Cute, loyal, friendly, with an attitude that far exceeds its size – that’s your typical Japanese Spitz. Beneath the fluffy glory is a small-sized, low-maintenance dog that’s gaining popularity because of its pleasant temperament. If you want to welcome this playful and smart pooch as an addition to your family, here’s a primer on this amiable dog.
The Japanese Spitz originated from Japan, where several Spitz-type dogs, including the German Spitz, were crossbred to develop this small companion dog. They made their first appearance at a Tokyo dog show in 1921. However, it wasn’t until after World War II that the breed’s standard finally made it to Japan Kennel Club.
Currently, the Japanese Spitz is gaining popularity in the US but the American Kennel Club still hasn’t recognized this breed due to its close similarity to the American Eskimo Dog. Most major kennel clubs from all over the world have already recognized the breed, though.
The Japanese Spitz is known for its pleasant temperament. They are great with children and other dogs. They love being the center of attention and they can’t stand being alone for long stretches of time. This cute and gentle creature just needs some regular walk around the block as its exercise regimen. For this reason, they make excellent apartment dogs.
However, for all their sweet and affectionate disposition, they can be a spitfire when it comes to strangers. Oblivious to its small stature, this dog won’t back down from barking when it sees a threat or if someone tries to trespass into its territory. And that’s why you need to introduce visitors to your pup and calmly reassure it when someone it doesn’t know comes to visit.
This small dog can reach a height of 10 to 16 inches at the shoulders and can weigh approximately 11-20 lbs. It sports a deep chest and square body covered with a white fluffy double coat. Its coat consists of a coarse outer layer that stands off from its fine and soft undercoat. This pup also has a lion-like mane extending from its shoulders down to its brisket and a furry tail that’s curled over.
They have triangular prick ears, pointed muzzle, and almond-shaped eyes on a wedge-shaped head. The skin around their nose, eyes, mouth, and knee pads are black, which provides the perfect contrast to its snow-white fur.
The Japanese Spitz is a fairly robust breed. They’re not predisposed to many genetic disorders and have a relatively long life expectancy of 10 to 16 years. However, as a fur parent, you are primarily responsible for making sure your pooch stays healthy. Thus, you need to be mindful of these few health risks:
Also commonly known as kneecap dislocation, this condition results from a patella (kneecap) that is disjointed out of the groove in the thigh bone. When this happens, your pooch will exhibit symptoms like hindlimb lameness, abnormal gait, or decreased physical activities. Small dogs are predisposed to this condition.
When the kneecap is dislocated, the dogs will usually stop whatever they’re doing and hold up their hind legs until the muscles relax and the kneecap returns to its normal position. At the early sign of this behavior, you need to take your pooch to the vet. In severe cases, surgery might be the only option to relieve your furry pal of the pain when its kneecap dislocates.
Commonly known as runny eyes, this condition is common to the breed because of their small tear ducts. Normally, your pooch’s lacrimal glands produce a thin layer of tears to lubricate its eyes. Excess tears drain into its tear ducts, which releases the fluid to the nose or the throat. When you notice symptoms of runny eyes like fur stains and dampness beneath the eyes, it’s usually because the Japanese Spitz’s tear ducts are too small and can’t keep up with draining the excess fluid.
However, in rare instances, runny eyes could also be a symptom of more serious underlying conditions like obstruction of the tear ducts, eye infection, allergies, glaucoma, eye trauma, or corneal ulcers. To be safe, schedule a visit to the vet when you notice excessive dampness of the eyes. Treatment varies depending on the underlying cause of epiphora.
Tips for Taking Care of a Japanese Spitz
This adorable pooch is considered relatively low-maintenance. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t lavish it with all the love and attention it deserves. Here are tips on how to do just that.
Choosing a puppy
When looking for a puppy, choose to deal only with a registered and responsible breeders who are well-versed with the characteristics of this breed. Excellent breeders don’t just eye the sale of the litters, but they also go the extra mile by educating potential owners of the possible health concerns and tips in raising the pup. You should make it a point to visit their facility and check the condition of the dogs as well as the temperament of the dam. Your pooch will more likely take after its mother.
For all that fur, it’s often hard to believe that this type of dog doesn’t require too much time in terms of grooming. But it’s true – the Japanese Spitz is well endowed with a coat that repels dirt and debris. Thus, a good brushing twice a week is what’s needed to keep its fur healthy. And you only need to give it a good bath when necessary. In fact, bathing it frequently is not encouraged as this could cause skin dryness. While you’re grooming your pup, make sure to check their paws and ears for parasite infestations, infection, or any other abnormalities.
This pint-sized dog doesn’t just have the courage of a large-sized breed, it could also have the energy requirement of one. The Japanese Spitz is an active pooch and has a high metabolic rate. That’s why its nutritional requirement includes proteins and 20% more fats than a medium-sized breed to keep up with its energy needs. Usually, your pup would need at least 1.5 cups of premium kibbles, divided into two meals per day. Of course, the amount of food you give should be appropriate for its age, size, and the level of activity it undertakes every day. When in doubt, talk with the vet about this.
Intelligent and eager to please, this breed is very easy to train. Even novice owners will not go through a steep learning curve to give basic obedience training to a Japanese Spitz. Just make sure to meet its exercise requirements and be consistent with the training and you’ll soon have a well-behaved and obedient furry pal following you around.
Ideal Living Condition
This pooch can do well even when you live in an apartment. They can also tolerate warm and cold weather. What they can’t tolerate, however, is being away from their beloved humans for hours on end. This dog’s world revolves around its family and it could develop separation anxiety when it’s left alone for an entire day.
Raising a Japanese Spitz is a reward in itself. This bundle of fur also happens to be a bundle of joy. Aside from the cuteness overload that guarantees attention wherever it goes, its pleasing temperament can make you one proud fur parent.