Pet Insurance Quotes

Kai Ken: Breed Information

kai ken

If you want a companion and guardian of a dog, you can’t go wrong with a Kai Ken. This rare breed originated from Japan, where it is highly regarded as a national treasure. Blessed with superb hunting skills, this breed is an excellent swimmer and climber. So if you love going on an outdoor adventure, the Kai Ken can definitely keep up with you. Love to get to know this gem of a dog more? Here’s what you need to know about this reserved yet courageous pooch.


The Kai Ken is considered one of the purest breed of dogs in the whole world. This dog originated from the province of Kai, a mountainous region near Mt. Fuji where it used to hunt pheasants, wild boar, deer, and on some occasions, bear. Due to the treacherous terrain of its place of origin, the Kai Ken was isolated, preserving its pure bloodline. This is also why the breed is so rare even in its home country.

In the 1950s, US military servicemen brought the first batch of Kai Kens to the United States. Not much was known into what happened to those dogs. It wasn’t only in 1991 that another batch of Kai Kens made its way to the US and they became the breeding stock of the Kai Kens in the country.

 In 1931, the Kai Ken Aigokai was created and its main goal is to preserve the breed and serve as a Kai Ken registry in Japan.


Also known as the Tora Inu, which means tiger dog, the nickname is not just apt because of its distinct striped brindle color, but also because of its bravery. This Spitz-type dog would not hesitate to chase potential prey when it goes out hunting. Although fierce and independent, the Kai Ken is also every bit of a companion dog. When trained early on, this well-behaved pooch is sweet-tempered around family members, even children. If you have other smaller pets at home, make sure that you have introduced them properly to a Kai Ken when it’s still a puppy. After all, it is a hunting dog and its instinct might get the best of it when around smaller animals when it’s already an adult.

Because it is eager to please and has superb intelligence, the Kai Ken is trainable. It is fiercely loyal and it submits to its master. They can be aloof initially with strangers but not really aggressive. However, you can count on it to be very protective especially when it senses a threat.


The Kai Ken is a medium-sized dog that features a unique brindle-colored coat of three varieties: black (Kuro-Tora), red (Aka-Tora, and dark (Chu-Tora). It has a double coat made of a rough, medium-length outer coat, as well as a thick and soft undercoat. Featuring a tapered muzzle and furry, triangular ears in a wedge-type head, the Kai Ken is sturdy and muscular. It can reach a height of 15.5-19.5 inches and can weigh 20-40 lbs.


Owing to the fact that this dog evolved and propagated through natural selection due to an isolated environment, this breed is generally healthy. They enjoy a long life expectancy of 12-16 years. However, as a fur parent, it’s wise to be mindful of the common diseases that ail most dogs. Here are some:

Hip Dysplasia

Although common to large-sized dogs, hip dysplasia can happen to any type of dog. This condition results from the malformation of the hip joint, causing the ball and socket to grind instead of glide smoothly. In severe cases, this could lead to lameness and degenerative arthritis. If you notice symptoms like decreased activity, swaying gait, joint looseness, or pain, schedule an appointment with the vet. Mild hip dysplasia can be treated on an outpatient basis using pain and anti-inflammatory medication. But in severe cases, hip replacement surgery followed by physical therapy might be the only solution especially if the dog is no longer responding well to medications.

Elbow Dysplasia

Elbow dysplasia is pretty much like hip dysplasia, but instead of affecting the hip joint, this condition affects the elbow joint, which is comprised of three bones: radius, ulna, and humerus. When these three bones do not fit or are not aligned together, your pal may experience symptoms like limb lameness, abnormal gait, and unwillingness to do any sort of physical activity. Like hip dysplasia, treatment varies according to the severity of the condition. For mild cases, medication and weight control may be the only intervention needed. But for severe cases, a corrective or elbow replacement surgery might be the only option.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Progressive retinal atrophy is a hereditary disease that may lead to blindness in affected dogs. The retina serves as the film of the eye and when it doesn’t develop normally or its photoreceptors degenerate, you will notice your dog having trouble seeing at night. When it progresses, you will notice your pooch bumping into things even when there’s light. Unfortunately, there is no known effective treatment for this disease although a genetic test will reveal if your pup has a predisposition to this condition. The good thing is, dogs can adjust remarkably well with blindness. You just need to make some adjustments around your home to prevent any accidents.

Tips for Taking Care of a Kai Ken

Since Kai Kens are known to be intelligent and can be very headstrong, they’re not a suitable breed for novice owners. But if you have trained and raised pups for a good number of years, this faithful pooch might be the perfect fit. Here are some tips to take care of a Kai Ken.

Choosing a puppy

You can avoid a number of problems later on when you do some due diligence in choosing a puppy. Make sure that you only deal with reputable and responsible breeders who really care for dogs. They should be able to provide health clearances for common diseases like hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as progressive retinal atrophy from known organizations like the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.


The Kai Ken is a naturally clean dog and it’s an average shredder. You only need to give it a bath once a month or when it gets smelly. Its double coat will require minimal brushing when it’s not shedding. You have to trim their nails regularly using a clipper or grinder to prevent overgrowth and cracking.


Kai Kens don’t have a voracious appetite and are known to self-regulate their intake of food. Your adult Kai Ken can consume 2.5 cups of dry dog feed a day but you should divide this and give it twice daily.


Training should start when it’s still a puppy. You have to get it accustomed to seeing other types of animals. They’re naturally good with children and with other dogs but you still need to socialize it so it is exposed to different environments and scenarios. Because they can be headstrong, an inexperienced owner may have a hard time getting the dog to pay attention. But if you know how to lead as the dominant figure with a loving yet firm approach, you can get this dog to do even some complex task.

Ideal Living Condition

This dog is a natural hunter so a fenced yard would make an excellent playground. However, even with their natural hunting instinct, this dog can thrive indoors with just a 30-minute walk or jog around the neighborhood as its daily exercise. They can be great escape artists so make sure the fence is high enough and it’s on a leash when it goes outside.

Rare and unique, it’s a privilege if you do manage to raise a Kai Ken. Overly faithful, its life revolves around that one person that it deems as its master, making it one of the best companion dogs and fur babies any fur parent could ever ask for.

Related Content

Get Free Quotes!

Compare Plans and Prices from the Top Companies