The Japanese Spitz is a modern breed that became popular in Europe after being exported to Sweden and to other European countries. It was developed in Japan during the 1920s and classified as a Utility dog by the UK Kennel Club. It was officially recognised as a distinct breed only in 1977. It is a small- to medium-sized dog of the Spitz type, bred as a companion dog and as a pet. Around the world, standards vary with regards to their ideal size but the Japanese Spitz is typically larger than its smaller cousin, the Pomeranian. It is similar in appearance to the white Pomeranian, the American Eskimo Dog and the Samoyed. It has a somewhat square body, a deep chest, a pointed muzzle, triangular shaped ears that stand erect, a well-plumed tail that is carried over the back and an abundant pure white double coat consisting of a dense soft inner coat and a straight stand-off outer coat. It also sports a mane on the neck and shoulders that reache down to the brisket. The ideal height of the Japanese Spitz is usually around 34 - 37cm at the withers for males and 30 – 34cm for females.
The Japanese Spitz is a relatively modern breed, developed in Japan between the 1920s and 1930s by crossing different Spitz breed. Japanese breeders crossbred different Spitz-type dogs starting with white German Spitz dogs that came from northeastern China. The resulting breed was first seen publicly at a dog show in Tokyo in 1921. For 11 years, different types of small white Spitz dogs from around the world were crossbred into the developing breed with the final breed standard written shortly after the end of the Second World War. The 50’s saw the popularity of the Japanese Spitz rise when people started rebuilding after the war. The breed was then exported to Sweden from where it landed to England. It was recognised by the UK Kennel Club as a distinct breed in 1977, classifying it under the Utility Group.
Alert, intelligent, bold and lively – these four describes the Japanese Spitz best. It is also highly affectionate, friendly and slightly reserved with strangers upon first contact, but will typically befriend them it it sense they are not a threat. The Japanese Spitz is also known as being a courageous dog and devoted to its owner. Being alert and brave, it makes a good watchdog, often barking at any signs of unfamiliar scent or faces. The Japanese Spitz was bred solely as a companion dog and thrives on human companionship, preferring to bond with each member of the family whenever there is a chance. It loves playing outdoors and is a very good companion for the elderly and children.
The Japanese Spitz is an intelligent breed and eager to please which makes training moderately easy. The key to training is starting at an early age particularly during puppyhood. Consistency should also be an ingredient when training a Japanese Spitz. These factors affect how quickly the dog will remember what is required of him. Teach the dog basic commands and then gradually increasing to more advance training such as obedience training. The Japanese Spitz can also excel in agility training and can also be trained in various dog sports including Flyball.
Despite the profuse long white coat, the Japanese Spitz is in fact a low-maintenance dog. The weatherproof coat allows dirt and mud to fall off easily because the white fur is dry and non-sticky. Brushing and combing is fairly easy but it has to be done on a regular basis to keep it in pristine condition. Combing the coat two times a week with a pin brush that reaches the undercoat will prevent the formation of matts and tangles.
Life expectancy for the Japanese Spitz is between 10 to 16 years, which makes it one of the longest-lived dogs. It is a healthy breed with very few health problems related to genetics. The main concern of Japanese Spitz owners is that the breed tend to develop patellar luxation or trick knee, a condition in which the patella or kneecap, dislocates or move out of its normal position. It is also prone to runny eyes because the breed has very small tear ducts. Runny eyes is also sometimes caused by allergy to long grass or even stress, but this condition rarely has any serious effect on the eyes.
The Japanese Spitz is a flexible dog that can live in a city or country setting. It is a suitable pet for an apartment dweller or to an owner who lives in a small suburban house. An ideal place would be a small house with a small garden where the dog can play freely until it desires. Exercise should be at most an hour a day. A walk around the block or at a dog park is ideal. The Japanese Spitz can tolerate cold weather, thanks to its profuse coat. However, it was bred originally as a companion dog and will prefer to play inside the house together with its human companions.
An eager-to-please and lively attitude makes the Japanese Spitz great with children. It is quite tolerant of kids and will often enjoy the lively games that children are fond of. It is an intelligent breed that loves to please its human family. It has a tendency to become dominant with other dogs but early socialisation and training is the key to having a Japanese Spitz that can get along well with other household pets.