|An adult male Japanese Chin. A fully mature Chin's coat is long and full.|
|Other names||Japanese Spaniel|
|Country of origin||China,|
|Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)|
||This article is written like a an essay rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. (April 2010)|
Japanese Chin stand about 20 to 27 cm (8 to 11 in) in height at the withers and weight can vary from a low of 3 lbs to a high of 15 lbs, with an average of 7 to 9 pounds being the most common. The American Kennel Club and the Fédération Cynologique Internationale give no weight requirement for the Chin. The distinctive Oriental expression is characterized by the large broad head, large wide-set eyes, short broad muzzle, ear feathering, and the evenly patterned facial markings.
Coat and color
The coat is low maintenance, long, and smooth/silky to the touch. They are distinctively black & white and red & white in color and have variations in color intensity (lemon & white, mahogany & white, etc.). As of November 11, 2011, any color not listed in the breed standard is grounds for disqualification in competitions.
This breed is considered one of the most cat-like of the dog breeds in attitude: it is alert, intelligent, and independent, and it uses its paws to wash and wipe its face. Other cat-like traits include their preference for resting on high surfaces such as the backs of sofas and chairs, their ability to walk across a coffee table without disturbing an item, and some of the surprising places their owners often find them in. A companion dog, it is loving and loyal to its owner and typically happy to see other people, though a few are distrustful of strangers. Chin prefer familiar surroundings, but do quite well in new situations and are often used as therapy dogs because of this trait and their love of people. Very early socialization of Chin puppies leads to a more emotionally well-balanced Chin that is more accepting of different situations and people.
The Chin will bark for the purpose of alerting the household to the arrival of a visitor or something out of the ordinary, but are otherwise very quiet.
Chin were bred for the purpose of loving and entertaining their people. While typically a calm little dog, they are well known for performing many enjoyable antics such as the "Chin Spin", in which they turn around in rapid circles; dancing on their hind legs while pawing their front feet, clasped together, in the air; and, some even "sing", a noise that can range from a low trill to a higher, almost operatic quality noise, and which sounds much like "woooo".
The origin of the Japanese Chin is clouded in the mysticism of Far Eastern ancient rites. Small dogs were known to have crisscrossed the Silk Road accompanying travelers as both presentations of trade and companions on the long journeys. Some of these dogs became the pets of Buddhist Monks, who nurtured and mated various types in their sheltered monasteries: eventually, gifts to traveling dignitaries. They quickly assumed their rightful position in the Imperial palaces, where they were closely kept and guarded for the Imperial family by private eunuchs who were charged with looking after the little dogs' every need, every desire. Mere peasants were not allowed to own them as the small dogs became treasures more valuable than gold.
Navigating the globe by ship soon changed the way merchants traded their goods: During the fifteenth century, traders from the west arrived by sea using merchant ships. Looking for good will and favorable deals, they always brought gifts for members of the local nobility and government. Included as items of good will were usually a couple of dogs from the native lands - some dogs were large hunters, while others were of the small lap type. Eventually, these little dogs were crossed with the existing 'pai' dogs, whose roots rested with the caravans of the Silk Road, and other varieties emerged. Countries such as Portugal, Italy, Spain, Holland, England, and later the United States, covered the seas in search of trade and wealth changing the lives of all involved, including the little dogs.
The name Japanese Chin is actually a misnomer for the breed owes its basic origins not to Japan, but to China. It has long been surmised that the Japanese Chin and Pekingese were once the same breed with the Pekingese having been bred out to create the short, bowed-legged, long-back, pear-shape bodied breed of dog known today. The Chin is believed to have been kept basically pure, but in searching through Far Eastern works of art dating from the 17th to 20th Century, several patterns clearly emerge:
- an early small Japanese dog resembled the old Continental Toy Spaniel of Europe - aristocratic in bearing, square-bodied, up-on-the leg, distinctive long muzzle and luxurious flowing silky coat
- the Chinese Chin was the flat-faced, straight-legged, a bit long-backed, parti-color dog called the Imperial Chin
- these two types were blended together to bring about the Japanese Chin of today dainty, square-bodied, flat-faced, and richly coated, elegant toy breed.
