The Japanese Chin is a small breed of dog that is said to have originated in China and then found its way to Japan. In Japan, it became a thing of royalty, often given as royal gifts to diplomats or important people that did good deeds for Japan. While we have heard about the Japanese Chin for years, Japan actually has two different breeds of dog. One type is the Chin, which is the one that is considered royalty and descends from the Chin that came from Chinese aristocracy. The other type is Inu, which is a more common type of working dog.
The Japanese Chin is a small breed of dog that is a lap dog and small companion. This small dog is the toy size and the pride and joy of Japan.
Japan also has the Akita Inu and the Shiba Inu. The Akita is a large breed dog that originated in Japan. Unlike the Chin, the Akita weighs from 70 to 100 pounds. They are grouped into the working group by the AKC, but they were bred in Japan to be more like hunting and competitive fighting dogs. The Akita is an excellent housedog, which unlike the Chin, is very easy to housebreak. One similarity it does have with the Chin is that they are very clean and almost "cat-like" in their behavior. It was said that the Chin had, at one time, been inbred with a cat to get the best of the canine and feline world. There has been some speculation to if there is some similar breeding in the Akita to get the same characteristic.
Another Japanese dog is the Shiba Inu, a medium sized dog smaller than the Akita but larger than the Chin. Its weight is only 17 to 20 pounds. The Shiba is a non-sporting dog that originated in Japan, as did the other two.
Many of the Shiba disappeared around the same time as World War II, with the exception of three bloodlines. All the Shiba Inu that exist today come from them. In 1937, a Japanese law went into effect protecting the Shiba Inu from extinction. The War, however, took care of many of the dogs. One managed to make it back to the United States with a military man.
The Shiba Inu, with the exception of the size, bears a resemblance to the Chin, although they are quite different. The coat is lush and full with fur around the neck, and on the tail and buttocks as well. Both the Shiba and the Akita are called "Inu", it is believed, because Inu means "dog" in Japan.
Although Japan has all three of these dogs as "their" dogs, it is the Japanese Chin that still remains their best dog and most loved and protected.