Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Exporting Dogs From Japan

Over the years I've received a lot of mail from people interested in owning one of the Japanese breeds. After a bit of initial trepidation about having my passion and work mingle, I began offering my services as a translator to help find pups to ship overseas. I still offer this service, but for the more adventurous I thought I would put together a basic step by step of what it takes to find a Nihon Ken pup, and get it home.

1.Finding a Breeder

Most breeders of the Japanese breeds are non-profit kennels. They work to preserve these rare breeds as part of their national cultural heritage. A large percentage of the breeders are older, most are not very tech savvy, and nearly all do not speak English. So how do you go about finding a pup?

If you know someone who has imported from and already has connections to a kennel in Japan, it will make your search much easier. Personal connections are very important in Japanese culture, so being introduced by a mutual acquaintance will help you get your foot in the door.

Internet searches, and directly mailing kennels with websites is another method you can use, albeit a very hit and miss one. You have no idea of the quality or nature of the kennel you are buying from. They could be the worst kennel in the world, but just happen to have a website. If you choose to go this route it is preferable to have your letter translated into Japanese before you mail the kennel you are interested in. I've heard from many of my friends here who run kennels, that they have been rather offended to have people send them mail in foreign languages. It shows a level of seriousness and good manners that you have taken the time to have your letter translated so the breeder can understand you!

Perhaps the best method is to contact the breed club. All the Japanese breeds have dedicated clubs, and if you contact the office, even in English, they will usually make the effort to help you find what you are looking for. Here is a list of the clubs and their contact information.

Akita Inu Hozonkai (Akita Dog Preservation Society aka AKIHO)
Japan Kennel Club-

Nihon Ken Hozonkai (Japanese Dog Preservation Society aka NIPPO)-
Shiba Inu Hozonkai (Shiba Dog Preservation Society aka SHIBAHO)-
Japan Kennel Club-

Nihon Ken Hozonkai (Japanese Dog Preservation Society aka NIPPO)-

Kai Ken Aigokai (Kai Dog Protection Society aka KKA)-
Nihon Ken Hozonkai (Japanese Dog Preservation Society aka NIPPO)-
Japan Kennel Club-

Hokkaido Ken Hozonkai (Hokkaido Dog Preservation Society)-
Hokkaido Ken Kyokai (Hokkaido Dog Association)-

Nihon Ken Hozonkai (Japanese Dog Preservation Society aka NIPPO)- or

The better your relationship and communication with the breeder, the better your chances of getting a quality pup as opposed to getting say the runt of the litter, or a pup with faults. Be as honest, clear, and polite in your communications as possible.


Puppy prices will vary by breed and kennel. I can only give you what I have found to be the norm within Japan, and what I generally consider to be reasonable, which is anywhere between 70,000-150,000 yen. I have found pups for under this price, and heard of numbers as high as 1,000,000 yen.

This price should usually include registration, deworming, and the first round of vaccination. It is good to be clear with your breeder on this point. You will also need an IATA approved crate to ship your pup in. Some breeders will include this for free.

Here are some ballpark figures for how much things usually cost over here in Japan.

Crate: @8,000 yen
Combination Vaccine: @8,000 yen
Rabies Vaccine: @5,000 yen
Deworm: @3,000 yen
Standard Health Exam: @3,000 yen

3.Export Regulations

The pup must be over 8 weeks old, and an examination reservation will need to be made at the Animal Quarantine Service of the airport the animal will be flying out of, preferably at least 7 days in advance of the flight. The dog will need a health certificate stating that the animal is free from signs of Leptospirosis and Rabies, and is in good health. You can have this examination done at any animal hospital, or can make arrangements for the certificate to be issued at the AQS on the day of the flight. This certificate must be issued a maximum of 7 days prior to the day of the flight. Here is the link to the Japan Animal Quarantine Service

Import regulations will vary by country, so contact your local quarantine authority well in advance. Japan is a rabies free zone, and this does ease import restrictions to most countries.

Importing dogs to the US from Japan is fairly straight forward. The only paperwork you usually need is the Health Certificate issued by the AQS in Japan. While combination vaccinations and microchipping are preferable, dogs can be imported without them. However if over 3 months old, the dog will need to be rabies vaccinated. Import regulations to EU countries are much more stringent.


There are two ways ship a dog out of the country, accompanied (carry on or check in of the flight you are on) and unaccompanied (as cargo). If you are taking pups with you out of the country you will need to make arrangements in advance with your airline. Most airlines require a minimum of 72 hours notice, but it's best to make arrangements when you book your flight as there is limited space for animals on any given flight. To make your reservation you will need to give the airline information about the weight/age/type of dog, and the dimensions of the crate. Some airlines allow dogs that fit under a size/weight limit to be crated and taken aboard as carry on.

To ship a pup unaccompanied (as cargo), you will need to make arrangements with a shipping company at least 10 days prior to shipping. In Japan regulations require that you use a shipping agent to ship live animals.Shipping agencies have offices near the international airports here in Japan, and you will usually have to arrange some sort of transport to the office. Some companies offer a pick up service. The dog will need to have its exam at the AQC (booked a week in advance remember!) on the day of the flight, and then needs to be taken to the shipping agent. The shipping agent can make the reservation, do the paperwork and take the dog to its inspection for you for a fee. It usually costs around 25,000 yen.

The Crate: Airline's have regulations regarding crates. Most follow IATA guidelines. To put it simply the crate must be big enough for the dog to stand at full height and not have it's ears touching the roof. The dog must also be able to turn around and lie down comfortably. Each airline has it's own particular regulations, so you'll need to check with your airline or shipping agent.

Shipping Costs: Obviously costs will vary according to destination. Taking a dog back with you as check in is surprisingly affordable. As an example, shipping a kennel on most airlines to the US costs around 20,000-40,000 yen.

Shipping a dog as cargo is pricier. For most destinations in the US shipping is @150,000 yen for a medium sized crate. Shipping costs to Europe are higher and vary by destination.

Here's a useful tip: some airlines will allow pups that are under certain age/size limits to be crated together. The age/size varies by airline. When shipping cargo you are billed by crate size, so there is no difference in shipping costs if you ship 1 or 2 pups.
Lastly I will mention that these are the costs if you are able to do everything yourself. If you go through an intermediary, or have the breeder taking care of all these preparations, prepare to pay a little more for the service.


  1. wow, I'd love a puppy could be sent to Chile u.u

  2. South America is a bit tricky due to the lack of direct flights, but not impossible.

  3. I hope someday can be possible :)

  4. Wow, great information. Maybe one day, I can afford importing an Hokkaido Pup out of its land or origin to Germany...