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Nihon Terrier Breed Description

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Breed Organization

United Kennel Club (UKC)

Native Country

Other Names
Japanese Terrier, Nippon Terrier, Nihon Teria, Kobe Terrier, Mikado Terrier

Life Expectancy
Approximately 9-11 Years

Litter Size
No Litter Information Available

Breed Group

General Description

The Japanese Terrier is a small terrier native to Japan. It is believed to be descended from the progeny of fox terrier types, pointers and indigenous Japanese dogs.

The Japanese Terrier is a balanced, square dog, most often black head with predominantly white body that has little black spots, its ears are high set and fold forward, and the coat is short, slick and fine. Its tail can be docked.

Breed Standard

Head: Small. Flat skull. Stop not pronounced. Straight nose bridge. Tight, thin lips.
Ears: Set on high, small, thin leather, v-shaped, dropping forward.
Eyes: Medium size, oval. Dark color.
Body: Compact. Strong neck without dewlap. Chest well let down. Ribs well sprung. Strong loin. Belly well tucked up. Short, firm back. Strong, slightly sloped croup.
Tail: Moderately thin, docked to the third or fourth vertebrae.
Hair: Very short (2 mm) (0,008 in), smooth and thick.
Coat: Tri-color : tan and white with black head; white with black markings and black and tan spots on the body.
Size: Approx. 30 to 33 cm (11,8-13 in).
Weight: 3 to 4 kg (6,5-8,8 lb).


The Japanese Terrier was bred in the 17th Century by mating Smooth Fox Terriers, brought by Dutch merchant ships to Nagasaki, with small-sized pointers or small native Japanese dogs. By the 1900s, at the end of the Meiji Era, some of these dogs were seen in the Kobe streets, and were called the “Kobe Terriers”. The appearance of these “Kobe Terriers” was like a mix of the modern Smooth Fox Terriers and the Japanese Terriers. The dogs were then kept as lapdogs in other ports such as Kobe and Yokohama. Planned breeding did not begin until around 1920, and the Japanese Terrier was recognized by the Japan Kennel Club in 1930.

On October 13th, 2020, the Japanese Terrier was accepted into the American Kennel Club's Foundation Stock Service, an optional breed registry service the club provides for new purebred dog breeds that have been introduced to the US and are yet to be recognised by the AKC.


This vigilant, lively, cheerful dog is a very affectionate pet.

The Japanese Terrier can adapt to life in the city but needs plenty of exercise. The breed does not handle cold well. Regular brushing is required.




Generally a very robust breed.

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