Japanese Chin

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Life span

12 Years


3.2 Kg


Toy Dogs

Japanese Chin Overview

The Japanese Chin is a small lap dog and companion dog most notably known for its strabismus of the eyes. It is a noble dog prized by Japanese nobility, but despite its name, it is said that the breed originated in China and found its way to Japan, although this theory is still highly contested. The Japanese Chin is an elegant and aristocratic breed, a smart ball of fur that is as clean as a cat. The word “chin” means “catlike”, an apt name for the breed not only because the shape of its head resembles that of the cat but also because it is delicately clean, often seen wiping his face with his paws just like a cat does.

The Japanese Chin is classified under the Toy Group by the UK Kennel Club, typically standing between 20 and 27cm in height at the withers. The average weight is between 1.8 to 3.2kg but there are dogs that weighs up to 6.8kg particularly males. It has a large broad head, large widely-set eyes, short muzzle, feathering on the ears with distinctive facial markings. The distinctive coat does not have any undercoat like other dog breeds and it usually takes 2 years for the coat to completely grow in. Coat colours come in either black and white or red and white, (red being all shades of sable, lemon or orange). The lifespan of the Japanese Chin is between 12 – 14 years.

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Japanese Chin Characteristics

Size InformationIntelligence
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Size InformationExercise Needs
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Size InformationDogs Health
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Size InformationChild Friendly
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Size InformationApartment
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Size InformationShedding
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Size InformationGrooming Needs
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Size InformationBarking
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Size InformationAlone
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Size InformationTrainability
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Size InformationEnergy Levels
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Size InformationDog friendly
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History & Origin

There are some debates as to the exact ancestors of the Japanese Chin, although it is widely accepted that the breed originated in China and is one of the old dog breeds with ancient lineage, the exact route it travelled before it ended up in Japan is not known. There are scholars that say that the dog was given as a gift to the Japanese royalty in 732 AD by Korean rulers or that it was brought to Japan as a gift to the Japanese Empress during the sixth or seventh century. There are some that say that the breed arrived in Japan as early as the 10th century AD. Whatever the exact origins are, the Japanese Chin was a true companion dog, in contrast to the mainstream breeds of Japanese origins that were utilized as working dogs. The discrete looks and unique personality of the Chin eventually captured the hearts of the Japanese royalty that it was restricted to being owned only by those that belong to the royal family. The dog was brought to Europe during the 17th century by Portuguese sailors and presented to Catherine of Braganza and also became a favourite of royalty. In recent years, the Chin has gained a huge following and is one of the popular companion dogs in the United Kingdom.

Japanese Chin Temperament

The breed is often described as intelligent, happy, lively little ball of fur, clean-as-a-cat, good-natured little dog. It has a distinct look of astonishment brought about by strabismus of the eyes – a condition wherein the eyes do not properly align with each other when staring at an object. It is considered as one of the dog breeds that resembles the cat in terms of attitude – independent, alert, and intelligent. It is also one of the cleanest dogs around, often seen wiping its face with its paws as an attempt to clean it, just like a cat does. The Japanese Chin also loves to curl-up when sleeping, likes to rest on high places, has a very good sense of balance and loves to hide in unexpected places. It thrives on human companionship, being bred solely as a lap dog. This breeding makes the Chin a very friendly breed. It easily adjusts to different people and surroundings making it an ideal therapy dog. It is a quiet animal but a naturally defensive dog which makes it a good watch dog. Many Japanese Chins are wonderful entertainers and can stand on their hind legs while pawing their front legs.

Japanese Chin Training

Training the Japanese Chin involves dedication and trust should be created between the dog and the trainer or handler in order to get the most out of the breed. The Chin is an intelligent breed that loves pleasing its owner so it is fairly easy to teach the dog new tricks. Socialisation at an early age is one of the key factors to prioritise when owning this breed. A properly-socialised Japanese Chin won’t have any behavioural problems that would likely to hurt the breed itself or other animals or persons in the future. It has an independent attitude so obedience training should be on top of the list. This intelligent dog can easily pick up on new commands but training should be from a firm but gentle handler.


The profuse single coat of the Japanese Chin requires regular brushing or combing, preferably every week to keep the coat tangle and matt-free. Special attention must be given to the feathered tail, ears (particularly under the ears), and the legs. These areas are prone to matts which can be painful and/or irritate the dog’s skin and can sometimes lead to wound. It is a regular shedder but will typically shed its single coat once a year. Unlike other breeds, the Japanese Chin does not require frequent bathing because it  is a naturally clean dog, although special attention must be done particularly around the nose where the skin folds which can trap moisture and cause fungal problems. Owners are advised to occasionally wipe the face area with a damp cloth or with a cotton swab to make sure this area is always dry.


The Japanese Chin has a typical lifespan between 12 to 14 years and is prone to several health predispositions. Common health problems associated with the breed include patellar luxation, eye problems such as cataracts, and heart murmurs specifically during the early years. As a puppy, the Japanese Chin is prone to low blood sugar or hypoglycaemia particularly aged under six months. It is also known to suffer from seasonal allergies. Like other breeds with a broad and short muzzle, the Chin is prone to breathing and eye problems and can suffer from heat exhaustion so it should not be exposed to extreme heat. It’s large oval eyes are prone to injuries where serious ulcerations may occur so it is best to avoid activities that can lead to eye scratching.

Japanese Chin Exercise Needs

As a brachycephalic dog that is prone to respiratory illnesses, the Japanese Chin should not be exercised during warmer periods. It enjoys daily walks and loves accompanying people especially its owners but care must be taken not to expose the dog to extreme temperatures (especially hot) or it may suffer heat exhaustion or even stroke.

Children and other pets

In general, the Japanese Chin gets along quite well with everybody, humans or other animals. It is both friendly to other dogs, cats, and older children. However, adult supervision is advised if the Chin is with smaller children because the dog’s small stature can easily get him injured during rough play.