Fun and Small: A Guide to the Japanese Chin Dog Breed

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japanese chin dog staring upDo you want a small pet with a sense of humor and some smarts? Do you love dog breeds that are more like a cross between a dog and an easy-care cat that will snuggle up in your lap? Enter the Japanese Chin!

If you’ve said yes to either, a Japanese Chin may be your perfect pet! This toy breed is a lap dog that is very cute, charismatic and full of character!

A Brief History of this Japanese Dog Breed

They are from the orient, but exactly where in the Asian region the Chin’s original ancestors were from is debated. Some say the Chin’s ancestry stretches back to 1,500 years ago with the companion dogs of the Chinese aristocracy.

Others say they originated in Korea. Either way, royalty in Asia, at some point in history, gifted the Chin to the Japanese aristocracy. The Chin dogs we know now originate from dogs bred by Japanese nobility purely as companions. These folk bred the Chin as quite literally one of their own – Chins enjoy a higher status than other types of dogs in Japan.

The Chin breed first became known to Westerners in the 1850s as the Japanese Spaniel. They were introduced to European royalty and American presidential families as companion dogs.

The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1888. The name of the breed officially changed in the United States from the Japanese Spaniel to the Japanese Chin in 1977.

Japanese Chin Dog Appearance!

The Japanese Chin is a very small and stylish dog! They have a round head, a flat-face and large intelligent looking wide-set eyes set above a short muzzle.

Their bodies are square shaped and covered abundantly with a semi-long single coat of silky hair. Their ears are long. The Japanese Chin’s tail carries up and over its back in a pretty plume.

Average Chin Weight and Size

Precious things come in small packages, and this small dog is no exception! The height and weight of Japanese Chins are:

  • Height:   8-11 inches tall (20-28 centimeters) at the shoulder
  • Weight:  7-11 pounds (3-5 kilograms)

The Coat and Colors of These Dogs!

The coats of Japanese Chin are gorgeously silky, straight, and semi-long! They have feathered hair on their ears, feet and hind legs.

Their coat colors are: black and white; red and white; and black and white with tan points. Red includes any shades of red, orange, lemon and sable.

japanese dogs and japanese chin puppy smiling

What Are Their Grooming Requirements?

These well-bred little guys may look high class and high maintenance but their silky coat is actually very easy to care for!  First of all, they do some of it themselves. Like cats, they will lick and clean their paws to wipe and wash their own face, and lick their own feet clean!

Your job will be to brush your Japanese Chin weekly. They do shed hair seasonally, so weekly brushing helps with collecting their natural hair loss, and protects your furnishings!

Their hair doesn’t tend to tangle, but it may matt around their ears without regular brushing. Japanese Chins usually need bathing about once a month to keep any doggy smell at bay.

Other than that, their regular care includes trimming their nails, dental hygiene, and ear checks. Like all dogs with long ears, checks are needed to ensure they do not build up to much wax or moisture under their ears.

Temperament and Personality of These Cuddle Bugs!

Japanese Chins have one very big personality!  Yes, they are a small breed and dainty looking little dogs, but don’t be fooled into thinking they’re all unique good looks with no brain!  They might treat you to that infamous snobbish look in their eyes if you teasingly call them your Chinny Chin Chin! You will be judged!

This toy dog is very loving, friendly, loyal, and affectionate with their human companions. With strangers, Japanese Chin may be reserved. These little pups aren’t overly vocal, but they are territorial so they will bark to alert you of someone they don’t know.

They are a playful, agile, and entertaining pooches. They are quick to learn, but again, that cat-like persona can sneak in here! Training should be fun – these agile and acrobatic pups like to have fun and to keep everyone amused! You’re likely to get a spontaneous encore when they are rewarded by seeing that they’ve made you happy!

How Long do These Toy Dogs Live?

The expected lifespan of Chin is 10-12 years of age.

When bred and raised responsibly, the Japanese Chin is relatively healthy. Like all breeds, there are some health conditions they may be more predisposed to. Three of these are:

  • Eye problems: Because the Japanese Chin has large eyes, they can easily be accidentally scratched. This breed is also susceptible to cataracts later in life.
  • Respiratory issues:  Dogs with a flat short brachycephalic face may naturally snuffle or snort a little. Because of their short faces though, you need to monitor them in hot conditions. Make sure they have plenty of ventilation if it is hot and humid and they don’t overheat when exercising.
  • Early onset of heart murmurs.
  • Luxating patella or patella luxation on their rear legs (slipping kneecaps).

Big in Japan? Train Your Dog in Japanese!

You may have a few reasons for wanting to train your dog in another language.

You may be Japanese yourself. Or perhaps you may be a bi-lingual household that speaks both Japanese and English and one of you is learning the language.

These dogs are mild-mannered and respond to positive reinforcement during training – no matter the language you decide on!

japanese dog breeds japanese chin puppies for sale in fancy clothes

Top 10 Japanese Dog Names to Get You Started!

Another way to honor and acknowledge the pedigree of any pup is to give it a name inspired by their country of origin! Here are 10 Japanese dog names that might suit your pup’s personality.

  • Aiko (female)
  • Aki (male)
  • Kazuki (male)
  • Kimi (female)
  • Masato (male)
  • Megumi (female)
  • Ren (male)
  • Rina (female)
  • Suzu (female)
  • Toshi (male)

6 Facts You Didn’t Know About These Japanese Dogs!

  1. They like heights! Another cat like trait in the Japanese Chin is their love of climbing, leaping, and being high. They will sit on top of a high surface to observe the world going by, and might just like to sit up behind you along the back of your couch.
  2. They are active! The Japanese Chin will snuggle on your lap, but they will also be active around your house. A slow short daily walk on a leash in the fresh air will make their day and cover the rest of their exercise needs.
  3. They thrive on quality! Feed your dog a nutritious diet and good quality dog food and you’ll help keep them healthy and well.
  4. They are sensitive! This pup is sensitive and soaks up its surroundings. If you’re in a happy place, they will be too! If your home environment is quiet and subdued, they may be more reserved.  Also: If you have done wrong by them, they will remember!
  5. They need your company! This is a companion dog bred as lapdogs for ladies and gentlemen! They don’t like to be alone for too long and can suffer separation anxiety. They are also indoor living and sleeping pets, not outdoor.  Because of the risk of injury due to their small size, they are best with older children.
  6. They are blessed! The coats of Japanese chin usually include a number of body patches, including facial markings. If their markings include a dot or spot on the top of their head, it is said to have been placed by Buddha!

Japanese Chin Puppies for Sale!

Always buy puppies from a responsible and reputable breeder! Sure, you can browse classified ads, but the safest way is a good breeder. For breeders in your State, check those listed with the Japanese Chin Club of America and the American Kennel Club (AKC).

How Much Does a Japanese Chin Puppy Cost?

In the United States, Japanese Chin puppies are usually around $1,000 to $3,000.

Adopt, Don’t Shop! Ask an Animal Shelter About Japanese Chin Rescues!

Adopt a pet from a rescue group or animal shelter, and you are giving a dog a second well-deserved chance to call somewhere home. Often a rescue dog is already a mature dog rather than a young puppy.

Or, they may not be a full purebred Japanese Chin. Nature often takes its own course in many ways, after all! The Japanese Chin Club is also linked with care and Chin rescue efforts dogs needing new homes.

Common Questions on Japanese Chins

Do Japanese Chins bark a lot?

Are Japanese Chins good with kids?

Should a Japanese Chin be exercised every day?

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