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Appearance - Head



The head is probably the most distinctive feature of a Jindo.

By close examination of the head, experienced judges can distinguish between a mix from a purebred and an average Jindo from an exceptional Jindo.

Other breeds

HwangSoon - photo by Jhun Kim

Japanese Shiba at a Beikoku Shiba Show
- photo by Ann Kim

Jindo at J.I. show - photo by Johnathan Lee

Australian Dingo- photo by Dingo Sanctuary

Jindo at J.I. show - photo by Johnathan Lee

young Japanese Kishu - photo by Mr. Rene Hesselman


Impression and Presentation

The overall impression of the head is that of polite and yet attentive cheerfulness.

Like the wolf, the Jindo's  natural head carriage when moving is lowered instead of raised.


The size of the head must be in good proportion to the body and should not look heavy or too small.  Taken in context with the rest of the body, the head length must not be too short or too long.  What this means is that for dogs of the leaner/longer body style, often referred to as heutgae, the head would be longer.  For dogs of the thicker/stockier body style, often referred to as gyupgae, the head would be shorter and more powerful.

The occiput (top part of the skull) to snout ratio has a great deal of variance.  However, the preferred ratio seems to be 6:4. (Longer occiput than snout).

General Shape

Many people describe the shape of the head as appearing similar to an inverted triangle when viewed from above.  Hyungwon Kang has a good top view of this description on his site.  The picture is a bit fish-eyed, but the triangular impression is there.


Some people oppose the term triangular as it gives the impression that the cheeks and cheek hairs (ie. "tiger-mane") are flatter instead of abundant and full.  Also, the term triangular might imply a snipey or pointy muzzle which is not desired.

When viewed from the front,  the desired head is described as a circle or a dome.   This is because of the rounded and broad space between the ears as well as the rounded shape given off by the cheeks and cheek hairs.


photo by Woo, Mu Jong


photo by Jhun Kim


photo by Im, In Hak


photo by CA shiba rescue

Octagonal has also been used to describe the Jindo head shape when viewed from the front, but one has to keep in mind that it does not strictly refer to an equilateral or a straight-edged octagon.

On a bit of a tangent, it's said that a dog could have the same basic head shape as a Jindo, but it does not necessarily make the dog into a Jindo.   For instance, one difference said to be between the Jindo and the Kishu is that a Jindo's cheeks are supported by bone and not just muscles and fat.   A Kishu could be described as having a less pronounced underjaw than a Jindo.  With Jindo-Kishu mixes, the overall shape of the cheeks might look the same, but the substance is different.

Sexual Dimorphism

Differences between male and female Jindos, especially adults, should be noticeable immediately.  The male typically has a wider forehead, cheeks, and muzzle while the female has a more angular look.  Males also seem to have a stronger brow than females.  This contributes to the "wild" and "strong" appearance of the male while giving females the "graceful" and "slender" look...most of the time.

The left is a male, the right is a female.
diagram from the Korean Jindo Dog Centrel Committee Association

Another generalization is that a female's snout gives the impression of being longer than a male's snout.  (Due to the male's stronger bones.)  This generalization only works when comparing dogs within similar types.  For instance, comparing a gyupgae female with a heutgae male would not work.

Mother & Son comparison

JinSoon - adult mother

photo by Ann Kim

Caesar - 1 year old son 
(notice the stronger brow on the son)

photo by Ann Kim

Father & Daughter comparison

PiPi - father 
(notice the wider muzzle)

photo by Woo, Mu Jong?

PiRu - daughter

photo by Woo, Mu Jong



The Topskull and Stop

The single furrow on the forehead should not be too deep and there should be no wrinkles on the forehead.

Coco (female)- photo by Ann Kim

female - photo by Ann Kim


Many people find a rounded topskull and backskull highly desireable on Jindos.

ChoRong (female)

photo by Johnathan Lee

Note the roundness of her topskull.

BaekChul (male)

photo by Johnathan Lee


If one examines the profile of the head, the snout should be close to parallel to the top of the skull.  (I say close because the roundness of some dogs' heads can throw off the topskull line.)  One Jindo organization limits the perpendicular distance between the snout and the skull to 2 cm.

diagram from the Korean Jindo Dog 
Centrel Committee Association

Tygon (female)

photo by Jhun Kim


In other words, Jindos should not have an abrupt stop, but a moderate one with a gentle curve from the top of the muzzle to the forehead.  The brows seems to be a bit stronger in males than females but the desired stops are unchanged.  Overly flat heads with no stops are not desired.

Muzzle and Mouth

Viewed from the side, the occiput is longer than the muzzle.   The desired proportions seem to be 6:4.  Viewed from the front, the muzzle looks more round than angular and tapers smoothly to a point from the stop to the nose.

