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Also known as the Japanese Spaniel or 'Royal Dog of Japan', this toy breed has a rich heritage and has a distinctive behaviour - washing its face with its paws as a cat would.
It is widely debated that this breed actually originated in China and not Japan as the name suggests. Whatever its true beginnings, it first appeared in Japan in art and literature in the mid 7th century, although some experts argue it may have actually been around the 10th century. This toy breed quickly became the favoured companion of Japanese royalty and nobility, and they were often given as gifts to people of high rank socially. They were strictly a companion animal and led pampered lives, surrounded by opulence and wealth. As a breed, they stood apart from many dogs at that time due to their feline like behaviour, delicate manners and pleasing appearance. Many noble families at the time bred their own standards to accommodate their own tastes and as such some were bred with longer hair, larger eyes or a smaller and finer boned body.
Export of these dogs was strictly controlled so it is unclear how they managed to find their way to the West, but once in Europe they became a firm favourite with well to do families as lap dogs, and while Kennel Clubs around the world have varied breed standards, they remain generally a toy breed worldwide.
Average height to withers: The height varies between 7-11 inches for both males and females.
Average weight: Average weight is around 4-5 kg.
The Japanese Chin is a small Spaniel type dog which has long flowing hair which is soft, silky and fine. They have fine feathers covering their ears, legs, belly and tail and the coat itself comes in black and white, red and white both of which may feature tan points. The delicate head is domed and round with a wide but short nose. In black and white dogs the nose is generally black but in other colours, it can be lighter. The large eyes are almond shaped and protrude from the head and are dark in colour. The ears are triangular but fall forwards, pendent like. The body is generally quite boxy and gives way to a contrasting feathered tail which curls over its back.
This dog breed has some usual and feline like behaviour that a dog does not usually display. This can include washing its face by wiping its paw over it in a sweeping motion, liking to sit and lie on high surfaces such as shelves and backs of chairs and having a dexterity and balance not associated with dogs on the whole.
This little dog is at its happiest when it is at home with its family, and forms very close bonds to its owner. While they are normally a calm and quiet dog, they are given to barking to alert of strangers at the door and occasionally will take part in frenzied and entertaining activity for the pleasure of its owner. Known as the 'Chin Spin' this little dog will perform tight, spinning movements for no apparent reason, as well as being able to be taught tricks such as dancing on its hind legs and singing in quite a high pitched tone.
Of average intelligence, the Chin can be taught obedience and wants to please its owner. It benefits from early socialisation with children and other pets, but prefers to be a one person dog. They can be very wary of strangers outside the house and almost aloof, but generally are a friendly dog with most people it knows.
While the Japanese Chin remains a fairly healthy breed, there are some issues that it can be more prone to. On average, a healthy dog can live up to 15 years.
As a shorter nosed breed, it does not tolerate heat and hot weather as well as some dogs, and breathing issues can arise. Make sure that they are not out or exercised in the heat of the day, and are kept cool. This breed is also prone to heart murmurs however, reputable breeders take great pains to ensure that they only breed from stock how have been screened and come from a line which does not have this health issue.
In addition, the owner needs to take care that the slightly protruding eyes of this breed do not get damaged or injured. Being more prominent, this can happen to this breed easier than it can with other dogs.
The Japanese Chin requires daily brushing to keep the coat clean and free of tangles. Lift the hair as you brush to leave it standing slightly. Dry shampoo as needed rather than bathe it. The breed is an average shedder that looses hair year-round. The Chin's oversized eyes tend to collect moisture and cause fungal infections if not kept in check. The breed has little to no odour. This little toy requires a minimal amount of exercise. It will enjoy a short walk or a game each day but otherwise the Japanese Chin is a calm but still lively little breed perfect for home life. It cannot live outdoors due to its sensitivity to temperature extremes.