Kai Ken
Photo courtesy of North American Kai Association

Breed Registries:


The breed registries indicated above are the most recognized all-breed registries. The breed may also be recognized by other registries not indicated here. For further details about dog registries, please see the document: Dog Breed Registries in North America.

— The FCI is the World Canine Organization, which includes 84 members and contract partners (one member per country) that each issue their own pedigrees and train their own judges. The FCI recognizes 339 breeds, with each being the "property" of a specific country. The "owner" countries of the breeds write the standards of these breeds in co-operation with the Standards and Scientific Commissions of the FCI, and the translation and updating are carried out by the FCI. The FCI is not a breed registry nor does it issue pedigrees.




Males: 18 1/2 to 22 inches at the shoulder - Females: 17 1/2 to 20 inches at the shoulder.


Weight ranges from 25 to 55 lbs.

Breed Profile:

The Kai Ken, also known as the Tora Dog, is an ancient breed of Japanese origin but was not recognized in Japan until 1931 and the breed is still considered very rare. In 1934, the Kai was designated as a "National Treasure" in Japan and is protected by law. The breed was first imported into the U.S. in the early 1990's. He was originally bred as a hunting dog working with big game hunters of deer and wild boar.

He is a medium sized, muscular, spitz-type dog with the typical wedge-shaped head and prick ears. The tail may be typically curled over the back or carried over the back in a sickle position. He has a harsh, straight coat of medium length and is brindle in colour. The breed's colouring is a very distinctive characteristic of the breed. Puppies are born black with the brindle markings developing as the pup grows and continues to develop up to about five years. It is believed that the brindle colour was to enable him to blend more easily into his surroundings of trees and rocky surfaces when on the hunt, thus allowing him to sneak up on his prey and protect him from predators.

The Kai is highly intelligent, very brave and agile — They have been known to climb trees and swim in pursuit of their prey. They are natural hunters, good guard dogs and very devoted and loyal to their families. While they may be somewhat reserved toward strangers, Kais are known to be very friendly, generally very good with children, and not aggressive with other dogs.

Health Issues

If you are considering the adoption of a Kai puppy, or any breed, it is very important to be selective in choosing a responsible and reputable breeder. Ensure that the prospective puppy's parents have all health clearances. Breeding of any dog should not be done until after they have been proven to be free of evidence of significant hereditary diseases. (For more information on selecting a breeder, see the articles on the main Breed Listing and Breeders page.)

Additional Health Resources:

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Breed Standards

Grooming Information

  • Grooming — This section of the Canada's Guide to Dogs website includes tips, articles and information covering all aspects of dog grooming along with a listing of Groomers from across Canada.

Training Resources

It is very important that the Kai be well socialized starting at birth and continuing well into adulthood. He should be exposed to different people, places and situations as much as possible. The Kai is very intelligent and fairly easily trained using positive training methods.

  • Training — For training information, see this growing section of the Canada's Guide to Dogs website for tips, articles, as well as listings of training centres across Canada.

Training Tools & Equipment
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Additional Information

  • Clubs, Sports & Activities — For information on the many sports and activities you can get involved in with your dog.
  • Working Dogs — The Working Dogs section of the Canada's Guide to Dogs website provides information and listings of organizations that are involved in various dog jobs, such as Guide Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Police Dogs, Protection Dogs, and much more.

Select from the following links to view Breeder listings; Breed Clubs; Rescue Organizations; as well as Books and other Merchandise specific to the breed:

Breeders  /  Breed Clubs  /  Rescues  /  Books & More