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Japanese Spitz – The Complete Guide to the Japanese Dog Breed

All good things come in small packages. And if ‘good’ means cute, friendly, loyal and brave, then it aptly describes a Japanese Spitz. This canine is truly small in size, measuring a maximum of 16 inches in height. So, if you choose this dog breed, you gain is an adorable companion that can bark its heart out at a stranger.

Weighing between 11 and 20 pounds, this canine can be easily mistaken for an American Eskimo, a Samoyed or a Pomeranian. However, it is distinct from all three and has its own unique traits, just like the island country that it originates from.

Assuming that you live in an apartment and your family has children, which dog breed would you choose? Indeed it is a Japanese Spitz that would be the perfect choice.

Due to its small size, a Japanese Spitz can easily adapt to life in an apartment. It is friendly towards children and protective of the family. You don’t need to spend much time on its grooming and they don’t require daily walks (although it’s still good to).

So if you’re already convinced that this is the canine for you, the next question is where to acquire one. The good news is that with the exception of American Kennel Club, every other kennel club in the world could provide you with a reputable breeder.   

RECOMMENDED: 13 Fascinating Japanese Dog Breeds

Japanese Spitz Basic Profile

Friendliness: These dogs are extremely social with those they’re familiar with. A Japanese Spitz will flourish around a family, even with small children and other dogs. However, it takes them some time to become friendly with strangers.


Trainability: The Japanese Spitz are very intelligent and learn relatively easily. They tend to nip and chew on things around the house, but early training can solve this issue. Off-leash training is not ideal for the Japanese Spitz.


Grooming: The Japanese Spitz doesn’t shed as much as other dog breeds. They don’t often get debris stuck on their coat, which makes them easy to keep good hygiene.


Adaptability: The Japanese Spitz can easily adapt to any environment, whether big or small. However, they tolerate cold weather much better than hot weather. Because they’re such social animals, they can’t stand being left alone for long periods of time.


Activity: The Spitz needs a moderate amount of activity. If you happen to miss a day or two of taking them out for a daily walk, they won’t tear up the house from boredom like other dogs. Still, it’s good for them to get moderate exercise when possible.

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<strong>Japanese Spitz - </strong><strong>Vital Stats</strong>
  • Height: 10-16 inches
  • Weight: 11 – 20 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 10-16 years
  • Dog Breed Group: Companion Dog

Japanese Spitz Highlights

Following are some of the distinct features of this dog breed –

  • They come from a lineage recognized by kennel clubs around the world. So, members of this breed enjoy an identity of their own and must not be confused with Pomeranians, Samoyeds or American Eskimo dogs. 
  • As soon as a Japanese Spitz is brought home, within a matter of minutes it would endear itself to all family members, including children.
  • Unlike some of the other dog breeds, this little bundle of fur is easy to train and would obediently do your bidding.
  • Despite its thick fur, a Japanese Spitz does not require much grooming in terms of bath and brushing. There is hardly any odor and because of the type of fur, there are no deposits of dirt, debris and other pollutants.
  • For its size, this canine is immensely courageous. At the slightest hint of a stranger, not only will it bark the loudest but also stand ground and refuse to back off.

Origin of the Japanese Spitz

The Japanese Spitz is a more common small dog breed from Japan.

The very first member of this breed is believed to have surfaced in Japan in 1921 through the cross-breeding of the German Spitz. This first lot had arrived from China but gradually other members of this breed were brought in from different parts of the world as part of the cross-breeding program.

The breeding program was manipulated to produce off-spring with desirable traits. After a lot of experimenting, the perfect gene map was identified.

By the time the Second World War came to an end, a typical Japanese Spitz had been created. First to acknowledge this breed was the Japan Kennel Club, followed by clubs all over the world. The Japanese Spitz were imported to England, Sweden and other countries.

Only the American Kennel Club have not recognized this breed. The reason being this canine’s strong similarity with the American Eskimo dog breed. That being said, kennel clubs around the world vary in terms of the standard size of this dog breed, although this does not have any bearing on its growing popularity.

