Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Japanese Chin
Average Cost to keep/care for a Japanese Chin
The Japanese Chin is a dainty little dog and one that boasts having lots of presence. They are known to be very cat-like in their behaviours which sees them washing their faces using their paws, a trait that makes them all the more endearing. Although the Chin seems delicate, they are far from having fragile personalities because they are bold, intelligent and ultra-bright which are just a few more reasons why the breed has remained such a popular companion throughout the ages both in the UK and elsewhere in the world.
It's thought the Japanese Chin first originated in China, but the breed found its way to Japan when the Empress of China offered one of these charming little dogs as a gift to the Empress of Japan. One thing that's for sure is these charming dogs boast being among one of the more ancient breeds to be found and that over the centuries they have remained highly prized. In days long past, the breed was a little different to the dogs we see today because it's thought the original Japanese Chins were crossed with smaller spaniels with an end goal being to create the much loved dogs of today.
The breed remained very much a "secret" outside of their native Japan right up until 1853 when the first foreign traders arrived in the country. The Chin soon became a sought after trading commodity and as such many of them found their way to other countries. These little dogs soon found favour with the wealthy and the nobility thanks to their charming looks and kind, gentle and devoted natures. Over time, their popularity grew with many famous people owning Japanese Chins. This included President Franklin Pierce.
Today, Chins remain a popular choice both as companions and family pets, but they are also often seen in the showring and are always a success with judges and breed enthusiasts alike. They are recognised by all the major international breed organisations which includes The Kennel Club.
Height at the withers: Males 18 - 28 cm, Females 18 - 28 cm
Average weight: Males 1.8 - 3.2 kg, Females 1.8 - 3.2 kg
The Japanese Chin has a traditional Oriental look about them. They are delicate in appearance, but quite robust by nature. They boast having an aristocratic, elegant body that's covered with a profuse amount of soft and silky hair. Their heads are on the large size in relation to the rest of their bodies with dogs boasting broad, skulls that are rounded at the front as well as between their ears without being domed. They have large, black noses with wide open nostrils, although lighter coloured dogs can have lighter coloured noses to match their coats. Muzzles are short and wide being well cushioned by nicely rounded lips.
They have moderately large, dark eyes that are set wide apart on a dog's face. A little white can be seen in the inner corners of each eye which adds to their endearing looks. Their ears are V-shaped being well feathered and set wide apart and high on a dog's head. Ears are small which dogs carry a little forward. They have a level bite although some dogs have slightly undershot jaws which is acceptable. Necks are moderately long which dogs hold proudly. Their front legs are strong, straight, fine boned and well feathered right the way down to a dog's feet which adds to a Chin's slender and elegant appearance.
Chins have compact, square bodies with wide chests which gives them their "cobby" look. Their hindquarters are strong with dogs having straight back legs when seen from behind while their feet are slender and quite hare-like being feathered at the tips. Tails are set high and profusely covered in feathers which dogs hold over their backs although some dogs carry their tails plumed over their backs.
When it comes to their coat, the Japanese Chin boasts having a profuse soft, long and straight coat that ultra-silky to the touch. The hair tends to form a type of frill around a dog's neck which adds to their unique look. The accepted breed colours are as follows:
The Japanese Chin is known to be a happy, affectionate and loyal little dog that gets on with everybody which includes people, other dogs, cats and animals. They make wonderful companions and family pets being better suited to households where the children are that much older and who therefore know how to handle such small dogs. They form extremely strong ties with their owners and thrive on being involved in everything that goes on around the home. However, they can be a little shy around strangers preferring to keep their distance until they get to know someone, but rarely would a Chin show any sort of aggressive behaviour towards anyone they don't already know.
Because of their small size, they are the ideal choice of pet for people who live in apartments because they only need to be given a little in the way of daily exercise. However, because they are so smart, a Chin needs to be given a lot of mental stimulation to prevent boredom from setting in which could see dogs developing some unwanted and destructive behaviours around the home which is their way of relieving any stress they are feeling at not having something to occupy their minds.
They are known to be very sensitive little dogs which means they pick up on their owner's emotions very quickly. If everyone is being quiet around the home, a Chin would typically follow suit, but if things get lively, these little dogs would quickly join in which are just some of the reasons why they have found their way into the hearts and homes of so many people around the world.
