Japanese Spitz

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Introduction


The Japanese Spitz is fast becoming popular here in the UK although these charming little dogs have been firm favourites in their native Japan since the early 20th century. They are small in stature, lively by nature yet very undemanding which when added to their charming looks and brilliant white coats, makes for a lovely dog to have around the home. Unlike some other small dogs, the Japanese Spitz is known to get on well with children and they love nothing more than being in a family environment and being involved in everything that goes on in the household.


History


It is thought that the Japanese Spitz is a descendent of the Samoyed and when they were introduced to Japan early in the 20th century, they were bred to be smaller and smaller with the end result being the dogs we see today. The first of the breed to arrive in America, Australia, Canada and China was in 1918 and there is some belief that these are the dogs that formed the foundation stock of the modern Japanese Spitz. It was not until 1981 that the breed was officially recognised by The Kennel Club.



Over more recent times, these charming dogs have found their way into the hearts and homes of many people both here in the UK and elsewhere in the world, but they are also a firm favourite with judges and spectators at dog shows too.


Appearance


Height at the withers: Males 34 - 37 cm, Females 30 - 34 cm



Average weight: Males 6 - 7 kg, Females 5 - 6 kg



The Japanese Spitz is a small dog that boasts a wonderful, pure white fluffy double coat that offers them a tremendous amount of protection against the elements. Their heads are medium in size and shaped like a wedge when seen from above being quite broad too. Their skull is slightly domed and widest at the occiput. These little dogs have well defined stops and their muzzles are nicely in proportion to their heads, tapering neatly to a small, round and black nose. Their lips are firm, tight and also black in colour to match their nose.



Their eyes are a nice oval shape and moderate in size being dark in colour and set obliquely on a dog's head boasting nice black eye rims. Ears are triangular in shape and small being set high and which dogs hold erect, facing forward. The Japanese Spitz has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. They have strong, moderately long, arched necks and sloping shoulders with strong, straight front legs.



Chests are deep and broad with dogs boasting well sprung ribs and a belly that's slightly tucked up. Their back is short, but straight while at the same time being flexible. Loins are firm, broad with a slight rise to a dog's croup. Their tails are set high and nicely plumed with dogs carrying them over their backs. Hindquarters are nicely proportioned and well balanced, being well-muscled with dogs having strong back legs and very cat-like, well cushioned feet and dark nails.



When it comes to their coat, the Japanese Spitz boasts a double coat with the outer one being straight, standing off a dog's body. Their undercoat is much denser and shorter being softer to the touch. Hair is short on a dog's face, their ears and on the front of both their front and back legs whereas the it's longer on a dog's body. The Japanese Spitz has a nice mane of hair around their necks which reaches down to the brisket and their tails are well covered with thick, long hair too. The accepted breed colour is pure white with no other colour being permitted.


Temperament


The Japanese Spitz is a feisty, playful and alert little dog and one that over time has proved to be highly adaptable to many lifestyles. They adore being part of a family and involved in everything that goes on in a household. They form very strong bonds with their families although they can be a little reserved when they are around strangers. With this said, a Japanese Spitz would rarely show any sort of aggressive behaviour towards people they have never met before, preferring to just keep their distance. Because they are so alert by nature, these little dogs are hyper-sensitive to their surroundings and will soon let an owner know when there are any strangers about.


Intelligence / Trainability


The Japanese Spitz is an intelligent dog and there's nothing they like more than to please. However, their training has to be consistent and always fair. In the right hands, these little dogs love to learn new things and they are quick to pick things up, loving nothing more than to take part in all sorts of canine sports which includes things like flyball and agility.



They are known to be quite sensitive by nature and as such do not respond well to any sort of harsh correction of heavy handed training methods which would not achieve good results. They do answer very well to kind and gentle positive reinforcement training and love the one-to-one interaction they get with their owners during a training session which is one of the reasons they excel at many canine sporting activities.


Children and Other Pets


These little dogs love being in a home environment and seem to have an affinity with children. They are generally very good with kids of all ages and will happily play games with them. However, they can become a little over-protective especially if there are any children visiting a household they do not know. As such any interaction between the kids and dogs has to be supervised by an adult to make sure things stay nice and calm.



When well socialised from a young age, the Japanese Spitz gets on well with other dogs and if they have grown up with other pets and small animals in a household, they will generally get on well together. However, care has to be taken when they are around any small animals, pets and cats they don’t already know.


Health


The average life expectancy of a Japanese Spitz is between 12 and 15 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.



Like so many other breeds, the Japanese Spitz is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these active and good looking dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:




  • Patellar luxation

  • Runny eyes

  • Allergies - especially when stressed or from long grass


Caring for a Japanese Spitz


As with any other breed, a Japanese Spitz needs to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.


Grooming


A Japanese Spitz is quite high maintenance when it comes to keeping their coats tidy and their skin in good condition. With this said, it's best to set up a weekly grooming programme and to stick to it rather than to give a dog a quick once over several times a week. With this said, when puppies shed their coats ready for their stronger, white coats to grow through, dogs may need more frequent grooming to keep on top of things.



These dogs benefit from being seen by a professional dog groomer several times a year, which makes keeping their coats tidy and looking good in between visits to a grooming parlour that much easier and less time consuming. It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.


Exercise


The Japanese Spitz is a lively, little dog and they really do need to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation to be truly happy, well-rounded characters. This means a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes a day and ideally, they need to be allowed to run-free as much as possible off their leads. The great thing about the Japanese Spitz is that if their coats get dirty, these little dogs wash themselves much like cats.



A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must. However, as previously mentioned these dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape out and get into all sorts of trouble.



With this said, Japanese Spitz puppies should not be given too much exercise because their joints and bones are still growing and too much pressure on them could result in causing a dog a few problems later on in their lives. They should not be allowed to jump up or off furniture nor should they be allowed to run up and down the stairs because this puts too much pressure on their still growing and therefore fragile joints and limbs.


Feeding


If you get a Japanese Spitz puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.



Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.


Average Cost to keep/care for a Japanese Spitz


If you are looking to buy a Japanese Spitz, you would need to pay anything from £200 to over £500 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Japanese Spitz in northern England would be £18.77 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £41.22 a month (quote as of May 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed.



When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £20 - £30 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Japanese Spitz and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over a £600 a year.



As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Japanese Spitz would be between £50 to £80 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree puppy.


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