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Japanese Chin


The Japanese Chin, also known as the Japanese Spaniel, the Japanese Pug, the Japanese, the Jap or simply the Chin, is a small, fluffy, flat-faced dog with a pom pom appearance. They are known for being bright, alert, naturally clean and a bit stubborn. The Japanese Chin was approved by the American Kennel Club in 1888, as a member of the Toy Group. According to the Japanese Chin Club of America: "The Japanese Chin is a bundle of joy, surprise and mischief cloaked in an air of serenity and superiority."
The ideal Japanese Chin stands 8 to 11 inches at the withers and typically weighs between 5 and 10 pounds. Their fluffy single coat does tend to shed more than most but seldom mats if brushed at least once a week and bathed about once monthly. Chins come in many colors and have distinctive, up-curled tails. As a small, stylish and graceful breed, the Japanese Chin has many cat-like characteristics. It will groom itself much like a cat does, and it enjoys resting in high places. Owners of this breed often find their little dog on the backs of chairs and sofas, "ruling their roosts" from on high. Unlike other tiny lapdogs, the Japanese Chin is not particularly "yappy" and rarely barks.

History & Health

In Japan, there are "Inu" dogs and there are "Chin." To the Japanese, the Chin are royalty, descending from lapdogs of the Chinese aristocracy. While the exact origin of the Japanese Chin is obscured by time, it certainly is a very old toy breed, as reflected in drawings on ancient pottery and in artifacts from ancient Chinese temples. Different theories abound as to when the Chin came to Japan, including: 1) that Zen Buddhists brought the dogs from China in the 6th century A.D.; 2) that a Korean prince brought a pair as a gift for the Japanese Emperor in the 8th century A.D.; 3) that a Chinese emperor personally presented a pair to the Japanese royal family between the 7th and 10th centuries; and 4) that the Chin was taken to Japan on trading ships from the West. Whichever story is accurate (if any), the parti-colored breed was named the Japanese Chin to distinguish it from its close relative, the Pekingese. Some authors think that the name "Chin" means "of China." Another school of thought suggests that "Chin" means "cat-like."

In the 1600s, Japan isolated itself from Westerners, with the exception of a Dutch trading post, until the Treaty of Kanagawa was signed in the mid-1850s. The Japanese gave a number of their prized little Chins to the expeditionary forces that opened their country. Those that survived the voyage to the United States or to England became part of the foundation of the breed for the rest of the world. The Japanese Chin rapidly gained favor with European royalty as exotic pets, and its popularity quickly grew in North America as well. Dedicated breeders world-wide carefully maintained the breed during war, disease, famine and natural disaster.
The first Japanese Chin was brought to America in 1882 and was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1888, as a Japanese Spaniel. The Japanese Spaniel Club of America was founded in 1912. Both the parent club and the AKC officially changed the breed name to the Japanese Chin in 1977.


The average life span of the Japanese Chin is 10 to 12 years. Breed health concerns may include cataracts, heart murmurs, patellar luxation, atlantoaxial subluxation, distichiasis and refractory corneal ulceration.

Temperament & Personality


The Japanese Chin is a bundle of love, lavishing love and attention on their owners. They want to get as much as they give, and expect that equal (if not more) attention be lavished upon them in return. They are playful, always upbeat and happy dogs with a yen for mischievous behavior. Chins have often been compared to cats because they love to climb and perch as high as they possibly can. But the cat-like comparison stops there, as Chins are not independent creatures. They adore people and require human companionship in order to be happy, making them excellent companions for senior citizens and empty nesters who can devote all of their love to their dog.

Activity Requirements

This tiny dog doesn't need much activity to remain happy and healthy. Daily walks and some romps in the yard are will suffice. They make good apartment dogs, as long as you spend enough time with them, as they can be yappy when left alone. They are adaptable and adjust their daily activities to suit those of their owners. They are playful and will want to chase balls indoors or out.

When outdoors, Japanese Chins should be kept on a leash or in a fenced-in area. The spaniel in them makes them prone to chasing birds and butterflies, and they won't be easily called home.


Japanese Chins have spaniel roots, making them easier to train than other small breeds. Training should be done with nothing but positive reinforcement, as harsh treatment will bruise their sensitive egos and they will simply stop listening. The daily training routine should be mixed up to keep the Chin interested, as he is easily bored with repetitive activities. Once basic obedience is mastered, teaching your Chin do to parlor tricks is a breeze, and he'll love the attention that gets lavished upon him when guests see him perform.

