ALL DOG BREED PROFILES

Japanese Spitz: Small Dog With a Big Personality

Japanese spitz running
Wyatt Robinson
Written by Wyatt Robinson

You have probably seen the fluffy coat of the Japanese Spitz on dog shows. Isn’t their coat beautiful? You will further agree that the cuteness of this small dog is one you can’t resist. Nevertheless, apart from these obvious traits, there is more to this dog.

The Japanese Spitz is a small dog with a big heart. They are known for their utmost loyalty toward their owner and family. The Japanese Spitz is a reliable house protector, and they will bark to alert you to the presence of strangers. Toward people they know, however, they are the sweetest thing ever. If you live in the city, this dog is the perfect apartment dog. They are easy to take care of, so even first-time dog owners will have no time accommodating them.

If you have been thinking about adopting a Japanese Spitz, but you would like to learn more about this dog first, then you have come to the right place. In this article, we give you all the information you need to know about this breed. From breed history to personality and care features, there is a lot to learn about this amazing breed.

Breed Characteristics

Japanese spitz puppy lying

  • Adaptability: High

  • Trainability: Good; the Japanese Spitz is intelligent and eager to please

  • Health and Grooming: Good; watch out for runny eyes; these dogs are surprisingly easy to groom because dirt does not stick easily to their coat

  • All Around Friendliness: Very Good; very friendly with children; they are also good with other dogs and pets in the home especially if raised with them

  • Exercise Needs: Moderate; they love going for walks, and you should give them a chance to run free when outside

Dog Breed GroupUtility Dog
HeightMales: 13.5 - 14.5 inches
Females: 11.5 - 13.5 inches
WeightMales: 11 - 20 pounds
Females: 10 - 19.5 pounds
Lifespan12 - 16 years

The Japanese Spitz is a small breed that is known to become a loyal and affectionate companion. The dog is believed to have been developed from German Spitz dogs that were brought to Japan in the 1920s. The breed was accepted by the UK Kennel Club in 1977, and before that, in the year 1948, it was admitted to the Japanese Kennel Club. Another name for this breed is Nihon Supittsu.

These dogs are known for their thick, fluffy, pure white coat and large almond eyes. Despite the impressive coat, grooming isn’t a chore. The Japanese Spitz requires a brush weekly, and their coat has a silky component that ensures dirt does not stick. Even if your dog gets muddy, you will be surprised as the dirt will be easy to brush off.

It is easy to see why the Japanese Spitz is so loveable. This is a lively and bold family dog. These dogs are very playful and affectionate toward children. They make great watchdogs, as they are known to bark upon meeting a stranger and are very watchful of their territory. However, with patience, they will become very friendly to your guests and friends. If a Japanese Spitz becomes your friend, you make a friend for life.

The Japanese Spitz will always be at your side. They love to play and have fun and thrive on human companionship. You should make time to spend with this dog as they suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for long hours. They are very adaptable, can live both indoors and outdoors, and are known to do well in apartments provided their exercise needs are met.

This lovely family dog is an active breed, and although they might not need strenuous exercises, they will need you to take them for walks daily and to run freely when outdoors. They become very mischievous when bored. Training is a breeze due to their intelligence and easy-to-please nature. Just ensure you consistently train the dog.

Main Highlights

many Japanese spitzes sitting together

  • The Japanese Spitz is from Japan. Although there is some controversy regarding its development, most breeders believe that it was developed from the larger German Spitz dogs in the 1930s and 1920s in Japan.

  • This is small dog breed that makes a wonderful family companion.

  • The Japanese Spitz is known for its cute and remarkable thick white double coat.

  • The Japanese Spitz is a loyal companion and thrives on human companionship.

  • They are very affectionate and playful with children and older people.

  • This is a highly adaptive breed and can comfortably live both indoors and outdoors.

  • This is an active breed that requires daily walks or ample play time with the family.

  • These dogs are very social in nature and will get along well with other pets.

  • The Japanese Spitzs make wonderful watchdogs, as they are very protective of their territory and are very alert. They are also wary of strangers and will announce any unknown presence with a loud bark.

  • If left alone for long hours, the Japanese Spitz suffers from separation anxiety and can be destructive.

  • Their thick and fluffy white coat is easy to maintain as it has self-cleaning abilities.

  • The Japanese Spitz is an intelligent dog that has the desire to please which makes training easy.

  • This is the ideal dog for first-time owners due to their social nature and also to apartment owners as they can live indoors provided their exercise needs are met.

  • The Japanese Spitz has a litter size of one to six puppies.

  • The Japanese Kennel club and the UK Kennel club recognize the Japanese Spitz. However, it is yet to be recognized by the American Kennel Club due to the dog’s resemblance to the white Pomeranian, Samoyed, and the American Eskimo.

Breed History

Japanese spitz standing on grass

The Japanese Spitz is believed to be a descendant of the larger German Spitz dogs that arrived in Japan in the 19th century. Although, it is not very clear how the breed developed, so some breeders believe that the dog was developed from the Samoyed.

