Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Japanese Spitz
Average Cost to keep/care for a Japanese Spitz
Breed Specific Buying Advice
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. As such, the breed is fast becoming one of the more popular dogs whether kept as companions or family pets. The Japanese Spitz is also one of the more popular breeds in the showring.
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 where they were bred to be smaller and smaller with the end result being the dogs we see today. The breed was created using other spitz-type dogs although some people believe they might have Samoyed in their ancestry too.
It was during the 1920's and the 1930's that the Japanese Spitz was further developed in Japan, buy the first dogs arrived in America, Australia, Canada and China in 1918. There is some belief that these are the dogs that formed the foundation stock of the modern Japanese Spitz and it was not until 1981 that the breed was officially recognised by The Kennel Club.
Today, the breed is not as well-known in the UK as other breeds and their numbers remain quite low with fewer than 200 Japanese Spitz being registered with the Kennel Club every year. As such, although not a vulnerable breed, these charming dogs are quite hard to find and are therefore thought to be rare in the UK. With this said, over recent years, more Japanese Spitz 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 now firm favourites with judges and spectators at dog shows too.
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 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 shaped 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 for Kennel Club registration is as follows:
When a Japanese Spitz moves, they do so with a nimble, active, energetic and light gait always maintaining a smoothness throughout.
The Kennel Club frowns on any exaggerations or departures from the breed standard and would judge the faults on how much they affect a dog's overall health and wellbeing as well as their ability to perform.
Males should have both testicles fully descended into their scrotums and it is worth noting that a dog can be a little lighter or heavier as well as slightly taller or shorter than set out in the Kennel Club breed standard which is only given as a guideline.
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.
Japanese Spitz are a good choice for first time dog owners because they are so amenable and people-oriented, loving nothing more than to please and to entertain their families. They are particularly good with young children and older people too although playtime can get a bit boisterous at times.
Japanese Spitz are very social by nature and it can be quite hard to differentiate on whether a dog wants to play with an animal they meet or whether their prey drive has kicked in and sees them wanting to give chase instead. As such, care should always be taken as to where and when a dog can run off the lead, more especially if there are wild animals or livestock close by.
Japanese Spitz have a very playful side to their natures and love to entertain and be entertained. They are known to be a little mischievous and quickly learn what pleases and owner so they get their own way.
The Japanese Spitz is a highly adaptable dog and providing they are given enough daily physical exercise combined with as much mental stimulation to prevent boredom from setting in, they are just as happy living in an apartment as they are living in a house in the country with a secure back garden.
Although a Japanese Spitz forms strong ties with their families, in general they do not mind being left on their own providing it is never for too long. Like any other breed, if left to their own devices for extended periods of time, a Japanese Spitz would quickly find new ways of keeping themselves entertained which could include barking incessantly and being destructive around the home.
The Japanese Spitz is known to like the sound of their own voice a little too much which can turn into a problem if not gently corrected early on in a dog's life. With this said, some dogs just cannot resist barking for the sake of it anyway.
Most Japanese Spitz love swimming and will take to the water whenever they can more especially when the weather is hot. However, if anyone who owns a dog that does not like water should never force them to go in because it would just end up scaring them. With this said, care should always be taken when walking a Japanese Spitz off the lead anywhere near more dangerous watercourses just in case a dog decides to leap in and then needs rescuing because they cannot get out of the water on their own.
A Japanese Spitz is a natural when it comes to protecting the things they love. They are always on the alert and ready to let owners know when strangers are about or when something they don't like is going on around them.
The Japanese Spitz is an intelligent dog and there's nothing they like more than to please. However, their training must 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, obedience and agility. The Japanese Spitz has also become a popular breed in the showring.
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.
Japanese Spitz puppies are very cute and it is all too easy to spoil them when they first arrive in their new homes. As such, rules and boundaries must be laid down so that a puppy understands what an owner expects of them. It also helps establish a pecking order and who is the "alpha dog" in a household something that should be done as early as possible. All dogs, including the Japanese Spitz need to know their place in the pack which helps them mature into well-balanced and nicely behaved adult dogs. The first commands a puppy should be taught are as follows:
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 must 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 should be taken when they are around any small animals, pets and cats they don’t already know.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
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:
Japanese Spitz puppies would have been given their initial vaccinations before being sold, but it is up to their new owners to make sure they have their follow-up shots in a timely manner with the vaccination schedule for puppies being as follows:
There has been a lot of discussion about the need for dogs to have boosters. As such, it's best to talk to a vet before making a final decision on whether a dog should continue to have annual vaccinations which are known as boosters.
A lot of vets these days recommend waiting until dogs are slightly older before spaying and neutering them which means they are more mature before undergoing the procedures. As such they advise neutering males and spaying females when they are between the ages of 6 to 9 months old and sometimes even when a dog is 12 months old.
Other vets recommend spaying and neutering dogs when they are 6 months old, but never any earlier unless for medical reasons. With this said, many breeds are different and it is always advisable to discuss things with a vet and then follow their advice on when a dog should be spayed or neutered.
Like other breeds, a Japanese Spitz can gain weight when spayed or neutered and it's important to keep an eye on a dog's waistline just in case they do. If a dog starts to put on weight it's important to adjust their daily calorie intake and to up the amount of exercise they are given. Older dogs too are more prone to gaining weight and again it's essential they be fed and exercised accordingly because obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years. The reason being that it puts a lot of extra strain on a dog's internal organs including the heart which could prove fatal.
