Monday, May 30, 2016

NIPPO: Hunting and the Nihon Ken

Every year NIPPO holds its 'Ryounou Kenkyuukai' which roughly translates to 'Hunting Ability Study Group'. It's aim is to maintain awareness of, and test the hunting instinct in today's Nihon Ken. This year's test was held in Tsukuba, Ibaragi prefecture, which while a few hundred kilometers from my house is still closer than usual. I had been requested from quite a while back to enter Baron. The reason for this was so that discussion could be held regarding the correct temperament for the Nihon Ken.

Being a hunting breed, temperament and hunting ability is a very important aspect of preservation. This is something that was recognized from the earliest days of the breeds. However, individual opinion regarding interpretation of the standard, and the correct temperament, continues.

My opinion is that to correctly understand the best temperament, and the standard, you need to experience hunting with them. You don't want a shy dog, nor do you want a dog that is too bold. With the one you will not catch anything, and with the other you will also not catch anything (or have too many injuries). You want balance. You want an intelligent dog too, no idiots who do not learn from their experiences. You don't want a people or dog aggressive dog either, as you often hunt with friends, their dogs, or near houses. You also don't need a dog that is ridiculously friendly, as that can lead to dogs running off toward people/places that they shouldn't which can lead to accidents.

Anyway, the current temperament that is selected for is all too often of the dog aggressive nature, as an aggressive dog in the ring often looks powerful. But in my opinion (and the others who asked me to enter Baron), this is not what should be rewarded in the ring. You need energy, you need awareness, presence, all these things, but not aggression. Anyway, Baron is a terrible example of the Kishu in conformation (poor pigment, head shape/type, coat etc), but he's a great hunter and companion with great structure.

There were 33 dogs entered, 8 Shiba, 1 Hokkaido, 9 Shikoku, 15 Kishu.
I took notes on all the dogs entered, and was plenty surprised at the number of dogs which displayed potential against the boar (small boars around 20kg). However this percentage is probably not a good example of the total hunting ability remaining in the breeds since this is a penned test, and the people bringing their dogs are probably more into and aware of hunting than your average NIPPO member. Of the total, 20 dogs were seeing boar for the first time, while the other 13 had some sort of experience, either hunting or in the pen.

Of the 8 Shiba, I would give high marks to 2 first time females. They gave good chase and were very vocal. One other Shiba showed some promise, but ran after one charge and was done. One more also showed interest, but was far too careful and did not bark at all. Of the other four, 2 ran immediately and only wanted out, and the other 2 were completely oblivious to the boar (with one of them getting charged because of it, and then running for the hills).

The lone Hokkaido was a brindle which had a lot of drive, energy, and good reaction, but did not bark at all.

Of the 8 Shikoku with no experience (including Masa), only 2 showed poor/no interest. The other 6 showed varying degrees of interest/ability. One female in particular was excellent, and two of the males as well. It's always very interesting to see a dog's switch turn on as hunting instinct that has lain dormant all their lives kicks in. One of my good friends' adult males saw boar for the first time, and while completely pedestrian at first, all of a sudden he switched on and did very well during the latter half of his 5 minute test.

Of the 7 Kishu with no experience, there was 1 dog that was absent. There was only one dog that I thought had very low potential. The others ranged from mediocre to excellent. One yushoku male in particular was fantastic. Another notable entry was a white female who got caught out and bitten by the boar, but regained confidence after a moment and then went on to work the boar very well. This to me is a great sign, a dog that bounces back quickly, and learns from its experience.

The remaining Shikoku and Kishu all had some sort of experience, and they all worked the boar to varying degrees. A couple were a bit too low energy and did not work the boar close enough to stop it in a real mountain environment, but a few were quite outstanding. Baron was actually registered at the middle of the male adults, but they moved him to the last dog since I was quite certain he was just going to catch the boar and it would be over in seconds. And that's what happened.

I generally don't enter Baron in boar dog tournaments or training because I already know he hunts. There's no real purpose, and there's always the chance of injury. I agreed this time so that there could be a discussion around temperament, a bit of an obedience demonstration, and I'd requested a large boar. Unfortunately they only use 2 small boars so I almost felt like not putting Baron in the ring. He went right, searching for the boar, swung left, then found the boar in the back middle area, sized it up for a split second, caught its right ear, and it was over. Probably took around 20 seconds in total. We separated them, and that was the end of the day.

