Japanese Chin

Japanese Chin StampJapanese Chin Stamp

In the 1800's, the British originally called the Japanese Chin the 'Japanese Pug'. But his history dates back to 690 A.D when he was first presented as gifts by the Chinese to the Japanese Emperors. A small dainty Toy breed, he is characterised by his unique expression which is called 'a look of astonishment'.

History of the Japanese Chin

Imperial Chinese dogs c 1750Imperial Chinese dogs c 1750

Although documented as far back as 690 A.D, by the end of the next century, because small dogs were only popular with the ladies of the Imperial Courts of Japan, they had become quite rare[2].

But in 1549, these little dogs again attracted the attention of the West when the Portuguese began trading with Japan[2a]. But it would be 1614 before Japan began trading with Britain which continued for the next two centuries. During this time small dogs, similar to the Chinese dogs pictured on the left, were gifted to the Imperial English aristocracy[2b].

When brought to England by Admiral Stirling in 1854[1], they were called 'Japanese Pugs'. By 1860 it was written that they "were not more than nine or ten inches in length and remarkable for their snub-noses and sunken eyes, and are certainly more curious than beautiful".

The Japanese 'Pug' was first imported into England, two centuries before the Pekingese. Then nine 'Japanese Pugs' were recorded to be present at a Show held in the Holborn Horse Repository in 1862. But as this was more than a decade before the First English Stud Book was published, there was no means of verifying the pedigree or the breed.

The Japanese Chin in Australia

Japanese Chin 1897Japanese Chin 1897

In Australia the Japanese Chin was first introduced in 1893 by Sir Malcolm Donald McEacharn who was a shipping magnate, politician and Lord Mayor of Melbourne. He is pictured here with his wife, Mary, daughters Eila and Madeleine, son Neil and their Japanese Chin Coolie Maru Keri.

Japanese Chin in Melbourne 1897Japanese Chin in Melbourne 1897

It was his business dealings with the Tokyo tramway company which helped electrify Melbourne's iconic trams, and earned him the role of consul-general for Japan. As prominent Melbourne socialites, Sir Malcolm and Lady McEacharn's dogs enjoyed public exposure so making the breed popular in Victoria prior to World War One.

After their first import of the Japanese Chin named Coolie Maru Keri, another 20 Japanese 'Spaniels' came to Australia. By 1912 yet another 10 had been exhibited and were hence listed in the Stud Book section of Tyzack's Annual[1].

Unfortunately the Japanese Chin disappeared during World War One and did not make their appearance here again until the 1960's.

The Japanese Chin Today

Japanese ChinJapanese Chin

Today the Japanese Chin is a smart elegant little dog with fine bone and hare feet, weighing ideally only 4 - 7 pounds. His 'look of astonishment' which is its most unique characteristic.

Japanese ChinJapanese Chin

His fairly large skull is rounded in front and between the ears although never domed. His nose is large with open nostrils. It is usually black but in red and whites the colour can be appropriate to the markings. The muzzle short, wide, and the upper lips are well-cushioned or rounded on each side of the nostrils. The jaws and bite is level or slightly undershot. Their dark eyes are moderately large, forward facing and set far apart. A small amount of white shows in the inner corners of the eyes, giving their unique characteristic 'look of astonishment'. The small ears are feathered and set wide apart high on the head and carried slightly forward.

Japanese ChinJapanese Chin

The neck is of moderate length and the chest wide and the slender legs are straight with strong with fine bone and hare feet. The body is square, short or compact but can look longer if it and all legs are well furnished. The tail is set high on the level back, is profusely feathered and is curved over the back. The coat can only be black and white or red and white, but can never have patches of any other colour or be tri-coloured.

References and Further Reading

Published as - Jane Harvey "Ancient Breeds from Chinese Temples" Published in Dog News Australia (Top Dog Media Pty Ltd Austral NSW) Issue 1 January 2018, Pages 20 - 21

[1] 'Tyzack's Annual' Compiled by T. W.Tyzack and C.S.Turner; Published by the Victorian Poultry and Kennel Club 1912 Printed by Bellamine Bros. Printers, 66-70 Flinders Lane Melbourne Importations Page 101; Stud Book Page 47

[2] V.W.F. Collier, 'Dogs of China and Japan' Published by Frederick Company 1921, Chapter 11 "The 'Japanese' Dogs" Page 172.

[2a] ibid., Chapter 11, "The 'Japanese' Dog" Page 173

[2b] ibid., Chapter 11, "The 'Japanese' Dog" Page 178


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