In Japan, there are Inu (dogs) and there are Chin. The Japanese Chin (also known as the Japanese Spaniel) is the dog of Japanese Royalty. A lap dog and companion dog, this breed of toy dog is one with a distinctive heritage.
(Alternative name: Japanese Spaniel)
Japanese Chin Appearance
Japanese Chins stand about 20 to 27 cm (8 to 11 in) in height at the withers and weigh 2 to 5 kg (4 to 11 lb). They have straight, silky, profuse long hair that is most often black and white or red and white, or less often black and white with tan points. They have feathered tails that curl up over their backs. Their faces have an inquisitive appearance, with a short, upturned muzzle and large, wide-set eyes that have white visible in the inner corners, creating an astonished expression.
These dogs commonly have a white spot or blaze in the middle of their foreheads known as Buddha’s Thumbprint. This designation can be attributed to the Buddhist Emperor Ming of Han China, who owned many of these dogs.
Japanese Chin Temperament
This breed is considered one of the most cat-like of the dog breeds in attitude: it is alert, intelligent, and often independent, and it uses its paws to wash its face; the name Chin means cat-like. A companion dog, it is loving and loyal to its owner, but is distrustful of new people. Chins prefer familiar surroundings, and are very uncomfortable in unfamiliar areas and with new situations. They are a quiet breed, with a much deeper bark than the high-pitched yap commonly associated with many of the toy breeds and are naturally clean.
Japanese Chin Health
This breed’s flattened face contributes to some dogs suffering from breathing and heart problems, as is common with such breeds. Luxating patellas (knees) and heart murmurs are other genetically predisposed conditions. The oversized eyes are easily scratched and corneal scratches or more serious ulcerations can result. Mild scratches benefit from topical canine antibacterial ointment specifically for eye application; more serious injury or ulcerations require urgent medical care. The Chin also has a risk of hypoglycemia under the age of 6 months.
Japanese Chin Care
The Chin’s coat needs more than average brushing or combing to maintain its appearance. They are year round shedders. Without fiber in the diet, they may need to have their anal glands expressed bimonthly. The oversized eye orbits contribute to moisture about the face and the skin folds in and around the nose and flattened facial area can trap moisture and cause fungal problems. The face should be occasionally wiped with a damp cloth and the folds cleaned with a cotton swab. This breed has little or no odor.
Due to low exercise requirements, the Chin makes a perfect condominium or apartment pet. The use of “housetraining pads” is recommended. The Chin is a bit tough to housetrain in the first 4 months of life, but become quick studies. Always yearning to please, seeking affection and loving – the Chin is a perfect pet for a single or elderly person.
Japanese Chin History
There is some debate as to the origins of this breed. Some say that the ancestors of these dogs first appeared in Japan around the year 732, as gifts from the rulers of Korea. Others attribute the ancestors of the Chin to breeds of Chinese origin.
Portuguese sailors introduced the breed to Europe in the 1600s by presenting some to Braganza’s Princess Catherine.
An American naval officer, Commodore Perry, helped make this dog famous in England in 1853 when he presented a breeding pair to Queen Victoria after returning from Japan. This was the first canine gift given to the royal family. He is also credited with this breed’s appearance in America when he later gave a pair to the President of the United States.