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Japanese Dog Breeds

The Many Japanese Dog Breeds:

Most Japanese dog breeds feature a distinctive appearance that canine admirers all over the world have come to love. You don’t have to live in Japan to have access to many of these popular canines. Just like breeds from any other country, each features its own list of unique traits and abilities that should be reviewed before deciding to take one into any home.

The Akita

AkitaThe Akita hails from northern Japan. There are two different types available today, including the Akita Inu and American Akita.  The American version is accepted in a variety of colors including solid white, white masked, black masked, brindle and those with different colored guard hairs. The Akita Inu, or Japanese Akita, are only accepted in sesame, fawn, red, pure white, brindle and with Urajiro markings which are similar to those seen on the Shiba Inu. This alert and devoted breed is loving with its family but territorial with strangers.

Japanese Chin

Japanese ChinThe Japanese Chin is a small dog, coming to a mere 8 to 11 inches tall on average.  They weigh anywhere from 3 to 15 pounds, usually falling into the 7 to 9 pound range. This unique little dog has a large head with wide eyes and a short muzzle. Its ears feature wispy feathering that gives it a charming appearance that almost looks playful. The Chin is often described as cat-like because it is independent and often uses its paws to clean its face.

Shiba Inu

Shiba InuShiba Inus are handsomely featured dogs that are smaller in size. They are agile, which allows them to maneuver in the mountainous terrain that is found throughout their homeland. This breed weighs between 17 and 23 pounds on average and grows a thick double coat. There are a variety of colors including cream, black and tan, sesame, buff, red and those with a grey undercoat. A white or cream colored Shiba Inu coat is considered a fault by the American Kennel Club and should not be bred. This breed has a strong prey drive and can become dog aggressive if not properly trained and socialized.


Tosa inuThe Tosa has a look that is completely different from other Japanese dog breeds. This canine is rare and is not be easy to come by in most regions. The average Tosa weighs 80 to 136 pounds and was designed specifically for fighting. It can have a brindle, red or fawn colored coat. Dull black versions have been found but this is very uncommon.

Anyone interested in adopting a Tosa should be aware that the breed is outlawed in many regions. The United Kingdom regulates this type of canine under the Dangerous Dogs Act of 1991.  Owners can obtain an exemption from the British court to import or own the Tosa legally. It is also banned in New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Denmark, Norway, Iceland,  Turkey, Malta, Cyprus and the city of Dublin. Whether adopting a Japanese breed or one from any other country, potential owners should look into the training needs  and any potential legal concerns associated with the canine before bringing it home.

Japanese Chin Dog

The playful, intelligent Japanese Chin Dog makes a wonderful little companion dog. They are sensitive and affectionate. They make a devoted family dog. Their name is somewhat misleading as they were developed in China, not Japan.


The Japanese Chin was developed in China. They were bred to be companions to the ladies of the Imperial Palace and they have always been lap dogs. The breed is centuries old. The dogs were not available for sale, they could only be given as gifts. At some point in time some of the dogs were given as gifts to foreigners and taken to Japan.

Commodore Perry brought the first Chins from Japan to England in 1853 and a pair was given to Queen Victoria. During and after WWI it was hard to bring Japanese Chin to the West. Natural disasters in Japan also hurt breeding in that country. However, breeders in Britain and Europe have continued to breed dogs of high quality and American breeders have relied on them to bring in new dogs.


The Japanese Chin Dog is a small, compact dog with an aristocratic look. They are elegant and stylish. They have a plumed tail that they carry over their backs. Their coat is profuse, silky, straight, and soft. It’s a single coat without an undercoat. It is black and white, red and white, or tri color. They have large, dark, lustrous eyes.

The Chin is between 8 and 11 inches tall at the withers. Dogs usually weigh between 3 and 9 pounds.


The Japanese Chin is sensitive and intelligent. Their only purpose is to serve people as a companion dog. They are responsive and affectionate to their loved ones though they are usually reserved with strangers or in new situations.

Because Chins are so intelligent and agile, they are easy to train and they enjoy learning tricks. They are very playful, alert, and bright. They don’t require a lot of exercise but they do enjoy playing in a fenced yard.

Chins are very clean dogs and like to clean themselves. Some Chins like to climb and they tend to be more independent than some other breeds. Most Japanese Chins are very quiet.

With their long coat they need to be brushed a couple of times per week. Clean their ears regularly to avoid ear infections. Brush their teeth regularly and trim their nails.


The Japanese Chin is a brachycephalic (short-nosed) breed so you need to take special care of them in hot weather and make sure that they don’t over-exert themselves.

Luxating patellas and heart murmurs can be problems in the breed. Because the breed has such prominent eyes, they sometimes have corneal scratches. Hypoglycemia can be a concern with Chin puppies.


The Japanese Chin is a beautiful, playful, intelligent little dog who is happy to be a loving companion. If you are looking for a good pet to keep you company, this dog can be a good choice.

Japanese Chin Dog
Japanese Chin Dog

Smallest Dog

There are several breeds which could claim to be the smallest dog breed.  Among the contenders are the Chihuahua, the Yorkshire Terrier, and the Pomeranian.  All of these breeds typically weigh under 10 pounds.  Here’s a look at some of the smallest dogs.

What Is the Smallest Dog in the World?


Most people would probably agree that the Chihuahua is the smallest dog in the world.  They can weigh up to 6 pounds but if they get much bigger than that then they are overweight.  Some people breed and sell Chihuahuas that are as small as possible but there are health risks involved in breeding these dogs too small.  Chihuahuas can be either long-coated or smooth-coated.

Yorkshire Terrier

Another breed which would be considered one of the smallest breeds in the world is the Yorkshire Terrier.  These beautiful little dogs have a long, flowing coat in tan and blue.  They weigh between 4 and 7 pounds.


The beautiful Pomeranian is a tiny dog that weighs between 3 and 7 pounds.  At one time they were much larger, weighing up to 30 pounds, and were used to pull sleds, but now they are purely companion dogs. They have a thick, dense coat that requires a great deal of grooming.

Japanese Chin

The Japanese Chin is another very small dog that only stands up to about 11 inches tall. They have always been a companion dog.


The dainty Papillon (the name means “butterfly” because of the butterfly-like ears) has always been a companion dog.  These little dogs are happy and love to play.  They stand up to 11 inches tall at the shoulder.


The lovely Maltese is one of the smallest breeds of dogs in the world.  They weigh less than 7 pounds.  This breed has been known for more than 2000 years and they come from the island of Malta in the Mediterranean.  As far as we know, this breed has always been a companion dog.

The Official Title “World’s Smallest Dog”

All of the breeds discussed above have been bred to be their current size.  However, the title of “World’s Smallest Dog” currently belongs to a dog named Gracie who is a Pug.  She weighs one pound, six ounces.  She is less than six inches tall.  It is believed that she suffers from a form of dwarfism.  Pugs generally weigh around 18 pounds and stand up to 10 inches tall.

Where Can I Find Pictures of the World’s Smallest Dog?

You can find a picture of Gracie, the World’s Smallest Dog on this site:

You can find photos of most of the breeds of the smallest dogs on this web site: ; or by visiting the AKC web site and looking at the Toy group:

Smallest Dog


There are quite a few breeds that weigh less than 10 pounds if you are looking for a very small dog.  However, do be careful if you are buying a very small dog.  Dogs that are bred to be extremely small for their particular breed can suffer from additional health problems related to their size.