By Macy Gen Veterinary AssistantMacy Gen Last updated: 27th October 2022

Japanese Chin


Macy Gen Veterinary Assistant Macy Gen
Last updated: 27th October 2022

Alternatively called the Japanese Spaniel, the Japanese Chin is a sophisticated, stylish toy breed with a cute appearance and gentle demeanor, perfectly excelling as a companion as well as a lap dog. Besides a well-balanced, small body, other distinctive physical features of this breed include a square built, big, broad head round in shape, short muzzle, large, wide-set, round eyes bearing an intelligent and alert expression, small, hanging, V-shaped ears, patterned markings on its face and a high set arched tail.

Japanese Chin Pictures

Quick Information

jap-uh-NEEZ chin
Other namesJapanese Spaniel
CoatAbundant, long, full, single, straight, silky
ColorBlack and white, lemon and white, sable and white, white and black, black, white and tan
Breed typePurebred
GroupCompanion, Toy, Spaniel
Average lifespan 10 to 12 years
Size (How big do they get)Small
Height 8 to 11 inches
Weight 7 to 12 pounds
Litter sizeApproximately 5 puppies
Behavioral traitsLoving, noble, elegant, charming, loyal, intelligent
Good with childrenYes though the older ones
Barking tendencyModerately low
Shedding (Do they shed)Average
Competitive Registration Qualification/ InformationFCI, AKNC, CKC, AKC, NZKC, UKC, KC (UK), KCGB, DRA, APRI, ACR

Video of one month old Japanese Chin puppies

Japanese Chin Mixes

History and Origin

There have been a lot of contradictions about the origin of the Japanese Chin as some speculate it to develop in China and Korea. According to certain stories, Korean rulers had gifted these dogs to the royal members of Japan in AD 732.  On the other hand, another source mentions that the Empress of Japan received these cute, cuddly dogs in form of presents in the 6th or 7th century A.D. However, it has been unanimously agreed upon that the Japanese nobles played a significant role in developing these dogs and each of the royal households set their personal standards which therefore resulted in varieties in the Japanese Chin when it came to size, eyes, coat density and temperament. This breed was unknown to other parts of the world till 1854 as it was only at this time that Japan had been finally opened to trade after a long span of 200 years. They were said to be introduced in the United States through a naval officer named Matthew Calbraith Perry who had received seven Chins as gifts from the Japanese Emperor, on his visit to the country for trade. By the time he had returned only two had survived, which was speculated to have been given to Franklin Pierce, the then president of the United States and James Stirling.

Presently it has been recognized by all the prominent kennel clubs and organizations. The Japanese Chin Club has been set up in both the United Kingdom and the United States for the wellbeing of these dogs.

Temperament and Personality

Friendly and affectionate, the Chin displays a lot of cat-like features when it comes to its fine balancing capacity, urge to recline on high surfaces, the tendency of using its paws while wiping or washing its face as well as the habit of hiding in places where one would least expect it to be.

It is smart and intelligent, often taking its master for a ride if he is not experienced enough.

However, it is lovable and loyal, and according to some breeders, if one has lived with a Chin before, he would perhaps never want to live without it again. In fact, their loving nature and capacity of adjusting to new environments make them good therapy dogs. They are so adaptive in nature that they would shape their personalities in accordance with their homes they go to as a quiet peaceful household would see a subdued Chin while in an energetic family it would be its playful self.

Behind their calm and composed nature lies a defensive dog who would bark at the moment they see an intruder in their territory or sense any unusual activity.

They do well with children, though older ones are better suited than the younger kids as the latter could knock these small dogs down through their rough handling or in pursuit of play.

The Japanese Spaniel can emerge as perfect entertainers and would often amuse you by moving in a circular motion what can be called a “Chin Spin”. Some owners have even mentioned of their dog’s ability to sing that could sound like a soft trill or a shrill operatic noise.

They do not have too much of a trouble in interacting with other canines especially when brought up with them, though keep it at a distance from the bigger dogs who could easily overpower or attack them. They also have a friendly equation with cats, though you need to ensure that the felines do not pounce on them with their sharp claws.



They have low exercise needs and would be contented with a short walk daily coupled with playtime in the backyard. However, take them out on a leash as these curious dogs could be easily distracted by anything interesting they see, being eager to explore it right away.


Its long and silky coat needs to be groomed on a regular basis using a pin brush though it is easy to maintain. Brush its coat one time in a week and bathe it when it gets dirty. Trim its nails whenever they get big, clean its ears to avoid wax build up and brush its teeth well. Their large eyes are at a risk of getting infected, hence take special care while cleaning it. Use bottled or distilled water for the same and you can also ask your vet about the best available oil in the market to clean the nose and eye folds.  Since they are susceptible to fungal infections, wash their face well using a damp cloth, clean the folds surrounding their eyes and nose using cotton balls and finally dry it thoroughly.

Health Problems

Some of the common health problems the Japanese Chin suffer from are luxating patella, heart murmurs, enlarged heart, kidney problems, and cataracts. Like other small dog breeds, they too are at a risk of suffering from hypoglycemia especially when they are about six months old or if they weigh 4 or 5 pounds less than what their actual weight should be. They are also at a risk of breathing ailments since they have a brachycephalic or flat face. Their eyes are often seeing popping out of the socket since they are oversized, also increasing the chances of it to get afflicted by several eye ailments. Make sure that they do not scratch their eyes as this could only aggravate the condition. They could also be affected by GM2 gangliosidosis which is a fatal disease of the nerves.


Though friendly and loving, they can be stubborn to the core and also a little difficult to train. Hence first-timers would not be a good option for them, rather they would need an experienced master who could be firm and at the same time introduce positive reinforcements to make the session an interesting one.

  • Since it has a fondness and interest in learning tricks you can teach it a whole lot of new things like how to fetch, roll over, sit pretty, hug or even kiss. You can teach our cute little Chin how to kiss. For this smear your cheek with a pinch or cheese or peanut butter to attract your dog’s attention. Use the phrase “kiss” in the way in which you like. Lean near your dog and he would certainly peck on your cheeks, being attracted by what is there on it. Praise it with pats and rewards and keep repeating it time and again. Eventually, your dog would move its face near your cheek the moment he hears the word kiss or you bend your face towards it, without even needing any reinforcement. However, you should know when to have him stop as many dogs keep giving kisses the moment they are taught to do it.

Before teaching any trick it is essential to train it on commands so that it is easily able to grasp what is being taught.

  • House train our Japanese Chin puppies at the earliest so that they would learn to eliminate at a fixed place and in this way you would also be able to avoid accidents at home.


Your Japanese Chin would need one-fourth to half a cup of dry dog food on a daily basis to remain healthy and fit. Take care to give them foods which are rich in fiber as deficiency of it may result in impacted anal glands, a condition where fluid could build up in case the anal gland does not get empty. You need to regularize their eating habits as they are fussy when it comes to food. Hence go for small-sized kibble that is easy to chew, also helping in improving digestion and lessening risks of stomach problems.

Interesting Facts

  • The Inu and Chin both originating in Japan are differentiated from one another in the context that the former function as working dogs while the latter are lap and companion breeds.
  • Breeds similar to the Japanese Chin were used in works of art like potteries, temple decorations, and embroideries in ancient China.
  • They have featured in several books one of them being “The Japanese Chin: Dog from the Land of the Rising Sun” by Elisabeth Legl.

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