The Human Element





We always had a dog growing up and like a lot of families, we love sharing our life with them. They bring so much joy and provide faithful, unconditional love and companionship. There is something primitive and pure about the relationship between a man and his dog. A bond formed over thousands of years of evolution from when cave dwellers and wolf packs co-existed.

Dogs are found all over the world, on every continent. Man has domesticated the dog to assist him in many ways…as guardians of the home and livestock, as a hunting partner,  assisting the handicap,  search and rescue…to name a few.

In return, man has sheltered the dog. They are given a place in the home and their needs provided for.

We’ve had  a long history of interdependence.

Hokkaido, Japan: Ainu villager with dog


Just as other cultures developed their relationship with the dog, so did the people of Japan. The aboriginal  dogs were kept by villagers and used for hunting and guarding. These dogs came to be known as Nihon Ken, native Japanese dogs.  Six breeds were derived: Akita, Shiba Inu, Hokkaido, Kishu, Kai Ken and Shikoku. Each breed was developed to have distinctive traits based on their place of origin.

The Japanese culture is steeped in deep tradition and respect for the natural world. In 1928, The Japanese Dog Preservation Society (Nihon Ken Hozankai, aka NIPPO ) was established to preserve and protect the native Japanese dog breeds. The Nihon ken is considered a national treasure in Japan.

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Our journey with the Japanese dog began in the 1980s when we adopted an Akita. We were amazed at the intelligence and devotion of this dog.  We were instantly smitten by the beauty and nature of the Nihon ken.




Over the decades, our Nihon ken pack has grown to include Kai Ken and Shikoku.

We realized early on that the Japanese breeds were quite rare and their numbers are continuing to decline. Not a lot of information was available about the Nihon ken at the time, so we learned  about raising them first hand.



Ikon Nihon Ken was established in 2003 to promote the preservation of Kai Ken and Shikoku Ken in North America. We chose the name Ikon as its meaning symbolizes our goal  for the perfection of the breed.  Our dogs will carry our kennel name as O’ikon (of Ikon) to indicate their origin.  Our mission is to promote the genetic diversity and health in the breeds.  We honor the long standing tradition in keeping the breeds true to their Kai Ken Aigokai [KKA] and  Nihon Ken Hozankai [NIPPO] standards. Through health testing and selective breeding, we hope to have a positive impact for these dogs for generations to come.



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