The idea of creating a nonprofit organization for supporting and preserving original Japanese dog breeds was driven by our perception of both positive and negative factors. Original Japanese breeds (Akita, Kishu, Kai, Shikoku, Hokkaido, Shiba) are not unknown in our geography anymore. In Slovakia, already 1700+ Akita inus and 460+ Shiba inus* have been either born or imported. Also 2 Kishu representatives and 1 Shikoku female have been imported by date (11/2019). Sadly, there is currently plenty of cross-bred or poorly bred dogs that have ancestors in these honorable breeds.
In Slovakia we have 4 national dog breeds, Japan has 6 of them (already mentioned above). Despite of tradition coming along with our national breeds, we as a society are witnessing also a long term “habit” - mostly in rural areas or city outskirts - and that is rather careless mating of dogs without paying appropriate attention that such delicate matter deserves. Goal being many times just a production of a companion or a yard keeper. As a matter of fact, it is true that not only pure-bred dogs can “do this job”. We are rightfully proud of our national breeds (Slovakian Chuvach, Czechoslovakian Wolfdog, Slovakian Hound, Wirehaired Slovakian Pointer). Nevertheless, Japanese original dog breeds are successfully pushing through hard not only in Slovakia, but all over the world in recent years/ decades. Foremost it is the Akita (largest original breed) and Shiba (smallest one).
Rapidly growing popularity of these dogs is partly driven by a largely known Hollywood produced movie about legendary Japanese Akita Hachiko. Hollywood movie inspired by Japanese shot called “Hachiko Monogatari” from 1987 is based on a true story. In the US version, Richard Gere acts in a role of university professor Hidesaburo Ueno, who took in a stray puppy he came across on a train station. We “must” forgive the film makers for using Shiba puppy instead of Akita in first sequences (e.g. puppy falling off the cage from baggage trolley).
Movie displays incredibly strong bond between a man and a dog. Hachi became a world symbol of loyalty and love till the end of a life-time. For more than 9 years Hachi was coming to the same spot in front of a train station to wait for his master after coming from work where he also used to accompany him in the mornings. Loyalty and devotion of this dog are touching hearts all around the world - everyone would love to have such a friend who would wait for them until the very end in the same way as Hachi did. On 8th March 1935 Hachi died on a street near Shibuya station, place where he never stopped waiting for his master.
Such loyalty is very rare even among us - people. Most people never experience it in such pure form. Respect, loyalty and everlasting faithfulness to their master is a typical feature of all japanese breeds. Their family is their pack and is everything for them. They say they are dogs of one master only. That is true, while at the same time they are dogs of one family, one pack. They love and protect their human family and cannot be easily passed from one household to another just like that. These are not anonymous backyard dogs, they do not easily get over being misunderstood or betrayed by their beloved master. You might ask, who on earth would even be capable of doing that?
Well, there is quite some number of misunderstood abandoned small and large “Hachikos” in Slovakia.
Character and personality of these breeds might be perceived as complicated. Furthermore, it is getting unpredictably crooked by careless mating. Hachi decided himself to accompany and wait for his master - nobody trained him to do that, nor was he ever asked by anyone to do that. It might be quite tough to gain natural respect as a master of these dogs without using fear or negative enforcement. On top of that, sometimes people might struggle understanding a difference between obedience and intelligence. Japanese dogs are very intelligent and not everyone is always prepared for that. On one hand, owner should teach the dog how to properly behave in the society and define clear rules for living together. On the other hand it is essential to prove them that they can rely on their human pack and put their trust in them. Japanese dogs are individualists, they naturally take care of themselves by making sure they are safe and their needs are covered. In order to have a good, working relationship, dog always needs to be assured that no matter what, his master always “gets his back”. Shall that be the case, we will be well respected by the dog. Without proper insight, it is not easy to balance a dog’s respect and trust as they both come along with accepting and following their master.
We hereby invite you to uncover bits of soul of Japanese dogs.
Dogs that become our loyal companions until the end of our and their lives. They say once you go for these dogs, you never go back. We were concerned how part of slovak public treats these majestic dogs. Thoughtless production of litters without sufficient knowledge and competence results in downgrading their essence. Essence that has been carefully crafted for decades by our predecessors - responsible and diligent japanese and later also foreign breeders. Nowadays, it is not rare to see Shibas that are afraid of their own shadow rather than being small proud samurai. There is plenty of sad-eyed-“Hačikos” in the house yards, “ditched” by their families who lost their interest after puppy had grown up and dug holes in the lawn due to lack of attention… or growled at a family member because they did not understand how to properly approach the dog. Too many people approached getting a Japanese dog without giving it a much needed “second” thought - perhaps only tricked by Hollywood production.
Breed Shikoku - firts puppy in Slovakia, import (female) Rinzentaru Ayumi, owner/photo: Tibor Tóth
Japanese dogs are by nature specific for us and one cannot typically expect same behavioral stereotypes that might be usually experienced with some other breeds. It also makes a difference among cynologists - it is usually better to work with ones that are more experienced with Japanese breeds. We are certainly pleased with potential buyers doing their research before purchasing a puppy. Our mission is to help preserve Japanese dogs and what uniquely defines them. By uneducated or neglectful breeding it is far too easy to lose what makes real Shiba or Akita. Slovak legislation does not strictly ban the breeding of animals without having an officially approved breeding kennel and adhering to breeding regulations.
Aim of the rules in responsible breeding is to preserve typical temperament, character and exterior features of particular breed, along with the best possible health. Producing negligent litters through random connections, just because demand craves for quick and cheap puppies is the best way to get into trouble. Our goal is to fight this trend. Only thoughtful and responsible owners can help to win this long-term battle. It depends on them whether there will be more and more "aggressive akitas" or "unmanageable shibas". Buying a Japanese breed puppy is not a difficult thing to do, when buyer does not pay proper attention and takes this step without appropriate responsibility. One well-known and broadly used local web portal offers more than 20 litters of shiba-crossed puppies and more than 25 ads for akita-crossed puppies in the long run. We are talking about crossbred dogs without pedigree, coming out of uncontrolled, unregistered litters from backyard breeders. They are often sold unfairly as purebred dogs, however that is a strong deception which unfortunately - from a legal point of view - stays unpunishable.
Lack of education and ignorance are our (and the dogs’) strongest enemy. We are really passionate about Japanese breeds and wish to keep their true spirit. We wish Akitas, Shibas and other Japanese dogs in Slovakia remain the same as their ancestors in their land of origin, while keeping their pride, dignity, nobility, balanced temperament and loyalty. Small and big samurais - body and soul. We highly appreciate their ancestors because history was not gentle with them and Japanese people fought hard to preserve their national monuments, although they were close to extinction after the war.
We are honored to help spreading the word and information about our Japanese four legged friends. Our aim is to introduce some more insights on their character, temperament, exterior and needs to all potential fans and future owners. And our common goal is to keep intact invisible thread that represents our respect for all previous Japanese purebred dog generations and the ones that actually made them come true.
*Inu = japanese expression for “a dog”
Photo: Kishu - Akari Damu Kara, owner/photo Nikola Navrátilová
Shiba - Kimi Wakizashi of Tianito, owner: V. Hanzelová, O. Urban, photo: Saskia.photography