Kai Ken

kai ken
Photo: Nilnate Nilprasit/Getty Images

Quick Facts

  • Weight: 30 – 50 pounds
  • Height: 17 – 22 inches

The Look of a Kai Ken

The Kai Ken has a medium-sized, athletic frame covered in a harsh, medium-length coat that usually comes in shades of black or brindle. Its wedge-shaped head has a long muzzle and erect ears, and its tail can be either sickle-shaped or curled over the back.


  • Athletic
  • Bold
  • Intelligent
  • Dependable
  • Friendly

Ideal Human Companion

  • Families
  • Active Singles
  • Sporty types

What They Are Like to Live With

The Kai Ken is a wonderful family pet. It is affectionate and playful with family members, showing extra care and sensitivity around children. Very intelligent, it is easy to train and generally gets along well with other dogs.

Slightly reserved with strangers, the Kai Ken has very strong protective instincts. It makes an excellent watchdog. In fact, the Kai Ken often prefers to keep watch from a spot with a good vantage point, like a porch, a balcony or a hilltop.

Things You Should Know

The Kai Ken can live as long as 16 years with relatively few genetic health issues. Odorless and clean, the Kai Ken is easy to groom. It needs regular brushing and the occasional bath.

The Kai Ken can be a good apartment dog, adjusting well to smaller living spaces; however, it needs daily exercise to feel mentally and physically fit. Several daily walks on a leash will suffice, as will a good run in a protected area.

Kai Ken History

The Kai Ken originated on Japan’s Honshu Island in the province of Kai. Bred to hunt across mountains, through rivers and even up trees, the Kai was especially adept at tracking wild boar and deer. The Kai Ken first came to the U.S., it is believed, in the 1950s. Back in Japan, it is considered a beloved breed and one of several “national treasure” dogs along with the Akita and the Ainu Dog.

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