Dog Breed Review

Japanese Chin




When Japan made the decision to open up trading in the mid 1800’s, who knew that the interest of trade would be a dog by the name, Japanese Chin. Indeed, one commodore’s gift would result in one of the royal classe’s favorite lapdogs ever.

Yet, what would a good dog profile be without a bit of adversity? From a murky history to a near extinction, this ancient toy breed has seen it all.

But the breed was too cute, too charming to let die and thanks to a few fanciers, the Chin didn’t.

What do people love about this breed and what kind of pet will they make for you?

Here is what you need to know about the Japanese Chin.


The Japanese produce beautiful and mythical looking dogs and the Japanese Chin is no exception. But there’s a bit of debate within the dog community of whether or not the Chin truly is a Japanese breed. 

Without further suspense, the belief is that the Chin took their first paw steps in China or Korea. But it was Japan, that the breed took off. Moreover, historians claim that Japan and China had trade relations going back to at least the fifth century. It shouldn’t be too hard to believe that the breed may have snuck into Japan around that time. 

According to writer, Libby Langford, both the Japanese and Chinese emperors made exchanges in gifts. The only trouble is pegging down the time frame. It is thought that the Chinese Emperor gave the Japanese Emperor a pair of Japanese Chin.

Whatever mystery surrounding the breed’s origin date, quickly and uniformly disappears with the idea that Japan had the great influence on this breed’s development. Bred for companionship and held highly among nobility, it also seems the breed was used as a gift to wow other important people around the world.

Those people namely being admiral, commodore, Matthew Perry. Perry, subsequently, then would introduce the Chin to others like president Franklin Pierce and Queen Elizabeth. All three of these historical figures definitely had a helping hand in expanding the interest of the Chin.

From the early 17th century, Japan had put a halt on trade with the rest of the world. That was until the mid 1800’s, when Perry made a historical trip to Japan and would end up with six Japanese Chin. He is said to have kept two for himself, but had intentions of giving Pierce and Victoria a pair as well. Reports claim that those dogs would never reach their destinations. 

But just as word got out about the Japanese Chin, people wouldn’t lose hope in arming themselves with the breed. In the 1850’s, the Japanese Chin was on their way to the states. However, it appears the first formal appearance was in New York around 1882. At that time, people were calling the Chin, Japanese Spaniels. This would follow the breed until 1977, when the breed’s club made the change to Japanese Chin Club of America.

Queen Victoria definitely did her part in promoting the breed, just as Alexandra, the Queen of Denmark. According to biographers, Victoria wouldn’t leave or go anywhere without her Japanese Chin. In fact, allegedly Victoria had around 260 of the Japanese Chin.

Unfortunately, it can’t all be happy and chum for the breed. The world wars would nearly wipe the breed out. Reportedly, Japan didn’t have any Chins leftover from World War 2. Thanks to a breeder by the name of, Catherine Cross, the breed would return to its glory in Japan, after Cross began exporting the dogs back to Japan.

For one reason or another, the breed’s popularity has seen a decline and according to the AKC, the Chin is the 108th most popular breed. Since day one, and no different today, the breed enjoys life as a companion and show dog.


The Japanese Chin is a medium energy dog with classification in the small size group. According to the American Kennel Club, both male and female Chins can stand between 8 to 11 inches.

With regards to weight, both male and female Chins can weigh between 7 to 11 pounds.

Personality and Temperament

If there is one hobby the Japanese Chin adores the most, that would probably be “jumping laps.” A hobby that they enjoy and are good at. The Chin will play favorites, and eat up affection all day. Just as they are not above giving your any affection. They love to be close with their family and expect to be part of family endeavors. Charming people pleasers, the Japanese Chin will certainly pick up new tricks and learn the trade in order to entertain you. 

They are intelligent and inquisitive, this is a breed that loves to look around, or snoop, sight see the happenings in your neighborhood. They may be a bit shy to different things or new people at first. But they generally will warm up after a while. They are much better with older children and you should always keep an eye out for the interaction between smaller children and a toy breed.

Like a true toy breed, the Japanese Chin is nearly cat like at their day to day endeavors. Sensitive to how their family is feeling, the Chin won’t hesitate to find out what’s bothering you. At times, the Japanese Chin can be a bit stubborn but will ultimately learn new tricks to please you. They have minds of their own and aren’t afraid of using it. In fact, there’s a bit of a running joke about the Chin. You don’t own a Chin, per say, the Chin owns you. 

All in all, the breed is fine with most environments and can adapt well to apartments. They are considerably quiet, which is a plus in apartment buildings. They don’t require a ton of activity but will appreciate two short walks per day. Older children and other dogs they are fine with, and let them warm up to new tenants in the building.


