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Japanese Chin

Japanese Chin

The Japanese Chin is an elegant, aristocratic and compact little dog with a profuse coat. A short-faced breed they should have large eyes and open nostrils giving a appealing if slightly astonished looking expression. The soft, silky coat is long and straight.

  • Dog suitable for non-experienced owners
  • Basic training required
  • Generally healthy breed
  • Enjoys gentle walks
  • Needs under an hour of walking a day
  • Small dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming daily
  • Quiet dog
  • Barks and alerts to visitors/anything unusual
  • Could have issues with unknown dogs but gets along with known dogs
  • Gets along with other pets with training
  • May need additional supervision to live with children
  • Needs a small garden
  • Can happily live in the city
  • Can be left occasionally with training

Key Facts

Lifespan: 12-14 years
Weight:  1.8-3.2kg
Height:  20-27cm
Colours:  Black and white or red and white which includes all shades of red from
sable through to lemon. Tricolour is not permitted nor is white flecking
within the coloured markings
Size:  Small
UK Kennel Club Groups: Toy


Family-friendly: 3/5
Exercise needs: 2/5
Easy to train: 3/5
Tolerates being alone: 1/5
Likes other pets: 3/5
Energy level: 2/5
Grooming needs: 2/5
Shedding: 3/5
Japanese Chin standing in the grass


The Japanese Chin is a happy, intelligent and lively little dog. Bred to be a companion, they thrive with human company and struggle to cope with separation from their family members. Affectionate and gentle, and undemanding as far as exercise goes, they are full of character despite their tiny size.

Japanese Chin with yellow flowers

History and Origins

Country of Origin: Japan

The Japanese Chin is one of several tiny, hugely appealing toy dogs kept as companions and given as diplomatic gifts between royalty, nobility and families of high standing. Various theories exist as to their true origins, with suggestions they came from China, Korea or via traders from the West but all theories link them closely with both royalty and Eastern monastic life.  

Whatever the truth or their origins, once these dogs arrived in Japan, they were further refined, treasured and pampered. They were supposedly developed to be tiny enough to fit into the wide kimono sleeves of royal and noble ladies and as they were only permitted to be owned by nobility, at one time the theft of a Japanese Chin could incur the death penalty!  Despite being an ancient breed, they remained unknown outside of Japan for centuries and were not brough to Europe until the 17th century when they arrived with Portuguese traders and they were not shown in England until 1873. 

Health and Common Issues

The flat face of the Japanese Chin means they may be more prone to breathing problems. Over-exertion and over-heating are therefore to be avoided. Like many small dog breeds, they can suffer from kneecaps that may temporarily slip out of place (luxating patellas). Check with breed clubs for the latest health testing schemes. 

Exercise Needs

The Japanese Chin will not require much daily dog exercise, however around half an hour a day should be given, plus training and mental stimulation. This is an intelligent little breed and although exercise in very weather should be avoided due their flattened face and the breathing problems this can cause. Time should be spent on training and mental stimulation daily to keep this clever little dog’s mind active and satisfied. Most of their exercise however will be had following their beloved owner absolutely everywhere they go. 

Space Requirements

Compact and cobby, the Japanese Chin can live in small homes very happily however a secure garden is a must as these small dogs are able to slip through the tiniest of gaps. Town or country, the Japanese Chin won’t care as long as their people are always around. 

Nutrition and Feeding

Toy dogs such as the Japanese Chin have a fast metabolism, meaning they burn energy at a high rate, although their small stomachs mean that they must eat little and often. Small-breed foods are specifically designed with appropriate levels of key nutrients and smaller kibble sizes to suit smaller mouths. This also encourages chewing and improves digestion. Discover more about how to offer your dog a balanced diet with our easy-to-follow guide. 

Grooming Japanese Chin

The Japanese Chin's long coat needs brushing two or three times a week, to keep it tangle-free. Make sure the corners of the eyes are kept clean, wiping them with some damp cotton wool if necessary. Pay attention to the paws, eyes, ears and mouth and the undercarriage on males as these areas area likely to gather debris and muck. Find out more about dog grooming and daily care with our article. 

Training Japanese Chin

The Japanese Chin is perfectly capable of learning quickly and should be trained in all the useful life skills. Many enjoy learning some fun tricks as well, so make sure you add them to your dog training routine as well. Positive reinforcement using food, toys, and the opportunity to perform enjoyable behaviours will help to engage this bright little dog.  

Good socialisation with other dogs, household pets and children (along with care and management) is vital to give this small dog the confidence they need to navigate life in a world that is giant to them! 

Best Family Dog Breeds

Being small, delicate and sensitive, the Chin is better suited to older families, child-free homes or those with older sensible children. With care they can live in with a busy or quiet household as long as they can accompany their owners wherever they go as the Japanese Chin is truly a companion dog and won’t do well left alone. 

While many dogs are traditionally thought of as being good with children, all dogs and children need to be taught to get on with each other and be safe together. Even so, dogs and young children should never be left alone together and adults should supervise all interactions between them. 

did you know?

Did You Know?

  • The Japanese Chin was developed to resemble both in looks and behaviour, a cat-dog hybrid. The word ‘Chin’ means cat-like, and they have been noted for their feline-like behaviours, being remarkably silent and washing their faces with the front paws. They are also agile jumpers and deft climbers.

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