You may not have heard of the Japanese Spitz, but these dogs are beautiful canines that are rapidly growing in popularity. They are a fairly new breed that is officially recognized in many countries around the world. Revered for their playful personalities and elegant looks, these pups make good companions for large families, single dog owners, and anyone else who is looking to add a little fluff into their life.
If you’re thinking about adopting a Japanese Spitz dog, there’s a lot to consider. While they are often confused with Pomeranians, Samoyeds, American Eskimo dogs, and other Spitz canines, these pups are their own unique breed. They have distinct personalities and care requirements. Here’s some important information that you can use to see if a Japanese Spitz is the right dog for you.
The History of Japanese Spitz Dogs
By dog breed standards, the Japanese Spitz is very new. They were first developed in the 1920s and 1930s. After the arrival of White German Spitz dogs from China, Japanese breeders set out to create a unique dog breed. This new Japanese Spitz was created by crossbreeding several white Spitz breeds.
These dogs were shown off frequently in dog shows throughout Tokyo. However, it wasn’t until after World War II that the dog breed we know today was officially recognized.
Kennel Club Recognition
The official breed standards were set in 1945 and quickly accepted by the Japanese Kennel Club. For a while, these dogs were exclusive to Japan. However, they quickly spread to other parts of the world. They’re particularly popular in Sweden, which is one of the first countries these dogs were exported to. It didn’t take long for the breed to spread throughout Europe and get recognized by kennel clubs everywhere.
Here in the United States, these little dogs are very sought-after. They are recognized by the American Kennel Club, not as a full purebred. Instead, the AKC classifies them in the Foundation Stock Service group. This is a group of dogs that share similar looks, and personality traits.
Despite not being registered as a purebred, the AKC still recognizes many of the same breed standards. Though, there are some slight variations among kennel clubs around the world. We’ll get into that a bit later.
Types of Japanese Spitz Puppies
Because they look very similar to other Spitz breeds, it’s very easy to get duped when adopting a Japanese Spitz. It’s important to go to a reputable breeder. These little dogs have been in the United States since the 1980s, so there’s no shortage of breeders that can offer pedigree information for peace of mind.
Truth is, there’s only one type of Japanese Spitz out there. All dogs have a similar color, coat, and size standards. If you find a dog that falls outside of those standards, it’s more than likely not a purebred Japanese Spitz.
Japanese Spitz Temperament
Small dogs like the Japanese Spitz have a strong reputation among dog lovers and non-dog lovers alike. Many people view smaller canine companions as aloof and somewhat aggressive. That’s not the case with the Japanese Spitz.
These dogs are incredibly loyal and very personable. They want nothing more than to please their owners and be a part of the family. In fact, they’re known to be big attention seekers. They thrive on attention from humans. You can see these pups showing off, running around the home, or playing with kids.
As you might have guessed, these dogs make fantastic family pets. They do very well with children and can bond with everyone in the family. Their need for constant attention is a big plus if you have a large family. A Japanese Spitz will seek out people to play with then cuddle on the couch with someone else when they get tired.
Of course, all dogs are different. Canines are heavily influenced by their environment and how they are raised. To ensure that your Japanese Spitz is as well-rounded as possible, you need to socialize them early on. Early exposure to many humans and other dogs can help prevent bad behavior in the future. It’ll also help to make sure that the dog doesn’t become too shy or scared around strangers
Unfortunately, Japanese Spitz dogs are known to exhibit some separation anxiety. Their constant need for attention can prove to be problematic if they are left alone for long periods of time. This can lead to destructive behavior, barking, howling, and more. To prevent this, you need to make sure that they aren’t left alone for too long. In those moments they are alone, they must have plenty of mental stimulation to stay occupied.
Training and Intelligence
For the most part, the Japanese Spitz is easy to train. Many owners have noted that the breed is much easier to train than other small dogs. This can probably be attributed to their need for attention. If you utilize good training techniques, you should have no problem getting your dog to learn.
