The Japanese Chin – Your Ultimate Breed Information Guide 

An ancient dog commonly compared to a feline in temperament, the Japanese Chin is certainly a breed worth learning about. If you’re on the hunt for a canine companion bred purely as a lapdog, look no further than this tiny, spirited little ball of fur.

Of course, the Japanese Chin is not the best dog for everyone. Keep reading to find out if the Japanese Chin dog would be right for you.


What Is The Japanese Chin?

Pic 1 a black and white Japanese chin outside
The Japanese Chin is a small toy dog breed who was bred for companionship. 

The Japanese Chin is an ancient little dog bred specifically for companionship. He belongs to the toy group and is small, agile, and clever. Known for his stunning coat and charming disposition, the Japanese Chin makes a wonderful companion for families with older, more respectful children, singles and seniors.

Though small, the Japanese Chin requires a certain amount of maintenance when it comes to grooming, exercise, training and care. He can also suffer from some serious health concerns that potential owners should be aware of, but we will cover that further down.

For now, let’s talk more about the Japanese Chin dog’s history.

Where Does The Japanese Chin Come From?

Pic 2 a japanese chin on a queens lap
Originating in China, the Japanese Chin is a dog of Royal roots who was beloved as a companion dog for centuries. 

Like many ancient breeds, the Japanese Chin has somewhat of a muddy history. Some historians believe he began in Korea, but most insist his roots are derived from China. In fact, it is widely believed that the Japanese Chin and the Pekingese (another dog that has a flat face and profuse coat) were once the same breed. But the Japanese Chin branched off to become his own breed with unique and distinguishing characteristics all his own.

Notable differences include the Japanese Chin’s longer legs, less fluffy coat, and more compact body. It is believed that the first Chin dogs were given as gifts by Chinese emperors to the Japanese, who then worked to perfect this breed, building him into the canine we know and love today.

Like many small Japanese dog breeds, the Japanese Chin was bred specifically for his small size and flattened face. His coat was something of extravagance during his reign as a royal pup, and his only job was to serve as a loyal and loving companion.

The Japanese Chin of today remains a beloved lap dog, excelling in show and sports like agility and obedience.

What Are The Japanese Chin Temperament And Personality Traits Like?

Pic 3 a Japanese chin with his tongue out
These dogs are charming, sweet and affectionate, though they can also be stubborn. 

Because he was bred primarily for companionship, the Japanese Chin can have somewhat of an aloof, stubborn temperament. In fact, fanciers often joke that you do not train a Japanese Chin but that the Japanese Chin trains you.

Of course, this is part of the dog’s charm. He is a loving and friendly companion to his family, and becomes very bonded to his people. As such, the Japanese Chin can be prone to suffering from separation anxiety.

For this reason, the Japanese Chin will do best in homes with owners who have flexible schedules and can devote lots of time and attention to this dog.

The Japanese Chin can get along well with children and other pets, though he will not tolerate young children handling him too roughly. While he is a spirited and playful dog, he can be at risk of injury from larger pets or more handsy kids, so keep this in mind.

Children should also be taught how to properly behave around pets in the home to ensure everyone gets along happily and safely.

Due to his small size and attentive nature, the Japanese Chin makes an excellent addition to families who live in apartments or smaller spaces. It does not take much to make sure his exercise needs are met, and he will enjoy spending most of his time snuggled on your lap or at your feet.

This is a dog who is also often compared to a feline in his meticulous habits. Of course, one can’t blame this dog for his prideful nature, considering he was bred and raised by royalty.

What Are The Exercise and Training Requirements For A Japanese Chin?

Pic 4 a Japanese chin laying down
This little dog requires a moderate amount of exercise, making him ideal for apartment living. 

Though the Japanese Chin is small and rather content lounging around wherever his humans are, that is not to say he does not require routine exercise. He is an active dog who will still enjoy a walk once a day, though it doesn’t need to be long or brisk.

