The Japanese Spitz is a small family companion with the heart of a large watchdog. This breed may look similar to American Eskimo Dogs, white Pomeranians, or small Samoyeds, but Japanese Spitzes have their own lineages and hail from, as you might guess, Japan. Although the American Kennel Club does not recognize this breed, many other kennel clubs around the world accept them.
Japanese Spitz dogs are also intelligent, easy to train, low-maintenance, and great with children. They make good apartment dogs, so long as pet parents meet their exercise needs, and they have fairly low grooming needs, despite the appearance of their gorgeous, white fur.
Dogs of this breed are protective of their human families, even though they’re small in stature, and they’re known to bark when strangers enter their territory without backing down. If you want a dog who will be a dedicated family member with spirit and personality that far exceed their physical size, the Japanese Spitz might be the pooch for you.
Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn’t necessarily an apartment dog make. Plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents are all good qualities in an apartment dog.
Some dogs are simply easier than others; they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They’re also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies.
Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time dog parent to manage. You’ll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.
If you’re new to dog parenting, take a look at 101 Dog Tricks and read up on how to train your dog!
Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called “easygoing,” “tolerant,” “resilient,” and even “thick-skinned,” can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.
Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive–barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.
Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks.
Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can’t pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, your dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you’ll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.
All Around Friendliness
Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they’ve been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn’t the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.
See Dogs Less Affectionate with Family
Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who’s on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (which are considered Pit Bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren’t always so family-friendly.
**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they’re not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.
Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs, even if they’re love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn’t the only factor. Dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least six to eight weeks of age and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.
Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with wagging tails and nuzzles; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was socialized and exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult. Remember that even friendly dogs should stay on a good, strong leash like this one in public!
Health And Grooming Needs
If you’re going to share your home with a dog, you’ll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds. Some dogs shed year-round, some “blow” seasonally, some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you’re a neatnik, you’ll need to either pick a low-shedding breed or relax your standards. To help keep your home a little cleaner, you can find a great de-shedding tool
Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you’ve got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you’re a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog who rates low in the drool department.
Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog who needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.
Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn’t mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they’re at an increased risk.
If you’re adopting a puppy, it’s a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you’re interested in. You may also want to ask if your shelter or rescue has information about the physical health of your potential pup’s parents and other relatives.
Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that’s prone to packing on pounds, you’ll need to limit treats, make sure they get enough exercise, and measure out their daily food servings into regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.
Ask your vet about your dog’s diet and what they recommend for feeding your pooch to keep them at a healthy weight. Weight gain can lead to other health issues or worsen problems like arthritis.
Dogs come in all sizes, from the world’s smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if they’re compatible with you and your living space. Large dog breeds might seem overpowering and intimidating, but some of them are incredibly sweet! Take a look and find the right sized dog for you!
Easy-to-train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word “sit”), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training.
Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a “What’s in it for me?” attitude, in which case you’ll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.
Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don’t get the mental stimulation they need, they’ll make their own work–usually with projects you won’t like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.
Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in Retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn’t puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or “herd” their human family members, and they need training to learn that it’s fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a toy that’s been stuffed with kibble and treats.
Dogs who were bred to hunt, such as Terriers, have an inborn desire to chase–and sometimes kill–other animals. Anything whizzing by, such as cats, squirrels, and perhaps even cars, can trigger that instinct. Dogs who like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you’ll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren’t a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won’t chase, but you’ll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.
Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how often the dog vocalizes with barks or howls. If you’re considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you’re considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious “strangers” put your pup on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby? Then you may wish to choose a quieter dog.
Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they’ll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses–or that bunny that just ran across the path–even if it means leaving you behind.
High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they’re more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells.
Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you’ll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.
A vigorous dog may or may not have high energy, but everything they do, they do with vigor: they strain on the leash (until you train them not to), try to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who’s elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.
Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise, especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, like herding or hunting.
Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don’t like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.
Some dogs are perpetual puppies — always begging for a game — while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.
Dog Breed Group:Companion DogsHeight:10 to 16 inchesWeight:11 to 20 poundsLife Span:10 to 16 years
More About This Breed
The Japanese Spitz was bred to be a small companion dog that is cute, loyal, friendly, and smart. Even though they aren’t specifically bred to be watchdogs, they have a courageous nature and an innate desire to protect their families, as well as a bark that is quite loud for their size. Although they are a relatively new breed, Japanese Spitz dogs are becoming increasingly popular due to their pleasant temperament, their ability to get along with other dogs and children, and their fairly low grooming needs, among other traits. They also tend to be healthy dogs with a longer-than-average life expectancy. Dogs of this breed adapt well to apartment living and have low-to-moderate exercise needs. At least one walk a day should keep them happy and prevent boredom, along with the destructive tendencies that are seen in dogs of almost any breed when they are cooped up too long without physical and mental exercise. Japanese Spitz dogs respond well to training and learn quickly. They’d make a decent choice for first-time dog owners, so long as they are prepared to meet the Japanese Spitz’s exercise needs and learn the basics of responsible pet parenting before bringing a pooch home.
- Japanese Spitz dogs have fairly low grooming needs, despite the appearance of their beautiful, white coats. Their fur repels most debris and dirt, and they rarely need baths, as they don’t have a doggy odor. Two good brushings a week should do the trick.
