White/Cream in the NK
  • TheWalrusTheWalrus
    Posts: 1624
    I had a question from someone about white Shiba, so talked with some NIPPO members and judges about it, and I'm adding my own thoughts as well.

    Why are white coats shunned in the NK?

    If you take a look at the present NIPPO standard, white is not a 'non-standard' color. You can register a white Shiba for instance. White is not however, preferred (i.e. will be severely penalized in the ring) in the Shikoku and Shiba. In Akita, Hokkaido, and Kishu, white is allowed. The NIPPO standard specifically calls for all Kai to be brindle, so white is not allowed.

    Why is white not preferred? Written into the present NIPPO standard are all manner of details on conformation, among these is a clause calling for all coat coloration to have strong hues, and for judges to watch for lightening or dilution of color. Any dilution of color is seen as a weakening in the coat color genetic code, leading to loss of that color in the breed. Since NIPPO's stated goal is preservation, this is unacceptable. The standard also calls for urajiro in the NK. It is obviously not possible to judge whether a white dog has urajiro, or to judge the color hues of the genes it is carrying (other than white).

    Exhibit one, the Kishu. The Kishu was not a predominantly white breed. In the early days of the breed it was predominantly 'yushoku' (having color). There is ancient art from the area depicting hunting dogs from the area as black, and looking back at some of the first NIPPO exhibitions, the numbers show roughly 70% yushoku, with only 30% of the dogs being white. Fast forward to the present day, and the breed is almost entirely white. How did this happen? Apparently there was a line with some outstanding studs who happened to be white, and they were used extensively. General preference leaned toward white these lines, and toward white Kishu in general. White x yushoku breedings result in mixed litters, but white x white breedings result in only white pups (so I've been told and the numbers seem to back that up). So here we are today, the breed has almost completely lost its variety in color.

    White dogs can be bred, and litters registered. While this was done possibly more often in the past when a white dog had some outstanding and desired trait, today it is shunned and almost non-existent. As I mentioned earlier, white is severely penalized in the ring, and at best your dog will be given a 'B' grade which is to say the dog has traits which make it an inferior specimen. There have been issues in the NK with urajiro creeping up over the body, and into the facial areas, and NIPPO and its members have/are breeding away from that. This issue has been seen recently in the Shiba, along with dilution of coat hues, which has lead to careful selection away from these traits. Other issues that have been seen in the past in coat colors is spotting (i.e. pinto). This is also among the list of unacceptable coat traits, which along with all the other issues involved with preserving color has lead to careful selective breeding when it comes to color, leading NIPPO members to keep the white coloration at arm's length.

    To side track just a little, black (i.e. black/tan) is allowed in the standard, and while in the medium sized NK it is rare, and dogs with this coloration are not often shown, they are often used for breeding to improve coat quality/color. The reason for them not being shown very often is that the facial markings have to be correct, and the black needs to be a solid black hue. Often facial markings (i.e. the 2 spots above the eyes that lead to black often being referred to as 'yotsume' or four-eye) are not clear (ie blurred or misshaped), and urajiro is incorrect, plus many black dogs have red tips on their guard hairs which is not preferred. It is difficult to produce a correctly colored black Shikoku.

    Post edited by TheWalrus at 2012-02-01 21:36:24
  • Interesting read :) Explained a lot...

    Though I find it strange, that white x yushoku kishu litters are always mixed. I am not very knowledgeable in dog color genetics, but I have studied biology and genes in general, and in cows and horses fx. the colored genes seem more dominant than the white genes, which would result in more colored and less white offspring. Ofcourse horses and cows rarely produce more than 1 offspring pr mating, but even if you count like 4 or 5 offspring off of the same combo ther would still be very little or none whites.

