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Japanese Chin

Country/Date of Origin: Japan/8th Century

There is no doubt that this breed descended from the Chinese Pekingese. The first to reach Japan were probably tribute gifts from one emperor to another. In Japan, each noble family kept a strain that was guarded in its purity for over a thousand years. Commodore Perry brought the first of the tiny dogs out of Japan in the mid 1880s. At first they were called Japanese Spaniels but the name was officially changed in 1977 to reflect the fact that this is not a sporting dog.

Other Names Body Type Personality Coat Health Concerns

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Japanese Spaniel

AKC Group: Toy

Breed Club: Japanese Chin Club of America

Rescue Club: Japanese Chin Care and Rescue Effort

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Body Type:

  • A small, profusely coated, snub-nosed Oriental breed similar to the Pekingese
  • Height: 9 inches (at shoulder)
  • Weight: 4-7 pounds
  • Hanging ears are not altered
  • Tail is carried over the back like a plume. It is not altered


  • This true canine aristocrat seems to have been born with impeccable manners
  • Chins are never aggressive
  • Sweet and loving with family but reserved with strangers


  • Long silky coat with no curl or wave
  • Definite ruff around neck and feathering on ears, thighs and tail
  • Colors may be black and white, or red and white. Red can range from pale lemon to a bright orange
  • Especially prized is a spot in the middle of the skull, which is said to be Buddha's thumbprint left when he blessed the breed
  • High maintenance
  • Hair tangles easily

Health Concerns:

  • Eyes susceptible to injury and irritation
  • Teeth problems
  • Like many toy breeds, may have low blood sugar
  • Subluxated patellas
  • Does not tolerate heat well
  • Subject to breathing difficulties
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Tasty Tidbits:
  • Chins exhibit a dainty catlike grace
  • They dance rather than walk
  • Both Queen Victoria and Queen Alexandria of England had Chin pets
  • Not suggested for households with small children
  • Chins will not take rough handling
  • The Japanese Chin has definite likes and dislikes
  • Rarely, if ever, will it forget either friend or foe

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