The Japanese Kennel Club recognized the Japanese Spitz in 1948. The unified standard of the breed published at the time is still applicable today. The UK Kennel Club included it in the utility group in 1977. However, since it is very similar to the American Eskimo dog, it is yet to be recognized by the American Kennel Club.

The breed became very popular in Japan in the 1950s. It was also introduced in North America and Europe around the same time. Today, these dogs are not as popular in Japan as they were in the 1950s, but they are increasingly being sought after in other parts of the world as family companions. The Japanese Spitz is also a favorite with judges and spectators at dog shows.

Size

Japanese spitz suze

The Japanese Spitz is a small breed. They stand at 11.75 to 14.5 inches and can weigh up to 20 pounds. They have a very handsome appearance with their outer white self-cleaning double coat. The dog is simply stunning to look at.

This stunning breed has small ears that are triangular-shaped. Their dark eyes are expressive and almond shaped. Their muzzle is pointed, and the dog’s head is broad, rounded, and proportionate to the dog’s body. The thick white fur that forms a mane on the dog’s neck also covers their compact body. The dog’s furry tail is often carried over the back.

The skin around the dog’s nose, eyes, and mouth is black. The breed moves with a nimble, active, and energetic gait. The fur covering the dog’s muzzle, ears, and the front of their hind and forelegs is shorter. The accepted breed color as per the Japanese Kennel Club specifications is white or a white coat with black points.

Personality and Character

Japanese spitz lying near the brick wall

The Japanese Spitz makes an affectionate and happy companion. They thrive on being in the presence of their owner or family. They will sit and be comfortable on your lap although they will not do so the whole day.

They will follow you around; they are lively and fun to have as companions. They have proven themselves to be highly adaptable to different lifestyles and conditions. This sociable nature means they will cope well with other dogs and pets.

However, these dogs need to be socialized well at an early age as they can be overly suspicious of strangers. They will be aloof of strangers and guests in your home, but once they get to know them well, they become friends for life.

The Japanese Spitz, despite being small, is fearless, alert, and overprotective. These traits make them effective watchdogs, especially if you live in the city. The Japanese Spitz is not aggressive and will keep their distance and bark instead of launching into an attack.

They are also a good choice for first-time owners as they are so people-oriented they love nothing more than to please their families. The Japanese Spitz will be comfortable living in an apartment without a yard. However, you need to exercise them daily and give them the opportunity to run off the leash in a safe and secure environment.

See Also: Off-Leash Dog Training

Health and Potential Problems

Japanese spitz walking in the field

The life expectancy of the Japanese Spitz is 12 to 16 years if the dog is well taken care of and fed the right quantity and quality of food. However, the breed, just like other breeds, is known to suffer from a few health issues that we will look at in greater detail below.

#1: Patellar Luxation

A female Japanese Spitz is more likely to suffer from the condition than her male counterpart. Common symptoms include an abnormal hind limb movement, sudden lameness, or the occasional skipping. The dog will not be in pain but this condition can start as early as four months after birth and may later lead to lameness.

The preferred treatment for this condition is surgery, and it has been documented to free a dog from lameness and dysfunction in 90 percent of the cases. Follow up after surgery is important to check for progress. Kneecap dislocation is genetically inherited, and it is always recommended that you avoid breeding your dog if he/she is affected.

#2: Runny Eyes

Tears are important to a dog’s eyes as they provide oxygen and nourishment to the cornea and also help remove debris from the eyes. Tears are supposed to drain through the tear ducts found at the inner corner of the eyes.

Sometimes, a crust or goop may form near the cornea due to the accumulation of dried tears, dead cells, dust, or mucus. This is usually visible in the morning and can be easily removed with warm water.

Japanese Spitzs are said to have very small tear ducts. This causes an overflow of tears or what is referred to as runny eyes. It is important to monitor your dog’s condition as runny eyes can occur right before eye irritation or inflammation. The treatment will vary in accordance with the cause of the problem. In case of an abnormal eyelid, surgery may be necessary.

See Also: Eye Infections in Dogs

#3: Allergies

Similar to humans, dogs show allergic reactions when exposed to substances their immune system recognizes as allergens. Some of the common symptoms that might indicate your dog is having an allergic reaction include increased scratching, sneezing, red or scabbed skin, itchy ears, diarrhea, vomiting, runny eyes, sneezing, and swollen paws.

Allergies can be frustrating to your dog and to you too and sometimes treating the symptoms might not be enough. It is best to pinpoint the cause of an allergic reaction. Some of the common allergens for dogs include food, pollen, grass, flea, dust mites fabrics such as wool or cotton, and medication.

If it is impossible to remove an allergen entirely, your vet might recommend an allergy injection. In some instances, immune modulating medicines might be necessary. Coconut oil is also recommended as an addition to your dog’s food. You can also incorporate it into your dog’s bathing routine to help with the irritation.

