"Do they need a lot of exercise?"
As a hunting breed, the Hokkaido has a lot of stamina and would be quite happy to run around for hours. They require daily exercise of at least an hour at moderate walking speed; more if they are kept on lead.
"Can they be allowed off-leash?"
The Hokkaido, whilst being very attached to their owner, is also independent and will follow its hunting instincts which can lead to them getting into trouble! If you plan to allow your Hokkaido off-leash you must be aware of your surroundings and consider the safety of your dog at all times. Whilst the Hokkaido will check in on you every so often they are prone to following their nose and when there is something more important to be discovered then you will find yourself waiting upon your Hokkaido's willingness to return. In a non-secure area it is advisable to keep a Hokkaido on a lead or long line.
"Do I need a big house and garden?"
On the contrary, many of the medium-sized Japanese breeds are kept as house pets in apartments over in the USA. They do not require a large amount of indoor space but instead thrive best with plenty of company and regular exercise. Any garden area must be securely fenced as the Hokkaido is a known escape artist!
"Do they mix well with other dogs?"
In our experience, Kirin has mixed well with our Inuits. She is confident and outgoing and is not afraid to stand up to them when they throw their weight around. However we have also noticed that she can be possessive around high value treats (cheese falling on the floor) or favourite toys which is something we have discouraged from puppyhood. She enjoys the company of the other dogs and has formed a strong bond with Princess.
"Can they live with cats or other small animals?"
If socialised from a young age and with many restricted introductions over a long period it should be possible to bring up a Hokkaido with cats or other small animals, however, they will always retain that instinctual prey drive and will chase anything that does not stand its ground. It would be inadvisable to leave a Hokkaido unattended with cats or small animals.
"How big will they grow?"
Females grow to around 45.5cm - 48.5cm in height (to the shoulder) and males grow to around 48.5cm - 51.5cm in height, weighing in the region of 13 - 17kg when fully grown.
"Are they difficult to train?"
Hokkaido are very attached to their owners with a drive to please which makes them very responsive to positive training. They are intelligent; quick to pick up new things; and are food and praise motivated. However, their strong drive can hinder their responsiveness when outside of the home.
"Are they noisy?"
The Hokkaido has many different vocalisations which they use to express happiness, excitement, fear, warning and other emotive responses. In the home they are not typically noisy for no reason but be prepared to be greeted with wooing and tail wagging when you've been for a quick trip to the loo! Out and about the Hokkaido's way of alerting its owner to something unusual is to bark, therefore it is not uncommon to hear them bark at passersby.
"Do they shed?"
Yes! The Hokkaido will shed their coat fully twice a year, lasting around 2 - 3 weeks. Regular grooming will help get rid of loose hair.