Among Japanese breeds, six are recognized and preserved as Japanese "Natural Treasures". All breeds have somewhat similar appearance and temperment. They must have the same origin and developed differences according to the area they were bred. Most were used as hunting dogs in mountains. They are brave and agile dogs. And, they are bred to be proud and dignified, obedient and loyal.
Akita is the largest in size and weight and a powerfully built dog. Akitas were bred as fighting dogs. After the war, breeders in Japan tried to breed tamer temperment as pets. As a result, North American Akita and Japanese Akita generally have a different temperment and appearance.
Kishu and three other breeds are mid-sized. A male dog stands up to 21 inches. Most Kishu have white coats. People used them as hunting dogs throughout Kii penninsula area.
Hokkaido was used for hunting bears and deer in Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan. A Hokkaido has an especially thick coat to survive in the cold climate.
Most Shikoku have sesame coats. This breed originated in the mountain areas of the Shikoku district.
Kai was bred as a hunting dog in the southern Japanese Alps. Kai is a one person dog. Once you established a bond with him, he will give you total devotion. Color is black, gray and red brindle.
Last but definitely not the least is Shiba. The smallest among the six breeds.