by Doris Donnerman
(last updated August 17, 2009)
It is almost 150 years since the first Japanese Spaniels, or Japanese Chins, were brought to the United States. Since that time, the breed has prospered here, in England, and in many other countries. Its enduring popularity among the lovers of Toy dogs has been built on the breed's charm, alertness, and easy keeping qualities. Even during World War II when the bitterness it engendered against Japan, the dog's popularity was not injured.
Most dog authorities agree that Pekingese, Pug, and Japanese Chin are ancient oriental types which probably were closely related at one time. It is supposed, for instance, that the pure-bred dog is not native to Japan, and that he therefore came from China or Korea.
There are two theories as to how he arrived. The first is that royal embassies from China and Korea brought dogs as presents to the emperor of Japan. In support of this, Collier, in his Dogs of China and Japan, quotes an old text, which is briefed as follows:
A Korean prince sent a mission to Japan about the year 732. He included an "Ssuchan Pai" dog, as well as a hunting dog. The former was a lap dog with such a charming disposition that all the court ladies of Japan wanted one. Accordingly, the price of small dogs went up.
The second theory as to the arrival of the toy dog in Japan is that he was brought in by Buddhist teachers. If this was so, it places the date as sometime after 520 A.D., the year generally given for the arrival of Zen Buddhism to China.
Many writers have noted that the Chinese regarded the Pekingese dog with great awe, as being a protector of the Buddhist faith, that is, one of Buddha's lions. When Buddha stretched forth his hand, his fingers were supposed to change into lions, whose roars subjected the enemy.
The Japanese Chin became popular in Canada about 1900, and remained popular until World War I. The war period brought an end to breeding for a time, about sixty years ago interest in the breed was revived, and many of the larger shows have excellent classes of entries.
The Japanese Chin is highly intelligent. He is responsive, affectionate and ideal for companionship. The general appearance is that of a dog with a dainty appearance, smart, compact carriage and profuse coat. The size may vary considerably, but the smaller they are the better. The average weight is around 7 pounds.
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