Japanese Terriers – Everything You Need To Know

The Japanese Terrier, also known as the Nipon or Nihon Terrier, is one of the rarest of the terrier group. He is a small, athletic, lively, affectionate, animated pet dog that exhibits all the traits of a faithful terrier. These happy dogs are balanced, square-shaped breeds with slick, short, and smooth coats. Japanese Terrier’s heads are primarily black with a white body and black spots. These pets tend to tolerate the heat better than the cold climate and will require a thick coat or a dog jacket if living in a cold climate. These gentle dogs are reserved but adore playing games and chasing squirrels. They create a close bond with their human family and quickly become jealous if you pay too much attention to other pets or people. Expect loud barks when they feel jealous and want your attention. 

Japanese Terriers are small-sized companions recognized for their great affection and adaptability. However, there are a few distinctions between male and female Japanese Terriers, further reduced by spaying and neutering. Male Japanese Terriers are more possessive and territorial if you have other males at home. However, a reliable owner can train and socialize these pups into delightful companions. Also, their indomitable spirit makes them excellent watchdogs. 

Japanese Terrier Overview

Japanese Terriers are small, active dogs that originated in Japan with an identical appearance to that of a Rat Terrier and Fox Terrier. Initially, they were bred for ratting and have been utilized in Japanese ports for years, but they have also been widely maintained as loyal companions. Unfortunately, they are rare breeds; so locating one is challenging. The AKC needs to recognize them, but Japanese Terriers are starting to be recognized by some smaller clubs worldwide.

Japanese Terriers are little laid-back, easy-going, small lap dogs that are excellent companions. They bring great joy and energy into a home. These adaptable and loyal pets do well in small apartments and on large farms, provided that they get sufficient exercise. Always remember that Japanese Terriers cannot be left at home alone for extended periods, as they will undergo separation anxiety. If you are frequently away from home, then the Japanese Terrier is not the right dog for you.

Japanese Terrier Pros and Cons

Companionable and affectionateDo not adapt to cold climates
Does not require much exerciseExtremely rare
Adaptable to rural life and apartment livingNot good with other pets

Japanese Terrier Basic Information

  • Name: Japanese Terrier
  • Origin: Japan
  • Group: Terrier group
  • Size: Small
  • Height: 10 – 13 inches
  • Weight: 10 – 12 pounds
  • Coat: Sleek, smooth, thick, short coat
  • Color: White body with tan or black markings
  • Energy: High
  • Activities: Hiking, agility, companion dogs, conformity, obedience, herding, watchdog, and guard dog.
  • Barking Level: Medium
  • Shedding Level: Occasional
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Litter Size: 4 – 8 puppies
  • Other Names: Nipon Terrier, Nihon Teria, Nihon Terrier, Kobe Terrier, Mikado Terrier, Oyuki (snowy) Terrier
  • Original Pastime: Ratters
  • Life Span: 9 – 15 years
  • Club Recognition: Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), Japanese Kennel Club (JKC), United Kennel Club (UKC)

History of Japanese Terrier

By the 1600s, residents in Japan brought breeds like the German Pinscher and Fox terrier. They crossbred them with local Japanese canines, resulting in the little Japanese terriers in the Nagasaki, Kobe, and Yokohama areas. Those little dogs were called Japanese Terriers; unfortunately, these breeds never regained their popularity after World War II. As a result, they are now scarce in Japan and uncommon in the United States. Today, Japanese Terrier results from crosses between two ancestral terriers, a Toy Bull terrier, and an English Toy terrier.

  • In 1930, Japanese Terriers were first recognized by the Japanese Kennel Club.
  • Japanese Terriers were admitted to United Kennel Club (UKC) in 2006.
  • The AKC accepted the Japanese Terrier into the Foundation Stock Service on October 13th, 2020. It’s an optional registry of AKC that credits the new arrivals of purebred dogs to the US. However, the AKC has not officially recognized the Japanese Terrier.

Japanese Terrier Highlights

  • Japanese Terriers are the only Terriers native to Japan.
  • They are one of the most rare breeds.
  • They are expert ratters.
  • Crate training is recommended.
  • They don’t enjoy the cold weather and are predisposed to chills, mainly if wet or in moist areas.
  • Japanese Terriers are a cross between the dogs brought by the British, Dutch sailors, and the local Japanese dogs.
  • Japanese Terriers are believed to result from a cross between Pointers, German Pinschers, and Smooth Fox Terriers with the local Japanese breeds.

Japanese Terrier Personality

The Japanese Terrier is a fun, good-tempered, devoted companion who is energetic, affectionate, and highly bonded to its owners. They are excellent watchdogs but can be snappy towards other kids if not treated gently or respectfully. Some Japanese Terriers might be aggressive toward other small animals, but they live peacefully with dogs and cats if introduced to them from the very initial stage. 

Brilliant and self-assured, the Japanese Terriers blend an endearingly small size and an adventurous terrier nature. In addition, they portray a range of personalities, such as:

  • Mischievous
  • Outgoing
  • Cuddly
  • Perky
  • Charming
  • Playful
  • Lively

The Japanese Terrier is a toy companion dog weighing 5 to 9 pounds and growing to about 12 to 13 inches tall. Generally, they are well-balanced, square lap dogs that appear sturdy rather than fragile. They are inquisitive and lively, with a white body and black spot. Remember, puppies smaller than the standard are prone to genetic conditions and are at a higher health threat.