As always, positive reinforcement training is best. These dogs are particularly sensitive to negative treatment. They can quickly become timid if you yell at them too much or hit them. You should never use any kind of abusive behavior as a form of obedience training. Instead, reward them for the good things they do. They’ll love the attention and affection you provide, which makes training a breeze.
Japanese Spitz Characteristics
Japanese Spitzes are gorgeous companion dogs. Despite the similarities they share with other dog breeds, there are some distinct characteristics worth mentioning.
Size and Stature
Let’s start with size. The Japanese Spitz is classified as a small to medium dog. As fully grown adults, they can be anywhere between 10 and 25 pounds. When it comes to height, they are usually somewhere in the range of 12 to 15 inches tall.
The interesting thing about the Japanese Spitz is that there are some variations in recognized breed standards. For example, in the United States, the AKC standard is 12 to 15 inches tall. However, in Japan, the standard is 11 to 15. With the UK Kennel Club, there’s very little wiggle room. According to their standards, the Japanese Spitz should be 13.5 to 14.5 inches tall.
Luckily, there isn’t a major difference between size standards. Whichever club standards you follow, you will notice that these dogs are similar in size to other breeds. However, they are bigger than their closest cousin, the Pomeranian.
These dogs have all the hallmarks of the Spitz family of dog breeds. They have that iconic wedge-shaped head, pointed muzzle, and triangular perky ears. The Japanese Spitz has dark-colored eyes and a relatively lean body. However, their bodies are graciously covered by a thick coat of fur. We’ll get into the specifics of their fur soon.
One notable physical feature of the Japanese Spitz is their mane. Similar to that of an Alaskan Malamute, this mane creates a lion-like appearance. It adds some bulk to their neck and makes the little dog seem much larger than they really are!
Coat and Coloration
It’s no mystery why these dogs are often referred to as “Cloud Dogs.” The Japanese Spitz has a thick double-coat of pure white fur. This coat is very dense. However, most of it you don’t even see.
The undercoat is what adds the most bulk. It’s made up of very fine fibers that shed throughout the year. While you might think that the double coat makes them ready for winter environments, that’s not the case! These dogs don’t do very well in the cold. They’d much rather be in the luxury of a well-warmed home.
When it comes to color, the Japanese Spitz is pure white. There are no other varieties. To be considered a Japanese Spitz, the coat has to be completely devoid of color.
One interesting factoid about the Japanese Spitz is that it has one of the longest lifespans of any dog breed. A healthy Japanese Spitz dog can live to be between 10 and 16 years!
Typically, smaller dogs like this have a longer life expectancy than their larger counterparts. Of course, there are no guarantees! Like any other dog, the lifespan of a Japanese Spitz depends entirely on their care and overall health.
Potential Health Concerns
These lovable canine companions are not immune to health problems. They can encounter issues like any other breed. However, you’ll be happy to know that they are a relatively healthy breed. Compared to other dogs, these pups have very few genetic problems. Here are some of the most common ailments your pup may encounter.
The most widespread health concern is Patellar Luxation, or dislocation of the kneecap. Luxation can occur at any time during a dog’s life. However, it’s most prevalent in older dogs. It’s a painful issue that can eventually lead to further complications. If left untreated, the kneecap can cause tiny holes and tears in the joint cartilage.
Treatments vary based on the severity of the conditions. Sometimes, vets will simply prescribe medications to manage the pain. If it’s diagnosed early, a vet may recommend surgery to correct the position of the kneecap.
Japanese Spitz dogs can have runny eyes from time to time. Thanks to the pure white color of their fur, this issue is very obvious. It can lead to staining. The good news is that it’s no major cause for concern. These dogs have small tear ducts that are easily agitated from tall grass. Luckily, runny eyes very rarely cause any major infection or other health issues.
Choosing the right dog food for any dog is important. What they eat is going to directly affect their health. The Japanese Spitz is not known for being a particularly picky dog. This is good news. It means that you can easily find a healthy food option that they will love.
When you’re searching for the right food, you need to pay attention to three key areas. This includes protein content, carbohydrate ingredients, and fat.
Protein is the most important ingredient to have. While they may be a non-sporting breed, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have muscles you have to support. Look out for a dog food product with at least 18 percent protein. Even higher than that is always good.
