The Japanese chin is a small dog in the toy breed class. It is most prized as a companion dog, with a small size that makes it suitable as a purse dog. The American Kennel Club accepted the chin in 1888 and its breed standard for competition was set in 1992.
Although referred to as the Japanese chin, the breed actually originates from China. It was bred for royalty as a pet for the women of the Imperial palaces, often as lap-warming dogs. In its early history the chin could not be bought and it was solely for the upper classes who might give the dogs as gifts to those who rendered great service. Ultimately the dogs went from the Chinese aristocracy to the Japanese. The chin first came to Europe as a gift to Queen Victoria in 1853.
The chin grows to between 7 and 11 inches tall at the shoulder and between 4 to 15 lbs. in weight. It has a squared body shape with short legs and a long curled tail that falls on either side of the dog's hips. It has a broad head with wide-set, large eyes and a flattened face. The ears are floppy and V-shaped as well as being set widely apart on the skull.
The breed has a long, straight, thick coat that hangs loosely, giving a shaggy appearance. Its hair is shorter around the head and ears but hangs long on the body and especially the tail. The coloration of the coat is generally white with spots of black, red or tan. Symmetrical facial markings that cover the eyes and ears is the common look of the breed. In competition, a solid color of the head compared to the body is not favored.
The breed has a sensitive temperament as it has only ever been bred to be a pampered companion to humans and not for a specific work task. It is a naturally loving breed that bonds with its owners but is suspicious of strangers. As a small breed, it can be prone to small dog syndrome. This occurs when an owner allows the dog to misbehave because it is small and the things it does seem cute. When bad behavior is not corrected the dog can be willful.