Although he sports abundant hair, the Japanese chin isn't that difficult to groom. His hair doesn't require much trimming, but can form mats if not regularly groomed. If you don't show your dog, you can experiment with some basic haircut styles that prevent matting. If you compete in dog shows, you must follow the American Kennel Club breed standard for the Japanese chin's appearance.
Unlike some purebred dogs, the show standard for the Japanese chin's coat doesn't require extensive clipping. The AKC standard calls for an abundant, silky coat standing out from the body on the neck, chest and shoulders, forming a ruff. The Japanese chin sports a heavily coated, plumy tail. His hind end also contains substantial coat, so from the back he appears to wear "pants." While the head has short hair, the ears contain heavy feathering, as does the back of the legs. This show coat requires regular shampooing, brushing and trimming as needed, but for a show dog is relatively easy care.
The Natural Look
The classic Japanese chin hair style is a natural look, with some tweaking. Because he sheds, a weekly brushing removes those errant hairs before they end up on furniture and clothing. Bathe your dog about once a month, towel drying him thoroughly before brushing his coat carefully upward and out. If his ear hair or feathering mats, apply a detangler designed for canines and comb out mats carefully after spraying this product on the problem area and prior to bathing.
Because his long, feathery ear hair is prone to matting, you can ask your groomer to clip this hair short. Removing the feathering doesn't change his appearance a great deal, other than the ears are now quite distinct and tidy. That makes it easier to conduct necessary weekly inspections for ear infections, since the breed is prone to this problem. The rest of his hair shouldn't mat, with the possible exception of leg feathering, so regular brushing keeps him shipshape.
If your young Japanese chin loses much of his hair, don't panic. Severe hair loss is common in the breed from the age of approximately 5 months to 1 year. If your dog's coat looks patchy, ask your groomer to clip it so the hair appears even. Expect your dog's full coat to emerge between his second and third years. Intact female Japanese chins will lose hair in between estrus cycles, but spayed females retain their coats.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.