Canis hodophilax Temminck, 1839:284

Honshu wolf, Honshu Island wolf, shamanu, Japanese dwarf wolf, nihon-okhami



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Canis lupus hadophilax Temminck, 1839 [orth. error used by (Thornback & Jenkns, 1982:307)]; Canis lupus hodophilax Temminck, 1839; Canis hodopylax Temminck, 1844; Canis japonicus Nehring, 1885


Conservation Status


Last record: 1904 (Goodwin & Goodwin, 1973); January 1905 (Shuker, 2003); 1910?

IUCN RedList status: Regionally Extinct


The traditional date of extinction is 1905. However, a specimen killed in 1910 at Matsudaira agricultural station, Fukui prefecture, was photographed and its details recorded. Recent investigation of the photo (the specimen was destroyed by fire) by Yoshinori Imaizumi and Mizuko Yoshiyuki confirmed it as a Honshu Wolf. Thus extending its official extinction date forward 5 years.

One specimen killed and kept at a shrine, and discovered by science in 1994, was apparently dated to the 1950's. However, the authenticity of this date is not known, and it is unlikely that they could have survived so long undetected. Reports of their continued existence must be looked upon with skepticism, especially so long after the last officially recognized specimen. Taxidermies tend to look dissimilar to what the animal would have looked like in real life. So any purported sighting is unlikely, unless they actually saw at least one live specimen during the period when they were officially recognized as existing.



Honshū, Japan (historically) and Siberia (prehistorically) (Niemann et al., 2020)


Biology & Ecology




Type locality: Hondo, Japan


Referred material:

NNML 39182






Original scientific description:

Temminck, C. J. (1839). Over de Kennis en de Verbreiding der Zoogdieren van Japan. Tijdschr. Natuurl. Geschied. Physiol. 5: 284.


Other references:

Abe, M. 2001. Morphological characterization of cranium between Japanese wolf and Mongolian wolf. Forest Call 8:22-26 (in Japanese).

Anonymous. (1970). The Last Wolf of Japan. A Short Story of the Extermination. Selected Catalogue of the Harano Agricultural Museum. Osaka, Japan. [relevant citation?]

Day, David. (1981). The Doomsday Book of Animals: A Natural History of Vanished Species. New York, N.Y.: The Viking Press.

Endo, H., Obara, I., Yoshida, T., Kurohmaru, M., Hayashi, Y. and Suzuki, N. (1997). Osteometrical and CT examination of the Japanese wolf skull. J Vet Med Sci 59: 531–538.

Endo, H., Sakai, T., Itou, T., Koie, H., Kimura, J. (2004). Osteological examination and image analysis of a cranium of the Japanese wolf found at private house in Yamanashi Prefecture. Jpn. J. Zoo Wildl. Med. 9: 109–114. (in Japanese with English abstract)

Funk, Holger. (2015). A re-examination of C. J. Temminck's sources for his descriptions of the extinct Japanese wolf. Archives of natural history 42(1): 51-65. [Abstract]

Jun Gojobori, Nami Arakawa, Xiaokaiti Xiayire, Yuki Matsumoto, Shuichi Matsumura, Hitomi Hongo, Naotaka Ishiguro, Yohey Terai. (2021). The Japanese wolf is most closely related to modern dogs and its ancestral genome has been widely inherited by dogs throughout East Eurasia. bioRxiv preprint.

Goodwin, Harry A. and Goodwin, J. M. (1973). List of mammals which have become extinct or are possibly extinct since 1600. Int. Union Conserv. Nat. Occas. Pap. 8: 1-20.

Imaizumi, Y. (1970a). Systematic status of the extinct Japanese wolf, Canis hodophilax. 1. Identification of specimens. J. Mammal. Soc. Japan 5: 27-32 (in Japanese with English abstract)

Imaizumi, Y. (1970b). Systematic status of the extinct Japanese wolf, Canis hodophilax. 2. Similarity relationship of hodophilax among species of the genus Canis. J. Mammal. Soc. Jpn 5: 62–66 (in Japanese with English abstract)

Ishiguro, Naotaka, Inoshima, Yasuo and Sasaki, Motoki. (2016). Computed tomography examination and mitochondrial DNA analysis of Japanese wolf skull covered with skin. The Journal of Veterinary Medical Science.

Ishiguro, Naotaka, Inoshima, Yasuo and Shigehara, N. (2009). Analysis of mitochondrial DNA of the Japanese wolf (Canis lupus hodophilax Temminck, 1839) and comparison with representation wolf and domestic dog haplotypes. Zool. Sci. 26: 765-770. [Abstract]

Ishiguro, Naotaka et al. (2016). Japanese Wolves are Genetically Divided into Two Groups Based on an 8-Nucleotide Insertion/Deletion within the mtDNA Control Region. Zoological Science 33(1): 44-49. [Abstract]

Kenji, Yanai. (1993). Visionary Japanese Wolves. [cited by (Shuker, 2003)]

Kitamura, N., Obara, I., Minami, M. and Nakamura, T. (1999). A whole skeleton of a Japanese wolf collected from a cave at Mt. Kyonaojo in Izumi-mura, Yatsushiro-gun, Kumamoto Prefecture. Bull. Kumamoto Pref. Mus. 11: 35–69. [in Japanese with English abstract]

