Japanese Terrier (Nihon Teria)

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tricolour with black, tan and white head; white with black spots, black markings or tan markings on body
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Pros Cons

  • cheerful

  • great watchdog

  • loves children

  • great family companion

  • must be dressed up in a cold weather


The Japanese Terrier is a toy and graceful breed, which was developed in Japan during the Edo Era in the XVII century. With its joyous and docile nature it was considered in its homeland a popular lap dog. This tender, brisk dog will be a wonderful and faithful friend and companion for everyone.


The Japanese Terrier is believed to be created by means of interbreeding the Fox Terrier, which was brought to Japan by sailors from Holland in the XVII century, and other terrier-type Japanese dogs. It is a well-established fact that it was the Fox Terrier with smooth coat who played the major role in the invention of this dog. The breed shows strong resemblance to its foreign ancestors because of its pitch-black head and white trunk. On the other hand from native Japanese dogs it inherited square constitution, Spitz-type shape of its skull, short dense coat and curled tail. These dogs also granted it with unbending loyalty and obedient character.

The Japanese Terrier has other names such as the Nihon Terrier, the Mikado Terrier, the Oyuki (Snow) Terrier and the Nippon Terrier. Its first specimens appeared in Nagasaki since it was the only port, which was open to the Western travellers. With the lapse of time though adjoining ports, like Kobe and Yokohama, got acquainted with terrier-type imported dogs and started their own breeding programs. Primarily these dogs were bred as working dogs whose job was catching various vermin. But soon the Japanese Terrier acquired wide recognition as a housedog in these areas as well.

The Japanese Terrier began to be purposefully bred only in 1920s. Thanks to vast popularity of the breed the Japanese Kennel Club granted it official acceptance as early as in 1930. In the same year the breed standard was worked out.

Consequences of the Second World War turned out tragically for the breed. These dogs could have been disappeared completely. Fortunately several specimens survived. However until now the Japanese Terrier is considered extremely rare breed even in its motherland.

The Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) recognized this breed in 1995. The Japanese Terrier was registered by the United Kennel Club in 2006. Presently it has small but loyal groups of followers in all European countries.

Nowadays the Japanese Terrier is kept solely as a companion. Nonetheless this many-talented dog can also become a highly capable contestant of various dog sports. Its well-expressed territorial instinct allows using it also as an effective watchdog.


The Japanese Terrier is a playful, joyful dog that is very staunch to its masters. This dog is also praised for its sunny, amicable nature since it wants nothing more than giving love and receiving attention and care from its special people. It requires very moderate amount of socialization to become a well-mannered member of human society. Generally these dogs treat children gently, they become their best friends. However, as all terriers the Japanese Terrier is notable for explosive temper so make sure that your child knows how to interact with dogs properly.

The Japanese Terrier reacts to the slightest noise and gives notice about unbidden guests by ringing bark. It’s endowed with heightened sensibility and can perfectly differentiate the real threat from imaginary one. Nevertheless this breed behaves friendly towards strangers despite it is an excellent watchdog. This small but bold dog usually won’t hesitate to attack an intruder if needed. However it shouldn’t be trusted with responsibilities of a guard dog because of its size and cute appearance.

The Japanese Terrier can live with other pets. It is kind towards dogs and cats. Thanks to its universal friendliness it can be easily introduced into the household with other pre-existing pets. It will surely live peacefully with an individual cat with which it has been reared together since a young age. None the less the dog may take small animals (rats or hamsters) as a threat and can injure them.

Health Problems

The most common problems for the breed include:

· patellar luxation;

· ectropion;

· entropion;

· canine hip dysplasia;

· epilepsy.


The Japanese Terrier is a short-haired dog. Tangles and mats do not form into the dog’s coat. So it needs moderate amount of grooming. Brush your pet occasionally, once a week will be enough. When the dog sheds, it must be brushed more often. The Japanese Terrier should be bathed only when it is necessary.

This breed doesn’t tolerate cold weather so make sure to dress your dog in a warm sweater before going outside if the temperature falls below zero. The rest care routines include regular nail clipping (usually every other month) and teeth brushing. The dog’s ears should be systematically inspected and cleaned as far as they get dirty.


The Japanese Terrier is a very trainable dog that learns fast. You must be persistent and patient in order that your dog’s training will be effective. But these dogs have very sensitive nature and can’t stand any roughness. That is why you should never raise your voice. You need display all your love and respect towards your pet too.

The best training strategy of the Japanese Terrier should be based on plentiful of dog’s favourite treats and verbal praise. Rough treatment will only intimidate this soft-hearted and biddable dog and make it mistrustful of the handler.


The Japanese Terrier is a vivacious, energetic dog that requires reasonable amount of daily exercise. One hour a day will be sufficient for the dog’s active exercise such as walk, running and playing different games with ball and other things. On the other hand this dog is endowed with enough stamina to accompany its master in an hours-long hike or in any other vigorous outdoor activities.

The Japanese Terrier is a very adaptable breed, which feels itself comfortably both in a rural and city environment. Nevertheless without essential minimum of physical exercise it can turn into destructive, disobedient and even aggressive creature.