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The noble Japanese Chin (Chin) is a lively little dog with an aristocratic air. This small, yet solidly built dog will gaze at you with an inquisitive and intelligent expression. Check out these Japanese Chin fun facts to learn more about this sensitive and playful member of the Toy Group.

They’re Not Just a Japanese Breed

The Japanese Chin’s history can actually be found within the royal courts of both China and Japan. Small dogs traveled the Silk Road with traders many centuries ago.

Japanese Chin sitting in the grass.
©GrasePhoto -

Breed Actually Originates in China

“Japanese Chin” is an inaccurate name. The earliest origins of this breed are to be found in China, not Japan. Many historians believe that the Pekingese, which also has origins in China, was developed from the Japanese Chin, among other breeds.

In Palaces, They Were Guarded as Treasures

Within the palaces, eunuchs, whose main task was to satisfy the dogs’ every need and want, guarded the Chin. The dogs were considered valuable treasures. They could only be owned by royal families, not by peasants.

They’re a Royal Breed — And Still Act Like It

Their demeanor still reflects their royal Chin heritage. They give off a haughty air of nobility and seem quite convinced that a human’s role is still to cater to their every whim. They’ll look at the household as their domain and you as their loyal servant. But because they’re so delightful, you’ll love every minute of your service.

They Have a Lot in Common With Cats

Surprisingly, the stylish Chin shares several characteristics with cats. They are adept climbers and enjoy being on top of things. You are likely to find your Chin resting on the back of your easy chair or sofa rather than on the seat cushion. They are also cat-like in their grooming habits, and they typically wash themselves by licking their paws and rubbing them across their faces.

Best of Breed: GCHS CH Fabel-Mi Lucky Star, Japanese Chin; Toy Group judging at the 2017 AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin, Orlando, FL.
©American Kennel Club and HOTdog
Best of Breed: GCHS CH Fabel-Mi Lucky Star, Japanese Chin; Toy Group judging at the 2017 AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin, Orlando, FL.

They Are Known to ‘Snizzle’

Another unusual trait of the Chin is their tendency to snort, also known by Chin fanciers as a “snizzle.” The dog will blow hard out of their nose, resulting in a fine mist of exhalation. This isn’t the sign of a respiratory infection, but instead is due to their flat face. Reverse sneezing is also common in the Chin.

They Were Bred by Monks

Buddhist monks accepted some of these dogs as pets and, within the monastery walls, developed various types of dogs through selective mating. The monks eventually gave some of these dogs to traveling dignitaries who took them back to their Imperial Palaces.

The Japanese Chin Comes in Three Colors

The Chin’s gorgeous coat is straight, soft, and silky. According to the breed standard, they comes in either black and white, red and white, or black and white with tan points (also called tricolored). The tail is plumed, and the rear end is heavily coated into pants or culottes. The single-layered coat, with its silkiness, does not mat easily. It only requires brushing once or twice a week, although more frequent brushing when the dog is shedding will help keep things under control.

black and white historical image of a japanese chin outdoors
AKC Library and Archives
Ch. Kenwanna Tit, Japanese Chin. c. 1931

They Get Their Adult Coat Late in Life

The adult coat of the Chin doesn’t come in until the dog is more than one year old. Puppies lose a great deal of their coat between 5 and 12 months of age, so dogs in their teen months can look almost naked before things begin to fill out again.

They Are a Companion Breed

The Chin’s main purpose is to serve as your companion. Although they can be reserved with new people and new situations, they’re affectionate and good-natured with the people they know. They are easy to take care of, but make no mistake, they’re giving you permission to take care of them.
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