Japanese Chin Dog History
Although this Toy Dog breed goes by the name Japanese Chin many believe that it actually originated in China and was taken to Japan by Buddhist monks as far back as the 6th century. The Japanese Chin has variably been known at some time or other as either:
- Japanese Spaniel
- Japanese Pug
- Japanese Chin
With respect to the history of this dog breed the following theories have been proposed as to its origins:
1. It was taken to Japan by Buddhist monks in 6th century AD
2. It originated in Korea as a breed called the Ssuchan Pai and was taken to the Japanese court as a gift from a Korean prince.
3. It was bequeathed as a gift to the Japanese Emperor by Chinese rulers
In the beginning the Japanese Chin was exclusively relegated to nobility. In fact the punishment for stealing or illegally breeding one of these noble dogs was death. Much revered by the nobility the Japanese Chin was bred, developed and modified to be a dog breed apart. Whereas other dogs in Japan were considered purely utilitarian in purpose and function the Chin was developed solely for pleasurable companionship.
Originally the Japanese Chin was bred to cater to the whims of the various noble houses and as a consequence individual dogs could weigh anywhere from 4lbs to 20lbs in contrast to the typical dog of today that is largely confined to a weight of 4lbs – 11lbs. In fact it was the preference of western tastes for the smaller variety of dog following its introduction to the region that cemented their overwhelming prevalence today.
As usual with most dog breeds there is a little controversy and confusion about how the Japanese Chin made it to the west. Some contend that the dog breed was taken to Europe in the 17th century by Portuguese sailors who presented it to Queen Catherine of Braganza, Consort to King Charles II of England. Another theory has it however that the breed was actually a gift to an American naval officer, Matthew Calbraith Perry during his visit to the Orient in 1853 to cement trading routes between east and west. Although unverified it is speculated that Perry then presented the only surviving pair of dogs (he was given seven dogs) to Queen Victoria.
The Japanese Chin quickly gained a foothold of strong popularity in the west and was first exhibited in England in 1873 at the Birmingham show. After its arrival in America in 1882 it quickly gained recognition by the AKC and was registered as early on as 1888. Originally referred to in the Americas as the Japanese Spaniel, a club under that name was created and founded in 1912; the name of the club was changed to the Japanese Chin Club in 1977.
Following World War II bloodstock of this dog breed was understandably severely depleted that new stock had to be replenished from England and other parts of the world.
Japanese Chin Temperament and Character
Unlike many small dog breeds the Japanese Chin is not yappy and indeed rarely barks, only doing so to alert its owner of impending danger or the approach of a stranger. Another fairly unique feature of the Chin is that of its cat-like qualities. These include its habit of washing and wiping its face with its paws, a surprising agility in climbing and its tendency to perch and rest in elevated regions like the top of chair and sofas. In fact speculation has it that the Japanese intention was to create a blend of dog and cat resulting with the somewhat feline-dog characteristics found in the breed.
This dog breed is friend to all be it four-legged creature or two. It does very well in relatively small spaces, making it ideal for apartment dwelling and as noted before is a dog that rarely barks at all! Personality-wise the Japanese Chin has been described as dignified yet playful and some go as far as to describe it as the perfect companion.
Like cats the Chin is fastidious in nature and its characteristic playfulness and gentle nature make it the ideal pet for reserved children.
Care and Upkeep
This dog breed makes the ideal pet for apartment dwelling requiring little exercise, little space to exist happily and typically making little if any noise. Although lively in nature the Japanese Chin thrives perfectly well with a short walk or romp. This dog however was never designed to live outside and its long coat also means that it does not do well in hot humid climates.
The long coat requires combing at least twice a week and it should be noted that the breed’s flattened face appearance sometimes leads to respiratory and heart problems in some individuals. Also one should be aware that their rather oversized eyes are prone to easy injury.
Article on Japanese Chin written by Kayye Nynne