Some Japanese Spitz are prone to suffering from allergies and it's important for a dog to see a vet sooner rather than later if one flares up, bearing in mind that grass and other pollens can be the trigger. Allergies can be notoriously hard to clear up and finding the triggers can be challenging. With this said, a vet would be able to make a dog with an allergy more comfortable while they try to find out the triggers which could include the following:
All responsible Japanese Spitz breeders would ensure that their stud dogs do not suffer from luxating patellar to prevent their offspring from developing this painful condition too.
Apart from the standard breeding restrictions for all Kennel Club registered breeds, there are no other breed specific breeding restrictions for the Japanese Spitz.
For the moment, there are no veterinary DNA tests or screening schemes available for the Japanese Spitz under an Assured Breeder Scheme. Prospective owners should, however, discuss health issues with breeders and make sure that parent dogs do not suffer from luxating patella, a painful condition they could pass on to their offspring.
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.
Japanese Spitz puppies are boisterous and full of life which means it's essential for homes and gardens to be puppy-proofed well in advance of their arrival. A responsible breeder would have well socialised their puppies which always leads to more outgoing, confident and friendly dogs right from the word go. With this said, any puppy is going to feel vulnerable when they leave their mother and littermates which must be taken into account. The longer a puppy can remain with their mother, the better although it should never be for too long either.
It's best to pick a puppy up when people are going to be around for the first week or so which is the time needed for a puppy to settle in. Puppy-proofing the home and garden means putting away any tools and other implements that a boisterous puppy might injure themselves on. Electric wires and cables must be put out of their reach because puppies love chewing on things. Toxic plants should be removed from flowerbeds and the home too.
Puppies need to sleep a lot to grow and develop as they should which means setting up a quiet area that's not too out of the way means they can retreat to it when they want to nap and it's important not to disturb them when they are sleeping. It's also a good idea to keep "playtime" nice and calm inside the house and to have a more active "playtime" outside in the garden which means puppies quickly learn to be less boisterous when they are inside.
The documentation a breeder provides for a puppy must have all the details of their worming date and the product used as well as the information relating to their microchip. It is essential for puppies to be wormed again keeping to a schedule which is as follows:
There are certain items that new owners need to already have in the home prior to bringing a new puppy home. It's often a good idea to restrict how much space a puppy plays in more especially when you can't keep an eye on what they get up to bearing in mind that puppies are often quite boisterous which means investing in puppy gates or a large enough playpen that allows a puppy the room to express themselves while keeping them safe too. The items needed are therefore, as follows:
All puppies are sensitive to noise including Japanese Spitz puppies. It's important to keep the noise levels down when a new puppy arrives in the home. TVs and music should not be played too loud which could end up stressing a small puppy out, it could even mean they end up being shy and timid as they mature.
As previously mentioned, Japanese Spitz puppies would have been given their first vaccinations by the breeders, but they must have their follow up shots which is up to their new owners to organise. The vaccination schedule for puppies is as follows:
When it comes to boosters, it's best to discuss these with a vet because there is a lot of debate about whether a dog really needs them after a certain time. However, if a dog ever needed to go into kennels, their vaccinations would need to be fully up to date.
Older Japanese Spitz need lots of special care because as they reach their golden years, they are more at risk of developing certain health concerns. Physically, a dog's muzzle may start to go grey, but there will be other noticeable changes too which includes the following:
Living with a Japanese Spitz in their golden years means taking on a few more responsibilities, but these are easily managed and should include taking a look at their diet, the amount of exercise they are given, how often their dog beds need changing and keeping an eye on the condition of their teeth because there could be dental problems that need veterinary attention.
Older Japanese Spitz need to be fed a good quality diet that meets their needs at this stage of their lives all the while keeping a close eye on a dog's weight. A rough feeding guide for older dogs is as follows bearing in mind they should be fed highly digestible food that does not contain any additives:
Older dogs don't need to be given the same amount of daily exercise as a younger dog, but they still need the right amount of physical activity to maintain muscle tone and to prevent a dog from putting on too much weight. All dogs need access to fresh clean water and this is especially true of older dogs when they reach their golden years because they are more at risk of developing kidney disorders.
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 builds 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.
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 must 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 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.
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.
Puppies need to be fed a highly nutritious, good quality diet for them to develop and grow as they should. As a rough guide, a Japanese Spitz puppy can be fed the following amounts every day making sure their meals are evenly spread out throughout the day and it's best to feed them 3 or 4 times a day:
Once a puppy is 11 months old they can be fed adult dog food.
Once fully mature, an adult dog must be fed a good quality diet to ensure their continued good health. As a rough guide, an adult Japanese Spitz can be fed the following amounts every day:
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 £19.99 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £42.67 a month (quote as of December 2017). 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 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 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 healthy, well-bred Kennel Club registered pedigree Japanese Spitz puppy.
When visiting and buying any puppy or dog, there are many important things to consider and questions to ask of the breeder/seller. You can read our generic puppy/dog advice here which includes making sure you see the puppy with its mother and to verify that the dog has been wormed and microchipped.
The Japanese Spitz is becoming a very popular breed both in the UK and elsewhere in the world which means that well-bred healthy puppies can often command a lot of money. As such, with Japanese Spitz there is specific advice, questions and protocols to follow when buying a puppy which are as follows:
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