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Japanese Chin Dog Breed Information

General Information:

Average Height: 8-11 in
Average Weight: 4-9 lbs
Average Life Span: 10-14 yrs
Coloring: Bi- and tri-colored; black and white, red and white, or black and white with tan points
Area of Origin: China
Similar Breeds: English Toy Spaniel, Chihuahua, Papillon, Pekingese

History and Origin:

Sharing ancestry with the Pekingese, the Japanese Chin was actually developed in China. As a companion breed to the Chinese aristocracy, it was prized for its friendly behavior and lap dog mentality. The Chin arrived in Japan either with Zen Buddhist monks or as a present from Chinese or Korean aristocracy between 500 and 1000 AD. It enjoyed the same attention in Japan as in China, and became a highly valued possession. While the Japanese Chin may have made its way to Europe as early as the 1600s, when Portugal established trading routes to China and Japan, the first recorded presence of the little dog in Europe was in 1853, when Commodore Perry brought a pair from Japan back to England as a gift for Queen Victoria. Soon, it was exported to the United States, where it was recognized by the American Kennel Club before the turn of the twentieth century. This Chin was much larger than it is today, and it is believed that it was bred with the English Toy Spaniel to reduce its size. It remains extremely popular in Japan.

Personality and Temperament:

Lively and loyal, the Japanese Chin has all of the qualities of a great companion dog. It can get very attached to its owner, and can be hostile toward strangers if it is not given proper socialization. It is playful and agile; the Chin has an exceptional cat-like ability to jump onto places significantly taller than it. An extremely sensitive breed, the Japanese Chin’’s mood will reflect its owner’s emotions. It will also adjust its personality to best suit its home life; the Chin will be quiet and calm in a low-key household, but active and lively in a busy home. As a tiny dog that is frequently spoiled, the Japanese Chin is a strong candidate for developing Small Dog Syndrome. If it is allowed to dominate its owner and other people, it can get aggressive and suffer from separation anxiety. Firm leadership will prevent this from happening. The Chin does enjoy children if they are warned of its fragile stature; it will happily receive attention for hours on end!

Exercise & Training:

Requiring little exercise, the Japanese Chin is a good choice for an elderly owner or an owner with limited mobility. It does appreciate a yard for it to play in, however it will adapt well to apartment living since it rarely barks. While a fairly intelligent breed that will quickly learn commands, the Chin will listen much better to an owner who treats it like a dog. It is not a person, and establishing oneself as the alpha of the family will ensure that this little dog remains obedient.


Silky and long, the Japanese Chin has a beautiful single coat that can get tangled easily. A quick brushing each day will ensure the fur does not get matted. Like other short-faced breeds, the Chin is susceptible to eye infections. Wipe its eyes daily to keep the area clean.

Similar Breeds:

As a toy breed, the Japanese Chin is close in personality to breeds such as the Chihuahua, Pekingese, Pug, and the English Toy Spaniel. It is likely that at some point in its history it was influenced by Pekingese blood, and its size was reduced in Britain and North America by introducing English Toy Spaniel influence.

Interesting Facts about the Japanese Chin:

1. Depictions of the Japanese Chin on pottery and tapestries in its native China suggest that it was not a dog that could be bought; a nobleman would only acquire a Chin if he were to gain favor with the royal family.

2. Very cat-like, the Japanese Chin regularly bathes itself by licking its paw and wiping its body. It also enjoys perching on window sills and the backs of couches and chairs.

3. Imperial Japan considered companion dogs to be of different spirit than working dogs. Working dogs were known as “Inu,” while the small lap dogs were called “Chin.”

4. The Japanese Chin was known as the “Japanese Spaniel” until 1977, when the American Kennel Club changed its name.

5. The North American and European Japanese Chins have received almost no outside influences since World War I; the war cut off trade between Japan and the West, and Chin breeders only had a limited number of dogs to continue the breed.

Organizations dedicated to the Japanese Chin:

Japanese Chin Club of America
Japanese Chin Club UK
Japanese Chin Care and Rescue
Luv a Chin Rescue

Breeds Similar to the Japanese Chin:

Breed Information Japanese Chin

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