Well known for their loyalty, bravery, and intelligence, Hokkaidos are breed of dog that hails from Japan. They are prized in Japan for their many extraordinary characteristics including their ability to withstand extreme temperatures, their uncanny sense of direction (which makes it very unlikely that a Hokkaido will ever get lost, and their intense fidelity to their family.
In their native Japan, they were traditionally used as a all purpose working dogs that were both family companions and hunting dogs. They are often kept in hunting kennels in Japan and go off either alone or in packs to a assist their owner in hunting large and ferocious game such as bear and wild boar. They are fearless hunters and will go to great lengths to protect their owner from harm well on the hunt. In fact Hokkaidos are well-known for their fighting style against Japanese bear attacks in which they bite the back of the bears neck until it gives up and eventually retreats. This fearlessness has translated into a fierce and formidable personality, and Hokkaidos are known for being intense and fearless dogs. An English zoologist named Thomas Blankiston gave them their official English name in 1869 during one of his many sojourns to Japan. Despite their Anglicized name, they are still relatively unknown outside of Japan and even within Japan are considered a rare breed. Hokkaidos are well suited to a variety of different type of living situations including apartment life, rural life, and suburban life. Ideally they would do better in a suburban or a country home as they enjoy having plenty of space to run and plenty of land to survey. However due to the fact that they are relatively low energy while indoors, and provided they are giving enough exercise, Hokkaidos can do very well in an apartment in a large city. Hokkaidos do well with children and other dogs only if they are properly socialized with them from puppyhood. Otherwise, they have a tendency to view rambunctious children as a nuisance and other dogs as a potential threat. For these reasons, families that have children or plan on having other dogs should take care to socialize their Hokkaido early on. They are not particularly well suited to homes with cats due to their strong prey drive and hunting instincts. Hokkaidos are a very particular breed of dog that is not a good choice for the every day dog owner that simply wants a loving pet. They are serious, sometimes aloof, and not overtly friendly to guests or strangers. While they are intensely loyal and truly love their owners and their family, they are not happy go lucky dogs and are rarely exuberant or jolly. For those who appreciate this unusual and rare breed, however, there is no better companion!
Hokkaidos make excellent search and rescue dogs in the mountainous regions of Japan, where people are sometimes caught up in avalanches or heavy snow.
Explore some Embark dogs that share Hokkaido ancestry.