I took Baron, Masa, and my two 6 month old girls with me. Masa did poorly by the way. He looked, let out a few barks, but no real drive, and not enough interest. That was disappointing, but not unexpected. The two girls I was able to get in the ring after the event was done. They showed awareness, and barked a bit, and that was enough for me. Just wanted them to see a live boar.

Shigeru Katoさん(@katothewalrus)が投稿した動画 -

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


So this is Shura. If you follow my Instagram or Facebook you've probably seen her before. She's 1/4 Tosa/Pit/Cane Corse/Mastiff, bred by a friend of a friend as part of their guard dog program. They wanted me to have a pup, but I told them I don't really need a guard dog, and if I raise her she's definitely not going to be a badass. I do have a thing for big dogs though, and she's a really nice break from the high energy and hunting drive of the Nihon Ken.

She started out this small. I would carry her everywhere in my jacket since it was winter, and she doesn't tolerate cold very well. Another major difference from the Nihon Ken.

Shigeru Katoさん(@katothewalrus)が投稿した写真 -

Shigeru Katoさん(@katothewalrus)が投稿した動画 -

She's quite a big girl now at 4 months, but I haven't taken too many pics or vids. She's been a walking medical bill to be honest, but I'm used to that part of dog ownership.

Shigeru Katoさん(@katothewalrus)が投稿した写真 -

I had to deal with parasites, kennel cough (which then EVERYONE slowly caught so I had to medicate all my 7 other dogs), and then she got cherry eye which I had to have operated on. She's great now though, just a big silly puppy. Hopefully she'll be my everywhere dog to hang out with me when I leave the house. I take some of the other dogs sometimes, but high strung hunting dogs heading into Tokyo is not always the funnest experience, for me and them.

Monday, May 23, 2016


A second generation Shiba breeder who is a friend of mine found a baby crow that had apparently fallen from its nest. I'm raising the little bugger now, and after fishing around for names, I've picked Hodor. The person who suggested it apparently thought it would be funny to see me walking around all day saying 'Hodor', and I agree. Me and everyone else.

I don't know how long he'll be around, but for now I'll put up with the extra mouth and the extra noise.

Shigeru Katoさん(@katothewalrus)が投稿した写真 -

Saturday, May 21, 2016

NIPPO Grand National 2016

The NIPPO Grand National this year will be held on November 19th and 20th in Futtsu City, Chiba Prefecture. The 19th will be for the medium and large size breeds, and the 20th will be for Shiba and best in show.

I'm on the board as a member of the organizing committee and will be showing dogs as well (hopefully!) so I imagine I'll be busier than usual, but I hope to see you all there! With the show here in Chiba, it's only an hour and a half from Narita International Airport, and about the same distance from Tokyo, so that's definitely a plus for everyone visiting from overseas.

For the adventurous, I'm happy to have guests stay out here at my place. I don't know how many times we'll get to host the national here in Chiba during my lifetime, so I'm planning to make the most of it and have a party.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Hunting with Karen

I had a few hours this afternoon, so geared up and loaded up Baron and Karen. Karen's an 8 month old Baron x Tenko pup that's still here with me. She had some digestive issues (never did figure out what was going on), and she was the smallest pup in the litter, so I kept her to make sure she was going to be okay. Luckily the only side affect of her early issues is that she's a tiny Kishu female, but I really like her temperament. She's pretty bulletproof with people and other dogs, and is very adventurous.

I'm not quite sure what all I did right, but taking her out into the mountains today for the first time was a breeze. She kept up with Baron, visibly tracking scents, and checking in with me frequently. I had her off leash for the first 4 or 5 months of her life, walking around the neighborhood etc, and she's seen a few dead boar that I've brought back. I guess all the daily communication and recall work paid off, cause she worked the mountains really smoothly.

About 5 minutes in they took off after something small. It went to ground around 400 meters away, and I got there and called them off. This took us in the opposite direction from where I wanted to hunt, but that's how these things go. I tried to avoid a known badger den, but off they went. Baron took a facial for his trouble, and the only good news there was that Karen was right in there with him, growling/barking. I dragged them away from there, and a bit later they took off to the left toward a known boar nest.

