Although this interesting breed is not nearly as numerous in Europe as Akita or Shiba, we managed to get an authentic story from breeder, who currently has a dog and a bitch imported directly from Japan. We believe that this story will also attract and perhaps even inspire many fans of native Japanese breeds.
by Laura Quadri
My Kai story starts actually with Shikoku in 2013. I had a Shikoku male and a Shiba female already and was just about to get my first Shikoku import from Japan. So I travelled to Japan to pick my Shikoku girl, and since I was already there, I wanted to get some more firsthand information about Shikoku. I also used the opportunity and took part on a hunting trip with 2 Kai kens organized by a Japanese friend of mine who is actually a hunter. Hunting was what Kai was originally used for, and they were really brilliant and well known for their skills especially when hunting Kamoshika (note: kind of a mountain antelope in Japan). In this hunt the Kais were on a wild boar training. Seeing these 2 medium size brindle dogs cooperating and how they behaved during this activity, their native job, gave me 2 things: first was a valid and important insight on a typical Kai’s temperament. Second was an even bigger interest in this breed, I knew I was about to get a Kai of my own sooner or later. In the last period of 5 years I made 7 trips to Japan, while one of the purposes was to study and get more knowledge about Kai.
Like I mentioned, my original purpose of the Japan trip was mainly focused on importing my first Shikoku girl and also searching for any information and knowledge to understand the real essence and correct morphology of Shikoku. After we came back home, it took me 4 more years to make my dream come true and get a Kai ken, too. From the start I was determined to get a Kai from Japan, rather than Europe. This was mostly because a population of Kai in Europe is very small and secondly, I was also more looking into the type of dog that I had seen in Japan 4 years ago. Just to mention, Kai is also quite rare in Japan. Although they are quite well known (also thanks to a Japanese manga with Kai being one of the characters in it), the real number of registered purebred Kai in Japan is quite far from e.g. number of Akitas or Shibas. So, I asked a Japanese friend of mine for help and he found a nice Kai baby girl for me. And so two years ago, in 2018 I received Haruna. And in summer 2019 I got another Kai, this time it was a boy Reihou imported from Japan, too. Both Kais I have here in Italy are the result of cooperation and co ownership with my Japanese friend Mr. Shigeru Kato.
When I compare Kai to Shikoku or Akita, Kai is much more relaxed and easy going with people or any other animals. They love their family and want to be close. While Shikoku has a much higher level of energy and can be reserved towards strangers, Kai is easier and typically always happy with people. That does not make it quite the best guardian dog, but it is a great family companion .
Photo: Franco Lissandro, owner: Shigeru Kato a Laura Quadri