How to show your Nihon Ken?
  • Hey all,

    I was wondering if anyone had any good resources for how to train your dog for dog shows?
    I've only been to one ( Regional AKIHO in Japan) but it was all in Japanese and I had no idea what was going on! I am also considering attending the next NIPPO show. I'd like to go and meet everyone and if I work up the courage I might enter Saigo. There are some people who are trying to get JA's included at shows here in Canada so that's really exciting too. I'd definately be there for that.

    What training can I start on now so that my dog is prepared? How are JA's stacked and do you have pointers/tips?
    What equipment is required? ( or restricted? )

    Thanks in advance,
    Post edited by MapleTwinkie at 2013-10-30 12:38:34
  • ceziegcezieg
    Posts: 1050
    Good questions :) I'm definitely planning on showing Hokka in a few years. It depends if Ren takes to the training and becomes more outgoing, but if she does then it'd be neat to show her a few times.

    It'd be pretty neat too if we had a ton of NKF members at the NIPPO show. I'm definitely planning to attend.
    Ren, Kai Ken (f, intact) 02-01-2012
    Kirin, Alaskan Noble Companion Dog (f, intact) 05-04-2015
  • CrimsonO2CrimsonO2
    Posts: 2215
    A bunch of us went to the Ohio Classic this May. It was a grand ole' time. With regards to NIPPO style showing, Shigeru wrote a wonderful post about what to expect in his blog
    Jesse Pelayo

  • timkimtimkim
    Posts: 377
    come to akiho show in L.A. Expert Judy and Sean will teach you how to handle.
    It will be really fun and you will see alot of JAs.
  • Wow talk about the perfect post about 6 months too early lol. The new JACA board just took office in Oct and one of the things that we formed is an Education Committee. Topics to be covered is Judge's education for people new to the breed judging UKC but we will also be doing a how to show in the Akiho ring as well as the AKC/UKC ring.

    Back in the late 90s the Sjobergs and Herrera's went to Japan and their Japanese guides had them attend a judging seminar.

    In the meantime, I'll did up a couple good videos showing how the dogs are shown in the Akiho ring.

  • They have multiple rings going on in this video but it gives you the clue. Some of the best handlers do an excellent job of showing the dog and make themselves(handlers) almost invisible. If you see photo of Mr. Kozaki showing, you almost never see him showing his face.
  • Here is the LA Branch Show from 2011

    Part 1

    Part 2

    Part 3

    Here is the 2009 show. There is an explanation of how to show in English in this video. One big thing is that in the judges don't want you stacking your dog.
    Post edited by *JackBurton* at 2013-10-30 08:45:30
  • TheWalrusTheWalrus
    Posts: 1624
    Yes, watching the video I was going to mention that in NIPPO we definitely do not hand stack. I've never been to an AKIHO show before, so the videos were very interesting to watch. Thanks, Sean. The announcer was having quite a bit of fun announcing winners eh?
    But oh, Akita rear end construction makes me cringe.
  • I agree we have come a long way since the 2009 and 2010 show. One of the problems as well as a strength to the branch is our members bring their dogs into the ring regardless of condition. Most of our members, will show in or out of coat, structure issues, exercise issues, etc. The majority don't breed but want to support the club.

    Going back and looking at these videos - this would be the second year that we had Kita and Waka, Yuusaku is a puppy in these videos. Claire is showing Momo No Sachi. Kaede is being shown fully out of coat. Even looking at the make up of the club - mostly red in 2010 to I would guess 40/60 brindle/red.

    Steven's announcing is classic. The best part is for some reason he really butchers the names on Saturday at the JACA show but does better on Sunday for the Akiho show.

    In the ring: You really don't want to touch the dog. Ideally you want the dog to self-stack in front of you with the lead up and angled back to you. You'll see a lot people pull straight up on the lead but really it should be almost 45 deg angle. While the judge walks around you and the Akita, having your akita looking forward during this process is a big plus. The judge will also look at the rear of the dog for structure and in the case of reds and brindles for urajrio.

    The judge will want to check the teeth and testicles(male). Most wont mind an Akita "personality" but will not tolerate Akitas that are too aggressive, or fearful, and in the case of one member.... to mellow.

