Japanese Chin

The Japanese Chin is one of the many flat-faced toy breeds that originated in the novelty-loving Chinese imperial court as long as 1,500 years ago. His fans today laud him as playful, mischievous, smart, determined, stubborn and affectionate. He is popular with anyone who loves a small dog with a sense of humor, an impish temperament and endless cleverness in pursuit of his own interests. The Chin’s vigilant nature makes him a super watchdog, and his size makes him suited to any home, from an apartment to a palace.

Is the Japanese Chin the Right Dog for You?

The best thing about a Chin is that he is always making people laugh. You never know what he will do next, but it’s always sure to be entertaining. The Chin has a real flair for mischief, and one of his greatest pleasures is watching the reaction he gets after doing something funny or forbidden. He has a happy, cheerful personality, and larger Chin do well in families with older children who understand how to handle them carefully.

You might think that having a toy breed like the Chin, who stands only 8 to 11 inches and weighs 4 to 9 pounds, means you don’t have to worry that he’ll get into things. But that’s because you don’t know that Chin can fly. There’s no other explanation for their ability to reach and then perch on high places, surveying their domain. Some Chin have been known to clear six feet. Nor does it mean that you’ll be living with a quiet, gentle lap dog. It’s not unusual to see a gang of Chin tearing around the house at full speed, leaping any obstacles in their path.

Chin are smart when it comes to training. If they like you, they will work to please you, and some do very well in agility and obedience trials. Use positive reinforcement techniques and no correction stronger than a firm tone of voice.

The Chin’s single coat is straight and silky, with feathering on the backs of the legs. It rarely mats, although the ear fringes can get tangles, and there’s no need to trim it. The coat sheds and should be brushed weekly to keep loose hair under control. Bathe the Chin monthly to keep him clean.

Exercise is good for every dog, so make sure the Chin gets some activity daily. While it’s tempting to carry this ounce-size dog everywhere you go, resist the impulse and let him be a dog. He'll be happier and better-behaved for it.

It goes without saying that Chin, who were bred exclusively as companion dogs, need to live in the house and never outdoors. With their flat faces, they are sensitive to high temperatures and can quickly succumb to heatstroke if not kept in air-conditioned surroundings.

Chin puppies are adorable, and it’s one of the reasons they are so popular. Cute puppies sell, and that makes the Chin a favorite of puppy mills and greedy, irresponsible breeders. Do your homework before buying one of these little dogs, and you’ll be well rewarded with a wonderfully funny dog.

6 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Japanese Chin Puppy

  1. Don’t ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store. You’re more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to housetrain puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.
  2. Find a good breeder who will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. To get a referral to a breeder, visit the website of the Japanese Chin Club of America. Choose a breeder who is committed to following the JCCA’s Code of Ethics.
  3. Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing.
  4. Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health and behavior problems in Japanese Chin aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. In addition, Chin can live 10 to 12 years or more, so an adult dog will still be a part of your family for a long time to come.
  5. Puppy or adult, take your Chin to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues. Ask specifically about dental care, as most toy breeds suffer from dental problems, as well as tips on dealing with tear staining.
  6. Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Health Issues Common to Japanese Chin

All purebred dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.

Chin have some health conditions that can be a concern, especially if you aren’t cautious about whom you buy from. They include luxating patellas, cataracts and early-onset heart murmurs.

Many toy breeds and small dogs, the Chin included, have a condition known as luxating patella, in which one or both knees are unstable and occasionally slip out of place. Depending on the level of severity (1 being mild and 4 being severe), luxating patellas can be a minor issue that cause the dog little pain or serious enough to require surgical correction.

Ask the breeder to show evidence that both of a puppy’s parents have patella and cardiac certifications from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and certification from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation that the eyes are healthy.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Patellar Luxation
High $1,500-$3,000
Entropion High $300-$1,500
Estimates based on claims paid by Embrace Pet Insurance


Pet Insurance for Japanese Chin

Pet insurance for Japanese Chin costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Japanese Chin are more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace pet insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Japanese Chin are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Japanese Chin is when he’s a healthy puppy. You can’t predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can’t get when you need it the most.