The Hokkaido: A Complete Guide

The Hokkaido is a Japanese dog that is seen as being extremely rare outside Japan itself.

Indeed, even in Japan, it is believed that there are only around 12,000 of them which gives you an idea of how rare this breed is.

However, if you search hard enough, there are breeders out there and opportunities to own this rather special dog.

The only problem is that you probably do not know enough about them at this point, but that is where our complete guide will hopefully prove to be rather useful.

There are so many things to learn about this breed before you potentially become an owner, so we are going to take you through those different aspects one by one.

By the end, you will be in a much better position to even decide if this is indeed the kind of dog that you want to own.

Before we do that, we do need to turn our attention to you as that is where everything begins which is something that you are about to see.

Hokkaido Puppies – Before You Buy…

A white Hokkaido
The Hokkaido is not as popular as it deserves to be.

Prior to buying a puppy, we want you to be honest with yourself especially when you are dealing with a dog of this size and nature.

To help, there are several questions that should be running through your mind not only as you read out guide but even after it.

Questions such as the following should be important to you:

  • Have you ever owned a dog before?
  • Have you ever had to train a dog?
  • Have you ever dealt with a dog of this size or strength before?
  • How much do you know about the Hokkaido breed?
  • Are you aware of their needs and requirements?
  • Are you sure you can provide this to them?
  • Can you afford to care for them?

They may be seen by many as being basic questions, but they will certainly allow you to determine if this is something that you want to go forward with.

What Price are Hokkaido Puppies?

So, what kind of price can you expect to pay for Hokkaido puppies?

Well, remember that this is a rare breed of dog, so that is going to make a difference to the kind of price that you would expect to pay for other breeds.

Also, their pedigree is still going to play a role in the price as well. The better it is, then the higher the price that you pay.

You should remember that you will need to go to specialist breeders and that too will increase the price.

If you are lucky enough to find a breeder, then all of this means that you will often be paying in the region of $400 but it will be several times that if you plan on importing them from Japan.

In the UK, the price will be around £500 but do not be surprised if some breeders play on the rarity and charge more.

How to Find Reputable Hokkaido Breeders?

Finding reputable Hokkaido breeders may not be as easy as with other breeds.

However, both the Kennel Club and Dog Breeder’s Association for your country could be in a position to help.

Often, they will have a registry of breeders that are deemed to meet certain standards, so this will be a good place to start.

But then, in this instance, it may be best for you to seek breeders in Japan and effectively import the dog from there.

While this is unusual, it could be the only option available to you, so check out quarantine regulations before going ahead.

3 Little-Known Facts About Hokkaido Puppies

There will be so much that you do not know about Hokkaido puppies, but we are going to limit this to just three facts.

  • They love to howl

This breed of dog loves to howl, but the difference here is that they prefer to do it when they are very happy, so at least it is a good sign rather than them being bored in some way.

  • It is 3000 years old

This dog was bred by the Ainu people some 3000 years ago, so it is one of the more traditional dogs in Japan.

Its main purpose was to help them with hunting whereas now people see them as being more of a companion.

  • It is a living natural monument

In 1937, the government of Japan decided to make this dog a living natural monument.

It shows just how highly regarded it is and yet that does then make you wonder why it is not more popular even in Japan itself.

Physical Traits of the Hokkaido

A small Hokkaido laying on the grass
The Hokkaido may have originally been bred for hunting.

This is regarded as being a medium-sized dog, but one that is also exceptionally strong.

They have a wide chest and triangular ears with some people believing that they have a rather fierce-looking appearance.

The breed has smaller eyes than most which look even smaller when you consider that their head is relatively wide in comparison to the rest of their body.

They also have a rather pointed muzzle which just makes their eyes look smaller still.

The body is muscular but as it is not the largest of dogs, this does come across as being quite stocky.

Interestingly enough, Hokkaido dogs that are bred outside of Japan do also tend to be slightly smaller than those in Japan, but both types are still as strong as one another.

They have a double coat that requires grooming every week, but it is still relatively short.

They can be bred with a variety of colors from black or white to sesame and even a reddish tinge.

How Big is a Full-Grown Hokkaido?

While there are larger breeds out there, a full-grown Hokkaido is still an impressive looking dog. Also, there is not much of a difference in size between the male and female of the species.