A slow, routine stroll through the neighborhood should suffice, with lots of sniff time and exploring at a leisurely pace. The Japanese Chin will also enjoy playtime at a dog park with other dogs his size, or romps with other small doggy companions in a backyard, so long as the play is gentle and on his own terms.

That said, this is a dog who is highly stubborn and has been known to have “selective hearing”. For this reason, it’s best to always walk your Japanese Chin with a leash and harness to ensure he stays safe and with you.

Socialization and training at an early age is a must when it comes to the Japanese Chin, especially considering that this tiny dog can be prone to stubborn behaviors. The Japanese Chin can also be standoffish with strangers and prone to anxiety, so it’s important to try and socialize him early to help ease these anxious behaviors.

To properly socialize your Japanese Chin, it’s wise to introduce him to as many new people, places and experiences as possible. Try to ensure these experiences are positive for your Chin, and never force him into an experience that obviously frightens him.

When training your Japanese Chin, be patient and use lots of positive reinforcement. This is a dog who, while stubborn, is still eager to please and will enjoy fun training sessions that are kept short and interesting.

Avoid punishing or scolding your Chin during training, as he will quickly shut down and become uninterested.

What Does A Japanese Chin Look Like?

Pic 5 a diagram of the Japanese Chin
Small, long-legged, and proportionate, the Japanese Chin is a beautiful dog with a silky coat. 

Japanese Chin enthusiasts and dog lovers alike will agree that the Japanese Chin is a head-turning toy breed. His plush coat, flattened face, and expressive eyes make for a beautiful dog.

Though small, he is hard to miss. See for yourself.

Japanese Chin Height: 8 to 11 Inches

Japanese Chin Weight: 7 to 11 Lbs

Japanese Chin Coat Color: Sable and white, tri-color, black and white, lemon and white, red and white

Coat Types: Long, flowing, silky and shedding

Hypoallergenic Coat: No

Overview of The Japanese Chin:

The Japanese Chin is a shedding dog, so if you’re looking for a hypoallergenic dog ideal for allergy sufferers, this is not the dog for you.

Though he can look similar to other flat-faced toy breeds, the Japanese Chin has some notable differences that make him stand out. He has a compact, proportionate body with long ears, a long tail, and long legs.

He has a graceful build with a flowing coat that is not too dense or thick, but instead silky and soft. His eyes are bright, inquisitive and expressive, with an almost human-like gaze.

How Do You Groom A Japanese Chin?

Pic 6 a smiling Japanese Chin
So long as brushing is kept up, overall grooming should be easy. 

Because of his long, silky coat, the Japanese Chin is often assumed to be somewhat high-maintenance when it comes to grooming. Surprisingly, this is not true. Infact, when grooming is kept up, the overall grooming care for the Chin is relatively easy.

He will need routine grooming and brushing at least a few times a week and bathing only once a month, unless he gets particularly dirty. He will also need his ears checked and cleaned routinely to keep them free of buildup and debris, and to keep ear infections at bay.

The Japanese Chin will fruther need his nails trimmed or ground down regularly, and perhaps more often than some other breeds as they grow quite quickly. Like many toy breeds, the Japanese Chin can also be prone to suffering from dental issues and tooth loss, so special care should be taken to ensure his teeth are healthy.

We suggest keeping up with routine dental checkups and brushing his teeth at least twice a day after meals using a quality dog toothbrush and toothpaste.

Japanese Chin Health Issues

Pic 7 a Japaense Chin on hardwood floors
Like all dogs, the Japanese Chin can be prone to genetic health issues. 

The Japanese Chin has a lifespan of around 10-12 years. Like all dogs, the Japanese Chin can be prone to suffering from genetic health issues that any potential owner should be aware of. These issues include:

  • Cataracts
  • Luxating Patella
  • Heart umers
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Allergies
  • Collapsed Trachea
  • Eye Issues and Injuries
  • Dental issues
  • And Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

According to the National Breed Club, The Japanese Chin Should undergo the following recommended health screenings:

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

You can also help combat certain health issues by ensuring your Japanese Chin maintains a healthy diet. Like all dogs, the Japanese Chin will thrive on a diet that is rich in proteins, carbs, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and water.