- Despite being similar in appearance to the American Eskimo Dog, Pomeranian, and Samoyed breeds, the Japanese Spitz breed has its own history and is recognized as a separate breed by many kennel clubs around the world.
- Japanese Spitz dogs have a bark that is louder than what you might expect from their size, and they are known to be fearless, especially when protecting their families.
- Although they make good apartment dogs, Japanese Spitz dogs do not like to be left alone for long periods of time, or they may get anxious.
- These dogs are very smart and respond well to positive reinforcement training.
- Japanese Spitz dogs are family-friendly. They are known to be playful and gentle with children, and they tend to get along well with other dogs in the household.
The Japanese Spitz breed made its debut at a dog show in Tokyo, Japan in 1921. The first dogs of the breed were descended from several white German Spitz dogs that were brought to Japan from China. Over the next few years, many other white Spitz breeds were imported from all over the world, and they were crossbred to produce more desirable traits in the emerging Japanese Spitz breed. It wasn’t until after World War II that the breed’s standards were finalized, and the Japan Kennel Club started to recognize the Japanese Spitz. In the 1950s, Japanese Spitz dogs were exported to Sweden, then England, and then around the world. Eventually, national kennel clubs all over the world recognized the Japanese Spitz as its own breed, though many of these kennel clubs still vary in their breed standards, especially when it comes to what size these dogs should be. The American Kennel Club is an exception, as it does not recognize the Japanese Spitz as a separate breed, mostly because of the strong resemblance to the American Eskimo Dog. The breed still continues to grow in popularity around the world.
Many kennel clubs disagree as to exactly what size Japanese Spitz dogs should be, but they range in between 10 and 16 inches in height at the shoulders. Females tend to be smaller than males on average. The usual weight of dogs in this breed is 11 to 20 pounds. Though there is disagreement about the proper size of the Japanese Spitz, they are usually larger than Pomeranians, which share many common characteristics.
Japanese Spitz dogs are prized for their wonderful temperaments. They are very family-friendly and have a playful spirit. These dogs love personal attention, and they won’t respond well to being ignored or left alone for long periods of time. Their energy needs are fairly average. One good walk a day should suit a Japanese Spitz just fine, and they might also appreciate a chance to run off leash. Because they are good with other dogs, a trip to the dog park will let them run freely and burn off any excess energy. That said, every dog should have socialization training, regardless of breed, before interacting with other animals. Japanese Spitz dogs are known for their courage and protective nature. They will bark, surprisingly loudly, at strangers who enter their territory, though they will calm down if humans they trust reassure them. They should be introduced to visitors comfortably. Japanese Spitz dogs soak up training well, and they are quite intelligent. Loyal, active, obedient, and affectionate are all words that accurately describe Japanese Spitz dogs’ personalities, which may contribute to their continued growth in popularity.
The Japanese Spitz dog breed is known to be fairly healthy with few of the genetic conditions that affect other purebreds. They may, however, be prone to luxating patellas–a condition where the kneecaps become dislocated. They may also have runny eyes from time to time, and their skin may become dry if they are bathed too frequently, which is why it is important to only bathe a Japanese Spitz when it is necessary. Owners should watch out for these conditions and maintain regular vet visits to catch and address any health concerns.
Japanese Spitz dogs tend to be low-maintenance and require fairly basic care. Their teeth should be brushed regularly as recommended by a veterinarian. Their ears and paw pads should be checked for signs of infection, parasites, or debris and kept clean. Keep up with regular vet visits to maintain good health for your Japanese Spitz.
A Japanese Spitz dog diet should be formulated for a small-to-mid-sized breed with average energy and exercise needs. You should consult your veterinarian or professional nutritionist for advice on what to feed your individual Japanese Spitz and the correct portion sizes. Their dietary needs will change as they grow from puppyhood to adulthood and senior age. Stay on top of these nutritional requirements.
Coat Color And Grooming
Japanese Spitz dogs have pure, white coats. Even though they look like they have high grooming needs, they do not. Their coats have a texture that usually repels most dirt and debris. That said, their coats are thick, and they must be brushed to prevent knots and matting. Japanese Spitz dogs should be brushed at least twice a week with a brush that reaches to the undercoat. This will dislodge some of the dead hair and reduce the need to clean up after shedding, as well. Their coats tend to be dry compared to other breeds, which is why they should only be bathed as needed. Frequent bathing can remove some of the natural oil and moisture from the hair, which can cause itchiness. Overall, the grooming needs of the Japanese Spitz are quite low compared to many other breeds.
Children And Other Pets
With a playful and gentle nature, Japanese Spitz dogs are great with kids. Their small size also means that they are unlikely to accidentally knock kids over or play too rough. A Japanese Spitz will make a loving, protective playmate for most children. That said, it is still important to supervise play and to instruct youngsters on how to properly handle and treat pets. Any dog can nip when they are afraid or uncomfortable. Japanese Spitz dogs also tend to do well with other pets in the house. They are not naturally aggressive. However, it is still important to keep up with socialization training with any dog to make sure that they remain comfortable in the presence of new pets and animals that they might interact with.
If you are interested in adopting a Japanese Spitz dog, you may have some trouble finding a rescue that specifically caters to this breed. However, you can try following Rescue Me! Spitz Rescue on Facebook, which is a group that regularly posts links to adoptable Spitz dogs.