Japanese Terrier: A Bright Breed With a Bold Personality

Published March 3, 2021
Japanese terrier dog

The Japanese terrier is a rare breed and is also known as the Nippon or Nihon terrier. This dog breed is strong and athletic for his size. The modern terrier's ancestors are the English Toy terrier and now extinct Toy Bull terrier.

Japanese Terrier Breed Overview

This tiny breed is a ratter, lapdog, and excellent watchdog. The Japanese terrier is a rare breed known to be overly affectionate and is an adaptable family pet. He enjoys life as a lapdog! This terrier needs mental enrichment, too, and is highly intelligent.

Origin and History

During the 1600s, locals brought breeds like the German Pinscher and smooth fox terrier into Japan. The dogs were crossbred with local Japanese dogs and created tiny terriers in the Nagasaki area. The small dogs were named Japanese terriers and seen all over Japan. Unfortunately, after World War II, the terrier never regained his popularity and is now extremely rare in Japan and uncommon in the U.S. The modern Japanese terrier results from crosses between two ancestral terriers, an English Toy terrier, and a Toy Bull terrier.

Japanese Terrier Dog breed


This dog breed is sensitive and enjoys a routine! The Japanese terrier is known as a needy companion and may become jealous if pet owners pay too much attention to other pets. Cats may be an issue, as his loving nature does not always extend to non-canine pets. He is affectionate with family members and gets very attached to his human pet parents.


The terrier's coat is short and silky smooth to the touch. The Japanese terrier's skin fits tightly to his body.

  • Coat colors: This breed is available in black, tan, and white.
  • Weight: This terrier weighs between five and nine pounds.
  • Height: The Japanese terrier is between 12 and 13 inches tall.
Japanese terrier dog


The Japanese terrier needs at least one brisk daily walk. This active little dog also benefits from dog sports, including earth dog or barn hunt, as both are perfect for terrier breeds. Dog parks may not be a good fit, as other dogs can overwhelm this little dog.

Health Concerns

The Japanese terriers are generally healthy, and there are only a few health issues pet parents need to discuss with vets.

  • Ear infections
  • Eye problems
  • Luxating patella

Caring for Your Senior Japanese Terrier

Small senior dogs and rare breeds may need regular vet visits. Terriers are known as active little dogs, and even older lapdogs may develop joint issues over time. Your senior canine must see the vet at least twice a year.


This terrier's lifespan is nine to 12 years. The Japanese terrier may live a long and healthy life as long as this dog eats a high-quality diet and is busy each day.

Japanese Terrier Dog

Perfect Companion for Apartment Dwellers

This terrier is known as a lapdog, and any pet parent living in an apartment, small home, or condo may enjoy the company of this tiny breed. If you live close to a park, you can take this terrier for a long walk and then cuddle on the couch.

Small Breed Diet

Most small breeds benefit from a diet designed for little dogs. Always feed your small breed and Japanese terrier a diet with high-quality ingredients. Affectionate dogs may tell you treats are part of the diet, but you do not want your small breed to become obese.

Finding a Reputable Breeder

The American Kennel Club does not recognize this breed, so pet parents need to do additional research when looking for breeders. The United Kennel Club (UKC) may be an excellent resource and formally recognized the breed in 2006.

The Japanese Terrier Is a Great Lapdog

This breed is rare and uncommon in the U.S. If you are interested in the breed, it may make sense to contact the UKC about puppies or importing a dog from Japan. This small dog is lively and extremely affectionate with his owners. It may be necessary for pet parents to consider how needy this pup may be and whether their lifestyle is a good fit for this little breed.

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Japanese Terrier: A Bright Breed With a Bold Personality