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The Japanese Chin stands about 20 to 27 cm (8 to 11 in) in height at the withers. Weight can vary from a low of 4 lbs. to a high of 20 lbs., with an average of 7 to 11 pounds being the most common. The American Kennel Club gives no weight requirement for the Chin in their published Breed Standards.
Chins have straight, silky, profuse long hair that is most often black and white, or white and black, with other acceptable coloration’s being red and white (which includes lemon yellow and white), sable and white and, rarely, black and white with tan points, also commonly referred to as a “Tri-Color.” They have heavily feathered tails that curl up over their backs with the long hair cascading down one side, often reaching the floor. The chest, neck and shoulder area is also heavily coated, with the hair springing away from the body creating the appearance of a thick ruff.
The Chin has a slightly oversized head that is square or blocky with a slight rounding between the ears; this rounding should not be so round as to be domed in appearance. It is ideal to have a white hourglass-shaped patch of hair over the face and skull; this patch commonly has a black spot or blaze in the center of the skull, which is known as Buddha's Thumbprint. This designation is often attributed to the Emperor Ming of Han China, who was known to have owned many of these dogs. The face should have an "oriental" appearance, with a short, upturned muzzle and large, wide-set eyes that have the white visible in the inner corners, creating an astonished expression. Their faces are always distinctive and adorable.
This breed is considered one of the most cat-like of the dog breeds. Alert, intelligent, and independent, and it uses its paws to wash 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 their ability to climb (including chain-link fences, for example) and some of the surprising places their owners often find them in. A companion dog, loving and loyal to its owner and typically happy to see other people, though a few are distrustful of strangers. Chins 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 people and situations.
The Chin will bark for the purpose of alerting the household to the arrival of a visitor or something out of the ordinary, but they are otherwise very quiet. Chins 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. For example the “Chin Spin,” in which they turn 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 “boooo.”
Chins are agile, sensitive, dainty and clean. They love to be the center of attention, yet are mild mannered and elegant all the while remaining playful. Japanese Chins need to be taught that you are the leader, and they will be obedient. They are charming, lively, happy, and affectionate. Japanese Chins are extremely devoted to their masters and they are good with dogs and other pets.
The Chin's coat requires brushing or combing once every day or two to maintain its appearance, with special attention being given to the area under the ears and legs and to the skirt; they have no coat odor and do not require frequent bathing. Chins are usually 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 maybe 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 facial area can trap moisture and cause fungal problems. The face should be occasionally wiped with a damp cloth and the folds cleaned lightly with a cotton swab.
Diet is an important factor in the health and condition of the Chin. Many Chins are very sensitive or allergic to corn. Maintaining a Chin on a quality kibble that contains no corn will do much to avoid skin and allergy conditions.
Due to low exercise requirements, the Chin makes a perfect condo or apartment pet. The use of "housetraining pads" is recommended. The Chin is very easy to housetrain with many learning the use of a doggie door in a day’s time! Similarly, it is very easy to train them to the housetraining pads, or a litter box, by limiting their area until they have mastered use of the pads or litter box.
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