THE JAPANESE CHIN

The Japanese Chin dog breed

The Japanese Chin, also known as the Japanese Spaniel, is aptly named after its country of possible origin.  It is part of the UKC, companion Group, and the AKC, Toy Group. Despite its name, some believe the Japanese Chin actually came from China as a gift from a Chinese emperor. Historically, the breed was very popular with the Japanese nobility.

Brief History

The Japanese Chin’s origin is of question. Some believe this breed came from Korea, while others say that it originated from China. There were Buddhist monks, Chinese emperors, as well as European merchants that were credited for bringing the Japanese Chin to Japan, approximately 500 to 1000 years ago. The Japanese nobles then improved on this small breed. In 1854 the Chin was introduced to the west when Japan opened for trade after 200 years of isolation.

Physical Features

The Japanese Chin is a small, square-shaped and well-balanced dog breed with a large, round head. Japanese Chins have large, warm brown eyes that are often emotive. It has a short, broad, muzzle with a black nose, open nostrils and small v-shaped drop ears. This breed looks aristocratic and has a very unique expression. Its famous tail is plumed and carried over the back. They tend to have very curious and alert facial expressions. Their coats are thick, single, and silky with a heavily coated rump area. The coat color typically ranges from black and white, to black and white with tan characteristics, or red and white. Occasionally they can have tan or red spots over the eye area, inside ears, and on their cheeks.

Average Height:

8-11 inches

Average Weight:

4-11 pounds

Life Expectancy:

10-12 years

Temperament

The Japanese Chin has a good memory. This very intelligent dog breed is sensitive and mild-mannered. They typically get along with everyone — dogs, animals and children. They can be initially shy with strangers, but affectionate with immediate family and once they get to know a new person. Above all, the Japanese Chin enjoys being pampered. This breed does not do well if isolated from family during the holidays. The Chin is easy to train, though has bursts of stubbornness at times. The Chin needs to start socialization during the first four weeks of life and positive dog training early on to overcome stubborn habits. Male Chins may have some housebreaking issues, but these are resolved easily with consistency and regular positive training.

Special Needs

The Japanese Chin is a low maintenance dog. That said, the long silky coat needs plenty of care. The Chin does well with all dogs, children, and people. This breed can only benefit from positive dog training classes to help prevent stubbornness. They’re usually independent, loyal and devoted to family. The Chin has some cat-like qualities and may be shy and reserved. This is a sensitive dog breed.

Positive training for the Chin needs to be consistent, yet one needs to take into consideration the sensitivity and intelligence of this breed and not break their spirit with unnecessary harsh reprimands. Dog training needs to mold the needs of this dog breed in a positive way so as not to break his quirkiness. Attentive pet parents are usually recommended. Socialization, as with all dog breeds should start during the first four weeks.

One quirk: Japanese Chins tend to be afraid of thunderstorms. Vets usually recommend “relax and recover shirts” to provide therapeutic pressure to help dogs feel secure and calm during thunderstorms or times of stress. Use of calming essential oils with the use of Calm Paws Calming Disks work well. Thundershirts, another anxiety wrap, also provides gentle, constant pressure to help dogs deal with stress during travel, separation anxiety, storm phobia and other every day stresses that your Chin may have to deal with.

Possible Health Concerns

  • Luxating Patella: The Japanese Chin may be predisposed to this condition.  This occurs when the patella slips out of the trochlear groove and causes lameness. The kneecap ends up being displaced towards the midline of the dog’s body. 
  • GM2 Gangliosidosis: This is a recessive hereditary diseae. This disease was also called Tay Sachs disease or Sandhoff’s disease. It involves lysosomal storage, and is fatal. Symptoms include loss of coordination, head shaking, mental dullness and weakness.
  • Cardiac Diseases. Inherited cardiac diseases in the Chins like subaortic stenosis and cardiomyopathies are congenital (present at birth). Some symptoms may include heart murmurs resulting in exercise intolerance, and possible congestive heart failure. Consult with your veterinarian for advice.
  • Epilepsy results in seizures that can be caused by numerous conditions. Some of these include low blood sugar, brain tumor, heat stroke, nutritional deficiencies, poisons or toxins, and distemper. Inherited epilepsy in the Chin has been showing up a lot in this gene pool. Environmental hazards are also to blame.
  • Cataracts: This is a condition where the lens of the eye progressively loses transparency. This often results in blindness.
The Japanese Chin dog

Exercise

The Japanese Chin needs regular exercise and lots of fun play time. This dog breed has bursts of energy and does well with frequent short walks, trips to the dog park and playing ball. The more regular the exercise, the better their overall disposition will be. This is not a dog to leave alone all day. The Chin will get agitated and lonely. Plenty of socialization is needed during puppyhood so that this dog breed has no problems with other dogs later on.

Nutrition

A high-quality dog food for the appropriate life stage is recommended for the Chin. Pet parents should never underestimate the importance of a well-balanced diet for this small and spirited breed. Assess your dog’s activity level, age, breed, and any medical conditions that they may be prone to. Ask your veterinarian to help you.

The Japanese Chin

Grooming

The Japanese Chin has a very long and silky coat. This breed needs to be brushed every day to remove loose hair and dirt. This also helps to prevent matts and tangles which can be worked through with a slicker brush or metal comb. Using natural spritzes and conditioners will make grooming easier.

Teeth need to be brushed daily with a canine toothbrush and toothpaste. Ears need to be cleaned regularly and checked for sensitivity. Trim nails as needed. Your Japanese Chin will need to have a professional dental cleaning twice a year. Consult with your veterinarian for advice. If you’re using a professional groomer, be sure to check references. Chins are a small dog breed that need to be treated gently and enjoy lots of positive reinforcements like healthy dog treats. These can be used to reward your Chin when he behaves during a nail trim.

This dog breed enjoys the comforting scent of people, most especially family, including children. This mild-mannered and sensitive dog breed needs time to adjust to new surroundings.

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