Japanese Chin

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4-7 lbs
Japanese spaniel
The history of the Japanese Chin is not set in stone. Some theorize the breed is native to Korea, having arrived in Japan around 732 A.D. as a gift from a diplomat to the Emperor. Others insist it originated in ancient China, although even this faction is split.
lap dog
Date of Origin
ancient times

Japanese Chin Health

Average Size
Height: 8-11 inches Weight: 4-7 lbs
Height: 8-11 inches Weight: 4-7 lbs
Minor Concerns
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Entropion
  • KCS
Occasional Tests
  • Eye
  • Knee

Japanese Chin Breed History

Some claim the breed was developed from dogs resembling the Pekingese and were transported to Japan by Zen Buddhist teachers around 520 A.D. Another group believes that around 1000 A.D., the Emperor of China presented a pair of these lap dogs to the Japanese Emperor. Regardless of its exact origin, once it arrived in Japan, its popularity soared. The Japanese nobility kept the dogs as a fashion statement or as decoration. Smaller Chins may have even been kept in hanging pens, similar to ornate bird cages. It is believed that Portuguese sailors may have introduced the breed to Europe around the 16 th century when trade began with Japan. In fact, it is recorded that sailors gave Princess Catherine of Braganza some Japanese Spaniels. However, the first Chins to officially enter Europe were brought by Commodore Matthew Perry in 1854. Perry, an American Naval officer, presented a pair to Queen Victoria after a trip to Japan where he used the Convention of Kanagawa to open trade with the Western world. Later, Perry gave another pair of Japanese Spaniels to the President of the United States. Traders began selling Chins in both Europe and America, and in the late 1800s, it was recognized by the AKC under the name of Japanese spaniel. These larger dogs were believed to have been bred with English toy spaniels to produce the smaller dogs that we know today. The onset of the First World War ceased additional imports, but the breed already had impressive numbers in the West. In 1977, the AKC changed the breed name to “Japanese Chin.” Today, this affectionate and playful lapdog has a small American following, but is still truly adored in Japan.

Japanese Chin Breed Appearance

The Japanese Spaniel is a dainty, fine-boned breed with a square shape. It has a short muzzle and wide nostrils. Its wide-set, protruding eyes are almond-shaped and dark with a touch of white, giving the impression of surprise. The Chin has a questioning expression with an Oriental appearance. This aristocratic pup has folded v-shaped ears, and its tail curls over its back. Both its ears and tail are feathered. Its gait is elegant, lively, and high-stepping. The Japanese Chin’s thick coat is long, straight, and silky. Its fur forms a thick ruff around the neck and chest. The fine coat sticks out from its body and is usually colored in white with patches of black, red, yellow, orange, sable or brindle. The breed typically has a white spot on its forehead known as Buddha’s Thumbprint, due to the Buddhist Emperor Ming of Han China who owned many Chin’s.

Japanese Chin Breed Maintenance

The Japanese Chin requires daily brushing to keep the coat clean and free of tangles. Lift the hair as you brush to leave it standing slightly. Dry shampoo as needed rather than bathe it. The breed is an average shedder that looses hair year-round. Keep its eyes and ears clean to prevent infection. The Chin’s oversized eyes tend to collect moisture and cause fungal infections if not kept in check. Clean between the folds of skin with a cotton swab. The breed has little to no odor. Be sure to feed it plenty of fiber or it may develop digestive problems. This little toy requires a minimal amount of exercise. It will enjoy a short walk or a game each day. The Japanese Chin is a lively little breed perfect for apartment life. It cannot live outdoors due to its sensitivity to temperature extremes.

Japanese Chin Breed Activity Requirements

The Japanese Chin enjoys climbing, likes to curl up in your lap, will wash its face with its paws, and even has a fierce independent streak – qualities that liken it to a feline friend. In fact, “Chin” means “cat-like.” The breed is intelligent, playful, and devoted to its owner. It likes to be the center of attention and has been known to make up tricks as entertainment. It does not bark much, but makes an excellent watchdog nonetheless. The breed gets along well with other pets and loves children who treat it respectfully without rough play. The breed maybe nervous around strangers and does not like new surroundings or situations.