Japanese Terrier


Quick Facts

  • Weight: 6 to 9 pounds
  • Height: 11 to 13 inches

The Look of a Japanese Terrier

The Japanese Terrier is a compact, muscular little dog who looks much like the Rat Terrier. It is tight-skinned, with a wide forehead and defined muzzle. The eyes are dark and the ears tend to fold over, though they can stand up when the dog is alert. The white coat is short, smooth, and silky, with spots throughout, and a black or black-and-tan head.

The Japanese Terrier is evenly proportioned and sturdy with a square appearance and a tail that is usually docked. Despite its tight build, this dog has a light and lively gait and will willingly jump into your lap (and your heart).


  • Striking black head and white body
  • Tiny size (for a terrier)
  • History as purely a companion animal
  • Cheerful, lively character
  • Lifespan: 9 to 11 years

Ideal Human Companion

  • Households with no other pets
  • Adult households
  • Warm-climate dwellers
  • Those looking for a low-maintenance pet

What They Are Like to Live With

The Japanese Terrier is a cheerful, animated, intelligent dog. They are gentle and sometimes cautious but, like other terriers, they can be intense when chasing squirrels (which may be bigger than they are). These dogs are also happy in your lap. Despite their small size, this breed is known for its strength of character, loyalty, and good all-round companion dog qualities.

While a Japanese Terrier seems most at home on the couch, it still needs plenty of exercise. Because of its size and coat, it is most suited to warm climates. Grooming a Japanese Terrier is very simple, with just a brush now and then and baths as needed.

Things You Should Know

Because of the Japanese Terrier’s small size and sensitive nature, this breed needs a calm owner and a quiet household. It is not recommended for boisterous households or those with small children. Any other household animals must be very gentle — in fact, it is usually better for a Japanese Terrier to be an only pet.

This breed has no recorded health issues.

Japanese Terrier History

The Japanese Terrier’s history begins in the 17th century, when Fox Terriers were brought to Japan aboard Dutch and British ships. In Japan, these terriers were bred with small Pointers and native dogs and quickly became favorites as companions. Indeed, this breed seems to have been developed purely as pets, rather than being bred to hunt vermin like many terriers.

The Japanese Terrier is also called the Nippon Terrier and the Nihon Terrier. The breed’s standards were not formalized until its recognition by the Japanese Kennel Club in 1930. The United Kennel Club recognized it in 2006. Today, though more popular in Japan, it has a notable number of followers in Europe and the U.S.

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