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Japanese Chin– Fun Facts and Crate Size

22" dog crate Crate Size Dog Crate Sizes Extra Small Japanese Chin

Japanese Chin - Fun Facts and Crate Size

Japanese Chin

Quick Facts:

  • AKC recognized in 1888
  • Lifespan: 10-12 years
  • Size: Small
  • Energy: Medium
  • Recommended Crate Size: 22” dog crate*

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Table of Contents


One look at the face of the Japanese Chin and you know you are on to something nostalgic.  Just the presence of this dog reminds you of his rich history when he served as a trusted companion dog to Japanese nobility.  Even his trademark crossed eye adds character rather than a flaw to this ancient, amazing breed.

Japanese Chins are wildly popular in his homeland of Japan as well as in the United States and Europe as well.  And he should be.  He brings a lot to the table like his charm, friendliness, and interesting heritage. 

In the event that you like cats, you’re likely to love this dog.  He’s one of the most cat-like dogs on the planet.

If you think you are ready to join the ranks of the ancient Emperors and bring this fine dog into your kingdom, there are a few things you should know first.  Read on to find out more about the distinctive Japanese Chin.


Japanese Chins, also known as the Japanese Spaniels, are believed by many to have actually originated in China.  He is most known for his strabismus (crossed) eyes and his intelligence and sensitivity. 

It is not certain but is widely believed that this dog came from China by way of the trade route. So it may actually be Chinese!  Others think that it was given by Korean rulers in 732 AD as a gift to the royalty of Japan.  Still, there are those who hold to the belief that the Chin debuted in Japan about 1000 AD. 

Regardless of how the breed originated and where this fine specimen of a canine was one of the only breeds in existence that was not a working or helper dog.  Due to his distinguished, unique appearance and his loveable personality, his place was in the lap of Japanese royalty.  In fact, ownership was restricted to those of noble means.

The common conviction of Buddhist Monks at the time was that this dog could help believers reach the state of Nirvana or at least they played some part in the process of the Eightfold Path.

It was up to each noble house to enforce their individual standards for the Chin which explains the great variance in bodily structure, the density of coat, eye set, size, and overall personality.

It is known that this dog made many trips up and down the Silk Road with the traders of the times.  Buddhist Monks were quite good with dogs and took many of them in as pets.  Within the monastery, they were mated selectively. 

Some of the Monks duties were to make sure the Japanese Chin was as comfortable and happy as possible.  The same was true in palaces where servants were there for the specific duty of satisfying every whim of this royal dog.  The haughty air that some perceive to lurk about him is, perhaps, not conceit, but just the remnants of nobility that still streams through his rich blood.

Many hold fast to the belief that Pekinese are direct descendants from the Japanese Chin.  They do have a lot in common and science proves as much as well.

In 1853, it is recorded that an American officer in the Navy, Matthew Calbraith Perry, went to the Orient for a visit.  He was gifted seven Japanese Chin and brought them back to the United States with him. 

Sadly, only two survived the passage.  It is thought that Perry gave both to his daughter, Queen Victoria, the Rear admiral or the Royal Navy, or the President of the United States, Franklin Pierce.  Nevertheless, the Chin had finally arrived on American soil.

By the time this dog was introduced to the Western World when Japan was allowed to trade with the US again after 200 years, the general public demand was for smaller versions of the breed, weighing 10 pounds or less. Because of this, the official standards were set around the world concerning the weight is 10 pounds or under. 

Japanese Chins became a proud member of the notorious American Kennel Club in 1888.  He holds a member-bearing card to the Southern Japanese Chin Club, the Northern Japanese Chin Club, the Japanese Chin Club, and the United Kennel Club too.

He is classified as a toy breed.  This fine pooch is definitely an indoor dog, as you would expect from such an aristocrat, but enjoys some outside time as well. 

One very unusual trait this dog has is the ability to jump, much like a cat.  You may find him perched anywhere like on your fireplace mantel or on the window sill. 

He has also can be seen washing like a feline and batting at objects like one too.  He loves being in high places which may be due to his cat-like traits or perhaps it’s just a hint of irony from his history of being with those who held him up in lofty regard.


There’s no mistaking that this tiny dog is from the Far East because he sports the unmistakable look Oriental dogs tend to bear.  It’s written all over his furry face!  Also engraved in his face is the expression of perhaps astonishment. 

Some think he seems perplexed as if he is trying to figure something, or someone, out.  Never the less, it’s a look that is unique to the breed along with their single crossed, or lazy, eye.

Japanese Chins have a large head and a short muzzle with dark brown expressive eyes, one of which generally is crossed at least a bit.  His ears have notable feathering.

