Breed of the Week - Japanese Chin

Despite the name the Japanese Chin, it is actually believed that the breed’s true origin is China. Three different scenarios exist as to how the Japanese Chin made its way to Japan. Some believe Buddhist teachers brought the dogs over in 520 A.D., while others believe that a Korean Prince bought the Chin over as a gift to the Japanese Emperor – either that or a Chinese Emperor gave a pair as a gift to the Japanese royal family. Regardless as to how they got to Japan, the Chin soon became known as the Japanese Chin, to better distinguish them from the Pekingese. The Japanese Chin is held in high regard in Japan – even to this day!

The Japanese Chin’s main purpose was (and still is today) to serve as a companion to men and women. They were used to warm the laps of Asian aristocracy and kept the ladies company in the Imperial Palace. They were only kept by nobility and only given as gifts to foreigners who had performed exceptional service to Japan. For almost 200 years, the Japanese Chin was kept away from the Western world while Japan closed itself to the outside world. Luckily, in 1854, with the signing of the Treaty of Kanagawa, they opened up their borders once again and many American forces were given these little dogs as gifts.

Originally, the Japanese Chin was registered by the American Kennel Club as the Japanese Spaniel in 1888 – but in 1977, the breed’s parent club was able to have the AKC officially change the breed’s name to the Japanese Chin.

The Chin is a small breed of dog with quite an original and aristocratic appearance. They come in a few color varieties, which consist of: black and white (probably the most common), white with lemon or red, and even black and white with tan points above the eyes. They are naturally great companions. They are extremely intelligent, playful and willful and tend to keep themselves extremely clean! They are often described as being part cat and part dog. The Chin was originally considered to be royalty in the canine world, and to this very day they continue to rule their households.

Many Japanese Chins grace us with their presence at Cherrybrook and I have to admit: they are probably some of the sweetest little dogs to ever sit up at the counter! With their charmingly large eyes, they have a darling little face which is hard to ignore! If you are considering a Japanese Chin for you or your family, be sure you understand the breed thoroughly and are willing to take on this spirited little dog.

Like many other small breeds, the Japanese Chin has few health problems, but that does not mean they are all free from them! Their adorable flattened faces can cause them to suffer from some breathing problems; this also can make them vulnerable in extreme heat! Also, because their eyes do have a slight bulge to them, they can be easily scratched which can lead to more serious complications. They can also suffer from luxating patellas, heart murmurs and some have even been known to suffer from some seasonal allergies. With that being said, they are also a common breed who has sensitivities to corn. It is important to feed your Chin (or any dog) a high quality food free of fillers to help avoid itchy, dry skin and other allergies.

Most view the biggest drawback of the Chin to be the shedding. They are a single coated breed and as long as they are brushed at least once a week and bathed about once a month – maintaining the coat tends to be more manageable. Luckily, as stated above, they are actually very clean dogs. They can even be caught grooming themselves (like a cat)! They also don’t have quite a doggy odor – so you may not have to bath your Chin that frequently. Many Chins who are kept as pet have coats which are kept much shorter than Chins who canter around the show ring. Like other breeds (bulldogs, pugs, etc.) It is important to keep the face of your Chin clean and dry. Their facial area can lock in moisture and cause eventual fungal problems. Be sure to wipe the folds of the face with something damp and then swab the folds again with something dry. Then, trimming their nails and cleaning their ears are important factors in their up keep.

Because they are such smart dogs, they do well in fields such as agility and obedience, yet they do require consistent training! The Chin is known for being a bit stubborn, but still quick to learn. They can be a bit sensitive as well, so it is important to always remain calm and patient when training your Chin. Training can sometime take a while, but in the end it is always worth it. Everyone loves a well behaved dog. Socializing them when young is always a great idea with any puppy so that they can handle new situations and people confidently. Though, most Chins tend to really be fond of people – making them great for therapy dogs!

Because they are quite small, they can do very well in apartments. They also tend to be a bit more on the quite side, which is promising when having close neighbors. However, do not let their small size fool you. They are playful and active little dogs. They will want to be stimulated and they will want to play with you! Be sure to have fun with your Chin and give him or her plenty of stimulating toys to play with! They should also get at least two long walks a day to keep them in good shape and to satisfy their migrating instinct.

The Japanese Chin is truly a great little dog and can make a great addition to any home! Be sure to speak or even meet with a responsible Chin breeder to better know the breed and even get to know some Chins yourself (you’ll love them, I guarantee it!). There are also great breed specific rescue organizations dedicated to finding Chins loving homes (which they all deserve!). A breeder or a breed specific rescue will help you decide if a Chin will be a good match for you and your home and give you even more information about this fantastic toy breed!

To better understand the breed or find a local club or breeder, be sure to also check out the Japanese Chin Club of America website.

written by Stephanie Teed

The Japanese Chin is featured on gifts, apparel, jewelry and home decor. To see all of the breed specific products available featuring the Japanese Chin, visit and click on the Shop by Breed tab.