Kai Ken in the United States
The first Kai to reach the US were gifted to a Utah zoo in the 1960’s. They lived there all their lives as zoo exhibits and did not produce pups.
It was not until the 1990’s that the Kai arrived to stay. Minimeadow Kennel brought over about 8 Kai dogs from a variety of Japan Kennel Club breeders. When that kennel relocated and got out of the breed late in the decade, the dogs were acquired by Classy Kennel, and Mijikai Kennel. These two programs worked hard to preserve the best in these lines and produced many terrific dogs and champions in UKC, and provided the foundation stock and mentorship to new breeders as the Kai became established and people fell in love with this sincere, rugged hunting dog.
Twenty years later, sensing the critical need for diversity in the breed, Yamabushi Kennel imported 22 Kai Ken Aigokai dogs from each of the various lines in Japan, beginning around 2010. This infusion of dogs with the established US lines is the reason why the Kai Ken enjoys the greatest genetic diversity of all the Nihon Ken breeds today, a diversity differential range only slightly higher than the combination of Japanese Akita and American Akita combined. Yamabushi’s imports and the generations they produced, with the assistance of Suteishii Kennel, Mijikai Kennel and O-Ikon Nihon Ken, spread to enrich all active breeders today and gave them a large palette to work in and the flexibility to breed around any health issues as we learn about them through better testing protocols, without facing crippling loss of diversity.
Kai Ken in Japan
Written by Shigeru Kato, http://nihonken.blogspot.com/p/kai.html