Kishu Ken heading towards Hound Group

By Jessica Freni

Photos provided by: CJ McCammon


It was announced in early February 2023, the Kishu Ken // 紀州犬 (Kishuuken) currently AKC FSS and originally designated for the Working Group,  upon full recognition, would be revised to reassignment to the Hound Group. This decision was at the petition of the breed parent club to be more accurately aligned with the historic function/role of the breed in the country of origin, as club President CJ McCammon explains,

“The Kishu Ken has been making the switch to Hound Group since 2019 shortly after the NAKC became more active within the AKC venue. Our hope was to have the breed recognized for its historic and modern function and have our breed’s temperament – which is intrinsic and inherent to breed type – fit the group they are shown in.


We had previously been slated for Working group after we exist FSS and the membership and myself felt that was an egregious error which would make the Kishu Ken poorly matched against the rest of the group. The breed has never had any other consistent purpose but that of a hound or a companion. They are not guard dogs, they are not hauling dogs. They are a hunting dog with a hot nose and keen eyes which course down and hold or bay their prey for the hunter to dispatch.


This also allows us to create hunting trials and instinct tests specific to the breed or parent club which recognize their abilities and purpose.”

While a win for the Kishu Ken in it’s striding towards preservation and recognition in the USA and AKC, this has reinvigorated popular topic- does the AKC need to re- evaluate the current groups and consider not only adding groups, but reorganization of some existing breeds to groups better suited? In particular, the Kishu Ken highlights the growing need for a Spitz group (and possibly further division of Hounds into Scent Hounds and Sight Hounds). There could also be case made (and is frequently a contentious point of discussion) for Poodles being better suited to Sporting as water Retrievers and need for a Mastiff type,  Bully breed or Guardian group. So, does the AKC need to re-evaluate the current Group format? How would this best be accomplished? Should Groups more resemble other registries (FCI or UKC)?

Congrats to the Kishu Ken on their advocating on behalf of their breed! For information about the breed visit:

National Kishu Ken Club

Nihonken Hozonkai