    Shigeru, do you know if the mixed litters had more colored or more white pups, if there is even a tendency for one to be more plentiful?
    ... all the way from hillbilly Denmark ;)
  • CaliaCalia
    Posts: 3977
    @Brego_mellon_nin - When I think of how the cream is described as a diluter, I think labrador retrievers. They come in 3 colors: black, brown/chocolate, and yellow. If you breed a yellow x black, you get chocolate. Chocolate x chocolate will get you about 50/50 yellows and chocolates. Some people have bred yellow x yellow (which I think is not allowed), and have gotten practically white labs.
  • @Calia
    It almost sounds too simple... To me, genetics has always been difficult to figure out and I'm not used to it being so straightforward ;)

    I guess I kinda have confused the white/cream a little. If we take cream, which is a dilute I get it. We have the same in horses, which is where most of my genetic knowledge is obtained. Except with horses, you could breed cremello x cremello (like yellow x yellow labs) and no one would think anything bad of you, since we don't really care if the color is lighter (like the almost white lab pups)

    I was thinking of white as a color, not a diluter ;) So maybe I got it all wrong? Are we only using the term "white" as in very light creams, in this case?

    ... all the way from hillbilly Denmark ;)
    Post edited by Brego_mellon_nin at 2011-11-27 08:31:40
  • CrispyCrispy
    Posts: 1907
    I think white Kishu are considered 'recessive red' - they cannot grow black hairs (but can have black pigment elsewhere). Because this gene is recessive, colored Kishu can carry it without exhibiting it (as far as I'm aware) so when bred to white (recessive red) Kishu, the litter can come out mxed. Same with two colored kishu parents - there can be a chance for white if both parents are carrying recessive red. White will always have all white if both parents who are white are 'recessive red' since there is no possibility for anything else.

    I think there are more factors in labs and not all yellow x yellow litters will come out 'white' or cream in color (but there is a chance).

    That is, if I have this right. :x
    Akiyama no Roushya || 秋山の狼室 || www.kishu-ken.org
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 3449
    Shigeru, those are all excellent points. Finding a correct black and tan is extremely difficult and is by far the most intricate color to breed. You have to be careful when using them to improve reds, since they can give dirty red. My big sticking point with use of cream, is as you write, dilution and hiding pinto and other faulty marks or bad urajiro. It may seem superficial, but what has happened with Kishu is very much a possibility with Shibas. I mean, sesame has been perfected in Shikoku, but it's nearly impossible to find a true sesame in Shibas, so it's already occurring in a sense as the vast majority of quality Shiba studs are clear red.
    Hokusei Kashinoki Hokkaido and Shiba Inu
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 12224
    Very interesting. Thanks Shigeru!

    Good point about sesame, Lindsay.

  • aykayk
    Posts: 1979
    @Calia - a yellow lab x black lab will not generate all chocolate. It depends on whether both parents are carriers of chocolate or not. Also, chocolate x chocolate does not automatically get your 50/50 yellows and chocolates. Yellow x yellow is allowed in the breed. Breeding yellow to yellow will not automatically generate lighter shades of yellow. It has to be selected for.

    Here's a link about the inheritance possible:


    @Crispy - I think you got it just right. :-)
    Post edited by ayk at 2011-11-27 13:43:50
  • aykayk
    Posts: 1979
    @lindsayt - I think one of the reasons why sesame is so reliable in the Shikoku and not the Shiba is because the Shikoku carries a good amount of agouti/wolf-grey in their gene pool. The Shiba does not and so breeders have to try to create a sesame Shiba out of a red x blk/tan mating, and that is subject to too much variation.
  • Interesting to hear an explanation of why the creams are considered problematic in breeding. Thanks for this! I've figured there had to be a good reason for the way creams are considered serious faults, and I think this discussion explains it pretty well. I would hate to see the Shiba go the way of the Kishu in coloring!

    And it's also nice to be able to discuss it calmly. It always blows up on the Shiba side.
    Lisa, Toby (Shiba), Oskar and Zora (American Akita), and Leo (Kai Ken)
  • ttddinhttddinh
    Posts: 1990
    Hmmm thanks Shigeru for the interesting post. @linsayt--Would you say that sesames in shibas are quite rare nowadays?
  • LosechLosech
    Posts: 2082
    @shibamistress I was just thinking that! And that's why I almost never participate in color discussions over there.

