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  • Temperament: Independent, Curious, Reserved
  • Height: 11-13 inches
  • Weight: 5-10 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 12-15 years
  • Group: Foundation Stock Service

    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.

Breed Standard
Japanese Terrier standing in three-quarter view.
Japanese Terrier sitting in profile looking up.
Japanese Terrier sitting in three-quarter view.
Japanese Terrier running in water.

About the Japanese Terrier

Japanese Terriers are a small, highly-intelligent breed full of terrier temperaments. They are independent, active, crisp, and lively. As one-person dogs, they are often reserved with strangers. Keen and alert, Japanese Terriers will hear the slightest noise and give warning of any stranger. He has no issue with respectful children and other dogs. As a sporting terrier and versatile, eager-to-learn dog, he has great athleticism and inborn instincts.

Breed Contact:

Kisaki Nakatsukasa


Japanese Terrier puppy walking in the grass.

Find a Puppy: Japanese Terrier

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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.



The Japanese Terrier should do well on 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.


The Japanese Terrier’s short-haired, smooth coat requires minimal care. A weekly brushing with a soft brush or hound glove will keep his coat healthy and glossy, with an occasional bath only as needed. His ears should be regularly inspected for dirt or buildup of excess wax and cleaned if needed with soft gauze and an ear-cleaning solution. The nails should be trimmed often, keeping them short and neat, as overly long nails can cause the dog discomfort. Teeth should be brushed daily if possible, using a toothpaste formulated for dogs.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Weekly Brushing




Japanese Terriers have moderate exercise needs. They require a couple of good walks or daily sessions in a fenced-in yard every day to maintain his mental and physical health. They enjoy activity but are also quite happy to curl up on the couch next to their owner. Due to their high trainability and versatility they can do well in a wide range of canine activities such as obedience, rally, and agility competitions.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise


The Japanese Terrier is extremely intelligent and trainable, although some can be stubborn and determined at times. Due to their high independence, training needs to be started early. Early socialization and puppy training classes with positive, reward-based training with gentle but firm corrections are highly recommended. A trainer who is terrier and primitive breed savvy are also recommended. Equally at home in the city or country, they are best kept in a fenced yard or on a lead, as they can eagerly run off. While they are one of the calmest of the terrier breeds, they are nevertheless high-energy dogs who require mental and physical exercises.


May be Stubborn
Eager to Please


Reserved with Strangers


Japanese Terriers are generally healthy dogs and responsible breeders test their stock for health conditions such as patellar luxation and Legg-Calve-Perthes disease. Their teeth should be brushed often, using a toothpaste designed for dogs. Regular visits to the vet for checkups and parasite control help to ensure your dog has a long, healthy life.

Recommended Health Tests:
● Patella Evaluation
● Legg-Calve-Perthes disease

Japanese Terrier sitting outdoors.
Two Japanese Terriers on leash.


Around 1700, during the Edo Era, a small terrier-type dog was created in Japan. This dog was a result of an out-cross breeding from a primitive type of English Smooth Fox Terrier and Japanese native small breeds. The Smooth Fox Terrier was brought to the country by Dutch sailors from the Netherlands to Nagasaki, Japan. After several generations, the offsprings of the small terrier-type dogs were bred to some sort of Italian Greyhounds.
By the 1900s, at the end of the Meiji Era, some of these best dogs were seen in the Kobe streets, and were called the “Kobe Terriers”. The appearance of these “Kobe Terriers” was like a mix of the modern Smooth Fox Terriers and the Japanese Terriers. These dogs were the first terrier-type dogs to be bred in Japan. The dogs had several names like “Oyuki Terriers” and “Mikado Terriers”, and were kept by the Japanese as well as some foreigners.
Around 1916, in the Nada ward near Kobe, a dog named “Kuro” meaning “black” in Japanese was born from an out-cross breeding from English Toy Terriers and a Toy Bull Terrier both imported from the Western countries. With careful selections of the breeding pairs out of these offsprings and the “Kobe Terriers”, a very short-haired, slim, small terrier type dog was born which are today known as the Japanese Terriers. By 1930, their work with the breed helped develop a standard and was finally recognized by the Japan Kennel Club. The Japanese Terriers did not become widespread until 1940, when they were seen in most major Japanese cities. The demand for this breed skyrocketed when these cities demanded for a small, more active dog than large watch-dogs. However, the breed faced two instances throughout its history where they faced extinction later on: first during World War II, and then around 1948 when the Western breeds became more fashionable.

Did You Know?

The Japanese Terrier was accepted into the Foundation Stock Service in October 2020.
Japanese Terriers are the only terrier breed that originated from Japan.
Another name for Japanese Terriers is Nihon Teria.
Japanese Terriers were said to be in charge of catching mice on merchant ships.
The Japanese Terrier is an extremely rare breed, with only a handful of breeders in the world.
The Japanese Terrier’s personality is a mix of terrier and primitive breeds, making it a better choice for experienced dog owners.

The Breed Standard

Colors & Markings


Description Standard Colors Registration Code
White Check Mark For Standard Color 199
Black Tan & White Check Mark For Standard Color 030


Description Standard Markings Registration Code
Black Spots Check Mark For Standard Mark 080
Tan Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 012
Black Markings Check Mark For Standard Mark 002
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