Friendliness Overview

Affection levelMedium to high
Family-friendlyMedium to high
Dog-friendlyLow to medium

Adaptability Overview

Good for apartment livingHigh
Good for new ownersMedium 
Sensitivity levelLow to medium
Tolerates being aloneLow to medium
Cold toleranceMedium
Heat toleranceMedium to high

Japanese Terrier Physical Features

Head: Nipon Terriers have a flat and narrow skull with a black nose, tight and thin lips, scissor bites with solid jaws, free and lean cheeks, oval-shaped eyes, and small, V-shaped ears.

Neck, Topline, Body: A moderately long neck thicker towards the shoulders and free from throatiness with high withers, firm back, slightly arched loins, powerful croup, deep chest, well-sprung ribs, and well-tucked-up belly.

Tail: Thin, docked tail.

Forequarters: Gently sloping shoulders with a straight forearm, tightly closed forefeet, elastic pads, and hard nails.

Hindquarters: Moderately angulated stifle and hock joint with long thigh, vertical metatarsus, tightly closed hind feet, elastic pads, and hard nails.

Coat: Short, smooth, dense, and glossy.

Color: Tricolour with a tan, black, and white head; white with black spots and black or tan markings on the body.

Gait: Light and agile

Disqualifications (FCI Standards)

  • Aggressive or overly shy dogs
  • Any dog clearly with physical or behavioral abnormalities.
  • Long Hair
  • Extremely overshot or undershot bite

Japanese Terrier Temperament

Japanese Terriers are known for the following temperaments: 

  • Loving and loyal 
  • Therapy dogs
  • Active and sporting
  • Energetic and smart 
  • Affectionate and intelligent 
  • Calm and eager to please 
  • Excitable and quick learner 
  • Caring and playful 
  • Confident and adaptable 

Perfectly groomed, elegant, and athletic, Japanese Terriers are winning hearts. These cheerful, happy little critters fit your life perfectly. They crave human attention and are warm to outsiders. However, these lap dogs are highly energetic and require many activities to be happy and healthy. Likewise, these little pups are usually unphased and approach everything and everyone with delight, curiosity, and enthusiasm. They are adaptable and content to live in an apartment if they get good routine walks. Letting your pet go off-leash is not recommended. An unfamiliar smell might trigger their hunting instincts, causing them to run off and get hurt or lost. If you socialize your pet with other animals from an initial age, they will happily welcome strangers, other pets, and the outside world throughout their lives. 

Japanese Terrier Training

Japanese Terrier’s energetic disposition and inquisitiveness make these happy dogs fun and easy to train. In addition, they are well-known for having sweet, gentle, and affectionate behavior, making them excellent therapy dogs for the disabled and elderly. Training should be easy as long as positive reinforcement and consistency are the keys. They make an ideal companion for novice owners since they don’t require a substantial hand. Also, they don’t respond to mistreatment and violence.

Here are some of the training activities that you need to do with your Japanese Terrier:

Here are a few dog interactive toys and products that you can use while training:

Dog Extendable Teaser Wand
Buy at Amazon

Tug Dog Toy
Buy at Amazon

Dog Puzzle Toys
Buy at Amazon

Milk-Bone Soft & Chewy Dog Treats
Buy at Amazon

Health Bars
Buy at Amazon

Trainability Overview

Easy to trainMedium
Prey driveHigh
Mouthiness tendenciesLow to medium
Barking and Howling tendenciesHigh 
Wanderlust tendenciesMedium to high

Japanese Terrier Exercise Needs

Japanese Terriers are active, energetic dogs with high stamina and enjoy outdoor games. However, they need proper exercise to keep their mental and physical stimulation for optimum health. Depending on their age and energy levels, they need 10 – 20 minutes of daily exercise or at least one brisk daily walk. This is a perfect way to fight their tendency to become obese. In addition, they may become restless or destructive without proper workouts. 

You can meet your Japanese Terrier’s daily exercise essentials by:

  • Teaching new tricks 
  • Walking 
  • Fetching 
  • Playing with puzzle toys 
  • Frisbee 
  • Flyball 
  • Agility training 
  • Hiking 
  • Dog park 

Here are a few puzzles and dog toys to keep your pet engaged:

XiaZ Dog Agility Equipments
Buy at Amazon

Classic Ball Launcher
Buy at Amazon

Dog Disc Toy
Buy at Amazon

Dog Treat Ball
Buy at Amazon

Exercise Needs Overview

Energy levelHigh
Exercise needsHigh

Japanese Terrier Grooming

Grooming is a breeze with Japanese Terriers as they are low-shedders and need low maintenance. Their grooming regime includes brushing their coats once a week. Also, trim their nails, clean their ears and eyes, and maintain dental hygiene in regular grooming. 