Japanese Spitz Temperament

One of the reasons for the growing popularity of the Japanese Spitz is its temperament. As long as you shower plenty of love, affection and attention on these dogs, they will be friendly and playful.

To ensure that they remain in good moods, take them out for a walk every day, preferably in open areas where it can run around freely. Expanding its vast reserves of energy on a daily basis is recommended for this canine to maintain an exuberant temperament.

Expect your Japanese Spitz to throw a tantrum and create nuisance if –

  •   You’re ignoring it
  •   The spitz has been left alone at home for a long duration (they tend to become anxious)
  •   The dog hasn’t been taken out or allowed to run around
  •   Presence of a stranger

Every canine needs to be trained in socializing, and the Japanese Spitz is no exception to this rule. While you should allow them to bark at strangers, it is equally important to train them to calm down when reassured. Lack of interference and training will cause a Japanese Spitz to keep barking at the strangers, warranted or not.

Training Japanese Spitz dogs can be fun, because they responds favorably. Basically, this dog breed is intelligent enough to grasp what is being told and act in accordance with the command.


In terms of personality, a Japanese Spitz exhibits the following traits –

  •   Loyal
  •   Obedient
  •   Loving and affectionate
  •   Physically active
  •   Courageous

Other Dogs and Children

Because this dog breed is inherently friendly, they are compatible with both children and other pets. They are not aggressive either, meaning that the kids need to be trained as to how to treat the dog. As long as its affection is duly acknowledged, a Japanese Spitz loves having company, whether they are children, cats, dogs or other small animals.  

The Japanese Spitz is friendly and protective, thus proving to be a perfect companion for your kids. Given its warm-hearted personality, you can trust a Japanese Spitz to interact with your children.

It is also safe because of their small size. So when you include this pooch into the family, your kids will have acquired a highly devoted and sportive playmate.

And as a parent, you can rest assured that there won’t be any mishaps, like rough play or children getting knocked over. What you must do is to teach your child to be gentle and caring towards their canine companion.

However, it is better not to take their friendly nature for granted. Always initiate their social training early on. Despite being friendly, there might be times when a Japanese Spitz does feel threatened or uncomfortable. When this happens, you should be prepared to step in and resolve the situation so that all parties are comfortable.

Japanese Spitz Care

Basic care is all that a Japanese Spitz requires. As part of a daily routine, you may want to consider brushing their teeth and examining their ears. Dogs’ paws are prone to infection, and hence you must make it a point to clean them every day of dirt and debris (if/when they go outside).

READ MORE: Taking care of your Japanese Spitz

Fleas and Ticks

A Japanese Spitz needs to be wormed every now and then when it is young, but the frequency becomes less as it grows older. Likewise, its thick white fur is a safe haven for fleas and ticks, much to your dismay.

Pick a product which you feel would be most suitable and use it as per instructions to keep your pooch free from these parasites.  


Part of caring also entails providing your Japanese Spitz with its daily dose of exercise. Regular physical exercise can do wonders for this dog breed. In addition to keeping them mentally stimulated, it curbs destructive behavior, like chasing, chewing, digging and so on.

Duration and intensity of exercise would depend on the age of your dog but usually it needs to be more than just a short walk around the house. Favorite forms of exercise include running around a spacious lawn or playing fetch.


Overall, the Japanese Spitz does not require much care or maintenance. Still, as a responsible and cautious owner, you must get it examined by a vet at least once a month.

Puppy/dog vaccinations are another aspect of the care routine that is essential to good health. To this effect, you must maintain a vaccination card and get it updated by the vet after every visit.

Japanese Spitz Diet Guide

For a Japanese Spitz to grow well and enjoy good health, proper nutrition is a must. One way of ensuring this entails following appropriate dietary guidelines in terms of meals and snacks.

Up until 4 months old, a Japanese Spitz would require 4 meals a day. When they are between 3 and 6 months, they should be served three meals a day. Beyond six months, the number of meals should come down to two.

As soon as it turns one, just one meal a day should be sufficient for this pooch. Of course you should dish out a treat or two once in a while, not just to keep it occupied but also to provide exercise to its teeth and jaws.

