We are pleased to announce that we will be adding Hokkaido Ken to our kennels to aid the HANA Project. The Hokkaido Association of North America (HANA) is a network of owners and breeders that aim to grow the breed here in the US and Canada. Our first Hokkaido will arrive next spring after our April trip to Japan.
We are now accepting puppy questionnaires to get on our list for future Hokkaido Ken litters. If you are already on our list for a Japanese Akita puppy, email us to let us know you’d also be interested in a Hokkaido.
These plans have been almost a year in the making, as we wanted to be sure that we could do the most good for HANA by selecting the ideal bitch for this project. We are overjoyed at the opportunity to import Ruri Hiroo Hokushinsou aka “Minira” from Krisztina Illes in Hungary. Born to an excellent kennel in Japan, Minira will be a welcome addition to US breeding projects thanks to all the hard work that Krisz has done vetting and campaigning her to her Junior Championship. She already has all of her health clearances, a rarity among imports, with Excellent hips and DNA tested CEA clear. She carries both sesame and black-and-tan color genes, which we look forward to working with as something different from our red, brindle, and white Akita.
The Hokkaido Ken is one of the six native breeds of Japan, a smaller cousin to the Japanese Akita. As a medium-sized primitive spitz breed, the Hokkaido Ken is native to the island of Hokkaido, where it was traditionally used to hunt boar, bear, and other game in unforgiving cold. Although fewer in number than the Shiba or Japanese Akita, Hokkaido are still bred and used for hunting and have both show and hunting kennels. They are known for their bravery, tenacity, loyalty, and ability to survive harsh climates. Their fierce and unrelenting character benefits them on the field when in confrontation with a bear several times their size.
Thousands of years ago, the Ainu people migrated to the island of Hokkaido with their medium sized hunting dogs that were the ancestors of today’s Hokkaido Ken, which may make them the earliest branch of the Nihon Ken. They come in all of the colors of the native breeds of Japan: red, white, brindle, sesame, and black-and-tan. A white Hokkaido by the name of Otosan (“Father”) has been the mascot of SoftBank, a telecommunications and Internet company in Japan, since 2006. These commercials have raised awareness of the breed worldwide, as well as increased the popularity of white Hokkaido in particular.
As with the Akita, Hokkaido are not a breed for everyone. Their nature as a working and active dog makes them unsuitable for families looking for an easygoing couch-potato. Some Hokkaido can also be very vocal, expressing themselves with howls and barks that they would typically utilize while on the hunt. They also share similar behavioral and training considerations with the other native breeds of Japan. Our aim is to preserve the character and spirit of this breed, not warp it into behaving like a Golden Retriever so that it can be a “better” pet.
The breed preservation society is Hokkaido Ken Hozonkai (DOKENHO), though they are also recognized by Nihon Ken Hozonkai (NIPPO) along with all of the other native breeds. Our imports will be dual registered with both DOKENHO and NIPPO, and our puppies NIPPO registered as well as UKC and AKC-FSS registered. DOKENHO has no foreign branches, but we hope that one day the efforts of the HANA project and Hokkaido breeders in the US will lead to the creation of a North America branch.