Washing your Japanese Terriers every two months with a mild bath shampoo for dogs is mandatory. This is because they are outdoorsy, and you can expect them to be dirty and muddy. Always remember excessive bathing can remove the natural oils from your dog’s skin.  

Here are a few products and equipment to meet your Japanese Terrier grooming needs:

Itch Relief Shampoo
Buy at Amazon

Wipes for Dogs
Buy at Amazon

Dog Toothpaste
Buy at Amazon

Tartar Control Kit
Buy at Amazon

Ear Cleanser
Buy at Amazon

Dog Eye Wipes
Buy at Amazon

Nail Clippers & Trimmers
Buy at Amazon

Pet Grooming Kit
Buy at Amazon

Grooming Overview

Easy to groomHigh
Drooling tendenciesLow
Amount of sheddingLow

Japanese Terrier Health

Japanese Terriers are relatively healthy breeds. However, like other dogs, these breeds are prone to health disorders stemming from their lineage. Thus, to keep them healthy, you must take your dog to the vet for regular health check-ups and ensure they are updated with vaccinations.

Health Overview

General HealthHigh
Weight gain tendenciesMedium

Legg-Calve Perthes Disease: The blood supply of the femur decrease, due to which the pelvis starts to disintegrate, gradually weakening hips. Signs include limping and atrophy of the leg muscle.

Ear Infections: This is most common in dogs with floppy ears. Fungi and bacteria can cause ear infections to thrive in the warmth and darkness provided. 

Eye Diseases:  Japanese Terriers can be prone to these eye diseases:  

  • Corneal damage 
  • Dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca) 
  • Pink eye (conjunctivitis) 
  • Eyelid mass 
  • Cataracts 
  • Glaucoma 
  • Cherry eye 
  • Entropion 

Obesity: Nipon Terriers are prone to obesity and worsening hip and elbow dysplasia. This disease negatively hits a dog’s fitness and durability. Obese dogs exhibit an increased risk of heart disease, digestive conditions, diabetes, joint problems, and hypertension. 

Bloat: It takes time for the vet to realize how canines contract bloat. However, canines undergo massive pain because of bloating. Gas fills their tummy and applies coercion on the diaphragm, making breathing difficult. 

Ear Infections: Several environmental and hereditary factors lead to ear infections in dogs. Some of these include: 

  • Allergies
  • Autoimmune disorders 
  • Wax buildup in the ear 
  • Excessive cleaning 


  • Excessive scratching or shaking of dog’s heads.
  • Odor
  • Dark discharge
  • Redness or swelling in the ear canal 

Note: Ear infections often clear up within two weeks with proper medication and cleansers. 

Dental Disease: It affects 80% of dogs, generates tartar buildup on the teeth, causes infection of the roots and gums, and in complex situations, causes loss of teeth and damage to the kidneys. 

Cancer: This condition can be cured by surgically removing tumors and chemotherapy. However, it is important not to ignore the signs and diagnose them earlier. 

Patellar Luxation: This painful disorder is the falling of the knee cap from its spot in the legs. Symptoms include dogs feeling uncomfortable while hiking or running and kicking their leg to set the kneecap in its position.

Recommended Health Tests 

  • Patella Evaluation
  • Legg-Calve-Perthe Radiographic

Japanese Terrier Diet and Nutrition

It is recommended to measure 1 to 2 cups of high-quality, dry food to your Japanese Terrier twice daily. Since these pups are potential weight gainers, it is better to supervise the amount of food you offer. However, ensure the food is measured and tailored to your pup’s size, age, activity level, and weight. Also, limit the treats you give your pet, specifically while training.

Here are the best dry dog foods and supplements to meet your Japanese Terrier’s nutrition needs:

Purina ONE Natural Dry Dog Food
Buy at Amazon

Pedigree Healthy Weight Adult Dry Dog Food
Buy at Amazon

Blue Buffalo Natural Adult Dry Dog Food
Buy at Amazon

VetIQ Hip & Joint Supplement
Buy at Amazon

Nutramax Cosequin Joint Health Supplement
Buy at Amazon

Milk-Bone Hip & Joint Dog Supplement
Buy at Amazon

Japanese Terrier Living Condition

Japanese Terriers are the most suitable lapdogs who adapt well to their human families. They adore playing and love the company of older children. They are thrilled when they are around their family. On the downside, these pups undergo separation anxiety when left alone for long periods.

Did You Know?

  • In October 2020, the Japanese Terrier was accepted into the Foundation Stock Service.
  • These are the only Terrier dog breeds that originated in Japan.
  • Japanese Terriers were in charge of catching mice on ships.

Adding a Japanese Terrier to Your Family

Things to Remember Before Adding a Japanese Terrier

Getting a Japanese Terrier puppy from a reputable breeder is best to prevent inevitable circumstances like health diseases and provide you with vaccination certificates. In addition, it is best to check with the puppy’s parents to ensure their health and happiness.

Cost of a Japanese Terrier

A Japanese Terrier puppy may cost around $800 to $2000, not including miscellaneous expenses.

Japanese Terrier Videos

Japanese Terrier

Japanese Terrier

Japanese Terrier

Japanese Terrier

Japanese Terrier

Japanese Terrier Images

Leave a Comment