Japanese Chin

AKC Toy Group


Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Despite its name, the Japanese Chin probably originated in Korea or China and was later developed in Japan. The breed became a favorite of the Japanese Court, and was often offered as a royal gift. A pair of these dear little companion dogs was given by Commodore Perry to Queen Victoria in 1853 when he returned from his historic mission to open Japan to world trade. The breed was renamed by the AKC in 1977; earlier it was registered as the Japanese Spaniel. Regardless of name, this breed has always been, first and foremost, a companion dog.


The Japanese Chin is a dainty little spaniel with a short, broad face, and a soft, feathered coat. A thick ruff covers the neck and chest. The forehead is quite round, with a well-defined stop. The nose is wide and the nostrils open. Nose color is black, except it may be self-colored in red-and-white dogs. The expressive, protruding eyes are dark and almond-shaped. The jaw is wide and slightly undershot. The V-shaped feathered ears are pendant. The body has about the same height as length. The front legs are straight and fine-boned. The coat comes in white with colored patches, most often black, but sometimes red, yellow, orange, sable, or brindle. The feathered tail curls up over the back. The Japanese Chin has an elegant high-stepping gait.

Key Facts

  • Height:  8 to 11 in.
  • Size:  Very small
  • Weight:  Averages 7 lbs.
  • Availability:  May take some effort to find
  • Talents:  Watchdog and performing tricks


Like many short-faced breeds, the Japanese Chin is prone to eye and respiratory problems and heat prostration. Tends to wheeze and snore. Some bloodlines are prone to distemper; a veterinarian may choose to adjust the immunization schedule. More obedient than many of the Toys. Somewhat fragile and sensitive to extremes of temperature. Clean the eyes frequently.


Amiable and lively companion. Loving and devoted. Mild mannered. Elegant and charming, yet playful. Sensitive. Agile and dainty. Clean. Intelligent; a very good dog for learning tricks.


  • Children:  Best with older, considerate children
  • Friendliness:  Loves everyone
  • Trainability:  Easy to train
  • Independence:  Moderately dependent on people
  • Dominance:  Low
  • Other Pets:  Generally good with other pets
  • Combativeness:  Friendly with other dogs
  • Noise:  Not a barker
  • Indoors:  Moderately active indoors
  • Owner:  Good for novice owners


  • Grooming:  Extensive grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping:  No trimming or stripping needed
  • Coat:  Feathered coat
  • Shedding:  Average shedder
  • Exercise:  Very little exercise needed
  • Jogging:  A poor jogging companion
  • Apartments:  Good for apartment living
  • Outdoor Space:  Does all right without a yard
  • Climate:  Does well in most climates
  • Longevity:  Short (less than 10 years)

Useful Links

AKC® Japanese Chin Breed Standard


Japanese Chin Breed Club


Search for a Breeder


Rescue Organizations


Books about the Japanese Chin


Japanese Chin Gifts