The Ainu dog is thought to be one of the oldest breeds of dog in the world, first bred by the indigenous Ainu people of Hokkaido, to hunt Salmon, Deer and Bears. Despite being hunter-gatherers that survived in freezing conditions, the Ainu are thought to have kept Dogs from the very beginning and respected them in nearly the same way as other Humans. The Ainu Dog is thought to have descended from medium-sized Dogs that arrived on the island with migrants from the main island around 3,000 years ago. Today, despite it's strong links to the Ainu people, it is more commonly referred to as the Hokkaido-Ken by the native Japanese people. Although the characteristics of the Ainu dog are thought to have changed a little over the years due to cross-breeding, this breed is said to still have a very wild streak.
Ainu Dog Physical Characteristics
The Ainu Dog is a medium sized canine that is well known for it's strength and power. Generally the double coat of thick fur used to keep the Dog warm, is light in colour, with white, grey and fawn being especially common. They are known to have a fearsome expression, due to their small dark, brown eyes, a broad head and a pointed muzzle that is tipped with a black nose. The ears of the Ainu Dog are small and sharply pointed making this breed appear even more alert. The tongue of the Ainu Dog is commonly covered in black spots which is said to suggest a relation to the Chow Chow, a smaller species of domestic Dog that is natively found in neighbouring China.
Ainu Dog Behaviour and Temperament
The Ainu Dog breed is a naturally wild and powerful Dog, making this breed an excellent guard Dog, They are also suspicious and alert and incredibly courageous when needing to protect their owner. The Ainu Dog is well known for it's faithfulness, bravery, and the ability to withstand the cold, among it's other desirable traits. It has an innate sense of direction and can therefore return to it's master no matter how great the distance it has travelled alone. The Ainu Dog is also known to howl, making a similar sound to that of a Wolf, when it believes it has done good by it's keeper. They are incredibly active Dogs and are known to not be suitable for apartment living or in households that contain other animals or young children.
Ainu Dog Breeding
The Ainu Dog was originally bred by the indigenous hunter-gathers to both help them to catch food, but also to protect them from large animals. Since then, the breed has changed slightly from these original Dogs, due to cross-breeding with similar domestic breeds throughout the Far East. Despite it's long history as a working breed, the Ainu Dog ideally now combines the roles of family pet and hunter. Today, Ainu Dogs are most commonly kept for hunting or as guard Dogs due to their alert and incredibly bold nature. On average, the female has around 7 puppies per litter which, like many other canines, are born both blind and with hardly any fur. Within their first month however, the Ainu Dog puppies will be up on their feet and begin to grow fast. The Ainu Dog can live to be 14 years old and is known to have relatively few genetic health issues.
Ainu Dog Interesting Facts and Features
The Ainu Dog has made a name for itself through it's courage nature, known to actually take on very large Bears, a number of times their size, in order to protect their owner. Today, although they can be found in households in parts of Europe and America, the Ainu Dog is most commonly found in Japan, where it remains to be considered a cherished national breed by the Japanese people. The Ainu Dog was officially named the Hokkaido-Ken in 1937, despite it's rich history with the Ainu people.