Search Menu
  • Temperament: Charming, Noble, Loving
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 108 of 194
  • Height: 8-11 inches
  • Weight: 7-11 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 10-12 years
  • Group: Toy Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Japanese Chin standing sideways facing right, head turned forward
Japanese Chin standing on a tree stump in front of a garden
Japanese Chin standing in three-quarter view
Japanese Chin standing in grass
Young Japanese Chin standing in three-quarter view

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Japanese Chin is a small, well balanced, lively, aristocratic toy dog with a distinctive Oriental expression. It is light and stylish in action. The plumed tail is carried over the back, curving to either side. The coat is profuse, silky, soft and straight. The dog’s outline presents a square appearance.

HEAD

Expression – bright, inquisitive, alert, and intelligent. The distinctive Oriental expression is characterized by the large broad head, large wide-set eyes, short broad muzzle, ear feathering, and the evenly patterned facial markings.

BODY

Square, moderately wide in the chest with rounded ribs. The depth of rib extends to the elbow. Size – Ideal size is 8 to 11 inches at the highest point of the
withers. Proportion – Length between the sternum and the buttock is equal to the height at the withers. Substance – Solidly built, compact, yet refined. Carrying good weight in proportion to height and body build.

TAIL

Set on high, carried arched up over the back and flowing to either side of the body.

LEGS

Forequarters: Legs – straight, and fine-boned, with the elbows set close to the body. Removal of dewclaws is optional. Feet – hare-shaped with feathering on the ends of the toes in the mature dog. Point straight ahead or very slightly outward.
Hindquarters: Legs – straight as viewed from the rear and fine boned. Moderate bend of stifle. Removal of dewclaws is optional. Feet – hare-shaped with feathering on the ends of the toes in the mature dog. Point straight ahead.

COAT

Abundant, straight, single, and silky. Has a resilient texture and a tendency to stand out from the body, especially on neck, shoulders, and chest areas where the hair forms a thick mane or ruff. The tail is profusely coated and forms a plume. The rump area is heavily coated and forms culottes or pants. The head and muzzle are covered with short hair except for the heavily feathered ears. The forelegs have short hair blending into profuse feathering on the backs of the legs. The rear legs have the previously described culottes, and in mature dogs, light feathering from hock joint to the foot.

1
2
3
4
5
6
Japanese Chin

About the Japanese Chin

Chin are the unrivaled noblemen of Japanese breeds. They’re tiny “indoorsy” companions, with an unmistakably Eastern look and bearing. The head is large, the muzzle short, and the round, dark eyes convey, as Chin fans like to say, a “look of astonishment.” The profuse mane around the neck and shoulders, the plumed tail arching over the back, and the pants or “culottes” on the hind legs project the elegant, exotic appearance so typical of Asia’s royal line of laptop cuddle bugs.

Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Japanese Chin

Find a Puppy: Japanese Chin

AKC Marketplace | PuppyFinder

AKC Marketplace is the only site to exclusively list 100% AKC puppies from AKC-Registered litters and the breeders who have cared for and raised these puppies are required to follow rules and regulations established by the AKC.
Find Japanese Chin Puppies

Care

NUTRITION

The Japanese Chin should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING

The long, silky coat of the Japanese Chin gives him the appearance of a high-maintenance breed, but he is surprisingly easy to maintain in top condition. He will require weekly brushing and a bath once a month or so, depending on his surroundings. The breed’s nails grow very fast and should be trimmed regularly to keep them short and neat. Their ears should be checked regularly to avoid a buildup of wax and debris that can cause ear infections, and teeth should be brushed regularly to avoid dental problems.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Weekly Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

The Japanese Chin is a fairly active little dog. He will enjoy going for slow walks with his humans, or exploring his fenced backyard. The breed is an excellent choice for apartment living. Because of their stubborn nature, it is never a good idea to allow them to outdoors off lead. If they see something they want to explore, they are likely to refuse to listen to any commands or pleas. They are a bit reserved around new people, pets, and situations, but with proper socialization will enjoy going for romps in a supervised dog park with other small dogs.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

