AKC Dog Breeds: Japanese Chin

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Toy Group
Height: 7-11 inches   Weight: 4-15  pounds  Color: Black and white, red and white, or black and white with tan points

The Japanese Chin is a small, well balanced, lively, aristocratic toy dog with a distinctive Oriental expression. It is light and stylish in action. The plumed tail is carried over the back, curving to either side. The coat is profuse, silky, soft and straight. The dog’s outline presents a square appearance. The Japanese Chin has a long history that is often clouded in mystery. Some researchers suggest that the ancestors of these dogs first appeared in Japan around the year 732 AD, and were given as gifts from the rulers of Korea to the Japanese royal family. On the other hand, other researchers attribute the ancestors of the Chin to breeds that were of Chinese origin. It has been suggested that Portuguese sailors introduced the breed to Europe in the 1600's. The story is that they gave the breed to Catherine of Braganza, Queen Consort to King Charles II of England. It was two hundred years later when an American naval officer, Commodore Perry, helped to make this dog famous in England. In 1853, after he returned from Japan, he presented a breeding pair to Queen Victoria.  Commodore Perry is also credited with bringing the breed to America when he gave another pair to the President of the United States. The breed was registered with the AKC in 1888.

General Appearance
The Japanese Spaniel is also called the Japanese Chin or Chin. It is a dainty little spaniel with a short, broad face, and a soft, feathered coat. A thick ruff covers the neck and chest. The forehead is quite round, with a well-defined stop. The nose is wide and the nostrils open. It has an extremely short nasal canal. Black & white Japanese Chins must have black noses. In other dogs, the nose color should match the color of the coat markings. The expressive, protruding eyes are dark and almond- shaped. The teeth form a level or undershot bite. The upside-down, v-shaped ears are well covered with hair. The body is about the same length as it is high. The front legs are straight and fine-boned. The coat comes in white with colored patches, most often black, but sometimes red, lemon, orange, sable or brindle. The feathered tail curls up over the back.  The Japanese Spaniel has an elegant high-stepping gait.


Gentle and affectionate, yet playful and spirited, the Japanese Chin is a small dog with a big personality. These dogs can make ideal companions, and enjoy receiving and giving attention. The Japanese Chin loves to be cuddled and enjoys his creature comforts. This is not the right breed for those that do not have the time to commit to a pet, as the Japanese Chin thrives on attention and love from his owner. These dogs are responsive and intelligent, which makes training easier, and they are perfect for inexperienced dog owners and senior citizens as well as for more experienced dog owners. Although some Japanese Chins can be difficult to housebreak, obedience training should not prove too much of a problem using positive methods. The Japanese Chin is a climber, and you can expect to find him climbing all over your furniture. This is a small dog, and does not appreciate being handled roughly, hence although he gets on well with children he is best around older and gentler children. Some Japanese Chin can be aloof or nervous around strangers, whereas others will be quite polite - early socialization is important in order to minimize on timidity. The Japanese Chin does get along well with other pets, and therefore is a good choice for those with family pets. For those unable to provide much exercise for their pet, the Japanese Chin is well suited, as he simply needs a secure, fenced area to play in.

The Chin is an easy breed to care for and it only takes a few minutes each day to keep the coat looking wonderful. The owner should comb out tangles that occur in the coat. The coat is a single layer, silky and straight and is not prone to matting. This breed is an average shedder. You should clean the eyes every day and check the ears regularly for any signs of possible infection.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of the Japanese Chin is around 12-14 years, and there are a number of health problems associated with this breed. This includes sensitivity to chemicals and drugs, susceptibility to heatstroke and respiratory problems due to his short muzzle, luxating patella, seizures, cataracts, and PRA.

Activity Level

The Japanese Chin is a low level breed for exercise. It enjoys a walk, but care must be taken when walking the dog as other animals may attempt to attack it. The Chin can enjoy playtime within the home or apartment and that can suffice for its exercise. This can be very helpful for older owners who may not be able to participate in strenuous activities. The Chin is well suited to learning tricks and this, too, can suffice as exercise.


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