Japanese Chin – Full Breed Profile

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Should you get popular, but rare Japanese Chin? Is this breed for you? Read on and discover if this bred fits your lifestyle.
Dog Breed Group:
Companion Dogs
8 to 11 inches tall at the shoulder
4 to 9 pounds
Life Span:
10 to 14 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

Japanese Chin is a small-sized dog of only 11 inches and 11 pounds. This playful and outgoing dog can live between 10 to 12 years.

Originally from Asia, this dog has been celebrated as the ultimate companion dog for almost a thousand years, if not more.

This small dog was a popular member of Chinese and Japanese imperial courts, while today they enjoy mostly apartment life. This elegant dog is playful and easy to adapt to any living condition.

Don’t let their size fool you, because they are prone to taking the leadership role. They can easily outsmart first time dog owners.

They don’t mind being left alone for a longer period, as long as they have enough toys to keep them entertained.

Japanese Chin is a jumper, so don’t be surprised when you find this dog at high and most unusual places in the home.

If you want your Japanese Chin to be playful and affectionate, make sure that you provide enough love, care, and attention.

Only through proper care, training, and support your Japanese Chin will turn into a cuddling buddy.

Overall, this is a healthy breed, although certain conditions can be seen in the breed, such as luxating patellas.

So, when getting a puppy, make sure that you are only dealing with responsible breeders – this is the only way for your dog to have a good start.

Quick Facts

Real name: Japanese Chin
Other names: Japanese Spaniel
Common nicknames: Chin
Origin: Japan
Breed type: Companion Dogs
Weight: 4 to 9 pounds
Height: 8 to 11 inches tall at the shoulder
Lifespan: 10 to 14 years
Litter Size: 1 – 5 puppies
Color: Commonly black and white, red and white, or tricolor
Coat: Medium length, silky coat

Japanese Chin History

Japanese Chin may be small in size, but this is a breed with a long history. This is so ancient breed that their roots can be traced to centuries ago.

Japanese Chin evolved from the Tibetan spaniel, another famous breed that originated in the East.

Some dog historians claim that Japanese Chin in fact originated in China and from there they were imported to Japan.

In fact, dog historians believe that the Chinese Emperor gave a pair of Chin to the Japanese Emperor as a gift and that’s how breed appeared in Japan.

Japanese Chin was a very popular breed during the 1800s with the British royal family, especially Queen Alexandra who collected Japanese Chin.

This small size dog is still one of the rarest dog breeds alive, regardless of its popularity.

The reason for this is a bit mysterious, because this dog has it all – from the look, over calm nature, to compassion.

Fast fact: Queen Alexandra owned 261 of Japanese Chin.

Japanese Chin Physical Appearance

Japanese Chin commonly stands 11 inches at the shoulder and ould have between 4 to 9 pounds.

If you want a small size dog who is really light, this is a breed to consider having.

As compact dogs, they are easy to move and can easily adapt to any living space.

Plus, their size really makes them easy to move through the busiest city streets. Among lighter dogs, the Japanese Chini s a true champion.

Their appearance is defined by a large rounded broad head, wide dark eyes, short muzzle, ears that are covered in long feathers, and patterned facial markings.

As for the color, this breed usually appears as black and white, red and white, or tricolor. As for the coat, they will have a longer coat that must be of silky texture on touch.

Japanese Chin Personality

By its temperament, the Japanese Chin is more cat-like than a dog-like creature. They are loyal, love to have their own moments, but they also love to be clingy when they see it fit.

On top of that, they are alert, intelligent, and independent. Furthermore, you can often see them licking their pawas and cleaning their face with them – sounds like feline-like behavior, right?

Yet, the Japanese Chin is after all a dog and they will display multiple dog traits. For example, these dogs are highly loyal, friendly, and sensitive.

Due to their calm nature, they are often seen working as therapy dogs. As such, these small size dogs are recommended for the elderly.

