Kai Ken

The Kai Ken is a native Japanese dog breed that was first discovered in the Kai mountains located close to the famous Mount Fuji. These dogs are considered to be one of the purest dog breeds in the world. In Japan, they served one main purpose - hunting.

The Kai Ken is an intelligent dog breed that is known by several other names like Tiger dog (because of their unique stripes), Kai Uni, and Tora Inu. They are not too popular around the world and breed enthusiasts are working hard to build up their reputation and popularity.

Kai Ken


15-19 in (38-48 cm)

Kai Ken


20-40 lb (9-18 kg)

Kai Ken



Kai Ken

Life Expectancy:

12-15 years

Breed History

Kai is one of the six native Japanese dogs and this dog breed originates from Kai – mountain region in Yamanashi. These dogs were known for their hunting abilities from the early time. Japanese government classified these dogs as Living Natural Monument in 1934.

It is believed that these dogs came to the US in the 1950s but today this is still a fairly rare dogs breed outside of their native land.

Dog Breed Characteristics

Energy Level
Grooming Needs
Exercise Needs
Kid Friendly
Dog Friendly
General Health

The Kai Ken is a medium-sized dog that is well-balanced and has a sturdy build. The characteristics of the Kai Ken are typical of a breed that lives in a mountainous region in Japan.

The Kai Ken is similar to other native dog breeds and they share many characteristics. These dogs have wedge-shaped heads and black noses. Their eyes should be dark brown and nearly triangular, with corners slightly upturned. Their ears are triangular and firmly pricked.

These dogs are slightly longer than they are tall and that difference is even clearer in female dogs. They have short and strong backs. Their muscles are well-developed and strong. Like many other native Japanese breeds, these dogs also have curled tails that are carried above their backs.

Kai Ken standard


  • Group 5 (Spitz and primitive type), Section 5 (Asian Spitz and related breeds).
  • height - males 18,5-21 in (47-53 cm), females 16,5-19in (42-48 cm)
  • date of acceptance - 2/1/1982 

kai ken


Kai dogs have a double coat that sheds twice a year – during shedding seasons. During that period daily brushing is required to keep the amount of hair under control.

Kai coat colors:

  • black brindle
  • red brindle
  • brindle

Brush their teeth at least three times a week to prevent tartar buildup and infections. Make sure you use products that are made especially for dogs as human products could potentially harm them. Trim their nails if they don’t wear them down naturally. A good indication is if you can hear them clicking on the floor while they walk. Clean their ears and check for signs of redness or infections. Use a cotton cloth and never insert anything in their ear canal. You can always check with your Vet about the products you should use and the proper technique.


Kai dogs are medium active and they will need a proper amount of daily activities to be happy. Playing with his owner in the house, chasing the ball, or just long walks can all do the trick and keep this dog satisfied. If you provide him with enough daily activities you don’t have to worry that your dog will miss behaving.

Kai Ken temperament

The Kai Ken’s temperament is also similar to those of the other five native Japanese breeds. These dogs can be stubborn and independent. This does not mean that the Kai is not fond of their family, it just means that these dogs like to show affection and love at the time when they feel like it. They like to be around their family but are not at the center of attention. They are more comfortable laying in the back.

The Kai Ken can be a great family pet but they usually pick a favorite human. It will probably be the person that is with them the most, trains them, walks them, and feeds them. They will go wherever their person goes and they are known for their loyalty. In fact, if a Kai needs to be relocated or rehomed, they might not accept new owners.

Kai Ken training

When training a Kai Ken, keep in mind that these dogs can be stubborn. They are independent and might be a bit tougher to train for those that lack experience in that matter. The training sessions should be short and interesting. The Kai Ken loves positive reinforcement so using treats, praises, and food as rewards should provide the best possible rewards.

Kai Ken socialization

When socializing your Kai Ken, keep in mind that it is a hunting breed with a strong hunting instinct. No matter how well they are socialized, they might not get along with other smaller pets like cats or rabbits.

The Kai Ken is a great watch and guard dog and that means they are distrustful towards strangers. They rarely display aggression and proper socialization will make sure that never happens. Expose your dog to many different situations, sights, people, and dogs so that your Kai Ken can learn social rules and how to behave in different situations. Proper socialization will make sure your little Kai puppy develops in a well-behaved, stable dog.

Health problems

Kai are dogs with a life expectancy of 12-15 years. Like any other dog breed, they are prone to some health problems that every (future) owner should be aware of. To be sure that you'll get the healthiest possible dog, never buy a dog from a puppy mill breeder or a pet store. Kai can suffer from 

  • Hip dysplasia - Genetic problem affecting hips resulting from an improperly formed hip joint.
  • Luxating patella
  • Allergies - these dogs are prone to have allergic reactions to specific foods, products, or medications.
  • Eye problems
  • Canine cancer - Just like humans, dogs can get cancer as well. Treatments include chemotherapy, medication, and surgery.

To be sure that your dog will be healthy always buy him from a responsible dog breeder who regularly tests their breeding dogs to secure that their puppies will be healthy as well.


f this breed is a good fit for you and/or your family, make sure that you find a registered and reputable Kai breeder that can provide you with a great dog that will be physically and mentally healthy. Ask the breeder to show you the health certificates of his breeding dogs and if you can try and see what the puppy’s parents look like.

When you bring your new puppy home start with the training and socialization immediately. By doing so, you will end up with a well-behaved dog whom you can trust. Provide him with enough daily exercise for him to be happy. If you devote your time and energy to this dog, you can be sure that you will end up with a companion for life.

Kai is still a rare dog breed outside of their homeland and if you are interested in getting one of these dogs you must be prepared that you will be put on the waiting list.

World Dog Finder team


Updated at13.05.2021.