The last decade of open communication and supportive community has brought a multitude of Kishu Ken owners from around the globe together to share their dogs online - in public forums of the earlier 2000 and 2010s and social media websites such as Instagram and Facebook, we can speak with others across the globe in the palm of our hands. In a rare breed with geographically distant ownership, this is has been invaluable for sharing anything from cute dog pictures to critical health information.
In the last handful of years in particular, health issues in the Kishu Ken are becoming better known. For decades since their introduction to the USA (the first breeding pair in the USA was born in 1991, our current data suggests), very little information on breed health had been known.
Because of this openness and sharing, we now know that allergies and skin conditions are commonplace in the breed.
But sometimes, skin issues aren't as simple as allergies and the cause has far deeper roots and can mean something much more nefarious for your dog.
At current, we know of the following autoimmune illnesses in Kishu Ken:
What does this mean?
For Owners of Kishu Ken:
For Breeders of Kishu Ken
At this time, the National Kishu Club is collecting registered names and pedigrees on dogs who are affected by autoimmune illness and allergies for research and education purposes. If your dog is affected by any diagnosed allergies or autoimmune illness, please consider submitting an email to email@example.com with your dog's pedigree name, diagnosis, and parentage. We will work to develop an easy submission form on the website to submit your dog.
You may also help in the form of a monetary donation to allow the club to collect pedigree data on ancestors via a NIPPO research pedigree request and even support our ability to collect data and research these illnesses in the breed.
This is a special breed with relatively few health issues, but the ones that we are seeing can be very scary for owners and breeders. Please know that no matter if your Kishu Ken is healthy or even currently affected, you and your dog are not alone, and you can always send the club an email if you think you need help, or you can join the Facebook group of Kishu Ken owners and enthusiasts to share and find a community that will love to see you and your dog.
First, we're going to go over the dramatic decline of the breed... but don't lose hope! The second half of this blog post will discuss ways to assist the Kishu Ken and the National Kishu Club.
The Kishu Ken is facing a crisis. None of the medium sized native Japanese breeds are doing well in the numbers game of registrations per year, but the Kishu Ken registration numbers have been dropping the most dramatically.
Once rather populous and popular among the medium sized breeds, the Kishu has been experiencing a decline in popularity that has equaled a decline in population by registration numbers a year. With the rate of decline, if the population does not stabilize, we may be approaching a time where we see 0 or very few registrations in as little as 3 years.
Here's a snapshot of registration numbers:
Considering NIPPO is the primary breed registry internationally, and its pedigrees are recognized by the AKC (nearly all Kishu Ken in the world are NIPPO-registered, with the FCI having the second highest population of registered dogs), the sad reality for our breed right now is that we may face extinction if things do not change.
This is compounded with the fact that only 66 individuals have ever been registered with the AKC. These dogs have birth years ranging from 1991 to 2019 and the majority are downline from only a handful of imports, some related to one another.
Fortunately, there are things that can be done to help stabilize this decline and improve Kishu Ken visibility and AKC numbers.
What You can Do:
There are multiple ways fans and enthusiasts can help the Kishu Ken. Even if your home is not ready for a Kishu Ken and you cannot welcome a dog at this moment, please consider some of the other ways you can help:
Things anyone can do:
If you already own a Kishu Ken:
If you are interested in owning a Kishu Ken:
Kishu Ken are a versatile, devoted, and focused dog who can excel as an active companion to share life with. They are not "only" a hunting dog and many are very outgoing with anyone they meet. They have a place in modern pet, sport, and working homes, and deserve a fighting chance.
Kishu Ken centric articles written by club members. If you are a club member who would like to submit an article for the website, please contact us.