The official FCI breed standard describe the Nihon Teria as a small sized dog breed with smarty appearance with a clear cut and compact outline.
The Japanese Terrier is a well balanced and square dog, with deep chest, thin and medium long tail, ears that are set high on the head. When the dog is calm, the ears are typically folded forwards, but when alert they should be erect. This breed has lively and curious expression in their brown eyes.
The average height of the Japanese Terrier should be between 30-33 cm which is 11-13 inches and weight is typically between 5-9 pounds, which is 2-4 kg. So as you can see this truly is a very small dog and there are no big size differences between males and females.
The first thing you will most likely notice about this breed is its unique coloring. They have very short coat and they commonly have white body and black or tan head. They can also have some black or tan spots and speckling on their white body.
Unlike majority of Terrier breeds, the Japanese Terrier was not developed for hunt, but rather to be a great companion and lap dog. But that does not mean, they dont have the typical terrier characteristics. This is definitely a lively, cheerful and alert dog breed, just like all the terriers.
The Nihon Teria requires a lot of human companionship, they create a strong bond with its family. On the other hand, they can be somewhat reserved with strangers, but they should never be agressive without a reason. This is a sensitive breed so you should be calm and relaxed around them. They can also be little bit jelous if you will not give them enough of the attention. This is a true lapdog who enjoys a good cuddling sessions, but they are also pretty active and playful and they will always be ready for a good playtime.
This dog breed can live with children in the family, but because they are so small, make sure the kids are old enough to know how to treat dogs gently and with respect. They can also live with other dogs or cats in the family, especially if they are raised together from the puppyhood.
For a long time, Japan was a very isolated country so we do not know what are the exact ancestors of the Nihon Teria. Generally it is believed, that their ancestors came to Japan on Dutch or British merchants ships by the dock in Nagasaki, probably in 17th century. Most likely it was Smooth Fox and German Pinschers, who were interbred with some local Japanese dogs, producing a new small terrier type which became popular in the Nagasaki area. It seems, that unlike other terriers, the Nihon Teria ancestors in Japan were not used for hunting vermin, but they were bred to become lap dogs and companions.
According to the Japan Kennel Club it was not until the 1920s when the Japanese Terriers were started to be bred intentionally and selectively. The breed standard and Nihon Teria club was officially formed in 1930s.
World War II was a bad time for all Japanese dogs and even the Japanese Terrier numbers declined a lot, but thankfully the breed survived. But they are still quite rare and it is extremely hard to find them outside Japan.
Health and Grooming
Even though this is a lively breed, thanks to their small size it is not hard to meet their exercise needs. Few daily walks accompanied with some playtime will do the trick and than the dog will stay fit and healthy. The overall maintenance is also fairly easy and their coat will stay in good shape even without any grooming. They shed a little bit all year long and if you will want to minimize the shedding than you can brush their coat few times a week. Just like with all dogs, you should also regularly check their ears, eyes, teeth and nails and clip them or clean them if needed.
Great fact is, that this is usually a very healthy dog breed with average lifespan between 13-15 years. They can ocassionaly suffer from ear infections, eye problems or patellar luxation, but overall, this truly is a very healthy dog breed.