The Japanese Spitz looks a little like a small Samoyed, yet it has its own unique look. Its compact frame is completely covered in a thick, white fur that forms a mane around the neck. Only the lower legs have short fur. It has a wedge-shaped head with pointed ears, a dark nose and dark lips. Its furry tail is usually carried over the back. Its dark eyes are at once friendly, proud and watchful.
Around the house, the Japanese Spitz is playful, energetic and most of all warm-hearted. Not the type to sleep the day away or wander alone outdoors, the Japanese Spitz thrives on human contact. It wants to be front and center for all family gatherings and special occasions. Left alone for too long or ignored, it can become depressed and listless.
The Japanese Spitz is very intelligent. It is eager to please and quick to learn, picking up new commands and following instructions with ease. The Japanese Spitz is also an excellent playmate for children, being gentle and loving with a healthy sense of fun.
Fearless, alert and protective, it can be slightly suspicious of new people. With the proper introductions, it will soon relax and turn on the charm. With a loud and forceful bark, it makes a very effective watchdog—especially for city dwellers.
The Japanese Spitz will be very comfortable living in an apartment. But it needs lots of outdoor exercise and regular opportunities to run off the leash in a safe environment.
A healthy Japanese Spitz can live as long as 12 years. Though a relatively healthy breed, some can develop dislocated kneecaps and minor eye problems. It loves to be neat, so give them a good brushing every day—maybe twice a day during shedding seasons.
The Japanese Spitz, it is believed, originated in 19th-century Japan from an attempt to make a smaller, more domesticated Samoyed-style canine. Using a number of breeds including the Samoyed, the white German Spitz and the American Eskimo, the result was a friendly, loyal and cuddly pup that became a huge hit in 1950s Japan. Today, it is just as popular in the United States and Europe.