History of The Japanese Chin
The Japanese Chin, as a
family pet is unrivaled. Intelligence is just one of the reasons Chins
make great companions. If you have chosen a Japanese Chin then your
choice has been a wise one, and you will have a true friend who will
share your joys and sorrows with the understanding of a human being and
a dog’s never-failing love. He is an aristocrat who must rule and will
soon position himself as the head of any household. He will command the
love and affection of every member of the household including all other
pets. Chins love people and are extremely loyal to their owner. They
have some cat-like features in the way they lightly prance around and
will often cross their paws in front of them in a dainty little pose.
They will also use their front paws to scoop food and other objects,
which is not known of any other dog breed. Few breeds are so quick to
read your thoughts and adapt their own behavior to the mood of the
moment. They have almost human thoughts and actions and are very people
oriented. They will act as you act, if you’re excited they will get
excited and start doing their infamous ‘chin-spins’. If you’re quietly
sitting around reading a book, they will curl up next to you and sit
content just to be near you. Full of courage, even tempered and above
all a quiet dog.
There is undoubtedly a close relationship between the Japanese Chin and
the other small short-faced eastern breeds – the Tibetan Spaniel, Shih
tzu and the Pekingese. Some have confused the Japanese Chin as a
longhaired Pug. More than likely all of these dogs evolved from a common
ancestor. It is believed however that the Japanese Chin is the best
preserved descendent of the old Chinese dog.
The name “Chin” has a debated origin, some believe it derived from
“China”. Some say that it came from the Japanese meaning of chin which
is “order to sit down” “to give a reward” or “to do a lot of tricks”.
Some believe the breed at one time was called “Makura Tsin” (makura=cushion)
a name that suggest a pampered, existence sitting on a tasseled cushion.
The Japanese Chin has been called many things from the Japanese Pug and
to Japanese Terrier. In Holland it is sometimes called “the child of
royalty” and in Scandinavian countries was once referred to as the “Sun
Although named the "Japanese" Chin this breed was actually developed in
an area close to Peking, China. In the first century A.D. they were know
as the ‘Lion Dog’ and the prized companion of Emperor Ming Ti who
abandoned his faith and converted to Buddhism. He believed these Lion
Dogs were touched by Buddha and hence the white spot on the forehead is
named “Buddha’s Thumbprint”. In his Imperial Palace the highest honors
of the land were bestowed upon these dogs. They were attended to by
numerous personnel. When taken outside for exercise they were carried in
luxurious palanquins and given daily baths and sprinkled with perfume.
They were fed the daintiest of foods and petted and pampered constantly.
The precious Lion Dogs were forbidden to be taken outside the Palace and
torturous deaths came to those who attempted the horrible crime.
With the arrival of the Buddhist philosophy to Japan, the cult of the
lion dog spread to that country as well. The Chin was taken to the
island empire of Japan in the 10th Century where it became a favorite of
the Emperor. It was often given as a ceremonial gift to royalty or
visiting dignitaries. They were ruling class companions, developed for
their beauty, intelligence and affection. They were greatly prized and
Sometime during the late 16th Century, a Dutch Trader named Kaempfer was
permitted a "limited" visit to Japan. He wrote of the Japanese passion
for the Royal Japanese Chins, noting that to kill a Chin was considered
equivalent to murdering a human and was dealt with equally. He also
wrote of Japanese ladies carrying Japanese Chins in silk lined baskets.
When Commodore Perry Arrived in Japan several centuries later he was
given several Chins. In turn he gave his queen a breeding pair. She
helped make this breed popular in England. Queen Alexandria was often
painted with Chins in her lap. It is believed he also gave the President
of the United States one of the pairs, which is how they first came to
These gifts caused the Chin to become the most sought after pet to such
an extent that pups were recklessly bought, or as often stolen, from the
Japanese. In the years between 1900 and World War 1, Japanese Chins were
enormously popular until after the war when interest in the breed
steadily declined. The survival of the Japanese Chin in Japan itself is
due to the devotion of the people who concealed their dogs, risking
imprisonment in doing so. Around 1964, the breed was honored as one of
the country's national symbols and has appeared on numerous Japanese
postage stamps. *