About 1 minute later I heard Baron start baying down in the ravine to the right, and then heard Karen moving after a boar in the opposite direction to my left. Couldn't get to Baron fast enough as it was extremely steep and overgrown. The boar and Baron took off, with Baron following for around 400 meters. I caught up with Karen, but her boar was gone too, and we just waited for about 5 minutes while Baron came back. At this point I was just happy that she'd experienced the dangers of badgers, and gotten onto boar in the mountains on her first day. Figured it was time to start heading back toward the truck.

Of course around 300 meters to the truck Baron perks up and slips downhill toward my right. He got to the bottom and looked up at me, so I started moving down toward him. He just needs to make sure I'm coming, which tells me it's either a big one, or there's more than one. Karen is with me, but halfway down she picks up the scent and is off with Baron. They're around 60 meters ahead when I hear the dogs growling, boar growling and huffing, and some intermittent barks. I move in, and there are boar right in front and to my left, but I can't see them due to the underbrush and bamboo. Karen is actually ahead of Baron, and I can hear an unhappy boar in front of her. Baron's being more careful and moving around from left to right.

After that it's all pretty fast. The sow is breaking bamboo, and I'm trying to sneak in for a shot, Baron and Tenko are in there with her, but at the last moment a little piglet dashes toward us. Wrong direction buddy. There's a mad merry go round race in the bamboo for around 30 seconds as the little striped dude is flying around in circles with Baron and Karen in tow. Then he's caught and squealing. I ran in and picked him up, really cute little guy, and he calmed down as soon he was held. I probably would have taken him home, but checking him out, he had a bite all the way into his chest cavity and was bleeding quite a bit. I sat down for a bit, put him on the ground, and he just sat there for a minute practically in my lap. Baron and Karen listened to me as I told them to wait, though their eyes were like lasers on the little boar. I apologized to the little guy and slit his throat and artery. He was gone in a few seconds.

No matter how many times I do it, taking life never feels good, and I never stop feeling inner conflict when it comes time to do it. I think that's the way it should be. I don't ever want to become numb to the fact that I'm taking a life.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Available Kai Females at Sai no Kuni Inoue Sou

These two females were born on the 17th of March, and are for sale. One is a chu-tora (medium brindle) and the other a kuro-tora (black brindle). Their sire, Asahi, is in the video as well, and you can see he's got a great temperament.

They were actually born in a cooperative breeding home, so I didn't get a chance to see the dam, but she's a Sai no Kuni Inoue Sou dog (Wakahonjin daughter I believe).

I've got more pics and info up on my export site

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If anyone's interested, my email is

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

NIPPO All Kanto Regional Show 2016 Spring

I've been away from blogging for 2 months. That's a first... I mean there have been dry spells, but starting over at my old Tora Inu blog over 7 years ago, I don't think I've gone 2 months without a single post.

Reason? I've just been doing so many things that I have put blogging on the back burner. The reason I started blogging in the first place was to try to put correct information regarding the Japanese breeds out there, and to promote their preservation. I think that in that regard things are much better online than they were when I started blogging all those years ago. Possibly because of that I don't feel a pressing need to blog. Blogging takes time! Remembering to take pictures/video for posts, and then sitting down to actually conjure up text is actually pretty time consuming.

The preservation of the Japanese breeds has been a passion, close to an obsession, for the better part of a decade now, and this little break has allowed me to put into focus how much of my time, energy, and resources go into this part of my life. Hell I moved out into the middle of nowhere for this...

Anyway, I'm still wrapping my head around my life and everything in it, but in the meantime I'm back to blogging.

Sunday was the NIPPO All Kanto Regional show hosted by the Saitama Branch. All my dogs are out of coat/condition, so I did not enter them. I don't show my dogs unless they're in show condition, and it is one of my pet peeves to see the Japanese breeds being shown overseas when they're in very poor coat (not that it doesn't happen here as well). It was a blazingly sunny and hot day as is evidenced by the beautiful circular tan (burn) line around my neck.

It's a lot easier to drop by a show and just hang out with friends than it is to actually enter dogs, but of course it is much more exciting to be showing your dogs. I kind of did it half/half by helping handle a friend's Shiba female. First time being in the Shiba ring, and though we made a mess of it, we did come away with a Souken-sho (we placed, yay).

That's probably enough text for this post, so I'll just move on to some of the pictures I snapped.