- Question: How much do Shikoku cost?
Answer: Some people are tempted to answer this question with a snarky comment like "If you have to ask, you can't afford it." Truth be told, the intial cost of buying a puppy is only a small fraction of what you will need to spend on the dog over it's lifetime, and that's assuming it is perfectly healthy. The Shikoku tends to be a hardy dog and while there have been a few documented instances of health problems, none of them seem to be prevelent in the breed...yet. There are many estimates on the web of the total cost of dog ownership that put the annual cost for a healthy dog beteen $300 and $2,500. With a Shikoku, because of their tenacity and relentless energy you are more likely to have a few unexpected vet visits, so budgeting toward the upper end of that range is probably a safer bet. That being said, the cost of buying a Shikoku puppy ranges too. Old school Japanese hunters who breed their working dogs tend to give their dogs away for free (or perhaps the cost of a case of their favorite alcohol). Due to import costs, in North America you aren't likely to find a breeder giving their puppies away. Most will charge somewhere between $1,500 and $2,500 (or more) not including shipping. Shipping costs can be in excess of $600-$700 depending on your proximity to the breeder. A total bill for the puppy and shipping costs in excess of $3,000 is pretty normal.
- Question: How long is the wait to get a Shikoku puppy?
Answer: That depends on a number of factors including the breeder you choose to go with, the number of people on the waiting list ahead of you and their specific preferences for sex, color, etc., and how cooperative the breeding pair is. Some Shikoku owners report getting lucky and only having to wait a few months for a puppy. More often than not the wait for a puppy will be between one and two years, probably longer if you have a specific sex and color you are interested in.
- Question: What should I feed my Shikoku?
Answer: The Shikoku has no specific nutritional requirements; however, as with all dogs, we recommend feeding either a high quality kibble or raw diet. A general rule of thumb is that if you can buy the kibble in your grocery store, you should not feed it to your dog.
- Question: Do Shikoku shed?
Answer: Yes! At least once, but more often than not twice, a year Shikoku will "blow coat." Being a double coated breed, Shikoku will completely shed their dense undercoat and regrow a new one. During these two to three week periods of heavy shedding, it may be necessary to brush a Shikoku twice a day. Deshedding tools like the "furminator" should be used sparingly as they can cause damage to the coat. The rest of the year Shikoku tend to shed minimally. Despite this fact, it is not unusally to find hair in places Shikoku fequent (like their dog beds or their favorite spot on the couch).
- Question: How often should Shikoku be bathed?
Answer: Very seldomly. Like all of the Nihon Ken, Shikoku are fastidious in their cleanliness. It is pretty common for a Shikoku covered in mud from a fun play session in the rain to emerge from a crate completely clean within an hour. Shikoku tend not to have a "dog smell" either, especially when fed a high quality kibble. Many Shikoku owners report only needing (or wanting) to bathe their dogs once a year on average. Some will go three years or more between baths.
- Question: How can I get my Shikoku to stop chasing my cats?
Answer: It his highly unlikely that you will be able to accomplish this completely; however, there are techniques you can use to try to reduce how often your Shikoku chases your cats. Remember, when trying to stop a dog from chasing, you are fighting against hundreds, if not thousands, of years of instinct. The key is to make remaining calm around your cats more attractive to your Shikoku than chasing your cats. Find the thing your Shikoku values most highly, whatever that may be (perhaps your attention, a favorite toy, or a favorite treat like cheese or chicken). When your Shikoku is near your cats and ignores them, reward your Shikoku. Practice this repeatedly for as long as it takes to set in. It may take months or even years. Be patient, it takes a lot of time and effort to overcome so many years of instinct. Consider seeking the advice of a certified behaviorist for additional help.
- Question: I have a Shiba Inu and am now interested in a Shikoku, do they work well together?
Answer: No. A Shiba and a Shikoku can learn to live together peacefully, but most owners that have paired a Shiba and a Shikoku together will tell you it isn't an easy transition. Shiba are generally very reactive dogs and they don't like their space violated. Shikoku are generally very nosy dogs that like to pressure other dogs' space. The result? Lots of "arguments." Your Shiba will "bitch" about a space violation, your Shikoku will react to that bitching, your Shiba will take offense and try to correct your Shikoku, and then your Shikoku will attempt to put your Shiba in its place. If you have two well socialized dogs, those arguments will be nothing more than a lot of noise and some posturing. If you have a very reactive or poorly socialized dog, those arguments can escalate to become a real problem. Can a Shiba and a Shikoku live together? Absolutely. Can you just throw them together and expect things to work out without your careful management? Not a snowball's chance in hell. In general, a Kai Ken is a much better choice of nihon ken to pair with a Shiba.
- Question: Do Shikoku excel at performance sports?
Answer: Yes! Shikoku are very athletic and relatively eager to please their handlers. In capable hands, Shikoku can do well at agility or competative obedience. Here's some proof. This video is of Kuma, who belongs to Kris Schuler, doing an obedience routine at 11 months old. Kris is an experienced obedience trainer, so your results may vary depending on the temperament of your dog and your level of training experience.
- Question: Are Shikoku fighting dogs?
Answer: The agility, power, stamina, and tenacity of the Shikoku Ken made them highly desireable to own in the late 19th and early 20th century---a time period in Japan where dog fighting was popular. These characteristics combined with the popularity of dog fighting led the Shikoku Ken to contribute to the development of the Tosa Inu, or Tosa Fighting Dog; however, the Shikoku Ken is *NOT* a fighting dog, they are a hunting dog. The fact that the Shikoku was an ingredient in a breed created for fighting does not make them a fighting breed. Cake is made using butter, but that doesn't mean that butter is a type of cake. Further, dog fighting in Japan, known as Token, does not reward vicous or dangerous behavior like dog fighting in North America. In Token, the fight ends if a dog barks, yelps, looses the will to continue, or if a doctor judges continuing to be a potential danger to a participant's health. Thus, the weak link that the Shikoku has to dog fighting is completely unrelated to the vicous and illegal fighting that is unfortunately too common in North America. We will reiterate, because this point is very important, the Shikoku is *NOT* a fighting dog.