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By Jeffery Garfield

Last updated: 23rd March 2018

Hokkaido Pony


Jeffery Garfield
Last updated: 23rd March 2018

The Hokkaido Pony or Dosanko is an ancient breed of small horses mostly found along the eastern coast of the Japanese island of Hokkaido. The Hokkaido ponies, having the ability to work in rough terrains, are used for transportation in the mountainous regions where trucks or other vehicles cannot go.

Hokkaido Pony Pictures

Quick Information

Other Names Hokkaido Horse
Temperament/Personality Willing, gentle, equable
Physical Characteristics Plain head, short, stout, and heavy body, flat withers, light and slender legs with silky feathering, good feet
Colors Solid colors, commonly roan; white markings are rare
Height (size) 13-13.2 hands (52-52.8 inches, 132-134 cm)
Weight Unknown
Common Uses Pleasure mount, farm work, military pack animal, trail riding
Health No known breed-specific health issues
Popular Traits Strength, hardiness, adaptability to harsh conditions
Feeding/Diet Mostly bamboo grass
Country of Origin Japan
Ancestors Nanbu Horse, Mongolian Horse

Dosanko (Hokkaido Pony) Video

History and Development

The Dosanko is thought to have evolved from the Nanbu horses, which were brought to Hokkaido from Tohoku, a region in Honshu, by fishermen during the Tokugawa period (1603-1868). Since the fishermen came to the island to look for herring, they imported these horses to help them in transporting their catch.

In autumn, the fishermen returned home leaving the horses in Hokkaido to survive without any aid. Many of these equines would survive the harsh winter and would be utilized by the fishermen returning in the next spring.

A breed registry was formed in 1979, and by the early 1990s, the Dosanko population grew from 1180 to 3000. However, it declined to 1950 horses by 2000. Today, many ranchers and farmers in Hokkaido winter these ponies in the mountains. A research grant is given to the Hokkaido University in order to develop and analyze conservation efforts for the breed.

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