My story: Hokkaido ken

by Jana Janečková, kennel

The first time I got in touch with Hokkaido was back in 2011. I have to say that I have always had quite strong affection for Japan, even though I’m not sure where it comes from. I just feel like it. I have always liked Akina inu, but because I had had a spine surgery in the past, Akita was just too big for me. And Shiba, it is too small and from temperament point of view, it was not what I was looking for. From the moment when I first met Hokkaido – by a complete coincidence – I was charmed and also lost, because I could not get these dogs out of my head anymore and ever since I wanted to bring one of those puppies to our home.

I was fortunate to be able to come and see two males born in Czech Republic. Unfortunately, they had been both already reserved, but I was just fascinated with them. They are so beautiful little teddy bears! So, I made my decision to get myself a female and waited for another litter. However, the next mating was not successful and since the owners suggested they did not want to make another try, in the end I bought a smooth-haired collie puppy. However, after a few months, I received a message that the owners changed their mind and tried mating their female once more. This time it was successful and thus 4 puppies were born. Although I already had a young female puppy of another breed, I could not resist and in 3/2012 I brought our little red girl Kimi from the then last litter in Czech Republic, from Mr. and Mrs. Fröhr. Ever since, these dogs have been our beloved and faithful companions.

As for breeding, I started from scratch because back then there was only very limited and hardly available information about the breed and there were almost no breeders in the region, so I was facing a situation which I had to go through pretty much by myself alone. I had two options, either I will have my Hokkaido ken, live a happy life with it without carrying whether there are any more dogs like that here or not. However, I wished to bring this breed into the light for public and introduce it to more people so they would see its beauty and wonderful temperament with the same eyes as I did it. And thus I decided to follow the second option and I started to study everything possible about the breed by my own.

It must be said that this path is neither fast, nor it is easy. But what appeared to be impossible at the beginning of that path, slowly becomes reality. They say when a person truly wishes for something by their whole heart, the wish may come true and the entire universe will help them to reach it. Two years after we got our Kimi, she was joined by a white female puppy Yuki in 8/2014 who was imported from Japan. I’m happy that Yuki belongs to our family and my sincere thanks go to our friends in Japan. Big credit goes to her breeder Mr. Kazuteru Uno and to Mr. Kan Sato – our friend and advisor, who was so kind and shared a lot of valuable information and experience he learnt throughout many years of breeding Hokkaido ken. He was very patient, every question I asked he answered quickly and up to a point. I can say that Mr. Sato’s friendship was one of the reasons why I decided to continue breeding Hokkaido. I’m truly grateful to Mr. Uno and Mr. Sato that I could get the best information and pieces of advice in regards with Hokkaido ken breeding right from the country of its origin. I cherish these friendships as some of my most valuable ones from all.

With Yuki’s arrival, things started to move… I raised a puppy, did all the efforts to get her through official approval procedure and she became a breeding female, although without having a clear plan how it will go. Well… I did not have a plan, but I believed what was meant to happen will happen. Then I met Eva Syslová and thanks to her we eventually got our first male dog – Goro, who got also imported from Japan and who became a sire to our litter „C“ which brought 4 beautiful puppies in 6/2017. Goro arrived in 11/2015, his breeder is Mr. Ken Miura. Goro lives in České Budějovice with his owner Gustav. Every time we visit it is so obvious how happy he is with him.

The newest addition to our family will soon be a little white girl Moya, that was born in 10/2019 and is still waiting with her mommy until she is ready to leave her pack and join ours.

When someone asks me about how Hokkaido is, I would sum it up like this:

  • friendly but also very individual dog with extreme emotional bond to its family

  • distrustful of strangers

  • reliable watch dog

  • happy sack – they have interesting expression that looks like they are always smiling

  • very clean dog from the very early age (I was prepared for waking up several times during the night and if I don’t make it, I will need to clean after the puppy for some time – to my great surprise, my 8 week old Kimi slept through the whole night and in the morning 7:00 just ran out to “the toilet” – and if she really had to, she relieved herself inside, on the prepared spot. And this stayed with her until today).

  • Smart and docile… although with addition “ONLY IF I WANT, TOO” … then everything is possible

  • Strong and agile dog

From my perspective, this beautiful and interesting Japanese traditional and native breed has still kept the natural instincts of a wolf. Those are however in a quite unbelievable contradiction with the empathy and love that this dog can give to its family. It takes pride and nobility after Ainu – original Japanese inhabitants. The dog will submit to its master only when it feels the human deserves it. Love of Hokkaido must be earned, one can hardly get it in exchange for a bowl of food. But once Hokkaido makes up its mind to respect and love you, then it is by all its heart and it is forever.

And what’s next? I want to continue the path I started years ago. My wish is to extend the numbers of responsible Hokkaido breeders in our country and help preserving this charming dogs in Czech Republic so that in the future we are not left just with the pictures to see what this breed used to look like. I believe it is required we start doing something now, let us not wait again years until the number of breeding individuals decreases to even more dramatic level than it currently is. But since I never have been and will never be breeding dogs in a large numbers (e.g. 15 dogs in kennels), my options are quite limited in this matter. Though it does not prevent me to reach out to anyone of you, who might watch what is going on also in our small kennel, and are our fans, or are just waiting for your puppy to be born. If this message reaches you, and you would like to join us somehow in our efforts to make this breed a bit more popular by all possible (and sometimes even impossible

Owner/photo: Jana Janečková