Other names: Japanese Spaniel, Chin
This peculiar little dog hails not from Japan, although the breed has certainly done well there, but from China. The word ‘chin’ signifies ‘cat-like,’ and indeed this lady is one of the cattiest of dogs. The Chin climbs like a cat (if she can’t quite match the cat’s agility) and is just as likely to snooze on the the back of your sofa as on the cushion ; she grooms herself with her paws, and can even be said to have a cat-like face, through which she snorts and sneezes in a disturbing but generally harmless manner.
Key facts about the Japanese Chin
Origins and history
The Chin can trace her lineage back over hundreds of years, to when Chinese traders travelled the Silk Road with little dogs whom they would sometimes leave behind or give to the Buddhist monasteries they passed. The monks bred the animals so that they evolved into a similar creature to that we see today; her figure can be spotted on ancient pottery, embroidery, and on temple walls. Travelling dignitaries would acquire the dogs when they passed through the monasteries, and made gifts of them to royal courts, where they would be treated like royalty themselves, their every whim catered to by eunuchs. She first found her way to Europe in the mid-19th century; Queen Victoria had a fine pair. Today she has become very popular in the east and west alike.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 9 - Companion and Toy Dogs
Section 8 : Japan Chin and Pekingese
Physical characteristics of the Japanese Chin
Female : Between 9 and 9 in
Male : Between 9 and 10 in
Female : Between 7 and 9 lb
Male : Between 7 and 9 lb
White with black and/or red symmetrical markings.
Type of coat
The Japanese Chin's hair length is of medium length.
Its type of coat is silky and single coated.
A well-kept Chin is a sight to behold : she looks like she’s been drenched in a downpour of loveliness. Her silky white hair smooths out any hard angles and fills in much of the space between her legs, and a puffy tail curls up and over her back, evening up the gap behind her head, with the overall effect of making her a perfect fluffy square. Her snout is short and broad, her eyes big and wide apart, and they have the appearance of being slightly crossed due to a spread of white towards the middle. All in all, then, she looks every part the inbred aristocrat, precious and aloof, deluxe but undesirable.
Good to know
She likes to entertain with tricks, such as the ‘Chin Spin’ or windmill, and dancing on her back legs.
The Chin is a good-natured and affectionate companion who will expect to be treated right but will repay you with love and attention.
She likes to play although, given her size and self-opinion, games should not be too boisterous.
She is a calm and docile little dog.
The Chin is moderately intelligent and, if she won’t read you the daily news, will at least sit patiently and appear to acknowledge you as you read the papers to her.
Although, like many royals, she may have a little hunter in her from her deep prehistory, this is not likely to raise its head today.
Fearful / wary of strangers
She can be a bit shy around newcomers.
She is quite an independent type and will not take well to excessive bossing-about.
Behaviour of the Japanese Chin
This is not a dog who appreciates alone-time. She is a companion dog, which is to say she demands your companionship and is liable to sulk if deprived of your society.
Easy to train / obedience
If you’ve ever tried to train a cat, you can imagine what this little princess’s education is going to look like. While she’s bright enough to pick things up, her independent streak can make it tough to convey lessons to her. Patience and time are needed, and above all the pedagogue should be careful not to give in to suggestions that the dog, rather than the human, holds authority within the pack.
She does not bark often, and then mainly when she is uncomfortable in unfamiliar company or if she senses an intruder in the home. A poorly-trained Chin accustomed to being spoilt may also bark if she feels she is not getting the attention she deserves.