The Japanese Spitz (Nihon Supittsu) is a small to medium breed of dog of the Spitz type. The Japanese Spitz is a companion dog and pet. There are varying standards around the world as to the ideal size of the breed, but they are always larger than their smaller cousins, the Pomeranian.
It is said that they were developed in Japan in the 1920s and 30s by breeding a number of other Spitz type dog breeds together, but no one knows for sure of their origins.
They are recognized by the vast majority of the major kennel clubs, except the American Kennel Club due to it being similar appearance to the American Eskimo Dog and Samoyed. While they are a relatively new breed, they are becoming widely popular due to their favourable temperament and other features.
The Japanese Spitz is a small dog, around 33 cm (13 in) at the withers, with a somewhat square body, deep chest, and a very thick, pure white double coat. The coat consists of an outer coat that stands off from the soft inner coat, with fur shorter on the muzzle and ears as well as the fronts of the forelegs and the hindlegs. A ruff of longer fur is around the dog's neck. It has a pointed muzzle and small, triangular shape prick ears (ears that stand up.) The tail is long, heavily covered with long fur, and is carried curled over and lying on the dog's back. The white coat contrasts with the black pads and nails of the feet, the black nose, and the dark eyes. The large oval (akin to a ginko seed) eyes are dark and slightly slanted with white eyelashes and the nose and lips and eye rims are black. The face of the Japanese Spitz is wedge-shaped.
They share a common resemblance with Samoyed Dog and the American Eskimo Dog.
Description of the ideal size of the breed varies. In Japan, the ideal size for dogs (males) is described as 30-38 cm at the withers, with females somewhat smaller; (the Japanese standard is the one published by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale for international dog competitions.)
In the UK, the Kennel Club describes the size as 34-37 cm (13.5-14.5 in) at the withers with females 30-34 cm (12-13.5 in), which is the same for the Australian National Kennel Council.
In New Zealand (New Zealand Kennel Club, the ideal size is 30-40 cm (12-16 in) for males, 25-35 cm (10-14 in) for females.
The Canadian Kennel Club states that the size for dogs is 12 inches (30 cm) with females slightly smaller, and the United Kennel Club in the U.S. describes the ideal size as 12 to 15 in (30.5-38.1 cm) for males and 12 to 14 in (30.5-35.6 cm) for females.
Minor kennel clubs and other organizations may use any of these ideal sizes or create their own. Japanese Spitz dogs are generally considered larger than their cousins, the Pomeranian.
No one knows for sure about the origin of the Japanese Spitz. Some claim that the Japanese Spitz is descended from the native Siberian Samoyed. This theory is controversial but those who believe it claim that Samoyeds were strictly bred for smallness, with the end result being the Japanese Spitz. Everything about the Japanese Spitz strongly suggests that it is simply a small version of the Samoyed.
An other theory says that dog breeders in Japan in the 1920s and 1930s created the Japanese Spitz by crossbreeding a number of other Spitz breeds to develop the Japanese Spitz. Breeders began with white German Spitz dogs, originally brought over from north-eastern China to Japan; they were first exhibited at a dog show in Tokyo in 1921. Between 1925 and 1936 various small white Spitz breeds were imported from around the world and crossed into the developing breed, with the goal of producing an improved breed. The final Standard for the breed was written after World War II, and accepted by the Japanese Kennel Club. The breed gained popularity in Japan in the 1950s, and was exported to Sweden in the early 1950s. From there the breed went to England, and the Kennel Club recognized the Japanese Spitz in 1977 in the Utility Group.
The Japanese Spitz has spread around the world including to India, Australia, and the United States and is recognized by most of the major kennel clubs in the English speaking world; by the Canadian Kennel Club in Group 6, Non-Sporting, by the New Zealand Kennel Club (Non-Sporting Group), by the Australian National Kennel Council in Group 7 (Non Sporting), and by the United Kennel Club (U.S.) in the Northern Breeds Group.
The American Kennel Club does not recognize the Japanese Spitz due to its being close in appearance to the American Eskimo Dog and the Samoyed. While they are a relatively new breed, they are becoming widely popular due to their favourable temperament and other features.
They are a healthy breed with very few genetic problems. The main health concern for Japanese Spitz is the development of Patellar luxation, a condition in which the kneecap dislocates out of its normal position. They can also be prone to runny eyes, which are most commonly due to having tear ducts that are too small, or an allergy to long grass or stress. It is rarely caused by any serious eye defect.
Life expectancy is estimated at 12-16 years.
The average Japanese Spitz litter size is usually about 4 puppies.
Active, loyal, and bright, the Japanese Spitz are known for their great courage, affection and devotion making them great watchdogs and ideal companions for older people and small children.
