Japanese Terrier Dogs

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.

Japanese Terrier

Japanese Terrier Pictures

  • Japanese Terrier dog named Sakura
  • Japanese Terrier dog named Norton
  • Japanese Terrier dog named Shadow
  • Japanese Terrier dog named bUcKs
  • Japanese Terrier dog named Spike
  • Japanese Terrier dog named funchum
see Japanese Terrier pictures »

Quick Facts

  • 6 to 9 pounds
  • 11 to 13 inches

Ideal Human Companions

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

Japanese Terriers on Dogster

27 dogs | see profile pages


Trademark Traits

    • 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

What They Are Like to Live With

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.

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).

Talk About Japanese Terriers 

Cheerful, upbeat companions

Japanese Terriers are very loving dogs. They are cheerful and upbeat companions and love to play. They have a lot of very comical and funny personality traits. Our Norton is the family comedian. He's a little guy with a big, big personality, and can put a smile on anyone's face. Ours is wary of little kids and doesn't like loud noises or skateboards.

JTs are built for speed and are very agile, fun to be around and fun to watch. They are very smart and learn things quickly, and need a lot of mental stimulation. Ours is a typical terrier that is curious about everything --looking into trees for squirrels-- he has even tried to climb trees! They can be barky, too, and Norton figured out how to defeat the citronella bark collar. They need a lot of attention, and like to be petted and to sit and cuddle with their family members. They like other dogs and play well at the dog parks. They are hyper vigilant and guard their own territory like any terrier. Ours loves his toys and puts on a show with his, squeaking his toys in greeting when he hears us drive up. It's his way of saying, "Yay, you're home!"

Japanese Terriers need a guardian who can give lots of attention. Our Norton is a challenge and a dear sweet boy. We love him!

~Michele L., owner of a Japanese Terrier