Japanese Chin can be a bit defensive, although they are mostly calm and quiet. However, they won’t think twice about barking if the situation calls for it.

As a companion breed, the Japanese Chin will love to keep his people happy. This means that they are ready to perform any trick and any time to make you smile.

This is the main reason why this breed is often seen performing many tricks such as the ‘Chin Spin’, in which they turn around in rapid circles.

You may also see them dancing on their hind legs, or trying to sing (which is most of just making an unusual sound).

Japanese Chin Training

Training should start as soon as you bring your Japanese Chin home.

Dogs are capable of mastering basic commands as of eight weeks of age. Next to great training sessions, dogs will tremendously benefit from proper socialization as well.

When you mix well-structured training with a properly implemented socialization you will get a well-behaved canine citizen.

To get the most out of training make them consistent, fun, engaging. short, and packed with treats.

Always use positive reinforcement, and never punish your dog. If you feel like you need support during the training sessions, ask for assistance.

You can always hire a professional dog trainer, or enroll your pup in puppy classes.

Both options should provide a great space for learning on dog training, bonding with your dog, and getting some professional training inputs on further handling.

Don’t forget to serve a treat whenever your dog does a trick well.

Japanese Chin Grooming

Japanese Chin is a lot like a cat when it comes to grooming, but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t provide a proper space or grooming.

Grooming is much more than merely brushing your dog weekly. Yes, weekly brushes are a great way to keep a dog’s coat debris-free, his coat clean, and make your bond stronger, but that shouldn’t be the only grooming practice.

Make sure that you search dogs’ coats for any sign of fleas when brushing, and for any sign of skin infection.

The rest is basic care:

  • Check gums weekly
  • Bathe only when needed
  • Trim or grind nails monthly
  • Check eyes daily for any sign of eye discharge
  • Learn how to clean dog’s ears and when

Regular brushing and occasional trimming are a must if you want your Japanese Chin to look his finest. They do shed but in moderate grades.

Japanese Chin Health

Japanese Chins are often described as healthy dogs.

Are you buying a puppy? If so, make sure that you deal with responsible dog breeders only.

If you choose to do proper research and find a responsible and reputable breeder you will get a healthy puppy.

Responsible breeders will always screen puppies for common health issues and present you with medical documentation on the breed.

They will also provide you tips and inputs on training, nutrition, care, and even grooming.

You can also expect a lot of questions. Serious breeders will refuse to give their puppies to anyone.

They want to be sure that you are the right fit for their puppies. Still, you might provide the best care possible, and your dog may get sick.

Some of the most common health issues in this breed are:

  • Luxating patellas
  • Cataracts
  • Heart murmurs
  • Hypoglycemia

As a face-flatted breed, the Japanese Chin is prone to brachycephalic, like Pugs, and can commonly have both breathing and eye problems.

Be extra careful when it comes to summer days because they will be prone to heatstroke.

Make sure that you always provide easy access to clean water during the entire day.

All in all, if you manage to provide the proper care, high-quality food, regular exercise, and regular veterinarian check-ups your Japanese Chin could live up to 14 years.

Is Japanese Chin For You?

Japanese Chins are great dogs.

They are playful, loyal, and always ready to keep their human entertained. These dogs are of ancient roots, but their tricks are popular even today.

Whenever you might feel blue, your Japanese Chin will do his best to perform a trick to make you feel better. This is one of many traits that makes this breed a great companion dog.

This breed is for you if you want a small size dog who loves comfort, is polite with everyone and doesn’t need more exercise.

Also, if you don’t want to deal with regular brushing, moderate to heavy shedding, and a tendency toward separation anxiety, you might check other small size dog breeds that have different traits, because this breed isn’t for you.

On the other hand, if you are not a big lover of toy breeds, and you don’t know what to do with clingy breed this dog isn’t for you.

All in all, if you know that this breed is for you, but you are not sure how to name your Japanese Chin, check these Disney dog names for inspiration.

Popular Japanese Chin Comparisons

Compare Dog Breeds: