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Japanese Chin

(Japanese Spaniel)
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Japanese Chin

Form and Function

Small, lively, and aristocratic, the Japanese Chin is a square-proportioned small dog. This breed has a bright inquisitive expression. A small amount of white shows in the inner corners of the eyes, imparting a look of astonishment. The dog’s gait is stylish, lively, and light. The single coat is abundant, straight, and silky, and tends to stand out from the body. The overall appearance is one of Oriental aristocracy.


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Breed Traits

Energy Level

3 out of 5

Exercise Requirements

1 out of 5


4 out of 5

Affection Level

5 out of 5

Friendliness To Dogs

4 out of 5

Friendliness To Other Pets

4 out of 5

Friendliness To Strangers

5 out of 5


1 out of 5

Ease of Training

3 out of 5

Grooming Requirements

3 out of 5

Heat Sensitivity

4 out of 5


5 out of 5

Breed Attributes




4-7 lb





Area of Origin


Date of Origin

Ancient times

Other Names

Japanese Spaniel


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 them some time 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 the Japanese Chin arrived, it gained great favor with the Japanese Imperial family and was kept as a lapdog and ornament. Portuguese sailors first traded with Japan in the sixteenth century and may have been the first to bring Chins to Europe. 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, and still enjoys its greatest popularity in Japan.


The Japanese Chin is a devoted companion, relishing a warm lap as much as a boisterous game. This dog is sensitive and willing to please, often shadowing her owner. The Chin is a friend to all: strangers, dogs, and pets. Playfulness and gentleness make this dog a good child’s companion for equally gentle children. The breed has been described as almost catlike: some even climb!


The Japanese Chin is lively but small enough that exercise needs can be met with a short walk, romp, or game. This dog does not enjoy hot humid weather. Some Chins tend to wheeze. The long beautiful coat needs combing twice weekly.


  • Minor concerns: patellar luxation, KCS, entropion, cataract, heart murmur
  • Occasionally seen: achondroplasia, epilepsy, portacaval shunt
  • Suggested tests: knee, eye, cardiac
  • Life span: 10–12 years
  • Note: The breed is sensitive to anesthesia and does not tolerate heat well. It is also prone to corneal abrasions.


Note: While the characteristics mentioned here may frequently represent this breed, dogs are individuals whose personalities and appearances will vary. Please consult the adoption organization for details on a specific pet.

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