Whether you choose wet food, dry food or raw dog food, it’s important to steer clear of any foods that are high in fillers, additives, artificial colors, by-products, corn, soy and wheat. If you choose to make your own dog food at home, we suggest speaking with your vet first to ensure you add all the nutrients your specific Japanese Chin needs to thrive.

When it comes to the Japanese Chin specifically, the best dog food will be dog food that is rich in DHA, which can help increase coat and skin health. You might also consider a dog food that is hypoallergenic, as the Japanese Chin can be prone to suffering from allergies.

The Japanese Chin should also eat dog food that is specified for his particular age, weight and activity level.

Along with a proper diet, keeping up with routine exercise and proper grooming habits will further help increase your Japanese Chin dog’s overall health and vitality.

Pros And Cons Of Owning A Japanese Chin

Pic 8 a Japanese Chin with a toy
Though playful and affectionate, the Japanese Chin can be prone to injury if handled too roughly. 

The Japanese Chin is an amazing dog for the right family, but that doesn’t mean he’s the perfect dog for everyone. Like all dogs, there are pros and cons that come with owning a Japanese Chin, and you should consider these pros and cons before choosing to invest in this tiny, charming dog.


  • They are incredibly intelligent
  • Japanese Chin dogs are charming and entertaining
  • They are relatively healthy dogs
  • Grooming is generally moderate when kept up
  • These are typically not very expensive dogs to keep
  • The Japanese Chin does well with older children and smaller pets
  • This is a dog who is excellent for apartment living
  • He makes a wonderful companion for seniors and retirees
  • His exercise needs are moderate and easy to maintain


  • The Japanese Chin can be prone to separation anxiety
  • He can be difficult to housetrain because of his small size
  • The Japanese Chin can be prone to injury if handled too roughly
  • His coat can be prone to mats if not brushed often enough
  • The Japanese Chin can be prone to early dental disease
  • Training can be challenging
  • These dogs can be stubborn and aloof with strangers

Ideal Home Type

Pic 9 a japanese chin being held
Japanese Chins make excellent companions for seniors, retirees, or those who work from home.

Because of their small size, the Japanese Chin is an adaptable companion to many different households. He does not require large spaces or yards to run and play, and most of his exercise needs can be met inside the home simply following you from one room to another.

That said, he will do best with owners who are able to be home often simply to cuddle and hold him. He can be prone to suffering from separation anxiety, as his only purpose in life is to be with his people.

He will struggle being left alone too often and can thus develop anxiety and destructive behaviors, so owners should consider this if they have a busy schedule. Unfortunately, since the Japanese Chin is so bonded with his people and tends to be aloof with strangers, investing in dog walkers or doggy daycare may not help ease his anxiety.

The ideal owner will work from home or will be able to bring their dog to work with them. Or, they will be able to pop in and out of home often to check on their Japanese Chin. This is one of the reasons Japanese Chin dogs do so well with reiterates.

Japanese Chin dogs also enjoy children and other pets, but can become injured easily due to their small size, as we mentioned above. For this reason, we recommend homes with older, more respectful children and smaller pets like toy dogs or cats.

Choosing A Japanese Chin Puppy Or Rescue – Tips On Finding The Healthiest Japanese Chin Possible

Pic 10 a Japanese Chin Puppy
Japanese Chin puppies can be somewhat expensive, especially when going through a reputable breeder. 

Although the Japanese Chin is a relatively healthy dog overall, he can be prone to some serious and sometimes devastating health issues. You can combat these issues by ensuring you get your Japanese Chin from a reputable source.

When going through a breeder, make sure you go through a certified breeder who has a background in the Japanese Chin breed. Most reputable breeders will be able to offer you health certificates proving their dogs have been health screened and are free of any serious health issues prone to the breed.

You might also be able to get a look at your Japanese Chin’s mother dog, which can give you an idea of what your Chin will grow up to look and behave like.

On average, Japanese Chin puppies from a reputable breeder cost between $1,500 and $2,500, but this price can vary depending on the breeder and the Japanese Chin parent breeds. This price can also be greater if your Japanese Chin puppy is show quality.