Training a Chin can be simple for the trainer who can make them believe they are doing only the things they want to do. Bred strictly as companions for royalty, the Chin’s only job throughout the breed’s history has been to charm, amuse, and comfort their humans. They are often referred to as “catlike,” and this trait can certainly be visible during training. They react well to positive training methods, but will shut down at the first hint of harshness. Training sessions must be interesting and fun to keep their attention. They love to learn tricks to perform for their adoring public.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Independent

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Reserved with Strangers

HEALTH

The Japanese Chin is a generally healthy breed, and responsible breeders screen for health concerns such as luxating patellas (slipping kneecaps), cataracts, epilepsy, and early-onset heart murmurs. Japanese Chin can be affected by a fatal neurological condition called GM2 gangliosidosis, or Tay-Sachs disease; using a DNA test, breeders can identify carriers and plan breedings to prevent the disease from manifesting in their puppies.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Patella Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • Cardiac Exam
  • GM2 mutation DNA Test

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Japanese Chin
Japanese Chin
Japanese Chin
Japanese Chin
Japanese Chin
Japanese Chin

History

That’s a good question. Historians have long debated the breed’s beginnings. Some maintain it was a product of China; others say Korea. Various origin tales credit Buddhist monks, Chinese emperors, or European merchants with the Chin’s introduction to Japan anywhere from 500 to 1,000 years ago. But all agree that it was Japanese nobles who cultivated the breed as we know it today. Chin were unknown in the West until 1854, when Japan was reopened for trade after 200 years of isolation.

Did You Know?

In Japan, there are Inu and there are Chin: Inu are more common, working dogs, and Chin are royalty, descendents of the lapdogs of Chinese aristocracy.
The origin of the Japanese Chin is clouded in the mysticism of Far Eastern ancient rites.
If the breed has a drawback, it is that they are too smart; you cannot own a Japanese Chin, for the Japanese Chin owns you! You cannot train a Chin, for the Chin trains you! And, in the words of many…
Depictions of a breed resembling the Japanese Chin appear on ancient Chinese temples, pottery, and embroideries.
Known as the Japanese Spaniel until 1977, at which point its name was officially changed to Japanese Chin.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Japanese Chin is a small, well balanced, lively, aristocratic toy dog with a distinctive Oriental expression. It is light and stylish in action. The plumed tail is carried over the back, curving to either side. The coat is profuse, silky, soft and straight. The dog’s outline presents a square appearance.

HEAD

Expression – bright, inquisitive, alert, and intelligent. The distinctive Oriental expression is characterized by the large broad head, large wide-set eyes, short broad muzzle, ear feathering, and the evenly patterned facial markings.

BODY

Square, moderately wide in the chest with rounded ribs. The depth of rib extends to the elbow. Size – Ideal size is 8 to 11 inches at the highest point of the
withers. Proportion – Length between the sternum and the buttock is equal to the height at the withers. Substance – Solidly built, compact, yet refined. Carrying good weight in proportion to height and body build.

TAIL

Set on high, carried arched up over the back and flowing to either side of the body.

LEGS

Forequarters: Legs – straight, and fine-boned, with the elbows set close to the body. Removal of dewclaws is optional. Feet – hare-shaped with feathering on the ends of the toes in the mature dog. Point straight ahead or very slightly outward.
Hindquarters: Legs – straight as viewed from the rear and fine boned. Moderate bend of stifle. Removal of dewclaws is optional. Feet – hare-shaped with feathering on the ends of the toes in the mature dog. Point straight ahead.

COAT

Abundant, straight, single, and silky. Has a resilient texture and a tendency to stand out from the body, especially on neck, shoulders, and chest areas where the hair forms a thick mane or ruff. The tail is profusely coated and forms a plume. The rump area is heavily coated and forms culottes or pants. The head and muzzle are covered with short hair except for the heavily feathered ears. The forelegs have short hair blending into profuse feathering on the backs of the legs. The rear legs have the previously described culottes, and in mature dogs, light feathering from hock joint to the foot.

1
2
3
4
5
6
Japanese Chin

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
BLACK & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 019
LEMON & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 115
SABLE & WHITE Check Mark For Standard Color 165
WHITE & BLACK Check Mark For Standard Color 202
BLACK WHITE & TAN 034

Other Breeds to Explore