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Ryukyu inu, Ryukyu tora

I was searching for "Ryukyu tora" on the Internet and was dismayed to find very little information. Ryukyu tora (tora = "tiger"), or sometimes Ryukyu Inu or Ryukyu turaa, is the breed of my last dog, Courtney, and I figure her memory deserves a lot more respect from the Internet. Courtney was a street mutt that we picked up as a puppy. I began to suspect she might an actual breed when I ran into another street dog that looked exactly like her with different coloring. After seeing photos of Ryukyu toras in a local paper, there were enough physical similarities that I decided I could call her a Ryukyu tora if I wanted to. A ryukyu inu page I found has even more photos, including a poster that has Courtney's tawny coloring labelled as the 'Aka turaa' (red tiger) breed.

All Ryukyu inu are all mutts, as World War II was not particularly kind to Okinawan dogs and the American occupation afterwards brought many non-native dogs to the island. In the early 1980s they discovered a pack of dogs in the nothern rainforests that was genetically distinct and designated it a breed. Since then, the preservation society has 'stabilized' the breed and there are now two official lineages, Yanbaru and Yaeyama, based on where they were found. There are probably less than a thousand of the Ryukyu inu around, though there might be a lot more if more stray dogs were rounded up.

According to some pages I found in Japanese Dogs: Akita, Shiba, and Other Breeds :

Ryukyu inu are medium sized dogs... [and] look very much like wild dogs, which gives the impression of extreme ferocity, but, quite to the contrary, their disposition is mild and amiable and they make loving pets. Nevertheless, they have a strong territorial instinct, and they are not necessarily good with other animals. At one time they were used to hunt wild boar, and one should bear in mind that their hunting instinct is alive and well. [I've included the Ryukyu Inu pages from the book below if you'd like to sample the book]

This description pretty much matches my experience with Courtney, except that she looked very sweet and not the least bit ferocious. She was a very loving dog who enjoyed being pet or sitting out in the yard with you staring out at the ocean. She was also a thirty pound dog that commanded respect from larger dogs.

When we were staying at a friend's house, she wouldn't let their dog enter the same room, so he would just sit there in the adjacent room sadly staring in. She also required eight Marines to hold her down for a shot and she destroyed a dog toy with a three month guarantee in a single night. We bought her three stuffed animal toys, figuring that they might last her awhile. The first lasted a week, the second a day, the third had a hole in the heart within minutes. She definitely enjoyed the hunting of wild stuffed animals.

Ryukyu Inu.1.gif Ryukyu Inu.2b.gif

Comments (18)


Great information about the Ryukyu Inu. We picked up our dog from a pound in Okinawa, Japan 15 years ago.


I was doing some research on my two dog's breed. Their mom was a german shepherd-husky mix but the previous owner was unsure of what the dad (or dads) might be as she was left outside in heat on Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. I found your site and your description of the behavior is EXACTLY like my dogs. They hate other dogs (and even each other on occasion) and they seem to chase any animal they can find especially liking squirrels and birds...they stop dead upon seeing a small animal to chase or attack. I have often been told they look like wild dogs or dingoes. I am so happy to see you have this site dedicated to the Ryukyu breed because I, too, feel that it would be a shame for the memory of my pups to be discarded.


Marci: Thanks for stopping by to share your about your dogs.


Ah! Thank you for this page! My son got a dog from a friend while stationed in Okinawa. To make a long story short, she arrived to live with us in the US pregnant. She had 7 pups, of which we ended up keeping 3, along with Mom.
Mom is mixed with lab--but the Ryukyu Inu traits are strong! I believe the pups Dad must have been RI also. The pups (now 3 yrs old) are the most amazing dogs I have ever owned. They are incredibly smart. They notice every nuance in their environment. But they are very bonded to us and only us. They are suspicious of strangers. NO ONE seems to have any info about the breed, and I am very interested in corresponding with others lucky enough to have Ryukyu Inus in their lives!


Glad to see some info... my dog was rescued in Okinawa.... he is a mutt who had been wild his first 4 months. He is a Shiba Inu/ Ryukyu Inu/ Daito mix... He is a beautiful brindle color with 4 white paws (knee socks in the front and ankle socks in the back), a white belly, a white muzzle with a streak that goes up between his eyes and the tip of his tail is also white. He is definitely not a people person.... but is great with us and our 21 month old. People always want to pat him because he is so unusual and beautiful looking... but he wants none of it!! We feel very blessed and lucky to have this great dog in our lives... even with his quirks and issues!!

Maryanne Tirinnanzi:

I rescued a female Ryukyu Inu who was dumped by her military family when they PCS'ed to the states in 2005. She is the most unusual dog I have ever owned! I have never seen a dog spin for joy but she does just that! Even though she has chased cats in the past, she recently is friends with several in the neighborhood. She even sleeps with one of them on the couch. I did some research and there is an article about the DNA of the Ryukyu Inu. It stated that the DNA is distintly like that of a pure dog..not like the mainland dogs or the US or European dogs.I wouldn't trade her for anything. She is a special special dog.

Eric Hafner:

My baby girl is beautiful! I was stationed in Okinawa for 3 years, shortly after arriving I adopted Kira from the base kennels. She is dark brindle with white socks, a white chest, and big pointed ears. The brindle picture on the poster looks like her a lot. The above paragraph sums her up for the most part. She looks really mean but is really a loving loving dog. She loves attention and is really good with other dogs, kids, cats, and any one else that will give her attention...and she draws a lot of it! When she was a puppy she would go threw her bones in mins. now shes slowed down a bit but any stuffed animal she gets a hold of is relieved of its stuffing directly. I love her very much and wouldn't trade her for anything.