It’s very important not to go through unqualified sources to try and find a bargain puppy, as this could make you an unwitting supporter of puppy mills. Doing so may also raise your chances of ending up with a sick puppy, which can cost you more money down the road anyway.

Steer clear of unqualified online breeders or backyard sellers, and instead consider going through a reputable shelter or rescue to find a less expensive Japanese Chin.

There are plenty of benefits of going through a shelter or rescue to adopt a dog. Furthermore, adopting a dog is usually a fraction of the price of buying from a breeder, and many shelters even offer free initial vet visits.

The Top 5 Products Every Japanese Chin Owner Needs

Pic 11 a happy Japanese Chin running
A companion dog at heart, your Japanese Chin will need special care and attention to help him feel loved. 

If you have decided that the Japanese Chin is the right dog for you and your lifestyle, then congratulations are in order. This is certainly a wonderful canine, and we couldn’t be more excited for you. Because the Japanese Chin is a small dog with a unique temperament, he will thrive with certain products.

We have listed some of our favorite products below to help you and your Japanese Chin start off on the right foot. Take a look!

Groomer’s Best Small Slicker Brush

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Though your Japanese Chin dog doesn’t require much in the way of grooming (so long as routine grooming needs are consistently met), he will still need routine brushing. We like the above small slicker brush because it is designed specifically for smaller dogs.

It is gentle on your dog’s skin and hair and will not rip through any mats you might come across. It helps to gently detangle longer, silkier fur, and keep the skin and coat healthy overall.

The brush was developed by professional groomers and is excellent for reducing excess shedding while also helping promote and distribute your dog’s natural oils. This helps overall with your Japanese Chin dog’s overall health and appearance.

Gonicc Dog Nail Clippers

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All dogs need their nails trimmed on a routine basis, but the Japanese Chin may require his nails to be trimmed more often than others. This can become pricey, especially if you end up taking him to the groomers a few times a month. Instead, we suggest learning how to trim your Japanese Chin dog’s nails on your own.

The above nail clippers are easy to use and even include a safety guard so you do not cut the nails too short. The tool is professional-grade and will save you time and money on this one essential process.

It also includes a small nail file, which can help grind down sharper nails between clippings.

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Small Breed Dog Food

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Small breed dogs like the Japanese Chin need to eat dog food that is specified for their size. Toy breeds specifically have a faster metabolism than large breed dogs and need dog food that is higher in calories.

The above dog food by Blue Buffalo is specified for small breed dogs and is designed to support a healthy digestion as well as skin and coat health. The kibbles are also designed for easier pick up and chewing, which is especially helpful for flatter-faced dogs like the Japanese Chin, who can struggle with eating round kibble.

Pupteck No Pull Small Dog Harness

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Smaller dogs like the Japanese Chin can be more susceptible to tracheal collapse, especially if pressure is put on their throats. For this reason, it’s important to walk them on harnesses that are safe and fitted for their bodies. The above no-pull harness by Pupteck is designed for a comfortable fit and will reduce your dog’s natural urge to pull, in turn keeping him safer on walks.

This harness also includes an ID tag in case your dog ever gets off leash, which is especially helpful when dealing with more stubborn dogs like the Japanese Chin. The harness also comes with reflective straps for safer nighttime walking.

Calming Dog Bed

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Last, we have listed a calming dog bed for your Japanese Chin. The above bed is famous for its unique donut shape, which helps your dog feel safe and cuddled while you are away. It is also self-warming, and helps reduce anxiety and stress.

These types of beds are ideal for dogs who are prone to suffering from separation anxiety. They are also machine washable and can be ordered in multiple sizes and colors, depending on your needs.

And there you have it – everything you should know about the Japanese Chin dog.

We hope this has been a helpful guide on the Japanese Chin and that you were able to decide if this would be the right dog for you and your lifestyle. If you have decided to get a Japanese chin, or if you are already the proud owner of one, we would love to hear from you!

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