they growl or howl. Their closest cousins are actually the Shiba Inu, Hokkaido, Tosa, and Kishu dogs (although these are all from Japan).
They were bred to hunt and also to serve as watchdogs in small villages. They are currently still used for hunting in parts of Japan.
Nowadays they are kept by people who want an active dog that doesn’t shed a lot of fur and are willing to put in the time to train them properly. Without proper training they can be stubborn, but are known to bond strongly with their masters and their families. They are considered good watchdogs but not great guard dogs because of their friendly nature.
Due to their high activity level, kai kens do best in rural or suburban settings rather than an apartment. They do okay without a yard as long as they get plenty of walks and exercise. But even a simple walk can turn into a big adventure for them, so a leash is a must.
Kai Ken are known to have a bit of an attitude problem. They can be aggressive towards other animals and pets in the home–even with training. It’s best to only have kai kens with other kai ken or a dog that is the same size or bigger than itself.
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