Knight, John. (1997). On the Extinction of the Japanese Wolf. Asian Folklore Studies 56(1): 129-159. [the hyperlink takes you to an abridged version of the article, minus figures and references]

Koop, B. F. and Crockford, S. J. (2000). Ancient DNA evidence of a separate origin for north American indigenous dogs. In “Dogs Through Time, An Archaeological Perspective” Ed by SJ Crockford, BAR International Series 889, Basingstoke Press: Basingstoke, UK, pp 271–285

Leonard, J. A., Wayne, R. K., Wheeler, J., Valadez, R., Guillen, S. and Vila, C. (2002). Ancient DNA evidence for old world origin of new world dogs. Science 298: 1613-1616.

Matsumura, Shuichi, Inoshima, Yasuo and Ishiguro, Naotaka. (2014). Reconstructing the colonization history of lost wolf lineages by the analysis of the mitochondrial genome. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 80: 105-112. [Abstract]

Matsumura, Shuichi, Terai, Yohey, Hongo, Hitomi and Ishiguro, Naotaka. (2020). Analysis of the Mitochondrial Genomes of Japanese Wolf Specimens in the Siebold Collection, Leiden. Zoological Science 38(1): 60-66. doi: [Abstract]

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Miyamoto, F. (1991). On the skull of Japanese wolf (Canis hodophilax Temminck) taken out from the mounted specimen preserved in Wakayama University. Bull. Fac. Ed. Wakayama Univ. Nat. Sci. 39: 55-60. (in Japanese with English abstract)

Miyamoto, F. and Maki, I. (1983). On the repaired specimen of Japanese wolf (Canis lupus hodophilax Temminck) and its skull newly taken out. Bull. Fac. Ed. Wakayama Univ. Nat. Sci. 32: 9–16. (in Japanese with English abstract)

Miyao, T., Nishizawa, T. and Suzuki, S. (1980). Mammalian remains of the earliest Jomon period at the Rocksheiter site of Tochibara, Nagano Prefecture. I. Fauna of the mammalian remains. J. Mammal Soc. Jpn. 8: 181–188. (in Japanese with English abstract)

Naora, N. 1965. On wolves in Japan. Azekura, Tokyo (in Japanese)

Niemann, J. et al. (2018). Reconstructing the unique genetic history of the Japanese wolves, pp. 79. In: Krause, Johannes (ed.). 8th International Symposium on Biomolecular Archaeology, Jena, Germany, 18th-21st September, 2018.

Niemann, J. et al. (In Press, 2020). Extended survival of Pleistocene Siberian wolves into the early 20th century on the island of Honshū. iScience. doi: [Abstract]

Obara, I. (1990). Skulls of Japanese wolf, Canis hodophilax, preserved as old private houses Atsugi-shi and Kiyokawamura, Kanagawa Prefecture. Nat. Hist. Rep. Kanagawa 11: 53–65. (in Japanese)

Obara, I. (2002). Notes on the specimens of Canis hodophilax and Japanese native dog preserved in Naturalis (National Museum of Natural History, Leiden). Animate 3: 17-24. (in Japanese)

Obara, I. and Nakamura, K. (1992). Notes on a skull of so-called “Yama-lnu” or wild canine preserved in the Minamiashigara municipal folklore museum. Bull. Kanagawa Pref. Mus. Nat. Sci. 21:105–110. (in Japanese with English abstract)

Ohdachi, S. D., Ishiabshi, Y., Iwasa, M. A., Fukui, D. and Saitoh, T. 2015. The Wild Mammals in Japan, Second edition. Shoukadoh, Kyoto, 506 pp.

Sakurai, Ryo et al. (2020). Factors affecting attitudes toward reintroduction of wolves in Japan. Global Ecology and Conservation 22: e01036.

Segawa, Takahiro et al. (In Press, 2022). Paleogenomics reveals independent and hybrid origins of two morphologically distinct wolf lineages endemic to Japan. Current Biology.

Shigehara, N. and Hongo, H. (2000). Dog and wolf remains of the earliest Jomon period at Torihama site in Fukui Prefecture. Torihama-Kaizuka-Kennkyu 2: 23-40. (in Japanese)

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Chikashi, Tachi et al. (2002). Successful Molecular Cloning and Nucleotide Sequence Determination of Partial Amelogenin (AMELX) Exon DNA Fragment Recovered from a Mounted Taxidermic Pelt Specimen Tentatively Identified as an Extinct Wolf Species, Canis lupus hodophilax Temminck, the Japanese Wolf and Stocked at School of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the University of Tokyo. J. Reprod. Dev. 48: 633-638.

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Walker, Brett L. (2008). The Lost Wolves of Japan. University of Washington Press. 360 pp.

Yajima, Daisuke. (2013). Man continues 40-year search for extinct Japanese wolf. The Asahi Shimbun, 23 January, available from:

Yoneda, M. (1997). Notes on the skeleton specimens of Japanese wolf (Canis lupus hodophilax). Rep. Hist. Kase-cho Geogr. Sci. 1997: 183-196. (in Japanese) [possible photos of a Honshu wolf from 1996]


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