Lips are black, even in white coated dogs.  The lips should be tight. Loose lips will give the dog weaker biting power, which is not good for hunting.  There is also a possibility of the dog fanging himself during a struggle.  In addition, loose lips give the dog an unhappy face instead of the cheerful expression characteristic of a Jindo.

The palate is dark purple, almost black, but the tongue should be large and deep pink without any spots.  Most people believe that tongue spots are indicative of Chow-Chow mixed in, but some think otherwise.  This minority believe only purple spots with blurry edges are the ones indicating Chow-Chow mixes.  In any  case, both groups consider any tongue spots undesirable.

The bite should be a scissor - upper front teeth slightly in front of the lower teeth.  All 42 teeth should be present.


The ears are upright and have a triangular shape.  There are some dogs with "cow ears" or horn ears - ears that curve out on the outside edge and in on the inside edge.  These type of ears are considered undesirable.  Ears that are only curved on the outside edge but with a straight inside edge are considered acceptable.

Ear size should have be in good harmony and balance with the face (ie. dogs with longer muzzles would be expected to have somewhat larger ears).  The ears are thick and yet are capable of nimble movement.  They have ample inner hair.   From a front-view, the tips are rounded rather than coming to a sharp point.  The ears normally rest slightly outward, but will move more up when the dog is alert.  The angle the ears points have been compared to the hands on a clock.  When at rest, the ears would be at 10:10.  When alert, the ears would be at 11:05.  Nimble movement and rotation of the ears carry higher priority over static ear positioning though.

The space between the ears should be broad and rounded.

From a side-view, ears are pricked forward past vertical.  The ears lean forward, continuing the line of the neck.  This ear position is described as hooded rather than erect.  (Some of the other nordic breeds have erect ears instead of hooded ears.)

diagrams from the Korean Jindo Dog Centrel Committee Association

diagrams from the Korean Jindo Dog Centrel Committee Association

Caesar (young male) - photo by Ann Kim

SoonHei (female) - photo by Ann Kim


Puppies have downward pointed ears for approximately 5 months. The base of the ear might solidify prior to that, but typically, a Jindo doesn't have fully upright ears until 6 months of age.  Ears typically grow faster than the skull and so it's not uncommon for youngsters to have an ungainly, over-sized look to them, but they can grow out of it.

Different groups have different desired timetables in which ears should lift. The KNDA mentions they should lift at 3-4 months. Another book with a heavy emphasis on hunting, says they should lift as late as 8 months of age. Why the contradiction?

Perhaps it has to do with the desired size of the ear. The KNDA prefers small triangularly shaped ears that balance the head, prevent chances of frostbite, and so it doesn't take long for the ears to completely lift. Others believe that there is a correlation between larger ears and hunting ability and thus desire the larger triangular ears that would take much longer to lift.

Perhaps it has to do with the thickness of the ear leather? The thicker ear leathers are more desired but may take longer to lift.

This could be a harmless matter of difference of opinion except for that fact that Koreans severely detest Jindos that don't have fully upright ears. People who breed for large ears or thick ear leather sometimes are faced with the possibility that the ears will never lift all the way or the ear shape is bent. In addition, the larger the ear, the less effective the ear hairs are in protecting the ear from water/debri during a hunt.

For pups that have fully erect ears earlier than 3 months of age, there might be some doubts about the purity (Japanese breeds have their ears fully erect at a very early age, ~40 days), but one has to look at the overall appearance and behavior of the adult dog to be certain.


See Eyes section


Black noses are required on colored dogs.  Flesh/pink noses are allowed on white dogs.  Sometimes a white dog may have a solid black nose as a puppy, but the color fades in the middle to flesh/pink as the dog matures.

Nose Color in White Jindos

Less Common - Solid black

More Common - Pink nose rimmed with black


Black skin pigment is desired in Jindos, but there is some debate on whether a black nose on a white dog is a sign of Japanese Kishu Inu blood.   This opinion is still in the minority in light of the fact that history indicates white dogs with black noses did exist.

The black nose on white Jindos seems to be restored when the white dog has some black/tan coat color genes, but this isn't widely accepted yet.

9/24/05 UPDATE:  There are some "yellow" Jindos that have brown pigment on their noses and skin.  Quite honestly, my feeling is that this shouldn't be considered a feature indigenous to the Jindo population.  The genetics behind this color is quite possibly a Ay (agouti yellow)  combined with the recessive dilution gene called brown (or chocolate- or liver-) dilute.

(B = Black factor gene,  b = red factor gene)

One example of this in effect can be seen in "red" Dobermans.  Black fur is turned red-brown and black skin pigment is replaced with a liver/brown/chocolate color.







last updated on 10/01/08