Japanese Spitz

Japanese SpitzJapanese Spitz

A medium sized white dog, the Japanese Spitz developed as a pure breed during the 1900's. He comes in only one size and although usually a companion or pet dog, he also makes an excellent watchdog. For comparison, the Italian breed the Volpino Italiano is also included in this section because he is also usually white and also only comes in one size.

Volpino Italiano

Italy has its own medium sized usually white dog which is called the 'Volpino Italiano' (FCI 195) Volpino being an Italian word meaning fox-like. He stands  25-30 cm high and can also be champagne coloured or red.

History of the Japanese Spitz

Two alternative theories are argued:

  1. The Japanese Spitz is a direct descendant of the herding and sled dog, the Samoyed. Also in Japan they were originally called 'Samo' like their larger relative. Certainly it is probable that these two breeds had a common background centuries ago. But in addition to the difference in body proportions and function, this theory has no documented evidence.
  2. The Japanese Spitz was created from and developed in Japan by expert cynologists between 1920 and 1950 from the large sized white German Spitz. This theory purports several lines of white German Spitz were imported into Japan from Russia and China. But there is no documented evidence about either these imports or the pedigrees of the Japanese Spitz that were supposedly exhibited at a Tokyo Dog show in 1921.

Japanese Spitz England 1994Japanese Spitz England 1994

Because of consistency of pedigree records kept by the Nippon Spitz Association (NCA), it is generally accepted that they founded the modern Japanese Spitz. The NCA has documents to support that the Japanese Spitz descends from early white Spitz that came aboard a rescue cargo-ship from Canada following an earthquake in Tokyo in 1923. The NCA also has records to prove that similar dogs from America followed. Jiro Ito meticulously kept these records in Tsuchiura, Ibaragi Perfecture, north-east of Tokyo[1] right through the Second World War until the Japanese Kennel Club recognised the breed in 1947 and adopted the Breed Standard in 1953.

In 1976 Sweden recognized the Japanese Spitz as a pure breed by Sweden. In 1977, these Swedish dogs founded the breed in UK. Australia followed in 1980. Despite England importing directly from Japan in 1980, it would be 1988 before Challenge Certificates were awarded.[2] 

The Japanese Spitz Today

Japanese SpitzJapanese Spitz

As his name suggests, this typical white Spitz breed stands 30 - 37 cm tall (12 - 14.5 ins) and has a height-length body ratio ratio of 10:11. The wedge-shaped, moderately broad head is of medium size without coarseness. The slightly rounded skull is broadest at occiput. The stop is well defined. The muzzle is the same length as the skull with black firm, tight lips and a small, black, nose and closes is a normal scissors bite. The dark oval eyes are of moderate size and set rather obliquely but and not too wide apart. The eye rims are black.The triangular ears are high set and stand erect, facing forward but not too wide apart.
Japanese SpitzJapanese Spitz

The strong neck is arched and of moderate length. The body is longer than square and the back is short, straight and flexible. The chest is broad and deep, the ribs are well sprung and the belly firm with moderate tuck-up. The loins broad and firm with a level croup and high set tail. The well-cushioned feet are small round and cat-like, with black pads and preferably dark nails. The well proportioned muscular hindquarters moderately angulated with hind legs parallel to each other when viewed from rear. The moderate length, well plumbed tail is high set and carried curved over the back. He moves with a light, nimble, active, energetic but smooth gait.

Japanese Spitz pupsJapanese Spitz pups

The pure white coat is shorter on face, ears, front of fore and hind legs and below the hocks. The remainder of body coat is a long double coat consisting of a straight and stand-off outer coat and a profuse, short, dense undercoat which is soft in texture. The mane on neck and shoulders should reach down to the brisket and the tail should be profusely covered with long hair.

References and Further Reading

[1] Marco G Piasentin 'The Japanese Spitz', Self-published by Zeilo Edizioni, Padua Italy ISBN 88-85689-16-7 Chapter 2 'Origins of the Japanese Spitz Pages 2 - 19

[2] Michael P Rule, 'Japanese Spitz', Published by Kennel Club Books, Inc Allenhurst USA ISBN 1-59378-360-4 'History of the Japanese Spitz' Pages 9 - 16