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Other names
  • Hokkaido-Inu
  • Dō-ken
  • Ainu-ken
  • Seta
  • Ainu dog
  • Hokkaido-Ken
Height Males 19.1–20.3 in (48.5–51.5 cm)
Females 17.9–19.1 in (45.5–48.5 cm)
Color sesame, brindle, red, black, black and tan, white
Kennel club standards
Japan Kennel Club standard
Fédération Cynologique Internationale standard
Dog (domestic dog)

The Hokkaido (北海道犬, Hokkaidō-inu or Hokkaidō-ken) is a breed of dog originating from Japan. Other names for the breed include Ainu-ken, Seta, Ainu dog. In Japan, its name is sometimes shortened to Dō-ken (道犬). The Hokkaido is native to the prefecture of the same name in Japan.


Two dogs

The dog is medium in size, with small, triangular, upright ears. The small black eyes have a rising triangular outline. The Hokkaido has a coat of long, stiff fur, and a second, shorter coat of soft fur. Colors include red, white, black, brindle, sesame, black and tan, and wolf-gray. Males are typically 50 cm (20 in) tall at the withers, females slightly shorter, with body masses in the 20 kg (44 lb) range. Dogs bred on continents outside of their native Japan may be smaller.


The Hokkaido dog is thought[who?] to have originated from the medium-sized dogs brought by immigrants from the main island of Honshu in the 1140s.[1] In 1869, the English zoologist Thomas W. Blakiston gave the breed the name Hokkaido. The breed was useful in the search for survivors of an Imperial Japanese Army regiment that was caught in heavy snow crossing the Hakkōda Mountains of Aomori Prefecture in 1902.

In 1937, the Ainu dog was designated in Japan as "a rare species protected by law" by the Ministry of Education and it was decided that the official name of the breed would be Hokkaido-Inu. However, the dogs are almost always called Hokkaido-Ken among the Japanese people.

The breed is extremely rare outside its native country.


The Hokkaido dog has a very high rate of Collie eye anomaly (CEA). About 1/3 of Hokkaidos are affected by CEA while 2/3 are carriers.[2][3]


  1. ^ FCI Breed Standard
  2. ^ Mizukami, K. (2014). "Investigation of parallel and simultaneous selection for collie eye anomaly and ivermectin toxicosis". Veterinary Record. 175 (7): 174. doi:10.1136/vr.102015. PMID 24939474. S2CID 37801535.
  3. ^ Mizukami, Keijiro (2011). "Collie eye anomaly in Hokkaido dogs: case study". Veterinary Ophthalmology. 15 (2): 128–132. doi:10.1111/j.1463-5224.2011.00950.x. PMID 22051190.