Behavioral Traits

Like other toy breeds, the Japanese Chin is not well suited for homes with toddlers. Small children don't know enough about boundaries, and they can be easily snapped at or bitten.
Chins are companion dogs and they are very dependent upon people. They do not do well in homes where they are left alone all day, and Separation Anxiety can be severe. People who work long hours should look to another breed.

Breed Standard

General Appearance
The Japanese Chin is a small, well balanced, lively, aristocratic toy dog with a distinctive Oriental expression. It is light and stylish in action. The plumed tail is carried over the back, curving to either side. The coat is profuse, silky, soft and straight. The dog's outline presents a square appearance.

Size, Proportion, Substance
Size - Ideal size is 8 inches to 11 inches at the highest point of the withers. Proportion - Length between the sternum and the buttock is equal to the height at the withers. Substance - Solidly built, compact, yet refined. Carrying good weight in proportion to height and body build.

Expression - bright, inquisitive, alert, and intelligent. The distinctive Oriental expression is characterized by the large broad head, large wide-set eyes, short broad muzzle, ear feathering, and the evenly patterned facial markings. Eyes - set wide apart, large, round, dark in color, and lustrous. A small amount of white showing in the inner corners of the eyes is a breed characteristic that gives the dog a look of astonishment. Ears - hanging, small, V-shaped, wide apart, set slightly below the crown of the skull. When alert, the ears are carried forward and downward. The ears are well feathered and fit into the rounded contour of the head. Skull - large, broad, slightly rounded between the ears but not domed. Forehead is prominent, rounding toward the nose. Wide across the level of the eyes. In profile, the forehead and muzzle touch on the same vertical plane of a right angle whose horizontal plane is the top of the skull. Stop - deep. Muzzle - short and broad with well-cushioned cheeks and rounded upper lips that cover the teeth. Nose - very short with wide, open nostrils. Set on a level with the middle of the eyes and upturned. Nose leather is black in the black and white and the black and white with tan points, and is self-colored or black in the red and white. Bite - The jaw is wide and slightly undershot. A dog with one or two missing or slightly misaligned teeth should not be severely penalized. The Japanese Chin is very sensitive to oral examination. If the dog displays any hesitancy, judges are asked to defer to the handler for presentation of the bite.

Neck, Topline, Body
Neck - moderate in length and thickness. Well set on the shoulders enabling the dog to carry its head up proudly. Topline - level. Body - square, moderately wide in the chest with rounded ribs. Depth of rib extends to the elbow. Tail - set on high, carried arched up over the back and flowing to either side of the body.

Legs - straight, and fine boned, with the elbows set close to the body. Removal of dewclaws is optional. Feet - hare-shaped with feathering on the ends of the toes in the mature dog. Point straight ahead or very slightly outward.

Legs - straight as viewed from the rear and fine boned. Moderate bend of stifle. Removal of dewclaws is optional. Feet - hare-shaped with feathering on the ends of the toes in the mature dog. Point straight ahead.

Abundant, straight, single, and silky. Has a resilient texture and a tendency to stand out from the body, especially on neck, shoulders, and chest areas where the hair forms a thick mane or ruff. The tail is profusely coated and forms a plume. The rump area is heavily coated and forms culottes or pants. The head and muzzle are covered with short hair except for the heavily feathered ears. The forelegs have short hair blending into profuse feathering on the backs of the legs. The rear legs have the previously described culottes, and in mature dogs, light feathering from hock joint to the foot.

Either black and white, red and white, or black and white with tan points. The term tan points shall include tan or red spots over each eye, inside the ears, on both cheeks, and at the anal vent area if displaying any black. The term red shall include all shades of red, orange, and lemon, and sable, which includes any aforementioned shade intermingled or overlaid with black. Among the allowed colors there shall be no preference when judging. A clearly defined white muzzle and blaze are preferable to a solidly marked head. Symmetry of facial markings is preferable. The size, shape, placement or number of body patches is not of great importance. The white is clear of excessive ticking. Disqualification - any color not listed.

Stylish and lively in movement. Moves straight with front and rear legs following in the same plane.

A sensitive and intelligent dog whose only purpose is to serve man as a companion. Responsive and affectionate with those it knows and loves but reserved with strangers or in new situations.

Any color not listed.

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Sources: American Kennel Club


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