Formerly known as the Japanese spaniel, the Japanese Chin resembles other breeds originating in Asia. Without Chin knowledge, you might think he's a mixed-breed Pekinese, Shih Tzu or Lhasa Apso. Although identified as Japanese, the breed originated in China. Your Chin's ancestors sat on the laps of Chinese aristocrats.
Bred as a companion dog, your Chin wants to be with you and please you, constantly in your presence. He gets along with people, other dogs and cats, although he might be shy with strangers and in new situations. In fact, Chin fanciers note that there is something feline about this little dog, especially his climbing ability. For that reason, you'll need to Chin-proof your house the way you would for a cat, keeping anything breakable off areas he might jump up on.
Like many toy breeds, your Chin doesn't require a great deal of exercise. He makes a good choice if you live in an apartment or smaller home. When taking him out for walks, use a harness and leash rather than attaching the leash to a collar. Like many toy breeds, his neck is fragile and his trachea is vulnerable to tugging.
The Chin's silky coat requires regular, but not excessive, grooming. Two good brushings a week will probably do the trick. Because of its texture, the Chin's hair doesn't mat. Give him a bath if he's dirty or smelly, and use cream rinse after the shampoo to make combing a breeze. You can then blow-dry his hair on a low setting or towel him off. Keep him clipped around his rear end so waste doesn't get into the hair. If you show your dog, more maintenance is required to keep the coat in show condition. You might want to enlist the services of a groomer for that task.
If you live in a year-round warm climate, this may not be the breed for you. Due to their short muzzles, Chins tend to be affected by the heat, unable to adequately cool himself by panting. Keep him out of the sun. Take him for walks in the morning and early evening in the summer. He should stay in an air-conditioned place during hot weather, so leave it on for him even if you are leaving the premises.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.