Photo by Peter Remnemark

Japanese Chin - Breed Profile:

Origin: China, later developed in Japan
Colors: White with colored patches
Size: Small
Type of Owner: Novice
Exercise: Very little
Grooming: Extensive
Trainability: Easy to train
Combativeness: Friendly with others
Dominance: Low
Noise: Not a barker

Physical characteristics

The Japanese Chin is a dainty little spaniel with a short, broad face, and a soft, feathered coat. The body is square-shaped, solidly built, compact, yet refined. The topline is level. The front legs are straight, well-boned, with the elbows set close to the body.The forehead is quite round, prominent, with a well-defined deep stop. The skull is slightly rounded between the ears but not domed. The muzzle is short and broad with well-cushioned cheeks and rounded upper lips. The nose is very short, with wide, open nostrils. It should be black in black-and-white Chins and match the coat colour in dogs with other markings. The teeth meet in a slightly undershot bite. The eyes are expressive, protruding, dark, and almond shaped. The small V-shaped ears are pendent. The plumed tail is set high and carried arched up over the back. The gait is stylish, elegant, and lively.
The Japanese Chin's weight averages 7 pounds, with the height up to 9 inches. Smaller dogs are preferred in shows.


Amiable, lively, intelligent, and devoted. While affectionate with those it loves, this dog tends to be somewhat aloof with strangers. The Chin is generally good with other dogs and pets. Likes to be the center of attention. When this attention is not given, the dog can become jealous and moody. The Japanese Chin is considered to be more obedient than most other toy breeds, and it learns tricks more easily. Mild-mannered yet playful. Even though this dog's dominance level is rather low, make sure that you become a good pack leader, otherwise the dog may develop the "small dog syndrome" and human induced behaviour, when the animal believes its place is above the people. Chins who are allowed to be alpha dogs will develop all kinds of behaviour problems (separation anxiety, growling, snapping, guarding, etc).
Photo by Peter Remnemark

Coat and grooming

The abundant coat is straight, single, and silky. It has a resilient texture and a tendency to stand out from the body. This is most noticeable on the neck, shoulders, and chest. The hair is shorter on the muzzle and head. The ears are well-feathered. The colours can be white-and-black, white-and-red, white with black and tan markings. White with yellow, orange, sable or brindle markings is also acceptable. A clearly defined white muzzle and blaze are common (and preferred in show dogs). The tan markings are usually seen over each eye, inside the ears, on both cheeks, and at the anal vent area. Daily grooming is necessary to keep the coat in good condition.


Like all short-faced dogs, the Chin is prone to eye, respiratory problems and heat prostration. Sensitive to extremes of temperatures. Tends to wheeze and snore. Some bloodlines are prone to distemper. The lifespan is short - under 10 years.

Other interesting facts

In spite of its name, this breed's native land is China. It was later developed in Japan and introduced to Europe in 1700. Japanese Chins were used as companions for the ladies of the Imperial Palace. These dogs were literally warming the laps of Chinese aristocracy. The breed was originally called the "Japanese Spaniel" and renamed by AKC in 1977.

Differences between Pekingese and Japanese Chin

Indeed, the two breeds look very similar. There is a number of differences though. While the Japanese Chin is usually white with black patches, the Pekingese can be any colour. The face of Chins is less foreshortened than that of Pekes. Additionally, the Pekingese appears lower to the ground and weighs slightly more.