With the exception of a small Dutch trading post and limited contacts through China and Korea, Japan closed its doors in 1636 to the outside world in an effort to prevent foreigners from further influencing their people and culture. This self-imposed isolationist policy lasted for more than two centuries. It was not until Commodore Matthew C. Perry opened Japan in the mid-1850s that Westerners again stepped foot in the country on a regular trading basis. Perry had been sent to Japan by United States President Franklin Pierce, with the good wishes of Great Britain's Queen Victoria. Both countries wanted to establish trading. posts in the closed Empire. When Perry finally accomplished the task, his ships returned home laden with many Imperial gifts for himself, for President Pierce and for Queen Victoria. Among the gifts presented were three pairs of small Imperial dogs - one pair for Perry, another for Pierce and a third for Victoria. Out of the six, the only ones known to have survived the voyage were those given to Perry. According to official ships' logs, Presidential and Palace papers, the remaining dogs never reached their destinations.
Perry gave his two little canine presents to his daughter, Caroline Perry Belmont, who was married to August Belmont. Their son, August Belmont, Jr., served as President of The American Kennel Club from 1888-1915. According to the Belmont family, the two Chins from Japan - one a dog and the other a bitch - were never bred and died as beloved house pets without issue.
By 1858, a full trade treaty had been negotiated between America and Japan. Thus opening the way for more ships, more gifts. An exodus of the small Imperial dogs soon followed - being given as gifts or sometimes stolen by Palace personnel and then sold to sailors. Additional trading with China and other Asian countries meant that more little dogs soon found their way, officially and otherwise, onto clipper ships and steamers. The long ocean voyage was difficult, arduous and taxing to the small frail dogs. Many perished en route. Their bodies wrapped in silk as they were buried at sea. Those who did survive helped to establish the breed on the Continent, in England and in America. They became not only pets, in castles and palaces throughout the western world, but also beloved treasures for the sailors' wives, mistresses and girlfriends. The Japanese Chin lorded over his environment an cared not whether it was a hundred-and-fifty room palace or a three room cottage: his concern was only that he was considered to be the most important object within and life catered to his every whim.
This breed's flattened face contributes to a few Chin suffering from breathing and heart problems, as is common with brachycephalic breeds. Because they are a brachycephalic breed, temperature extremes (particularly heat) should be avoided. Luxating patellas (knees) and heart murmurs are other genetically predisposed conditions. The oversized eyes are easily scratched and corneal scratches or more serious ulcerations can result. Mild scratches benefit from topical canine antibacterial ointment specifically for eye application; more serious injury or ulcerations require urgent medical care. The Chin, as with most small breed dogs, can also have a risk of hypoglycemia when under the age of 6 months; this concern can continue in Chin that mature at 4 to 5 pounds or less. Some Chin do have seasonal allergies.
A UK Kennel Club survey puts their median lifespan at 9.25 years though have been known to live into their 20s.
The Chin's coat requires nothing more than brushing or combing twice every week to maintain its appearance, with special attention being given to the area under the ears and legs and to the skirt and do not require frequent bathing. Chin are single-coated and single-hair shedders, much like people, and it is very seldom one will find a Chin with an undercoat. Occasionally, a Chin will have a light blowing of their coat once a year. Without fiber in the diet, they may need to have their anal glands expressed. The oversized eye orbits contribute to moisture about the face and the skin folds in and around the nose and flattened facial area can trap moisture and cause fungal problems. The face should be occasionally wiped with a damp cloth and the folds cleaned with a cotton swab.
Diet is an important factor in the health and condition of the Chin, with many Chin being very sensitive or allergic to corn. Maintaining a Chin on a high quality kibble that contains no corn will do much to avoid skin and allergy conditions.
Fictional Japanese Chin
- Himechin, from Fortune Dogs
- Ceaser, from the 2009 movie 2012
- The sleeve dogs from Sagwa seem to resemble this breed (the sleeve dogs are Miniature Pekingese)
- Gizmo from the movie "Gremlins" was modeled after a Japanese Chin. It is said that Steven Spielberg had dinner at a friend's home and was so taken with their sable/white Chin, that he modeled Gizmo after it.
- Japanese Chin breed information and history
- Japanese Chin breed standard
- "Individual Breed Results for Purebred Dog Health Survey".
- Muszynski, Julie. Henley: A New York Tail. New York: Glitterati Incorporated, 2005. ISBN 157687253X
- Muszynski, Julie. Henley on Safari New York: Glitterati Incorporated, 2012. ISBN 0983270236
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Japanese Chin.|
- Japanese Chin Club of America
- Japanese Chin breed information
- Japanese Chin Club UK
- Japanese Chin Care & Rescue Effort