He sports a full, silky coat around his shoulders and neck and his tail is royally plumed as it arches over his back.  The elegant, soft, full fur on his hind legs resembles culottes or pants and is typical of Asia’s long line of royal lap dogs. 

Chins are small in size.  They range from 8 to 11 inches in height and weigh in at 8 to 11 pounds as well although 10 pounds and under is the preferred weight.

When this breed stands on its four legs, this dog can reach up to 11 inches high. This dog has large wide-set eyes, a large broad head, ear feathering, and a short broad muzzle. 

His face is somewhat flat.  Facial markings are often seen and in ancient times were considered to be the touch of Buddha.  They may be a dot or a line.  In modern times, Chins are to have an evenly patterned facial marking for the best scores in showing.

This dog belongs to the small sized dog group being 8-11 inches high at the withers and 8-11 pounds in weight with 7-10 pounds being the norm.  Although there is no official weight requirement guideline in the American Kennel Club or the Federation of Cynologique Internationale, it is preferred that the lighter, the better. 

While most dogs are double-coated with two layers and two types of hair within their coat, an over and an under, the Chin only has a single coat.  It is not unusual for it to take two full years for a pup to grow his adult coat completely.

Coat colors are typically red and white or black and white.  The red can actually be orange, sable, or lemon, therefore they may be lemon and white, sable and white, or orange and white but those all fall under the classification of red and white. 

Chins can also be tricolor which generally consists of reddish tan, white, and black.  Colors that are not officially listed with the breed standard are not allowed in formal competitions.


It is recommended to provide feed formulated to small sized toy breeds. It is highly recommended to discuss your dog’s feed with your veterinarian and/or breeder in order to determine the size and frequency of meals in order to ensure a healthy, long life.

You may be advised to feed this pint-sized pup small meals several times per day, especially when he is young.  Due to his small size, the frequency may or may not be reduced.  The amount most likely will be increased.

Toy dog breeds can only hold a certain amount of food so do be sure to give him top-quality meals.  Limit in between meal snacking and treats so he fills up on solid nutrition.

Chins are often allergic or sensitive to corn.  If such is the case, you can find a high-quality dog food that is corn-free.  You will need to make sure he has fiber in replacement of corn though.

It is also important to ensure that clean, fresh water is always available.  Dogs overheat quicker than humans because they don’t sweat.  Toy breeds cannot hold as much liquid so the chances of dehydrating are greater. 

If you suspect your Chin may not be getting enough water, gently push on his skin.  If it pops back right away, he’s probably good but if the spot remains indented, he is most likely suffering from insufficient liquids.  Encourage him to drink and if he refuses, a call to the vet is recommended.


The coat of this breed is one of his most attractive and distinctive features.  You will want to make sure it stays that way by giving it plenty of tender loving care.  Contrary to what you might think, his gorgeous coat is not very difficult to maintain.  It does require a little time and effort though.

Chins shed year round.  Females shed more than males as a rule.  Regular brushing of his coat is in required to keep it shiny and healthy.  A good and thorough combing with a pin brush once or twice a week is usually sufficient to keep mats and tangles at bay and to promote blood circulation in his skin. 

You may want to brush him more often in the spring and fall when he tends to shed even more than usual.  Doing so will also help to reduce unsightly hair from getting all over your furniture and floor.

An occasional bath is a must for this dog breed to keep his coat looking lovely and lively and smelling clean as well.  A bath every month or two is fine.  If he gets into something gooey or has a close encounter with a skunk, you’ll need to give him an extra one, of course.  Other than that, bathing him too often can lead to his coat becoming dry and his skin getting irritated.  Be sure to use a hypoallergenic, conditioning shampoo.

Chin toenails tend to grow quickly.  Since he is an inside dog, he’ll doubtfully wear his nails down on his own so it’s up to you to see to it that they are clipped.  Keep them fairly short and tend to any cracks, chips, or splits immediately.

Clean the folds in and around his face so they do not begin to collect dirt and bacteria and therefore become infected.  Keep the inside area of the folds dry at all times except for when you are cleaning them.

Chins don’t require haircuts.  They do need to be clipped from time to time, however.  The fur below his feet will need trimming so he can walk properly and so dirt and debris won’t stick to the area.

Be sure to keep his ears clean and dry to prevent ear wax buildup and bacteria growth which can lead to ear infections.  If you notice him pawing at his ears, take him into his veterinarian to be checked right away.  Untreated ear problems can end up requiring surgery or can lead to deafness.


This breed operates at a medium energy level.  He loves to go on walks and should, for at least 20 minutes each day.  He’s a delight to walk and loves to socialize as he does so.  He will eat up the attention he gets...and he is bound to get his share.