    Somewhere around here I have a video of Judy handling Yuuasku. I'll dig it up. I'm hoping to have a go-pro or something like that setup ring side this year.
    Post edited by *JackBurton* at 2013-10-30 09:05:47
  • TheWalrusTheWalrus
    Posts: 1624
    Sean, I was talking about the Japanese video :) Nice explanation of how to position the lead. Judges over here in all the Japanese breed clubs hate when people show dogs by pulling the lead straight up.
  • Well our rears were not really goo either. You can see the improvement 2009, 2010 etc. They are really pushing for a straight legged dog. But you can see in the japanese video how soft the rear is.
  • *JackBurton* Could you maybe make a quick drawing/post pictures of 45degree vs. 90degree on the lead? I don't quite get it :p
    I aspire to be the person my dog thinks I am.
  • I'm so glad this topic has come up it's something I wanted to ask too! Hopefully the principals are the same in the UK! I have started taking Keiko to ring craft classes and although it's helped me understand showing generally the trainers don't know anything about Japanese Akita's and although the general principals are the same there are something which I feel I'm missing out on when it comes to stacking this breed, there is something more proud about the way JA's stand in shows I feel and that wasn't always the end result at the ringcraft class. I also have a Japanese style show lead which the trainers just didn't get at all they tried to discourage me from using it as they felt it wasn't right for showing.

    The video's are very interesting and I would also like to see a diagram of the lead angles if possible. Also if anyone has any tips on how to keep her tail up that would be great, she has it up most of the time during the classes and the show I have taken her to so far but every now and then she will drop it.
    Post edited by StefJackUk at 2013-10-30 11:22:16
  • Thanks for the responses everyone!

    @timkim , I would LOVE to come down to Cali, it's quite far but it is definately something we will do soon. How about you come to NIPPO show in Ohio next year ;)

    @thewalrus , thanks for the blog post, it was super informative!

    @Sean, thanks for the videos and info. Showing looks easy, but I'm sure that's far from reality! I know the NIPPO show is in May, but I need all this time for practice, lol. I agree that the LA clubs have come so far in these past few years!

    There's another post on this forum about Japanese show collars and leads. I'd love to get a set, but in the meantime are there similar collars/leads combos that can be used in the ring? I also know that Judy posted up some photos on Facebook on the choke collar/show collar combo. Is this what's used in the ring?
  • Holding the leash -- back vs up is very important.

    If you pull UP on the leash, you are very likely to also pull forward a bit. This will screw up the dog's stance and positioning, giving it the appearance of bad structure. The dog will resist, leaning backwards against the pressure on its collar; the front legs will post (be more forward instead of straight up and down) and the topline get screwed up. The dog is also more likely to try and pull its head down towards the ground. It also ruins the dog's expression; now the dog looks meek and/or unwilling instead of bold and confident. Pulling up or forward on a dog's head makes the dog resist, and it makes the dog look reluctant and timid.

    If you pull BACK on the leash, on the other hand, the dog's stack is not affected. It also creates a better overall presentation and look for the dog. Its head is up and alert and trying to move forward, and you are simply keeping it in position.

    I'll post some pictures in a bit. My husband is surprisingly good at this, much better than I am!
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
  • Good leash positioning. It can be difficult to keep the 45 degree angle while walking. Don't worry about pulling backwards while walking, but try not to pull up/forward and drag your dog around the ring. Give the dog its head and have a loose leash rather than have the leash be pulling up over its ears.


    Good leash positioning. If you look at the angle by the neck, the leash is actually pulling upwards. However, by holding close to the dog's head, the handler has much more fine-tuned control and can put the dog in exactly the right spot. This is more AKC/UKC/FCI style than AKIHO/NIPPO but its perfectly acceptable in the Japanese venues as well.


    Good leash positioning. Even though the leash is pulling slightly forward of the dog, the dog has its head and a natural posture, and is not being dragged around the ring. It would be even better if directly in line with or ahead of the handler instead of slightly behind.


    Bad leash positioning. Notice how all of these dogs lean away from the direction the handler is pulling. Its natural to resist.


    Sorry @jellyfish I had to... We all love Toki anyway! <3 Here's an extreme example of what pulling up eventually leads to -- the dog pulling down and back.


    Bad leash positioning. The dog isn't leaning, but the curve of the neck is wrong. This can throw off the perception of the dog's shoulder layback, and also force the dog to shift some weight between front and back.


    Lucky handler. The leash positioning is wrong, but the presentation of the dog still looks alright, because the dog self stacks very well and is tolerant of being pulled on at weird angles. If you have a dog like this, you can get away with bad positioning, but I wouldn't count on it; easier and better to just work on your own handling.


    Please understand that none of the above statements or photos are meant to imply someone is a bad handler. Dogs are constantly in motion and getting the perfect shot which best presents the dog can be difficult. Getting a ton of derpy shots where the dog just moved out of line into a bad position is easy. So any of the "bad" positions above may have been handled correctly, and I just happened to snap a photo at the wrong moment.

    The key thing is to constantly pay attention to how your dog is shifting and moving and adjust accordingly. Don't simply go out, set your dog up the way you want, and be a statue. If your dog moves, fix it. In the case of AKIHO/NIPPO that means changing how you hold the leash or walking the dog in a small circle. In the case of UKC, that means adjusting the dog by hand.
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
    Post edited by PoetikDragon at 2013-10-30 14:06:10
  • NavyDogNavyDog
    Posts: 388
    When and where is the next NIPPO classic in the states?
  • timkimtimkim
    Posts: 377
    I personally prefer to be between 90-45. at 45 degree, akita's head looks too loose.
    90 degree dog looks hanged. so i prefer in between. lol

    photo karin_akiho1_web_zpsdc4d4de3.jpg

    and look at all these japanese breeders handling dog.

