The little Japanese Chin is an ancient Japanese breed adored by the royal houses for over a thousand years. Originally from China these dogs were given as gifts to the Japanese royalty, although the exact time period is debated. Some put it at around the year 1000 and others around the mid 6th or 7th century. The breed traces its roots back to 8000 BC to the Tibetan Gobi Desert Kitchen Midden Dog, which also is the ancestor to Tibetan Spaniel, Pekingese, Papillon, Long haired Chihuahua, the Pug and the Shi Tzu.
Japanese royalty set restrictions which meant that the breed could only be owned by those of royal and noble blood. Each noble house bred the dog to their own standards and as a result their were many different variations of the breed from size, body shape, colour and so forth. Once introduced to the West, the smaller size became the favourite and standard of kennels worldwide.
Japanese Chin are also known as the Japanese Spaniel. They are a small breed with a large broad head and wide set eyes and a short broad muzzle. It looks like a skinny long haired pug. The coat is medium-long, straight, silky and longer on the tail which droops over the back. Japanese Chin normally stand around 20 to 27 centimetres at the withers. Weight can vary quite vastly. Most standards do not specify a weight but Japanese Chin can be anything from 2 to 9 kilograms. However, a weight of between 3 and 4 kilograms is most common.
The Japanese Chin is often described as being “cat-like” because it uses its paws to wash and wipe its face. They like to rest on high places and have a sure footing with a soft touch that enables them, for example, to walk across a coffee table without disturbing anything. For a thousand years they were bred for one purpose only- to be a companion and lap dog. They are charming and affectionate and do not bark except to announce visitors or if they’re surprised by something unusual. They are mild mannered and dainty dogs. Learning tricks is easy as they’re eager to please. Teach your children to respect this dog and be gentle with it.
Like all breeds with short muzzles, Japanese Chin are prone to respiratory problems and have a tendency to wheeze and snore. They are also vulnerable to eye problems and distemper. Life expectancy is usually around 10 years but could be up to 14 years.
Japanese Chin are fantastic for apartment life. They will find many things to keep themselves entertained indoors. Apartment life also suits them as they are somewhat sensitive to extreme weather temperatures. Avoid prolonged exposure to hot summer weather, they overheat easily due to their compromised respiratory system.
A few minutes a day of combing and brushing is all that is needed for good grooming. Bathe only when necessary and not too often. The eyes should be cleaned every day and the ears checked for infection.