They are very cat-like in their behaviours and will clean themselves with their paws to make sure they are looking their best. They also enjoy lying on the backs of furniture and windowsills much like their feline counterparts. They are a great choice for first time owners because there is nothing Chins enjoy more than to please and being so smart, they learn new things very quickly. They are also known to be quite talkative although they are not given to barking, preferring to chatter away with their owners and any visitors that drop by.
It's really important for these dogs to be well socialised from a young age so they grow up to be confident, outgoing mature dogs. Their socialisation has to include introducing them to lots of new situations, noises, people, other animals and dogs once they have been fully vaccinated. It's also crucial for their training to start early too and it has to be consistent throughout a dog's life. A Chin is never happier than when they know their place in the pack and who they can look to for direction and guidance. If they don't know who is the alpha dog in a household, they may quickly take on the role of dominant dog.
If they are pampered a little too much, a Chin could develop a condition known as "Small Dog Syndrome" which often sees dogs becoming neurotic and stressed out and therefore harder to handle and live with. In short, it's important not to let a Chin get away with things that larger dogs would never be allowed to do.
The Chin is a smart little dog and a fast learner. The downside to this is they are just as quick to pick up bad habits as they are the good bearing in mind they are known to be a little wilful at times. Their training has to start as soon as puppies arrive in their new home when they need to be taught the basics and boundaries. Their training also has to consistent and always fair throughout a dog’s life so they understand what their owner expects of them. Chins are never happier than when they are given something to do which is why they are so amenable to learning new things. However, they can be a little hard to housetrain which typically takes more time and a lot of patience and understanding than in other small breeds.
The key to successfully training a Chin is to make their training as interesting as possible and to avoid too much repetition. It's also a good idea to keep training sessions that much shorter which helps dogs stay more focussed on what it’s being asked of them, bearing in mind that the more intelligent a dog is, the faster they get bored. They do not answer well to harsh correction or any sort of heavy handed training methods, but they do respond extremely well to positive reinforcement which always brings the best out of these intelligent and quick witted dogs, especially when there are high value rewards involved.
Chins are generally fun-loving, charming little dogs and they make wonderful companions and family pets. However, they are not best suited to households where the children are that much younger and who therefore do not know how to handle such a small dog which in short, means they might end up accidentally injuring a dog. They are a great choice for families where the children are older though.
When dogs have been well socialised from a young enough age, they generally get on well with other dogs they meet, but care has to be taken when they are around larger dogs because of their small stature. If they have grown up with a family cat in a household, they usually get on well together. However, a Chin would think nothing of chasing off any other cats they encounter because they would see them as fair game. Care has to be taken when they are around any smaller animals and pets just to be safe.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Japanese Chin is between 10 and 12 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
The Chin 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 charming and charismatic little dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
As with any other breed, Chins need 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.
Chins have quite a profuse single coat, but they are medium maintenance on the grooming front. A daily brush is all it takes to keep things tidy and to prevent any knots or tangles from forming which rarely happens but it's best to keep an eye on things just in case. Special attention has to be paid to the longer hair on a dog's ears, legs, bellies and tails. Their eyes also need to be wiped regularly to remove any moisture that may have built up under them which could provide the perfect environment for a fungal infection to take hold.
They shed steadily throughout the year only more so during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent grooming is usually necessary to stay on top of things and to remove dead and shed hair from a dog's coat. 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, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure with ear infections.
The Japanese Chin is not a high energy dog, but they still need the right amount of exercise every day combined with as much mental stimulation as possible to prevent them from getting bored. They need around 30 minutes a day with as much off the lead time as possible in a safe and secure environment. It's also important to invest in a harness rather than use a collar on a Chin because their necks are so fragile.
If Chins are not given the right amount of mental stimulation and exercise every day, they would quickly get bored and could even begin to show some destructive behaviours around the home which is their way of relieving any stress they are feeling and not necessarily because they are being naughty.
A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must with as much off the lead time as possible. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these active, little dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape and could get into all sorts of trouble.
With this said, Chin puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious problems later in their lives.
If you get a Chin 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 eaters and it's best not to pander to them if they refuse to eat their food and to check it's not because they are ill which could mean visit to the vet. Mature dogs need to be fed 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.
If you are looking to buy a Japanese Chin, you would need to pay anything from £500 to over £600 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Chin in northern England would be £22.47 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £50.37 a month (quote as of August 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed among other things.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a dog’s life. This would set you back between £20 - £30 a month. On top of all of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Chin and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £900 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Japanese Chin would be between £50 to £90 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 well-bred puppy.
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