    I rarely see 45 degree. note that I'm only talking about Akiho show. I don't know any about UKC/AKC.

    photo 013A554750A332DA17D622-20130814202130_zps5ceb201b.jpeg
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    all these dogs are at show, got tokyou or meiyosho rewards, I see alot of 90ish degree position, or between 45-90. I don't see single 45 degree stock.

  • the website for NIPPO Classic is
    when it is determined for 2014, info will be there. :)

    I was wondering if they will hold it in Ohio again, or a diff state this time. Selfishly, I want it a little further east. :)
  • CaliaCalia
    Posts: 3977
    With @timkim 's photos, it makes me wonder how these dogs would look naturally, off leash and without handlers. Some UKC/AKC handlers of other breeds will adjust their handling to hide or lessen structural faults.
  • NavyDogNavyDog
    Posts: 388
    Agreed! It should be east coast! I'd really like to take Yucca to a show
  • I admire the more natural look, like in Claire's examples, the 45°ish ones.
  • CaliaCalia
    Posts: 3977
    @WrylyBrindle - I'm wondering if that Parvo-like virus that's been found in Ohio will cause them to host it elsewhere. Don't need these dogs getting sick with something that doesn't have a vaccine and is easy to misdiagnose.
  • That's kinda why I was wondering- I think holding it in Ohio could cause some people to not want to go there, whereas if it was in Pennsylvania or MD they wouldn't think twice.
    Post edited by WrylyBrindle at 2013-10-30 14:57:58
  • Most of the dogs in @timkim's photos are posting... leaning backwards, so their legs aren't properly up under them. This is something to avoid.

    EDIT: Here's a photo of Gamera posting more dramatically during our stacking practice.

    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
    Post edited by PoetikDragon at 2013-10-30 14:56:15
  • aykayk
    Posts: 1979
    One UKC judge suggested to my friend handling the Jindo to smooth out the neck before re-positioning the collar higher up under the jaw.

    A lower collar that gathers skin as the handler pulls up gives the impression of dewlap instead of a tight skin. Dewlap = serious fault.

    Shrug. Take it as you will that suggestion.
    Post edited by ayk at 2013-10-30 14:58:20
  • timkimtimkim
    Posts: 377
    tachikomi is traditional way to stack japanese akita, you will never understand and get it if you are comparing it with stacking dog in UKC and AKC.
    It's only akiho style and you won't see it else where. Attend UKC if you don't like, now you guys have choice of UKC and AKIHO in Los angeles as well.
    45 degree at those pic of dogs doesn't look good at my eye. I do understand what you guys are coming up with but I don't think it fits to JA if you are showing from Akiho.
    Perfect stacked akita like JKC champs won't win from Akiho shows.
  • Sorry, but those handlers are wrong. Its not about AKIHO vs UKC/AKC. Its about understanding how to present a dog. The correct way to stack a dog is true for all breeds* and all venues. The dog should not be posting or leaning and should have its weight correctly distributed from front to rear and side to side.

    * GSDs are the exception, cause they're too damned crippled to put their legs up under them properly.
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
  • timkimtimkim
    Posts: 377
    wrong handlers are winning all akiho show in Japan. thats what it is.
  • aykayk
    Posts: 1979

    On the bright side, a good judge won't be swayed too much by experienced handling vs. inexperienced handling.

    I'd trust the judge for the next Feb's JACA UKC show to not be swayed by good or bad handling. She may make you run around the ring several times to give the dog the best chance to show off their structure though. :-)

  • Tim I get where you are coming from. Almost everyphoto is showing the dog in a 90deg lead. Two years ago Judge Toyoda(sp) commented that he preferred the lead being held at less than 90.

    I do need to make a correction on my earlier post. It was early and pre coffee.
    I wanted to it to not be a 45 but and angle in between.
  • Also showing in Akiho is totally different than AKC and UKC I've never seen a Nippo show.
  • If I recall correctly, NIPPO is much closer to what@poeticdragon has posted. There is no baiting and you can't physically touch the dog. You are also standing behind and the ideal angle is 45. The dog is supposed to look as natural as possible. A 90 degree leash pull tends to create wrinkles and make the dog look like they don't want to be there. The dog should naturally stack and express their pride and personality.

    I suspect though, that NIPPO and AKIHO are also different from one another.