Most Japanese Spitz is good watch dogs and they have a tendency to bark to warn off arriving strangers. The Japanese Spitz is first and foremost a companion dog and thrives on human contact and attention, preferring to be a member of the family.
They are known as very loyal dogs. Despite their relatively small size, they are brave and consider it their duty to protect their family. They enjoy being active and love to be in the outdoors. They are intelligent, playful, alert, and obedient, and particularly excellent and loving toward children.
Japanese Spitz can tolerate cold weather, but as it was bred as a companion dog, prefers to live in the house with the warmth of its human family.
Despite the appearance of the Japanese Spitz's pure white coat they are in fact a low maintenance breed. They are a very clean dog and do not have a doggy odour, due to the texture of their coat mud and dirt fall off or can be brushed out very easily. They have a major coat shed once a year, but like most dogs shed minimum all year round.
Some love to swim and in this can render regular baths unnecessary.
The Japanese Spitz's coat is relatively dry compared to other breeds. Some sources state that the breed should not be bathed more frequently than once every two months, as bathing and shampoo strips the natural oil and moisture from their coat. This can cause skin sensitivity and itchiness.
Their coat should be groomed twice a week using a pin brush that reaches to the undercoat, preventing formation of knots. Grooming this breed is relatively easy in contrast to other dog breeds. Their white fur coat has a non-stick texture often described as being similar to Teflon.
Basic obedience training for all breeds of dog should be commenced at a young age to provide mental stimulation. The Japanese Spitz is an intelligent breed and will quickly learn what is required of them if gentle consistency is applied.
They are small enough to enjoy being a lap dog, but do possess an independent nature and a strong will of their own so new owners need to be firm with their pups, although not harsh. During their first few months of life, the breed tends to have itchy gums due to teething and will require a safe toy to bite.
Positive reinforcement of treats and praise will bring out their eagerness to learn and their willingness to please. Harsh handling and strong verbal and physical discipline are harmful and may be met with resistance.
Socialization at a very early age can introduce the puppy to various people, places, noises, situations and other animals. An adequately socialized puppy Japanese Spitz will mature into a friendly, confident, well mannered adult.
The Japanese Spitz is good for apartment life; in fact it is one of the best apartment dogs. They are fairly active indoors and will do okay without a yard as long as it gets plenty of outings and exercise.
This is a busy little dog who will adapt himself to your lifestyle so long as you take the dog for a long, daily walk. In addition, they will enjoy a regular chance to run off its lead in a safe area.
A great family dog, the Japanese Spitz readily enjoys their families, including children and other animals. They adapt well to most lifestyles when properly exercised.
The Japanese Spitz is a high-spirited, intelligent, and playful dog, which is alert and obedient. This bold little dog is a good watchdog and will alert its owners when it feels it is necessary.
The Japanese Spitz is not difficult to train as long as the owner is always consistent. They learn quickly and really enjoy agility and playing games of catch with balls or Frisbees.
They are cheerful, bold, proud and affectionate toward its masters. Make sure you are this dog's firm, confident, consistent pack leader to avoid the Small Dog Syndrome. They need rules to follow, limits to what they are and are not allowed to do and a firm, consistent, confident pack leader, along with daily mental and physical exercise.
- Aliases: Nihon Supittsu
- Height (Male): (Approx.) 30-40 cm (12-16 in.).
- Height (Female): (Approx.) 25-35 (10-14 in.).
- Weight (Male): (Approx.) 6-10 kg (13-22 lbs.).
- Weight (Male): (Approx.) 5-9 kg (11-19 lbs.).
- Coat: Long, thick and stand-off.
- Colour: White.
- Hair Length: Long.
- Shedding: Little with a big shedding once a year.
- Temperament: Energetic, free-spirited, with good movement.
- Feeding: Small feeding.
- Grooming: Moderate.
- Training: Moderate to easy if start early.
- Activeness: Active, alert and playful.
- Overall Exercise: 0 - 20 minutes per day.
- Friendliness: Very friendly.
- Children: Generally good with children.
- Living Conditions: Good apartment dog, fit into almost every lifestyle.
- Most Suited As: Family pet.
- Distress Caused if Left Alone: Medium.
- Barking: Low to medium tendency to bark.
- Aggression: Low level of aggression.
- Personal Protection: Low.
- Watch Dog: Alert and good watch dog.
- Ease of Transportation: High.
- Life Span: 10 - 11 years
- Litter Size: 4 - 7 puppies per litter
- FCI Number: 262.
- Group: Northern Group
- Size: Small Dog Breeds
- Type: Apartment Dogs, Companion Dogs, Cute Dogs, House Dogs, Pure Dog Breeds, Rare Dog Breeds, Spitz Type
- Kennel Clubs: ANKC, Canadian Kennel Club, Continental Kennel Club, FCI, NZKC, The Kennel Club
- Origin: Japan