Meet the Breed: The Japanese Chin



  • Height: 7"- 11”
  • Weight: 4-15 pounds
  • Historical function: royal companion
  • Modern function: Companion, lap dog
  • AKC classification: Toy

Physical Characteristics:

The Japanese Chin is a small breed bred exclusively to be a companion. Its head is broad and domed. The eyes are wide set and large. The muzzle is short, broad and pushed in. The nose is nearly on the same horizontal plane as the eyes. The Japanese Chin is a small, well balanced, lively, aristocratic toy dog with a distinctive Oriental expression. The facial markings are symmetrical. The ears are small and feathered. The plumed tail is carried over the back, curving to either side. The coat is profuse, silky, soft and straight. The dog's outline presents a square appearance.

History of the Breed:

Despite its name, the Japanese Chin actually originates in China. It is believed that the Chin and the Pekingese were originally the same breed. The Japanese Spaniel was further developed  and differentiated in Japan and introduced to Europe in 1700. It became a favorite of Japanese nobility, and was often offered as a royal gift to diplomats and to foreigners who rendered some outstanding service to Japan. In 1853, a pair was intended to be given as a gift to Queen Victoria from Commodore Perry when he returned from his historic mission to open Japan to world trade.  Records indicate that of the six dogs given to Perry, only two survived the voyage, and he gave those to his daughter. This mission was successful in opening trade and the Oriental toy dogs began making their way around the globe and gaining popularity.


The Japanese Chin is a sensitive and intelligent dog who was bred to serve as a companion, though some Chin owners have remarked that this Imperial Palace dog acts more like the owner was birthed to serve the dog. Perhaps they need to read about Counteracting the Tiny Terror to avoid Small Dog Syndrome.  Chins are affectionate with people they know, very loyal and devoted to their owners, but can be reserved with strangers or new situations. The Japanese Chin has a mind of its own and likes to be the center of attention. This breed is not a barker. It is mild mannered, graceful, yet playful. Sensitive, agile, dainty and clean.

  • Best suited for: Any family that has gentle children. An excellent companion for the infirm or elderly. Excellent in an apartment.
  • Preferred living conditions: This dog likes to be pampered. Take care not to contribute to Small Dog Syndrome by coddling them too much. Enjoys a small yard to play in but can go without.

Care and Health:

  • Grooming requirements: Though the coat is long, it is surprisingly easy to maintain. It does tend to stay mat free. Simply comb and fluff. Bathe infrequently. Clean the eyes every day and check the ears regularly for any signs of infection. A medium shedding dog.  
  • Exercise needs: Daily walk, and play.
  • Life expectancy: 12-15 years.
  • Health concerns: May be prone to eye and respiratory problems. Does not tolerate temperature extremes. Tends to wheeze and snore.

Breed Club Links: Japanese Chin Club of America Perfect Pairings: A Chin loves a cozy luxury bed. Try our Tiger Dreamz beds for the ultimate in comfort!

Have any stories about a Japanese Chin? Please share!

Photo courtesy of Melissa.

This entry was posted by Mary.
Lorraine London on December 10 at 6:05 PM said:

We have a Japanese Chin Pomerannian; brindle colored and resembles a snow leopard in coloring
What do you think?

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