In general, you are looking at the Hokkaido reaching a height of between 18 to 20 inches.

However, their weight can vary between 44 to 66 pounds, so you can see why this is regarded as being a rather strong dog.

What is the Life Expectancy of the Hokkaido?

The life expectancy of the Hokkaido is rather impressive.

Of course, how you care for them throughout their life is going to have a positive impact on the extent of their life, but generally speaking, you are looking at anywhere between 12 to 15 years as being the norm.

Intelligence, Temperament and Personality Traits of the Hokkaido

The Hokkaido is regarded as being a very intelligent dog that is also going to prove to be relatively easy to train.

It may look fierce, but it has a chilled temperament and will be very loving to the family even if there are young children around.

They are very alert to everything that is going on, so can be a good watchdog. Also, they are brave by nature and will go to explore anything that they see as being strange to them.

This is due to their hunting origins.

People also see them as being loyal to their family and protective of children that they see as being in their pack.

Oh, and they can also be very friendly towards cats, so if you already own one, then they could be a good mix.

Overall, the Hokkaido is going to look after you and guard your family but, at the same time, will love nothing more than cuddling up to you and showing how much they love you.

The Hokkaido’s Diet

A Hokkaido standing on all fours
The Hokkaido is not suited for apartment living.

With a dog of this size, keeping track of their diet is going to prove to be important.

You certainly do not want them to become obese in any way, so making sure that they get the correct nutrients and amounts of food on a daily basis is key.

Remember that this is a strong dog, so they do need enough protein to maintain their strength.

You are not going to get this when you buy cheaper dog food as they use poor ingredients that are missing all of those essentials.

Instead, you need to try to push the boat out somewhat and purchase better quality food as that will serve them better.

With this size of dog, you should be looking at two cups of food per day, and you are allowed to provide them with a few treats as well.

However, do not leave food lying out for them as they will keep nibbling away as much as they can.

Due to their size, and the rate at which they grow as a puppy, you do also need to stick to the eating schedule as provided by the breeder.

If they do not automatically provide you with this, then ask them for it because it will help with their development.

How Much Exercise Does a Hokkaido Need?

The Hokkaido has an average to high energy level, and that does mean that you have to provide them with enough exercise throughout the day.

They are perhaps better suited for a family that is rather active and enjoys walking or even cycling.

This will allow them to burn off that energy, and they are also going to have a great time doing it.

You should be looking at providing them with somewhere in the region of 90 minutes of exercise per day, as a minimum.

Also, take them on different routes as they are going to enjoy exploring new ground and encountering new scents.

This breed will also be significantly better in a home where there is a fenced-in outdoor space for them to enjoy whenever they want.

Giving them the space to roam around and be in the fresh air will prove to be better for them, and at the same time, you want to be able to play with them as well.

The Hokkaido is good for both obedience and agility tests, and their intelligence does mean that they pick up on things relatively quickly.

Hokkaido Health and Conditions

This breed can be prone to a number of health conditions throughout its life and being aware of them in advance is going to prove to be rather useful.

There are various things that can ultimately be passed down the family line, and that is where the breeder can help.

Before purchasing your puppy, ask the breeder if the parents have been checked out for different conditions.

They should then be able to provide you with evidence that these checks have been done.

That being said, the health conditions to be aware of are as follows:

  • Heart Issues
  • Allergies
  • Hypodontia
  • Epiphora
  • Cryptorchidism

As you can see, the list is not that extensive, but it will still mean that you have to pay close attention to their health to spot these conditions as early as possible.

My Final Thoughts on the HokkaidoA Hokkaido's face

The Hokkaido is a wonderful breed of dog that should be more well-known than it is at this moment in time.

It may be Japanese in origin, but there are other breeders out there that you can contact.

Yes, it may have originally been bred for hunting, but it will also be a fabulous family dog.

You do need to make sure that it knows you are in charge or it could make an attempt on its own and become stubborn surrounding anything else.

They have relatively few health issues to worry about, and their energy levels fall into the average bracket.

However, they will not be suited for apartment living simply because they do need to explore things outside, so if you do not have a yard for them to venture into, then this is not the breed of dog for you.

As we said, it is disappointing that this breed is not as popular as it deserves to be.

But then, if you are lucky enough to find a breeder, at least you know you will be the proud owner of an amazing family dog that will be fiercely loyal.

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