Also referred to as the Shikoku Shika Inu, meaning "the medium-sized dog from Shikoku", this breed has been used for enturies to hunt game. Shikoku is a large island off the coast of mainland Japan, south-west of Osaka. In ancient times, in teh more remote rural areas of the island, the local people used his do to help them in the hunt for game.
The breed was centered in the Kochi region, and is sometimes called the Kochi-Ken or Kochi dog. In appearance, this is a typical Japanese breed, with a dense, harsh coat in various shades of brown. It has a muscular neck and body, pricked ears and a typical, slightly curled spitz tail. In size, it is intermediate between the large Akita and the small Shiba Inu, with height of 18-22 Inches (46-55 cm). In personality, this is one of those breeds that stubbornly attempts to dominate other dogs, but is pleasant enough with its owners. It is a tough and agile dog, well adapted to hunting in difficult mountain terrain. Three kinds of Shikoku have been identified in the past - the Awa, the Hongawa and the Hata. Each of these was named after a particular locality within the general breed range. The Hongawa was considered to be the best variety, with the greatest level of breed purity, thanks to its isolation. This is an extremely rare breed and there have been fears for its future survival.
Fortunately there is now a Society for the preservation of Japanese Breeds, which is doing its best to protect this breed and prevent it from disappearing altogether. It was declared a Natural Monument in 1937.