Japanese Terrier

Other names: Nippon, Nihon, Mikado, Oyuki

Japanese Terrier

The Japanese Terrier is an animated, smart and happy dog. It can be a little reserved but enjoys playing games and chasing squirrels. This is a gentle dog that loves cuddle time and sitting on your lap while you watch television or work on your computer. The Japanese Terrier will form a close bond with its family, and will quickly become jealous if its owner pays too much attention to other pets or even people. Expect your Japanese Terrier to bark loudly when it feels jealous and wants your attention. Generally, this breed will do well with other dogs as long as everyone is given the same amount of attention.

Key facts about the Japanese Terrier

Life expectancy :





Temperament :

Affectionate Playful Intelligent Hunter

Size :

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Origins and history

You’ve probably already figured it out by now, but the Japanese Terrier originates from Japan. It’s believed that the breed descended from Smooth Fox Terriers in the 17th century, which supposedly travelled to Japan with Dutch sailors. The breed was initially commonly used to hunt vermin, but quickly gained popularity as a companion dog due to its warm, friendly and loyal nature. Fast forward to 1930, and the breed was finally recognized by the Japanese Kennel Club.

FCI breed nomenclature

FCI Group

Group 3 - Terriers


Section 2 : Small sized Terriers

Physical characteristics of the Japanese Terrier

Adult size

Female : Between 12 and 13 in

Male : Between 12 and 13 in


Female : Between 9 and 11 lb

Male : Between 9 and 11 lb

Coat colour

Type of coat

Eye colour



The Japanese Terrier is a small-sized dog which is significantly smaller than some other Terrier breeds. The dog has a square and sturdy appearance, despite being tiny. It has a quirky and sweet look, with large, fold-over ears, dark and alert eyes and a petite black nose. The Japanese Terrier is distinguishable by the black hair which falls all over the head and face which, in most cases, suddenly gives way to a snow-white body.

Good to know

The Japanese Terrier is an extremely rare dog breed, even in its native Japan. It will be quite a challenge to find one!


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    The Japanese Terrier is an incredibly family-orientated dog and loves nothing more than spending time with its family. However, this breed does seem to get particularly close to one person in particular.

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    This jolly little pup loves nothing more than clowning around, playing with its toys or getting involved in sports or games.

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    Although the breed is lively and playful, it can be calm and docile within the home if its exercise needs are met. As this pup is sensitive in nature, it is actually best suited to a quiet, calm home.

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    This breed is fairly intelligent and learns quickly. However, this intelligence means the breed is extremely sensitive to stress and conflict within the home.

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    Like most Terriers, the Japanese Terrier instinctually chases prey and will need to be kept on a lead when out and about around wildlife or small animals.

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    Fearful / wary of strangers

    Due to the Japanese Terrier’s protective and territorial nature, it is slightly wary of strangers. However, it’s rarely aggressive, preferring to simply keep its distance and remain aloof.

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    The Japanese Terrier seems to be far less independent than other Terrier breeds, but will still need thorough training to become a well-rounded, obedient dog.

    Behaviour of the Japanese Terrier

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      Tolerates solitude

      This breed loves company and can actually be fairly needy towards the one person it takes a liking to. It is therefore not suited to those who want to leave their dog for long periods of time.

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      Easy to train / obedience

      Thankfully, the Japanese Terrier is very easy to train due to its great intelligence and calm nature. However, because the breed is highly sensitive, it’s important to remember to keep training sessions positive and avoid harsh criticisms -  this dog will never forget!

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      The Japanese Terrier is a discreet dog who barks far less than the average terrier.

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      Tendency to run away

      Despite its hunting instincts, the Japanese Terrier is not a great adventurer and will not stray far from its family.

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      If left alone for too long and without entertainment, this dog can get destructive.

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      Greedy / Gluttony

      The Japanese Terrier is not really greedy. In fact, treats are not necessarily the best reward. This dog prefers activities with intrinsic motivation.

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      Guard dog

      The Japanese Terrier is small and discreet, and so is not a natural guardian.

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      First dog

      For people who can’t meet the needs of most Terrier types, but who still love the breed type, the Japanese Terrier is the answer to their prayers!

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        Japanese Terrier in a flat

        The Japanese Terrier can adapt to apartment and flat living, but will need plenty of exercise split throughout the day. Despite being a small breed, this pup is very energetic.

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        Need for exercise / Sporty

        Even though the Japanese Terrier is petite in size, this dog does need rather a lot of daily activity. You’ll need to take it for at least a half an hour walk every day, though ideally, up to an hour is best. 

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        Travelling / easy to transport

        As a small breed, the Japanese Terrier is easy to transport in a transport bag, to go by train, bus, or plane.


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          Japanese Terrier and cats

          If well-socialized with them from a young age, the Japanese Terrier can live peacefully alongside cats. However, if a dog of this breed has never set eyes on a feline and is suddenly introduced to one, it might be tempted to chase.

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          Japanese Terrier and dogs

          This friendly pup tends to get along well with other dogs as long if it has learnt canine manners from his youth.

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          Japanese Terrier and children

          The jolly Japanese Terrier enjoys goofing around and playing with children.

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          Japanese Terrier and the elderly

          Since the Japanese Terrier is loving, affectionate and easy to train, it may be the perfect companion for an elderly person, providing the owner in question can provide daily exercise.



          We do not have enough data to set an average price.


          Thanks to the Japanese Terrier’s short coat, minimal grooming is required. A weekly brush to remove dead hairs can be helpful, as can the occasional bath to keep it smelling clean and fresh. Make sure to check the ears every now and then, clip the nails if necessary, and brush the teeth as often as possible - daily is best.


          This breed is a moderate shedder.

          Nutrition of the Japanese Terrier

          Feed the Japanese Terrier a high-quality, complete and balanced dog food which is specifically formulated for dogs.

          Health of the Japanese Terrier

          Life expectancy

          This is generally a healthy and resilient breed. The average life expectancy for this breed is 13 years.

          Strong / robust

          While the Japanese Terrier has a fairly robust body for its size, it is ultimately a very small dog and should be handled with care.

          Withstand heat

          The Japanese Terrier is better suited to warm weather than cold but still struggles in extremes of heat. Provide plenty of cold water and shade if the sun comes out.

          Withstand cold

          The Japanese Terrier has a short, smooth coat which doesn’t offer much protection from the cold. It’s best to invest in a good-quality doggy jumper or coat for the winter. Dogs of this breed should never be kept outside in the cold for long periods of time.

          Tendency to put on weight

          While obesity hasn’t been reported excessively in this breed, small dogs can be prone to weight gain. Be careful not to overfeed your dog. It may need less than you think.

          Common illnesses

          • Ear infections
          • Patellar luxation
          • Eye problems.
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