Small, lively and aristocratic, the Japanese Chin is a square-proportioned small dog. It has a bright, inquisitive expression distinctly Oriental. A small amount of white shows in the inner corners of the eyes, imparting a look of astonishment. Its gait is stylish, lively and light. The single coat is abundant, straight and silky, tending to stand out from the body. The overall appearance is one of Oriental aristocracy.
The Japanese Chin is a devoted companion, relishing a warm lap as much as a boisterous game. It is sensitive and willing to please, tending to shadow its owner. It is a friend to all: strangers, dogs and pets. Its playfulness and gentleness make it a good child's companion for equally gentle children. The breed has been described as almost catlike some even climb.
AKC RANKING 76
AREA OF ORIGIN Japan
DATE OF ORIGIN ancient times
ORIGINAL FUNCTION lap dog
TODAY'S FUNCTION companion
AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 8-11 Weight: 4-7
AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 8-11 Weight: 4-7
OTHER NAME Japanese spaniel
Energy level Medium energy
Exercise needs Low
Playfullness Very playful
Affection level Very affectionate
Friendliness toward other dogs Very friendly
Friendliness toward other pets Very friendly
Friendliness toward strangers Very friendly
Ease of training Moderately easy to train
Watchdog ability High
Protection ability Not very protective
Grooming needs Moderate maintenance
Cold tolerance Low tolerance
Heat tolerance Low tolerance
The Japanese Chin is lively but small enough that its exercise needs can be met with a short walk, romp or game. This is not a breed that can live outside. It does not do well in hot humid weather. Some Chins tend to wheeze. The long coat needs combing twice weekly. Major concerns: none
Minor concerns: patellar luxation, KCS, entropion
Occasionally seen: achondroplasia, epilepsy
Suggested tests: knee, (eye)
Life span: 12 14 years
Note: The breed is sensitive to anesthesia and does not tolerate heat well. It is also prone to corneal abrasions.
Despite its name, the Japanese Chin is actually of ancient Chinese origin, probably sharing a close relationship with the Pekingese. Like the Pekingese, the Chin was kept by Chinese aristocracy, and sometimes presented as a gift to visiting nobility. Different stories exist about how it arrived in Japan: Zen Buddhist teachers may have brought the breed sometime after A.D. 520, a Korean prince may have taken some to Japan in A.D. 732 or a Chinese emperor may have presented a pair to a Japanese emperor about a thousand years ago. However it got there, it gained great favor with the Japanese imperial family and was kept as a lap dog and ornament; some particularly small Chins were reportedly kept in hanging "bird" cages. Portuguese sailors first traded with Japan in the 16th century and may have been the first to bring Chins to Europe. However, the first official record of Chins coming to Europe was in 1853, when Commodore Perry presented a pair from his trip to Japan to Queen Victoria. In the succeeding years, traders brought back many more Chins, selling them in Europe and America. The breed was recognized by the AKC in the late 1800s as the Japanese spaniel. These early imports were larger than modern Chins, and it is possible that some crossing with English toy spaniels may have occurred to reduce size. World War I ended the steady supply of importations, but the breed had already gained a strong foothold. It maintains a modest popularity in America, but still enjoys its greatest popularity in Japan.