With the Japanese Chin, there doesn’t seem to be many issues affecting the breed. That isn’t to say there aren’t any at all. Yet, the breed appreciates a generally healthy bill from the American Kennel Club and other breeders. If all goes well, you should expect to get 10 to 12 years from the Japanese Chin.

When you make a purchase, do yourself a solid and make sure you’re buying from a reputable breeder. Doing your homework will save you heart aches and migraines in the future. That said, the breeder should be able to provide you health clearances. On top of that, you’ll want to keep a relationship in good standing with your veterinarian. Make sure you get your Chin’s shots up to snuff.

Perhaps the biggest issues affecting the Japanese Chin is Patellar Luxation. In fact, according to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, the breed ranks 12th on their list for the disease. That gives them an 8.2 incidental rate out of 570 evaluations. This ranks the breed among the Chow Chow and Boykin Spaniel. Patellar Luxation is when the knee dislocates or slips out of places causing a great deal of pain and possibly arthritis.

Cataracts is another problem affecting the Chin. This is a cloudiness of the crystalline lens and isn’t that huge of a deal as most dogs will live a normal life with this condition. It is something to keep an eye out for.

The breed ranks 45th on OFA’s “Cardiac” survey next to the Beauceron and Mastiff. The breed also suffers on occasion with epilepsy, murmurs and cancer. Moreover, the UK Health Survey found cardiac complications as the leading reason of death for the breed as well as cancer and old age.


According to multiple breeders, the Chin’s nails grow quickly and will require special attention on the regular. You’ll also want to keep an eye out on their teeth and brush those frequently. Obesity can be a problem for the Chin as they become more stationary as a companion. A lot of these measures are preventative and has more to do with how you care for your Japanese Chin.

Two short walks per day will make this Chin happy. You can even bring them to dog parks as they are friendly with other canines. They do need some space but not a tremendous amount. Just enough to allow them to explore. They have exude the proclivity for digging and wandering. Again, these are preventative measures that you can totally control. A leash, a fence and supervision will deter most of these bad traits.

Just as early training and socialization will as well. Getting them around other dogs and introducing the Japanese Chin to new situations. They’ll want to learn tricks and play around. Although they do have a stubborn side to them, you’ll have to earn your tricks with this breed. Which means you’ll need to be a firm and consistent hand to get the best results. 

Watch them around smaller children and only let children who know how to treat a smaller dog. Teach them the importance of safe handling as well, and it’s best that they don’t pick them up at a small age. Others dogs should be fine. Strangers may experience a bit of aloofness, but once the dog gets to knows them, they should brighten up. 

Finally, the Japanese Chin doesn’t do well alone. This is a companion dog, that requires some effort and attention. Affection is a must and they should do fine in any climate, environment and experience level of owner.


How much your Japanese Chin eats will depend greatly on how active they are, their metabolism, and age. Elements like spaying and neutering them may have an affect on their dietary needs. This is a breed that will do well with a high quality dry kibble solution. Meat as the first ingredient. Anything from chicken, turkey, beef and fish should suffice their needs.

Most owners seem happy feeding their Japanese Chin 1/4 to 1/2 of top quality kibble a day. The recommendation is to break that up into two meals. Always watch this breed’s feeding habits and be mindful of obesity.

A typical Japanese Chin of 7 to 11 pounds will only need 300 to 420 calories per day. A more active Chin at the same weight will need 500 to 700 calories per day.

As always, you should provide your Japanese Chin with fresh drinking water.


Chins have a good amount of fur on their single coats. It should be straight and silky. Regular attendance of brushing will keep their coat looking at its best. They are seasonal shedders and typically shed heavier at certain points in the year. That said, the breed is considerably easy to maintain.

The American Kennel Club claims these four color options for the Chin’s coat: black and white, lemon and white, sable and white, white and black.

There are no markings.

Fun Japanese Chin Facts

  • The average cost for a Japanese Chin puppy is around $1500 to $2500, according to the website, Next Day Pets.
  • The Chin is an average working dog, but better for companion and show purposes. According to the Intelligence of Dogs, a study by professor, Stanley Coren, the Chin is 118th most intelligent on his list.
  • Although the aren’t vulnerable, the Kennel Club does have the breed on their watch list. Between 2015 to 2015, only 450 registrations were made with the U.K’s kennel club.
  • The breed is a brachycephalic dog, which means they will typically have issues with their breathing and eyes. This is why it’s important to keep an eye out for your Chin during extreme heat conditions.

Closing Words

For well over a couple of thousand years, the Japanese Chin has been a favorite among the elite ruling class. Now, they are a breed for all classes, where they make fine and easy to contend with companions.

Moreover, they are sweet, gentile and inquisitive. They have a profound amount of loyalty towards their people. With a family that has older children, even other dogs, who needs a smaller and easy to deal with dog, the Japanese Chin is a breed worth exploring.



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