Selecting a Japanese Chin

Choosing a Japanese Chin

As a dog that originally lived with Chinese aristocracy and eventually spent their days at the Imperial Palace, the Japanese chin is considered by many to be royalty.

History and Origin

The Japanese chin is a very old toy breed that, despite his name, is thought to have originated in China centuries ago. It is commonly believed that the Chinese so admired these dogs that the Chinese Emperor gave a pair to the Emperor of Japan. Once in Japan, the chin was kept in the hands of nobility and used as gifts to very special people.

In 1853, Commodore Perry made his famous visit to Japan, which opened up the island nation to the world. While he was there, he was presented with several Japanese chins. He subsequently gave the Chins as gifts, with a pair going to Queen Victoria, a pair to Admiral Perry’s daughter, and two to the President, thus allowing the Chin to make it to England and North America.

During World War I, the importation of Japanese chins into America was halted. But, this did not destroy the breed in the United States. American breeders simply maintained and improved the breed with the stock they already had. Over time, the popularity of the chin waned and their numbers diminished. Thankfully, there were breeders throughout the world that kept the breed alive. The dog had been known as the Japanese spaniel. In 1977, the name of the breed was officially changed to the Japanese chin

Appearance and Size

The Japanese chin is a dainty and aristocratic toy breed with a distinctive oriental expression. They have a large head and a small, undershot jaw. Their eyes are almond shaped and set far apart, giving an expressive appearance. The Japanese chin has ears shaped like an upside down V covered with long, silky hair. The coat is silky, soft and straight. The coat comes in black and white, lemon and white, or red and white. The tail is heavily feathered and carried over the back. This regal little dog stands 8 to 11 inches at the shoulder and the weight is 4 to 11 pounds.

Personality Traits

The Japanese chin uses his paws to wash his face very much like a cat, hence the name chin meaning cat-like. The breed is an ideal companion. He has the charm, gracefulness, and intelligence of a fine nobleman.

Home and Family Relations

The Japanese chin is a sensitive, intelligent dog who lives only to please his master. The breed is affectionate and responsive with those they know and love, but are reserved with strangers and new situations. Chins are devoted to their families and have a deep bark for his size, which makes him an acceptable watchdog.


The Japanese chin is a very docile and intelligent dog, making him a great breed for obedience classes. They strive to please their loving family.


The Japanese chin requires high grooming maintenance. A good brushing three to four times a week is necessary to keep the coat clean and untangled.

Special Care

Due to their flat faces, the Japanese chin is prone to breathing difficulties in hot and cold weather. It is important to keep these dogs indoors during excessive temperatures.

Common Diseases and Disorders

The Japanese chin is a rather healthy dog but is prone to heart disease, dyspnea and dislocated knees.

The life expectancy of the Japanese chin is 12 to 14 years.

We realize that each dog is unique and may display other characteristics. This profile provides generally accepted breed information only.