    Just found the link:

    Honestly I saw a range of handling. Some dogs just settled into it like pros, some were fairly unfocused without baiting. Most were in between (they took a but to get warmed up but focused after a bit). I will say though, that the NIPPO style of handling, in my opinion, facilitated the expression of individual personality much more so than any AKC show that I've watched.
  • The NIPPO Classic shows pretty much exactly like LA AKIHO and the AKIHO shows in Japan I went to. The only difference was that the judge in 2013 was more "hands on" and interested in feeling the texture of the coat, layback of the shoulders, musculature, etc. I don't know if that is just his personality or a NIPPO thing, since the 2011 judge didn't do that. Also we did a triangle in the ring which AKIHO doesn't do, but this might be because the Colonial Shiba Club that puts it in is primarily an AKC organization and there was an AKC assistant judge.

    With regards to my previous post, I feel I should stress that what matters most is the position of the dog. Pulling up on the leash can lead to the dog being in a bad pose. It happens even with the pro handlers, who should know better. If the dog is stacked correctly, pulling up on the leash to give it a fuller face is fine. See the last picture in my post, with the black brindle, as an example. But doing so should only cause the fur to move forward -- not the head, neck, and body. It is difficult for a person new to handling to get this right, and I don't recommend they try it, since they're more likely to hurt the presentation of their dog than help. That's all.
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
  • CaliaCalia
    Posts: 3977
    Idk, that 45 degree angle is really looking sharp with this shiba pup


    I took this pic at the NIPPO Classic in Ohio, and even though this pup naturally stacked well, I don't think she would look as good if the angle was any higher.

    The impression I got with the use if the 90 degree leash angle was to help exaggerate the head. That angle pulls the neck fur up and gives a rounder, more full look than other angles. Could hide weak cheeks and bring more pitch to the ears as well.
  • I like that pic, @Calia! The dog looks ready to spring into action, brimming with energy, not yanked around by its head.
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
  • What not to do...


    Akitas are not giraffes!

    Both of these dogs look like they're struggling just to keep their front toes on the ground. The front assembly looks unnaturally straight, lacking any angulation to balance out their rears -- which are bent to take on more weight than usual as they try to find balance with their head held up like that. The shoulders look straight, the front legs are posting, and there is the appearance that both dogs lack prosternum. The white dog is pulling against it a little more, and has flat feet because of this (you can see her toe pads). Neither dog has good expression, they both look about 15 seconds away from thrashing to escape the "noose."
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
    Post edited by PoetikDragon at 2013-10-30 19:14:19
  • I want to thank you guys for this discussion- i've learned a lot! Given me some things to think about if I get to show Matsu again, as well as what to look at when I see photos of dogs AND the skill of handling/showing a dog, as well as the knowledge that not everything I see in fancy pictures of show dogs is good presentation. I have long thought many akitas looked super uncomfortable in the noosey presentations but figured, you know: what do *I* know? :)
  • Here are two albums of photos shot at AKIHO shows in Japan. These are not the staged pictures you see breeders and handlers posting on websites and advertisements for their dogs. These are real dogs in real shows. You'll notice a great deal of variety in the angle of leash; by no means are all or even most of them at 90 degrees. The dogs that are presented well, whether or not the leash is straight up, are not being hung by their collar or pulling/leaning against it.
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
  • aykayk
    Posts: 1979
    @poeticdragon or *JackBurton*- I was looking at the videos and I had a few questions.

    Touching the tail is really allowed in AKIHO? I know that tail-touching is not suppose to happen in NIPPO. Lots of grumbling from the Beikoku shiba crowd when they see somebody doing that in the ring.

    Also, a dog that sits any time during judging is viewed as weaker in NIPPO. Is it the same with AKIHO?

    I know that folks in any venue might reset the front of the dog by lifting straight up on the lead. This keeps things hands-off.

    But some folks use their feet to remind the dog to move it's back feet further back. How is this viewed in AKIHO and NIPPO?

  • @ayk no touching the dog is a no no. If I didn't say the earlier I should of. A dog sitting would be a deduction but a handler moving the dog are resetting it with the lead isn't that bad .

    I do know someone who likes to tap the feet but he only does it when the judge isn't looking.
  • What we say is not allowed at LA AKIHO is very different than what i saw Japanese people doing (with and without the judge looking) in Japan. I saw lots of touching going on.
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
  • MirkaMMirkaM
    Posts: 1248
    I usually let Nuuk stand free in shows. I don't set him to pose.
    Kai will lay down its life to protect its master.
    photo banneri_zpsc6e1d74e.jpg
    Kennel Gekkoo No:
  • AjaxAjax
    Posts: 123

    Also, a dog that sits any time during judging is viewed as weaker in NIPPO.

    Oh no, we're doomed! I picture it now... Ajax is going to sit down and start whining.

    I entered Ajax into the Aomori NIPPO regionals taking place next weekend. Wish us luck!

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