The Japanese Chin (aka Japanese Spaniel), is a toy breed acknowledged for its importance to Japanese nobility. The route by which the Chin arrived in Japan is a widely debated topic. One story claims the dogs were given to the Japanese royalty as gifts from the rulers of Korea in 732 AD. Some say that as early as the middle of the 6th century or by the 7th century, they were given as gifts to the Empress of Japan. Many others maintain the dog first arrived in Japan around the year 1000 AD. They were usually viewed as helper or working animals in Japan, but it is unique in that they were owned strictly for companionship. Because of their distinct appearance and personality, they eventually captured the hearts of Japanese royalty and owning one was restricted to those of royal and noble blood.
The Japanese Chin stands about 8-11 inches tall at the withers, and the average weight for one is 7-9 pounds. This dog is well balanced, lively, aristocratic, and small with a distinctive oriental expression. This distinctive expression is characterized by its large broad head, slightly rounded between its ears but is not domed. The eyes are wide-set, round, large and dark in color. The ears hang down, are small, v-shaped, wide apart, and are set slightly below the crown of the skull. The muzzle is broad and short, with well cushioned cheeks. The coat of the Japanese Chin is straight, single, silky and abundant. It possess a resilient texture and has a tendency to stand out from the body. The tail forms a plume and is profusely coated, and is set on high, and is carried arched up over the back, flowing to either side of the body. The colors of the coat are either black and white, black and white with tan points, or red and white.
This breed is cat-like in attitude. He is alert, independent, and intelligent as it uses its paws to wipe its face. They also have a preference for resting on high surfaces (also like the cat). They are loyal to their owners and are generally a friendly breed. They do well in new situations although they prefer familiar surroundings. Early socialization is recommended to ensure an emotionally well-balanced dog that is more accepting to different people and situations. They are defensive animals, and while generally quiet they will bark to announce the arrival of a visitor. AS the breed was bred for the purpose of entertaining their owners, and while generally calm, they are known for doing many tricks. One such trick is the “chin spin”, in which they turn around in circles on their hind legs, while pawing their front feet that are clasped together in the air. Some of the Chin’s can even “sing”, a noise that ranges from a low trill to an almost higher operatic noise.
The typical lifespan of the Japanese Chin is from 10-12 years, some living to 15 or more. Some common health issues within the breed are luxating patellas, cataracts, early-onset heart murmurs, hypoglycemia, and various eye problems.