    The first Shiba I ever saw had a perfect looking Sesame for what the standard calls for. She was gorgeous. All of the other red Shibas I've seen in person have been very diluted. Conker is redder than all of them and he's not from quality lines. The one cream I have seen had red ears, tail, muzzle, legs and stripe down the back. It looked like a Siamese cat.
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 3449
    A correct sesame is extremely rare, for the reasons Ann mentions. Clear red without sesame is preferred, so that has been what was selected for traditionally.
    Hokusei Kashinoki Hokkaido and Shiba Inu
  • CaliaCalia
    Posts: 3977
    @ayk - Interesting, I was always told that chocolate was the black being diluted by yellow, good to see something more in-depth though.
  • cmptekicmpteki
    Posts: 121
    "Why are white coats shunned in the NK?"

    Consider the vision of the prey species that NK hunters (breeders) target, and the colour limitations thereof.

    An all white animal will be easier for the deer or hog to spot and track; sesame and brindle are excellent natural camouflage, leaving the prey with one less sense to rely upon.

    I realize this has nothing to do with the show ring; however, my guess...the "cream" or "all white" colour being undesirable will trace back to them being slightly less effective hunters, and more likely to be hurt when baying a boar, as the prey will be able to see and target an all white dog much more effectively than the more typical colored counterparts.
  • @cmpteki
    Do hogs and deer see in colors? I know horses and cows don't see color, at least not to the same extent that we do. I mean they will be able to distinguish between black/grey and white anyways, but it would be less obvious than if they see bright color... The contrast would be bigger.
    ... all the way from hillbilly Denmark ;)
  • Thank you for a great read, Shigeru!

    I am not very knowledgeable about other Nihon Ken, but with JA brindle is the dominant colour, then comes white and then red. Genetics work in mysterious ways when it comes to white, since it can hide many colours behind it. For example, my Kito's mom is red brindle. His granddam is white and his grandsire is red. Kito is red brindle. The breeders of Kito's mom repeated the mating and offspring was black brindle.

    As for thewhite in Akita, as it has been mentioned, white JA are allowed in the show ring but they are rare occurence. The main problem for Akita is the growing amount of white on the dog's body. If you compare a brindle to a red, you will see a massive difference between the extent of their urajiro. Another problem seems to be the emergence of white spots on the back of the dog's neck and white collars of half collars. Furthermore, it seems that this is passed on from generation to generation, meaning that the white spots are dominant.
    Irina and the kids: Tenshi, Hinu, Tsuki, Kito, Dori, Mizuki (JA) and feline beast Loulou.
  • @Brego_Mellon_nin recent studies appear to show that dogs CAN see color and even animals that can't see color can see tone. White would still be more conspicuous than sesame.
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  • aykayk
    Posts: 1979
    It depends on the human hunter's expectations and wants. A white dog is easier to avoid accidentally shooting. That's why the dogo argentino, a premier boar and puma hunter, was created to be white.
  • @JessicaRabit
    I know, and I never said they wouldn't be obvious, I just said that seing in black/grey tones, white wouldn't be AS conspicuous as seing in colors.
    ... all the way from hillbilly Denmark ;)
  • @Brego_mellon_nin You asked if dogs and deer see in color. I was simply answering your question.
    Fuzzy Gang Signature
  • And it would depend on where the hunting was, wouldn't? In a place that had a lot of snow, white would NOT be conspicuous....Not that there are necessarily any dogs bred particularly for winter hunting (and thus white) but....
    Lisa, Toby (Shiba), Oskar and Zora (American Akita), and Leo (Kai Ken)
  • tjbart17tjbart17
    Posts: 4055
    If I had a gun and I was hunting with my dog, I would want it to be white. ;-P he he. It would suck to shoot the dog by accident.

    @cmpteki You know what I have found that is the most interesting about Kais at least. Yes the brindle, dark coloring may camoflouge them, but I would think that prey would smell a dog before they saw it. I will tell you, Koda and Mei don't smell like dogs. It's amazing. They smell really good or like nothing at all.
  • @JessicaRabbit
    Actually I asked if hogs (as in boar) and deer see in color, not dogs and deer ;) I wasn't trying to snap at you or anything, I'm sorry if it sounded as such!