Be cautious when walking this toy breed though.  If a large or aggressive dog comes along, it doesn’t hurt to take a break in your walk and scoop him into your arms.

Although he’s usually not lacking for energy, dividing his walking time up can be a good idea.  He is a small dog that can tire more quickly than a larger breed. 

Failing to satisfy the Chin's  exercise needs can be disastrous.  He’s very well behaved but any dog has trouble dealing with too much pent up energy.

Aside from his formal walking time, it’s a good idea to encourage him to play in between.  He’s a naturally playful dog so that should be no problem and opens up a good opportunity for the two of you to bond.

This dog is super smart so don’t neglect exercising his brain too.  Brain games are quite interesting with the Chin.  He is likely to blow you away when you see just how intelligent he really is.

Pet Crate Size

Pet Crates Direct recommends 22” dog crates* for most adult Japanese Chin.

* Links for crate sizes will bring you to the most appropriate Amazon page.

More Information

Japanese Chin dog crate size


These medium energy dogs are known as charming, noble, and loving. He gets along with everyone - young and old alike.  He has no problems with other household pets and fits right in with felines in the family.  Playful, smart and a bit on the sensitive side, the Japanese Chin is near perfect.

Talk about attitude!  If you think your cat has one, just wait until this dog comes into your domain!  He actually has more of a “cat-itude” and is the most feline-like canine breed there is.  Have you ever seen a dog wash his face with his paws?  He can balance like a cat too and if things get too noisy or busy for him, he’s likely to hide as a cat would too.

Loyal and loving, the Chin makes an excellent therapy dog. He is emotionally balanced and tends to make his owner feel the same way.  No wonder the ancient Japanese royalty took to him so well.  He has the knack of making those around him feel good.

This breed doesn’t have an aggressive bone in his body.  But, he can be defensive.  He isn’t fond of being picked on, by children or other animals.  He could care less how small he is and will simply not have it.  Pet parents need to be aware of this attribute to prevent dangerous situations before they happen.

Because he has a smashed-in, short face, the Chin does make some noise.  The sound is often compared to a backwards sneeze or a “snizzle”.  He can’t help it and it is typical of does whose facial anatomy is constructed as such.  Pet parents need not to worry that their dog has a respiratory illness when the noises occur, it’s just his natural breathing noise.

The Chin is one of the most flexible breeds ever.  He can adapt to new people, new places, and new things quite well.  He is perfect for apartment or condo life but he does tend to bark when he feels the need. 

Early training of your Japanese Chin puppy can nip that behavior in the bud though.  His barking is generally just to draw your attention to something or someone he feels is a potential threat.  Acknowledging the person or thing is helpful.  Other than his alert sound-off, this dog is fairly calm and quiet.

Charming and aristocratic, the Chin has an air of sophistication bred into him.  He is amusing, graceful, and oh-so-comforting to sit and pet for hours on end.  And don’t think he will mind the strokes of love.  That’s what he was created for.


The Japanese Spaniel is a cinch to train.  He is not opposed to it either which makes it a pleasure.  He was actually bred for entertaining royalty so it’s in his blood to be a good student. 

One thing to definitely keep in mind when training this dog is that you must be positive and use plenty of praise and love.  He does enjoy pleasing but, like a cat, he can certainly become easily offended and when he does, you’re likely to get zero cooperation out of him.  Occasional treats work great as well but limit them due to his small size.  Never, ever raise your voice or use a gruff tone with the Chin.

The only problem you might encounter with this little prince (or princess) during potty training is that the bladder of a toy breed is quite small.  You’ll need to devote a lot of time to frequent trips outside or to the kitty litter box.  With patience and persistence, he’ll get it right.  This dog does not like to be dirty or wet, nor does he like to have messes in his living space so he’s ultimately a trooper for training.

Obedience training isn’t very difficult with Japanese Chins.  He knows he’s the ruler of the kingdom but will humor you enough to let you think you are.  All joking aside, you do, with any breed, need to establish yourself as the pack leader and then things will naturally fall into place with this fine fellow.  He did take orders from Emperors once upon a time, remember.

Socialization is ultra-important.  Although he’s a friendly fellow, he will need to get used to a wide variety of people, places, and things at a young age.  He also needs to learn his limits so he steers clear of aggressive animals and children. 

Expose him to people of all ages and temperaments as well as environments that are noisy and busy.  He should do exceptionally well because he’s quite adaptable.

Trick training is a must for the Chin.  He was actually bred partially for the reason of entertaining royalty.  This breed is notorious for his “Chin Spin” which is when he skillfully turns around quickly in circles, over and over again.  He is also pro at dancing on his hind legs while pawing at his clasped front feet.  Some Chins are even singers with operatic pitches and low trills as well.