High-quality dog food is the best option for your Japanese Spitz to account for the daily quota of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Dry food like biscuits can be mixed with broth or minced meat so that it appears more palatable to your pooch and to some extent, also caters to the water requirement.

Snacking could include: soup-bones, chicken bones, chews and so on, wherein the canine can gnaw at them till its heart’s content.

Human Foods

People food like cooked eggs, vegetables and fruits can also be included in the dog’s diet but is not recommended. Instead, they should be used as occasional treats. Over a period of time this diet plan has been found to cause nutritional imbalance and can lead to weakness in teeth and bones.

People diet has also been held responsible for causing obesity in pets, not to mention causing the pet to develop finicky eating habits.   

Japanese Spitz Grooming

Grooming session for a Japanese Spitz should be held once a week wherein its coat would be brushed and its nails would be clipped. The only exception is when your canine might be shedding fur. In that case, you should brush their coat on a daily basis.

In order to groom your Japanese Spitz, you would need a pin brush and a slicker brush, a bottle of water spray, a pair of scissors and nail clippers. Spraying the dry fur with water laced with a bit of conditioner would soften it sufficiently for brushing and prevent breakage of hair.

Sometimes the coat may appear dirty – in such a situation rub it once with a hot towel, preferably laced with a suitable essential oil like eucalyptus, lavender and so on.

While brushing always use the pin brush first and then the slicker brush. Start with its back and after you have brushed from head to tail, turn the pooch over and brush its belly. After brushing, clip toenails and the hair between the paw-pads very carefully so as not to cause injury.    

Bathing your Japanese Spitz once a month is enough to keep it clean. For this purpose, you can use a mild shampoo which is also effective as a cleanser to ensure that it dissolves even the most deep-seated dirt.

Drying the fur might take longer than usual because of the thickness of the coat. This is something that you need to be prepared for.

Japanese Spitz Health

A Japanese Spitz is fairly healthy, but it can be prone to certain genetic health issues. A common problem is luxating patellas, meaning dislocated knees. Your small-sized canine may also have to endure watery eyes every once in a while. If it doesn’t get better, you would need to take them to the vet.

Oral Health

Oral health is a major concern with the Japanese Spitz because they are susceptible to a condition known as halitosis. Plaque deposits on teeth are also an issue and these are best countered through regular brushing. You can use canine toothpaste or alternatively resort to the home remedy of baking soda and water paste.

Use a brush with soft bristles for cleaning your canine’s teeth and gums and carry out this activity a minimum of twice a week. Despite all the dental care, Japanese Spitz are still vulnerable to periodontal disease, so you need to be on the look-out for this through regular health check-ups.

Bad breath is another health issue in a Japanese Spitz and it is an aspect that you should always be looking for. Most of the times, an odor is a sign of an underlying health problem, like diabetes, kidney disease and so on.

Therefore, at the slightest hint of an odor or abnormal behavior like lethargy, nausea, excessive urinating and so on, you must get the pooch examined thoroughly by a vet.

Final Thoughts

The moment your Japanese Spitz becomes a part of the home and family, it is time for you to gather supplies and make arrangements. Start by getting two different bowls for water and food respectively and a bed with a quilt.

Next you must purchase a dental kit followed by grooming tools, not to mention a towel and plenty of toys. As playful as they may be, do ensure that they always wears a collar with an identification tag. Unless you are in a safe and secure area, do not let it off the leash.

Observe these guidelines pertaining to a Japanese Spitz and you will have earned a most lovable and entertaining lifelong companion.

Similar Dogs to Japanese Spitz

White Pomeranian dog, American Eskimo Dog and the Samoyed.


Tuesday 17th of November 2020

How do I find a reputably bred one in the Rocky Mountain west? I'm usually a big dog person- think Alaskan Malamutes- but these little guys are interesting


Monday 21st of June 2021

@Kate, Google the Japanese Spitz club. JS breeders are a tight group and the breeders will refer you to one close to you. That's how we got our JS almost 14 years ago. She's obviously aging and slowing down now, but it's been a great run.