See Also: How Much Coconut Oil Can I Give My Dog

Care Features

Japanese spitz puppies sitting together

The Japanese Spitz is not the kind of dog you leave alone at home or in the yard as they suffer from separation anxiety. If bored or left alone for long hours, they will become depressed, bark continuously, or even become mischievous. With good jumping skills, they will leap over the fence if you do not give them enough attention.

They also need to be exercised moderately although they are happy playing with the family indoors. It is good to keep playtime calm inside the house and more active outdoors, which teaches your dog to be less boisterous when they are inside the home.

You will need to take your dog on a daily walk at the minimum, and they will do well if you can leave them to run freely in a fenced yard. These dogs excel at dogs sports such as agility training.

Since these dogs are obedient, training will not be a problem. Your dog will enjoy the one-on-one interaction you have with them during training which is why they may excel in different dogs sports.

These dogs prefer a trainer who will train them gently and any kind of harshness will not achieve good results. As a trainer, you should also be consistent and firm as they are independent and can be strongly-willed at times. You also need to be the dog’s firm and consistent pack leader to avoid small dog syndrome and human-induced bad behavior.

Due to their cute nature, many owners often spoil them—forgetting to set rules and boundaries. Rules are important so that the dog knows what to expect of them. The Japanese Spitz can be an inveterate barker, and it is good to quite them down when they start to bark too much.

See Also: How to Train a Dog Not to Bark

Feeding Schedule

The Japanese Spitz is an active breed that needs a diet that is fit for an active dog. The dog also needs a small breed formula that will provide them with energy. These dogs are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean that you should feed your dog with any random food.

It is recommended to feed your mature Japanese Spitz twice a day with good and nutritious food—once in the morning and once in the evening. Exercise your dog to burn off extra calories and to avoid obesity that can lead to health issues.

Older Japanese Spitzs need to be fed a quality diet that meets their needs at their golden years while still watching their weight. The Japanese Spitz also needs clean, fresh water.

Coat, Color, and Grooming

Japanese spitz walking on grass

The Japanese Spitz is a low maintenance breed. The coat has a non-sticky texture, which means that dirt and mud fall off and can be brushed off from the coat easily. The dog is very clean and tidy and will often lick himself or herself like a cat to keep the coat clean.

The breed sheds twice in a year, and during the shedding season, you might need to brush them daily to remove dead hair. Use a pin brush and a rake comb when brushing the dog. You will need to vacuum your home regularly during the dog’s shedding season, as you will find dog hair everywhere.

These dogs have hair that is slightly coarser when compared to other breeds, so it is best to avoid over bathing the breed to prevent stripping away the natural oils that are essential for the coat’s health. Bathing should be done a few times a year. You should also never shave this dog’s fur as it will not regrow the same and you will interfere with the dog’s temperature regulation.

Ensure you clean your Japanese Spitz’s ears to prevent wax buildup. The teeth and the nails should also be looked after. The eyes need to be cleaned daily with warm water, as the breed is susceptible to runny eyes that can cause staining. The face also needs to be cleaned regularly to prevent tear staining due to runny eyes, which can result in skin sores or secondary infections.

See Also: Dog Tear Stains: How to Keep Your Dog’s Eyes Clean

Children and Other Pets Compatibility

Japanese spitz dogs playing together

The Japanese Split is known to have an affinity with children. They can become the perfect companion for a child. They also tend to be overprotective of young children especially if you have other children visiting the house.

It is essential that you introduce children who are visiting for the first time to the dog and supervise interaction between the dog and the guest children to ensure things do not get out of control. The dog is also known to make a wonderful companion for older people.

When socialized from an early age, the Japanese Spitz will get along well with other dogs and pets. However, care should be taken when the Spitz is around pets that the dog is not familiar with as they can chase them around.

Wrap Up

Japanese spitz puppy near the water

It is easy to fall in love with the Japanese Spitz due to its playful and social nature. They also make great watchdogs as they are very protective of their owner and territory. These dogs are loyal and will become your friend for life. Even if you are a first-time owner or live in a small apartment, this dog can easily adapt to your lifestyle.

However, this is not a dog for inactive owners, as the Spitz will need a lot of your attention. They also need moderate exercises and will want to play ball with you. You must be willing to give them attention as they thrive on human companionship.

So, what do you think about the Japanese Spitz? Is this the perfect companion for you? If you already own one, what experience do you have with the breed? Kindly share your opinion with us in the comment section below. If you decide to adopt a Japanese Spitz, we recommend that you pick a name for him/her from our flower dog names list. A beautiful dog deserves a beautiful name.

About the author
Wyatt Robinson
Wyatt Robinson

Wyatt Robinson had a great 25-years career as a veterinarian in United Kingdom. He used to be a member of British Veterinary Association and worked in 3 pet hospitals in London and Manchester. He is shining when he sees his pets healthy and full of energy and it is his duty to help other dog owners to keep their best friends full of life.

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