I had one of these dogs for awhile till it ran away from home once.
They are pretty stubborn but incredibly smart dogs, it would be nice to get more info out on them on the web as there is not a lot out there.

I am delighted to see your blog and all the information and comments regarding the wonderful dogs of Okinawa. I lived on Okinawa from 1990-1993 and during that time I purchased Pokie from a pet store outside of Kadena. She was more than a pet, she was a family member. She was one of the smartest dogs I have ever known. She could open doors, drink from a juice box with the straw, and was always wanting to do her spin dance when happy. She was loyal and always dedicated to protecting my children to which from the day they came home from the hospital she would remain always at their side or in their rooms at night guarding them. Not to say that she did not have her quirks, she definately did let you know when you irritated her. She was make a fuss but never once did she bite any of us, being all bark and no bite to her family. She did however like to round up her other dog family members and nip at their rears to get them moving, almost reminding me of a cattle dog.
She had beautiful long white fur with a large black spot on her back, and her eyes were covered with 2 dark brown patches, and when she was shaved in the summer she had cute freckles in her fur color. She had the tell-tale curled long tale that so many of the Okinawan dogs displayed.
She ended up living to be a grand old lady at 17 years old. She passed away in Dec. 2005. She will always be missed. I've never seen a dog like her before I got her in 1990 and I have never seen another since being stateside. She was well loved.

To everyone out there who has had and Okinawan dog you know the appreciation for this breed. For those of you in Okinawa considering getting an Okinawan dog, you will forever appreciate the breed once you do for they are truly a wonderful breed.


As I was searching around the internet for good apartment dogs i got to thinking about one of the dogs we had as kids stationed at Kadena. I had always believed he was just a basic mutt until I found this blog. Its amazing how simular he looks to the Ryukyu inu, Ryukyu tora.
He was abandoned in a box with the other pups in his litter outside the kennel. He was a stubborn guy though. At times you'd have to yell at him to go outside when he'd come trotting through growing lightly almost as if he was a little kid complaining under his breath. He was pretty good about not running off without a leash on but there were times he would and when you saw his ears fold back and curley tail go down, you knew he was about to take off and there was no chance you'd catch him. But he'd eventually come back 10 mins later realizing your not chasing as if it were a game. He was also good with other dogs. Mainly due to being raised with another mutt pup we had. First time meeting a cat he didn't quite know what to think. Grandparents large male cat didn't take to kindly to the probing sniffs and soon made my dog scared of most cats. Sadly enough my parents had him put to sleep at the age of 9 due to tumors.
Very good dog though. Loved to play tug-o-war with an old sock, loved attention, got along with everyone as long as you would pet him once he sniffed you over and was pretty smart.
I wish I could have one now but the chances of finding one around Phoenix are probably slim. I could probably get my brother who is station on Okinawa to get one but he libel to keep it for himself.

Anyways Greet breed of dog and recommend it to anyone who gets a chance to have one!


Found your articles on Ryukyu's interesting but couldn't help noticing the visual resembleance to the Pariah dog of Asia and North Africa

Martine Lombaerts:

Hello there,

I'm very intrested into the Ryukyu dog.
I have 2 Shiba's and my boy friend has an Akita (in Belgium it's called "American Akita").
But I'ld like also a Ryukyu dog.
What can I do ? Any suggestions ?
I hope that you can help me !

Best regards,

Martine Lombaerts
Lotsebeemd 3
1651 Lot (Beersel)

I sincerely hope you can give me some advice to find a Ryukyu !

Thank you so much !


my husband and i lived in okinawa for 1 1/2 years. we adopted an okinawa lab mix who is barks and growls at every stranger she sees but she is the sweetest dog you'll ever meet though. but anyways...the reason why i'm writing this is because people who are trying or looking for a ryukyu inu, ryukyu tora can possible find one at i was on their website the other day and seen a a dog that looks like the breed. the dogs name is moshi. i just figured i would share this information with everyone.



My adopted black lab loves to "kill" stuffed toys, and my golden, well, she hates to go on a walk without one dangling from her mouth :)

That's an interesting dog breed name (Ryukyu tora) seems like they are relatively new to the U.S. just like the Weimareiner as of the 80's as well... Good looking dog.


I love Sasha, my 'Oki-mix.' She has a few years on her and I'm wondering if there's a way to get these puppies in the States?

chris g:

Stumbled upon this while searching for info on other Okinawan mutts. Sadly, I recently put my Oki mutt down. She was 17 and had health issues. Best dog I've ever had. She looked like a miniature German shepherd,even the saddleback coloring. She was loyal, rarely made a noise unless she meant business, super smart. Just a great dog. If you are on kadena go to karing kennels and adopt one of these mixed breed pups. You'll never regret it.


Hi I have a ryukyu shiba inu mix. He's like no other dog ... He has the shiba scream down to a T. And barks at every other animal. We got him for. Oaars, he has the brindle fur white paws and white chest that leads all he way up to under his neck. He's super playful. Donets like to be crated. When I share pictures people are always amazed by how different he looks. One said kinda looks like a hyena. Kaito-chan is our first dog but he's has come to be our new baby .

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