Don’t forget agility training!  This talented pup is quite agile and can master lots of limber tricks.  He will love jumping through hoops for you.

Brain game training is fun and useful too.  He is always proud of himself for learning new things and will be ready to show off anything he can, anytime he’s encouraged to.


The lifespan expectancy of this breed is generally 10-12 years but some live to be 15 years of age.

Although the Japanese Chin is a fairly healthy dog, he has his share of ailments he’s susceptible to.  Making sure you go through a reputable, responsible breeder is always wise so you can decrease your chances of getting a sickly one.

Here are some medical conditions the Chin is prone to through genetics and otherwise:

Luxating Patellas is basically slipping kneecaps.  It happens when the caps don’t fit into the sockets properly.  It is painful and can limit or totally impair your dog’s ability to walk so bring him in to be seen at the vet clinic at the first suspicion that he might have this problem.

Early-onset Heart Murmurs plague this breed, unfortunately.  Heart murmurs are caused by a weakening in the heart muscle.  A whooshing sound may be detected when listening to his heart. 

It can, but isn’t always, a reason for concern.  Your vet can advise you as to any treatment that might be necessary and also may check for underlying reasons such as heart valve issues, a heart defect, tumors, or heartworm disease. 

Cataracts usually come with age or trauma but can appear out of nowhere in some breeds such as the Chin.  They can even be present at birth.  Cataracts are clouds in the crystalline lens of the eye of a human or animal.  A cataract can cause blurry vision and if untreated can lead to blindness. 

If you note a dot of covering in your dog’s eye lens, you’ll want to have him checked.  If your dog is bumping into things you may want to examine his eye lens or have his vet look at them as well. Treatment is generally very easy and there may be multiple options available.

Hypoglycemia is a blood sugar issue.  It is often seen in this dog breed before the age of six months or before weighing four or five pounds.  Diet can help control the problem but should definitely be done under the supervision of his vet.  Lethargy and loss of hair are two of the main symptoms you should watch for.

Seasonal allergies are common with the Japanese Spaniel.  Sneezing, runny nose, and runny eyes when the weather turns are tell-tale signs he may have the condition.  He is prone to skin allergies too and may be sensitive to harsh laundry soap residue in his bedding, grass, or even carpet. 

The fact that he has a flattened brachycephalic face can cause some problems of its own.  Breathing and eye problems are not unheard of.  A Chin should not be exposed to extremely hot conditions because he can overheat, causing him to have trouble breathing.

 Since his eyes pop out and are oversized, it makes it more likely for him to have such accidents as corneal scratches or eye abrasions.  Ulcerations can occur as well.  His vet can prescribe a special eye ointment if he runs into trouble.  More serious incidences may require surgery.

The skin that folds in and around his flattened facial area and his nose are apt to trap moisture that comes from his oversized eyes.  This can easily lead to fungal infections and issues. 

Be sure, in his grooming, to wipe his eyes with a fresh, clean, soft cloth and dry the folds as well.  If you think he is developing a problem, contact his vet so he can be seen.

Is a Japanese Chin a Good Fit for Me?

Ahhh, to have this exquisite, dignified, fun yet fancy lap dog to love on all day long would be royal, don’t you think?  He is perky and pleasant, prim and proper but playful.  What more could one wish for to add to their dynasty?

Although the Chin is very adaptable, he likes to be in the presence of people whether in a palace or home of a peasant.  If you are not going to be able to be with him for long periods of time, this dog may not be the best choice for you.  He’s just too social for so much solitude.

Toy breeds require extra special care.  You don’t want to leave him outside unsupervised or bring him into a family of rowdy children, overly active large dogs or aggressive cats.  He is a stout guy for a toy breed but is still more fragile that he will ever admit.

Can you handle the backward sneeze of this breed?  Some embrace it as a part of who the dog is but it grosses others out.  You will need to decide which category you fall into before taking this guy in.  He definitely snorts as most all short-faced dogs do.

When he blows backward, a fine spray of moisture comes out his nostrils.  Is it within you to overlook this misty flaw?

Do you like cats?  This dog has some uncanny resemblances to a feline so if you are not a cat fan, you may not take well to this dog either.  If you love cats though, you are likely to find this breed has the best of both dog and cat personality and traits.

Are you willing and able to exercise him or have him exercised?  He will need some outdoor exercise at least once a day.  He doesn’t require a whole lot of time walking but he’ll suffer physically and mentally if not given his 20-minute daily allotment. 

If, after knowing all the good, bad, and beautifully unique things about the Japanese Chin, you think you are still in love with him, then it may be time to enlarge your kingdom with this breed that is fit for royalty and might just be a good fit for you too.

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