Complete Guide To The Japanese Chin: Care, Grooming, Feeding and More

Loving and loyal, the small Japanese Chin is a wonderful family member for all people. This little dog does remarkably well in an apartment setting due to its low energy and happiness to simply sit on your lap and be admired. As an ancient breed, this dog was bred in Japan and featured many unique characteristics that give this dog its characteristic look. Intelligent but not overactive, the Japanese Chin will thrive in an environment where it is the center of attention.

How Big Do Japanese Chin Get?

Male8-11″ at the shoulder7-11 lbs
Female8-11″ at the shoulder7-11 lbs

The Japanese Chin is in the Toy Dog category and is a petite dog. There is little size difference between the male and female Japanese Chin.

What Do Japanese Chin Look Like?

This dog has a characteristic look synonymous with other Asiatic dog breeds. For its small body, the dog has a large and round head with large doe eyes. Many owners are attracted to this dog’s long and silky coat. The coat is long around the neck, shoulders, and tail but shorter around the head, face, and front legs. Acceptable colors for this breed of dog are red and white, black and white, or black and white fur with tan points.

What Is The Personality Of A Japanese Chin?

Although the Japanese Chin is a loving and affectionate dog toward its family, this dog tends to be a bit aloof and shy around new people or pets. This dog may not be as outward and confident in new situations and should always be supervised if he is left with other people or dogs at the park.

The Japanese Chin has been described as “catlike,” and many of these traits are exhibited in day-to-day life with the Japanese Chin. This dog likes to climb and adventure, and it is not uncommon to come home from work and find your small dog sitting atop the highest space in the house.

While this dog is intelligent, it can be challenging to train. The Japanese Chin has a hard time focusing his attention on the task at hand. This characteristic means the Japanese Chin is more than able and willing to learn new tricks and behaviors, as long as the training remains positive and exciting. This breed of dog responds incredibly well to positive reinforcement and praise and will enjoy performing his new tricks in front of an audience.

The small and lively dog is very well suited for apartment life and does well in an urban setting. They need minimal exercise and are happy to sit on their owner’s lap for the day. This dog is easy to manage even for first-time dog owners and will make an excellent addition to any family. This dog is perfect for single adults or seniors and can live with children as long as young children are taught to respect this small dog.

What Are The Grooming Needs Of A Japanese Chin?

Although it may look like this dog is high maintenance when it comes to grooming, the Japanese Chin needs very little grooming. To keep his silky fur clean and tangle-free, simply brush him about once per week. This routine will pull out some of the dead fur and help bring the healthy and natural oils from the skin down to the tips of the fur.

Bathe the Japanese Chin about once per month to keep him clean.

This dog’s nails grow incredibly fast compared to other dog breeds, so be sure to keep the nails trimmed short so your dog stays happy and healthy.

How Much Exercise Do Japanese Chin Need?

The Japanese Chin is a medium-level energy dog. While he is certainly no couch potato, this dog is not one to exercise for hours each day. The dog is happy to go on a slow walk or simply explore a small backyard. Remember always to keep this dog on a leash. If the Japanese Chin sees something, like a bird, that is more interesting than his owner, your pleas and commands will do little good to sway his attention.

Japanese Chin Running on a Dog Walk at an Agility Trial

This dog breed likes his family’s company and does not do well when left alone for long hours during the day. If you work long hours or travel often, this may not be the best dog for you. When the Japanese Chin becomes bored or lonely, he can quickly turn to destructive behaviors like chewing, growling, or barking.

What Dog Food Is Best For Japanese Chin?

Japanese Chin require no special dietary considerations other than they tend to lean towards obesity as they get older (at least the dogs in my practice have). Because they’re already a small frame size, adding extra calories is easy by giving them high-calorie snacks and small bites of people food.

Before we start with the food lists, just know that grain-free dog foods are a myth. There’s zero science showing that they are helpful. In fact, there’s increasing evidence that it’s causing issues in certain breeds of dogs. Food allergies are the only reason to even consider a grain-free diet but only choose one with the help of your veterinarian.

Because of the small size of the teeth and the mouth in a Japanese Chin, you’ll want to feed them a smaller sized kibble. Chin usually have great appetites and you don’t need to add any extra canned food into their meals to get them to eat. It’s far better for these dogs to chew kibble to help their teeth.

Basic dog foods that I recommend include:

How Long Does a Japanese Chin Live?

10-12 years based on information provided by the AKC

What Health Concerns Do Japanese Chin Have?

The following list is comprised both of my own experience as well as some of the most common concerns of the national breed club:

  • Dental Disease
  • Heart Murmurs/Disease
  • Luxating Patella

Where Can I Find a Japanese Chin?

Like many popular, purebred dogs, the Japanese Chin is available from breeders throughout the United States. Before selecting a puppy from a breeder, make sure you do your homework and find a breeder that you feel confident working with. The breeder should be knowledgeable about the breed a well as the care and medical certifications the dog has received. If possible, meet the entire litter of puppies, as well as the mother dog.

Breeder Directory from the Japanese Chin Club of America

If you want to find a puppy closer to where you live, the JCCA also recommends that you contact them for a breeder referral. There are some breeders that don’t want to be publicly listed on the site but have high-quality puppies.

AKC Puppy Page

Of course, rescuing a Japanese Chin is another wonderful option to add a new family member. Many rescue organizations, like Luv-A-Chin Rescue and Japanese Chin Care and Rescue Effort, specialize in this unique dog breed. Rescuing a dog not only allows the owner to get a purebred dog of their choice but allows you to help a dog find his forever home.

Where To Learn More About The Japanese Chin

Japanese Chin Club of America

AKC Breed Page

Fun Facts About The Japanese Chin

This breed of dog has roots in both China and Japan. The dog was a prized member of both the Chinese and Japanese imperial courts and was often given as a gift to emissaries from other countries. In fact, the original Japanese Chin was probably gifted to the emperor of Japan. In Japan, the dog was bred to give it the distinctive look owners know and love today.

The name of this dog breed primarily comes from the sentiment in Japan that the dog is not really a dog but rather a being. In Japan, the word for dog is “inu,” which is often seen attached to many popular dog breeds, like the Shibu Inu. The Japanese word for a separate being, though, is “chin.”

Commodore Matthew Perry is largely credited with bringing this dog to the Western world. In 1853 he sailed into the Uraga Harbor, in modern-day Tokyo, where he helped to introduce Japan to international trading. The Japanese Chin was quickly exchanged and spread throughout most of the world.

Throughout history, several famous Japanese Chins have made it through all levels of government. President Franklin Pierce owned a Japanese Chin and Commodore Matthew Perry’s daughter Caroline Perry Belmont. At first, the dog was known as the Japanese Spaniel, but the name was officially changed to the Japanese Chin in 1977.