The Japanese Chin, also known as a Japanese Spaniel, is a joy of a toy breed. They are as happy to sit on your lap for a few hours as they are to step outside for an afternoon of adventures. The breed has been charming people from as far back as 700 AD and were long the favored companions of Japanese nobility.
Chin have an aristocratic bearing, but their owners say they also have a silly, mischievous side. The breed's silky coat draws admiration, as do their sweet, flat faces. Despite their perpetually surprised expression, Chin actually take things in stride. They are said to be cat-like dogs who clean themselves fastidiously and like perching on the back of furniture. Though usually quiet, Chin are alert and will bark at visitors and unusual noises. They prefer the company of their family most of all, but they'll tolerate the company of strangers and warm up in time.
Japanese Chin are also known as Japanese Spaniels, and are often called Chin for short.
Japanese Chin have a beautiful single coat that is straight and silky. The coat is abundant and stands away from the body a bit, forming a ruff around the neck, shoulders and chest. The fur on the rear legs makes it look as though they are wearing culottes, and the tail features an abundant plume of fur. The hair grows short on the face, but there is long feathering on the ears. The coat colors may be black and white, red and white, or black and white with tan points.
Average Height: 8-11 inches
Average Weight: 7-11 pounds
Breed Standard & History
The Japanese Chin has an aristocratic bearing and a charming, lively expression. Their full, straight coat is silky and falls luxuriously around their compact frame. They are solid, yet fine boned. The Chin's tail is plumed and curves over the back to one side or the other. The breed is known for wide-set eyes that show some white in the inner corner, giving them a constant look of surprise. In motion, Japanese Chin are at once sprightly and graceful.
The origins of the breed are unclear. Chin are thought to be possible relatives of the Pekingese and have Chinese roots but how and when they arrived in Japan is hazy. It was on the island nation that they developed into the modern breed. In Japan, Chin were the pampered companions of royalty and were mostly unknown to the rest of the world until 1853, when the US naval ships under the command of Commodore Matthew Perry arrived in Tokyo harbor to force Japan to end their trade isolation. Chin quickly became popular among aristocrats throughout Europe, including Queen Victoria. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club as the Japanese Spaniel in 1888, and its name was later changed to Japanese Chin.
AKC Breed Category
A companion dog to the core, Japanese Chin are devoted and affectionate company with their family members. They are also generally amiable with people and animals they don't know. Chin love to cuddle, but they also enjoy exuberant games of catch in the living room or the yard. Their feline qualities make them clean and quiet roommates.
Are Japanese Chin Good with Kids? The playful and loving Japanese Chin makes a great companion for older children. Kids must demonstrate that they know how to treat the dog gently; Chin can't be tossed around like they are stuffed animals.
(Note: Every dog has a unique personality and distinct life experiences that affect his disposition. As a rule, adults should always supervise playdates between kids and their four-legged friends.)
Are Japanese Chin Good with Other Pets? Japanese Chin can live peacefully with other pets when they have been raised with them. However, this breed probably prefers being an only pet and the center of attention.
Chin are not known as a protective breed.
Are Japanese Chin Good Guard Dogs? Chin are watchful dogs and will bark to let you know when guests arrive. Beyond an alert, however, they won't be able to provide much protection.
Japanese Chin are energetic dogs but they don't tend to be hyperactive.
- The Japanese Chin is small enough to get underfoot, so always look where you step or sit.
- They are a brachycephalic (have flat faces).
- Their flat faces can make it difficult to breathe.
- They are prone to heat-related illnesses because their flat faces make it difficult to cool down via panting.
- They may become shy without adequate socialization as puppies.
- They're prone to separation anxiety when left alone too long.
- Their long coat requires extra attention to prevent tangling.
- Keep training sessions lively so they don't become bored.
- They're not a good match for families with small children who may accidentally hurt them during play.
Chin should live indoors with the rest of their family. Don't expect much alone time when living with a Japanese Chin; this breed wants to be near you almost all the time, either playing or snuggling. Chin are known to climb on furniture and find unusual nooks to hide in, so be careful where you sit or step. Because they are so diminutive, their shedding doesn't cause a major mess.
Japanese Chin enjoy outdoor adventure and playing in the yard. Though their single coats are abundant, they don't provide enough protection from frigid temperatures, so Chin benefit from wearing a dog jacket in winter.
A healthy Japanese Chin requires about 20 minutes of light exercise every day. A few rounds of hide and seek in the house and several short walks will keep them fit. Be aware your Chin can't tolerate the heat and must be kept indoors in the air conditioning when it's hot and humid.
Chin have the stamina to play or take a leisurely walk for about 15 minutes at a time.
Activity distance rating
- Running Miles: Your Japanese Chin will trot down to the end of the street with you, but shouldn't be your running partner. They aren't built for it due to their small size and their flat snouts, which make breathing difficult.
- Hiking Miles: It's best to leave your Chin home with another family member when going for a hike.
Generally, this breed requires about ¼ to ½ cup of good quality dry dog food each day, given in two feedings. This will vary, however, depending upon your Chin's activity level and age. Talk to your veterinarian about the optimal diet and quantity of food for your Japanese Chin.
Japanese Chin don't enjoy spending a moment alone and are prone to separation anxiety. An hour alone is probably the most Chin can handle.
Health and Grooming
The Japanese Chin's long coat requires regular brushing every few days to prevent tangles and matting. A bath about once a month will keep their coat clean. Check and wash your Chin's ears weekly with a gentle, dog-friendly cleanser to prevent dirt buildup that can cause infections. Brush your Chin's teeth several times a week, and trim their nails every few weeks or so to prevent cracking.
Common Health Issues
Breed-specific health conditions that may affect the Japanese Chin include:
- Atrioventricular endocardiosis, a degenerative heart disease
- Heart murmurs
- Legg-Calve-Perthes disease
- Patellar luxation
- Eye issues, including corneal abrasions, cataracts, and progressive retinal atrophy
- Heat-related illnesses
- Patellar luxation
You can minimize serious health concerns in a Japanese Chin by purchasing from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
Chin are smart and eager to please, and will learn the basics quickly. Always train them with positive reinforcement, dog treats, and praise, because they are sensitive to harsh treatment and will become stubborn in response. They also become bored easily, so change up the training frequently.
With the balance of a cat, Chin do very well in agility training.
Sporting Dog Training
Japanese Chin are not built for the hunt.
No. Though single coated, Japanese Chin still shed and, as a result, leave pet dander in your home. Pet dander is the primary cause of pet-related allergies.
Yes. Chin have difficulty breathing because of their brachycephalic muzzle.
If you're looking for a dog with whom you can swim in the pool, look elsewhere. Like all brachycephalic breeds, breathing while swimming is challenging for Chin. Additionally, their long hair can weigh them down and their slight bodies can chill quickly.