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Japan is the home and origin of several distinctive and popular dog breeds that have become in great demand across the wider world over the course of the last few decades. While all of these dogs are distinctive from each other in terms of their physical appearance, temperament and other traits, many Japanese dogs hail from the Spitz grouping, and share some common ancestral traits. The presence of Japanese dogs of various types is on the rise within the UK, and many of these distinctive and beautiful dogs can now be seen with increasing regularity both out and about on the street, and taking part in formal breed shows.
If you want to find out more about the most popular Japanese dogs or learn how to spot one when you are out and about, read on to learn more about the four most popular Japanese breeds of dog seen within the UK.
The Japanese Akita is a dog from the Spitz dog grouping, which originates from the Northern mountainous region of Japan. The original Akitas were produced in Japan, and today, the Akita dog is divided into two distinct breeds, being the Japanese Akita and the American Akita, which was exported to and developed in the USA.
The Japanese Akita shares some physical traits with the American Akita, but is available in a much narrower range of colours. The Akita also displays some physical similarities with other Spitz dogs, including the popular Siberian Husky.
The Akita is a tall, large dog with heavy bones, built to withstand very cold weather with a thick, layered coat. The Japanese Akita can be seen in red, fawn, white, brindle or sesame colouration, all of which have white markings around the cheeks, muzzle, jaw, neck, chest and tail. The tail of the Japanese Akita has the standard Spitz dog curl, and is one of the largest dogs from within the Spitz grouping.
The Japanese Chin is a small lapdog, also sometimes known as the Japanese Spaniel. They have a noble and distinctive heritage, and some bloodlines can be traced back for many generations as the dogs owned by Royalty and other prominent and noble Japanese families!
They can stand up to 11” tall at the withers, and weigh up to 15lbs, or as small as just 3lb for tiny specimens! The Japanese Chin is believed to have been the pet of choice of early Buddhist monks, as well as being well travelled and commonly seen accompanying travellers and traders on the Silk Road.
They have a very tactile, soft and silky coat, which can be seen in either black and white or red and white colours. They are also considered to be highly intelligent, alert, independent and loyal, as well as having several cat-like traits, such as the propensity to use its paws to wash its face! Small and delicate with a light bone structure and fine appearance, the Japanese Chin is now popular as a companion dog and lap dog all across the world.
The Japanese Shiba Inu is another Japanese Spitz dog, one of the six Spitz breeds that originate in Japan. Like the Japanese Akita, they were bred and developed in mountainous regions, and are very sure-footed and resilient to the cold. While the Japanese Shiba Inu shares various physical similarities in appearance with the Japanese Akita (and with other Spitz dog breeds) they are much smaller than the Akita, and rather more lightly boned.
The Japanese Shiba Inu is considered to be one of the world’s most ancient dog breeds, with a long documented history of working alongside of man in hunting roles. They still retain a strong hunting and prey drive today, and if incorrectly socialised, may be prone to aggression to other dogs and small animals.
The Shiba Inu has the typical Spitz dog appearance of pointed ears, a curly tail, alert expression and thick, warm coat, and can be seen with a red, sesame, black or tan topcoat, with a grey, buff or cream undercoat.
The Japanese Spitz is a small, cute Spitz dog that is closely related to the Pomeranian, but rather larger. The Japanese Spitz is a relatively modern breed, having been developed in Japan during the 1920’s and 1930’s as a result of selective breeding of different types of Spitz dogs to produce a small sized companion dog.
They have a distinctive, long and fluffy white coat that is one of their most appealing features, accompanied by relatively long fur, pointed ears and a gently curling tail. Despite their long, luxurious fur, they are considered to be a relatively low maintenance dog, as their coats are fine and not prone to knotting and tangling.
Like most Spitz dog types, they are well suited to dealing with the demands of cold climates and adverse weather, although today they can be seen more commonly in domestic homes as lap dogs and pets than braving the worst of the Japanese weather!
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