    I guess with color on hunting dogs it's a balance between the dog having camouflage but not blending so well in, that the hunter accidentally shoots his dog in stead of the prey. The choice would also depend on hunting style a lot, I imagine?
    ... all the way from hillbilly Denmark ;)
  • TheWalrusTheWalrus
    Posts: 1624
    In the mountains of Japan, prey will almost always hear or smell a dog before seeing them. Of course they may stick around to get a look at what is coming at them, and in that case blending into the environment may become useful. If you've hunted with dogs, you'll know that they make a fair bit of noise tracking scents in thick underbrush, especially when they're on a hot trail.

    As far as white dogs being less effective hunters, I haven't seen that to be the case. The best NK hunting dogs I've seen so far have been Kishu (for big game). I guess they could be slightly easier for boar to target since they're solid white, but I've often found boar to target the strangest things. More than a few hunters have had boar destroy GPS collars, and some believe they are targeting the red blinking light.

    I've heard people surmise that the argument for or against white dogs is somehow linked to hunting, but the percentage of NIPPO members who hunt is tiny. It's show breeding that had an effect on the Kishu, as it came after they were classified as a breed (previously when they were just local hunting dogs, they were predominantly yushoku). Show standards/judging have an effect on the entire breed population, whereas one hunter, or a few hunter's preferences will only influence a very small percentage of the entire population.

    That being said, I find, and I've heard many hunters echo this sentiment, that hunting with white dogs in the thick dark underbrush in Japan is a positive. When your dog is running through underbrush at a distance, white dogs stand out, and you can pinpoint their movement and direction. It's also easier to find them when they're baying prey. More than a few times I've heard a pack of dogs baying a boar, and been able to pick out quickly where they are, and where the boar is by finding the white dog in the pack.
  • MirkaMMirkaM
    Posts: 1248
    @shibamistress: In fact there is dog breed made for winter hunting. Finnish hound is originally bred for hunting hare and hunting season for hare is 1.9 to 28.2. It would be quite hard to hunt hares on winter without hound because blue hare's winter coat is white and of course deep snow cover would slow down humans more than dogs.
    Kai will lay down its life to protect its master.
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  • I like the more thorougho coat tone and markings explaination as opposed to the "white" is "impure" chit-chat that I often hear...thanks so much Shige!
    Areyarisu Shikoku Kenimage

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  • shishiinushishiinu
    Posts: 2337
    As far as I know from doing both stalking and hunting with dogs is that hogs have horrible eye sight while deer can spot movement really easily. I have stalked hogs to literally a few feet if the wind is blowing the right way. They have great smell and hearing but the eye sight just sucks.

    I have heard from hunters here that hogs seem to catch movement of dark objects and has seen solid black colored dogs get targeted. But hogs do some weird things like bite a tree thinking its a dogs leg.
    Gen, Ami, Kaylynn, Trinity, Yusuke......Riki, Hana, Sammi, Taro, and the newest addition Koyuki.
  • Very interesting!

    I do recall from when I was at agricultural school, that the pigs seemed to do this kind of thing. If they got agitated (when they are moved around a lot and piglets taken from them and so on) they could get sort of aggressive, and they'd attack the weirdest things, some of it seemed tricked by movement (a stick or a gate being opened/closed). But if they do have the same poor eyesight, that would make sense...

    Anyways, fascinating subject :)
    ... all the way from hillbilly Denmark ;)
  • SayaSaya
    Posts: 3017
    tjbart17 Interesting how Koda and Mei mei don't smell. Saya doesn't smell bad she has a scent, but it's faint to me coarse a boar or deer probably have better smell then me.

    Low smell could be due to breed maybe spitz or NK don't smell too much or maybe it's due to good diet? Saya doesn't stink even after a good bath she is a shiba inu and raw fed fed mostly a mix of grocery meats and grass fed beef stew meat, lamb, organs, and fish.

    Bella my parent's boxer when she is dry she doesn't have too much of a smell, but wet she does.. She eats wellness core ocean and two or four times a week she gets a raw meal as dinner instead of kibble, but she mainly eats kibble.

    Thanks Shigeru for writing this up very nicely written.
    Nicole, 7year old Bella(Boxer), and 7year old Saya(Shiba inu)

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