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Pets: Imperial paws: Japanese Chin

In Japan the Japanese Chin is considered royalty. They were originally bred to sit upon the laps of ladies of the court in the Imperial Palace.

By Jackie Perry

Saturday 17 January 2015, 01:00PM

This breed is an ancient one, confirmed by the many effigies to be found on old carvings in temples, on pottery and embroidery.

The origins of this breed a clouded in mystery but there are many stories abound as to where it actually came from and is believed to have been bred as much as 1,000 years ago.

The naming of the dog as “Japanese” Chin was done to separate them from their cousins – the Pekingese – though one wonders why it would be necesarry since Chins are always particoloured and have much finer bones and body than China’s Pekingese breed.

Both of these breeds were guarded jealously by the Palaces and death was the penalty for anyone else owning one.

The first Chins to be acknowledged as having left Japan were those presented to Commodore of the Navy Mathew C. Perry who led the American expeditionary forces that opened up the country in 1854 with the signing of The Treaty of Kinagawa.

He took them with him on the long voyage home and opened up the breed to the rest of the world.

The Chin is a small dog whose ideal height is 26 cm with weight of 1.8–3.2 kgs.

The dog is predominantly white with black, lemon or red markings. The nose and eye rims will match the colour of the markings. The eyes are always dark and they display, ideally, a little white on the inside corners which produces what is known as “the squint”.

In general appearance, the breed is a small, square, well balanced, lively and very aristocratic dog with a very distinctive “oriental” appearance.


The head is fairly large with a moderately broad skull, rounded in front and between the ears.
The nose is large with big, open nostrils. The muzzle is short and well cushioned, the upper lips rounded on each side of the nostrils, jaw level and the chin juts up a little to give it that appearance unique to its breed.

Well feathered, small ears are set high on the head and carried forwards.

The Japanese Chin’s legs are straight with strong fine bone, well feathered right down to the hare-shaped feet. The tail is set high on a level back and is usually carried in a plume which hangs over its back.

The coat is fine and silky and there should be a full “ruff” around the neck and on the chest and on the rear quarters.

This breed is a delight to own. Charming and sweet but they do have a stubborn nature and can be difficult to train.

However the Japanese Chin are normally scrupulously clean in their habits and wash themselves like a cat. They are very lively and playful but do not tend to bark. If they do it is very softly and only in extreme circumstances. They must consider themselves as being above working as an alarm dog as it befits their aristocratic heritage!

Grooming is minimal. Just a wipe over of their faces after feeding to keep away smells which may be caused by food catching in their short “stops” above their noses.

Check their eyes, clip their claws and use a pure bristle brush to give them a once over every day and that is that!

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