High-quality sources like chicken, beef, fish, or turkey are good options. You should never buy a food product that uses something other than animal meat as a primary source of protein. If corn is listed as the first ingredient, look for something else!
As for carbohydrates, Japanese Spitz dogs need complex carbs that can keep their energy levels steady throughout the day. These dogs are already very energetic. Choosing simple carbs that are absorbed into the body quickly will only make your dog go crazy! Simple carbs cause significant blood sugar spikes, so stick to complex alternatives like sweet potatoes or peas.
Contrary to popular belief, fat is a necessary macronutrient for dogs. Obesity can be an issue with the Japanese Spitz, so try and keep fat content at moderate levels. 5 to 10 percent is ideal. Also, go with a dog food that uses omega fatty acids. Ingredients like flaxseed or fish oil can help keep your dog’s coat in good shape.
You don’t have to feed these dogs much. Depending on how nutritionally dense the food is, you may only need about two cups of kibble a day. When you’re choosing a food, make sure that you’re getting something that’s geared towards smaller breeds. These dogs can’t chew large pieces like big dogs.
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You won’t have any trouble finding a good dog food for a Japanese Spitz. However, we recommend trying out the Lil Plates formula from Merrick. It’s specifically designed for smaller dog breeds. Protein makes up an impressive 38 percent of the recipe. It primarily comes from deboned chicken. Though, there is also chicken meal, turkey meal, and salmon meal.
Salmon oil and flaxseed oil are used as well to support your dog’s skin. As if that weren’t enough, the formula has probiotics and prebiotics to keep your dog’s digestive system in check.
To stay healthy, the Japanese Spitz needs about 45 minutes of daily activity. Ideally, this will be split up throughout the day. Walks are the easiest way to get your dog moving. However, they also love doing a wide range of other activities.
These dogs love agility sports. They enjoy playing fetch, catching frisbees, or even making their way through an obstacle course! Try out a few different activities to see what your dog likes.
Grooming a Japanese Spitz
You might take a look at the long white coat and think that grooming a Japanese Spitz is a handful. Truth is, they are relatively low maintenance. They do require regular brushing, but other than that, there are no major grooming tasks to accomplish. Unlike other breeds, their fur tends to stay at a manageable length.
That said, brushing with a pin brush is important. The long hair is prone to developing tangles and mats. Matted hair is not just a cosmetic issue. The constant pulling can cause significant pain for your dog. If not addressed, it can also lead to rashes.
Brushing every day or every other day can help to prevent tangles from forming.
If you’re looking to pamper your pup and keep their coats looking pristine, you can take some additional grooming steps. While not always necessary, many owners like to use cleaning pads to take care of tear stains. Blue shampoo is also commonly used to prevent the fur from yellowing.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often do Japanese Spitz dogs shed?
Japanese Spitzes shed all year long. They also go through two heavy shedding periods. This typically occurs when the seasons change.
How much does a Japanese Spitz cost?
They don’t come cheap. Breeders that meet established standards will often sell puppies for $1,000 to $2,500 each!
Does the Japanese Spitz make a good watchdog?
Japanese Spitz dogs make great watchdogs. Despite their social nature, they are very loyal to their family and will not hesitate to alert you to the presence of strangers.
Are Japanese Spitz dogs good with kids?
Thanks to their playful nature, these dogs are great with kids. They love to play and kids are the perfect humans to keep these dogs active. Of course, all pups are different. Just make sure that you’re keeping a watchful eye!
Are Japanese Spitz dogs recognized by the AKC?
They are recognized by the American Kennel Club. However, they are not officially registered as a dedicated purebred. Instead, they are admitted to the Foundation Stock Service group because they have similarities with other breeds.
The Japanese Spitz is a lovable and intelligent dog that can serve all kinds of owners. Whether you’re looking for a companion for your active family or you want a lap dog that can accompany you on your daily adventures, the Japanese Spitz is ready for anything. As long as you provide these pups with plenty of attention and don’t leave them alone for too long, they will be well-mannered friends that will show you nothing but affection.