5 Japanese Terrier Temperament Traits: You Can’t Ignore the 4th Trait

There are numerous reasons why someone might find the Japanese Terrier temperament appealing. After all, he’s an energetic, loving, and intelligent breed that doesn’t take up much space.



But there are some Japanese Terrier traits that some people might find difficult to deal with as an owner. For one, his neediness is on a level that few dogs reach and can be a real obstacle to overcome.

Given this information, it becomes apparent that understanding his temperament is a must to make a decision about getting one. And we’ll discuss all the little nuances of it below to ensure you can make a responsible choice.

So please, keep reading and let us help you decide whether or not he’s a good fit for your household.

The Japanese Terrier Temperament and Personality

1. Highly Active

Even though the Japanese Terrier size might be small, there’s something he has a lot of, energy. He’s a dog with activity needs that could be overwhelming to certain owners that aren’t ready for the commitment.

In fact, the Japanese Terrier exercise needs require at least 30 minutes of activity per day. The good news is there are numerous ways you can satisfy this requirement. You could take him on long walks, extended playing sessions, or even something as simple as running around the backyard.

But if you aren’t willing to provide this amount each day, it’s best you might move onto a different breed. It’s also essential we note that this high activity level doesn’t necessarily mean he needs a large yard or space.

His small stature makes him ideal for apartment living as long as you find him numerous physical stimulation sources. But this trait does make dog parks a bad idea because other dogs could physically overwhelm him.

2. Affectionate

The Japanese Terrier temperament allows him to build a loving bond with the people he sees as his loved ones. And this relationship can extend to several people within a family. He’s a dog that expects to receive this love back as well.

As a result, you should expect to spend a lot of time holding him on your lap. If you aren’t comfortable with the idea of having a lapdog, he isn’t going to work inside your home. You should also know that this loving personality doesn’t extend to everyone.

He can be quite wary of strangers and will bark when approached by them. The quiet command is something you should invest time in teaching him as this barking can become a nuisance. His loving personality also doesn’t extend to other non-canine pets either.

He’ll end up chasing them around your home and terrorizing them; therefore if you have cats, you should move onto another breed to avoid disastrous results. But if you have children, he represents a great choice as he’s known for getting along well with kids.

3. Intelligent

Another part of the Japanese Terrier temperament that people often find appealing is his high IQ. You see he’s capable of grasping concepts incredibly quick and teaching him commands is rather easy.

Honestly, there isn’t much he can’t learn with the right approach and owner. But this high-level of intelligence does mean he needs a lot of mental stimulation throughout the day. He’ll require multiple sources per day to ensure he stays happy and content.

If you don't meet this need, he can become bored rather quickly and start getting into things he shouldn’t; therefore, you must find ways to challenge his mind or his personality will turn into something resembling a moody teenager.

You should try investing in some puzzle toys or hiding his food around your home. Both these methods will challenge his mind by using something he already loves to do: play and eat. You could also try being less strict on walks and letting them explore a little bit more.

4. Needy – The Temperament Trait You Can't Ignore

A somewhat unattractive quality within the Japanese Terrier temperament is his neediness. You see he’s prone to become unbelievably jealous when ignored for another pet or person. This feeling will manifest in him becoming mopey and sometimes in him barking at you.

As you can imagine, Japanese terrier behaviors like this one can get quite old. But if you intend on getting one, it’ll be something you need to contend with as an owner. He also might not like it when his owner engages with other dogs and might become possessive.

This trait is another reason why a dog park isn’t a good idea with this particular breed. You don’t want something tragic to happen because he became possessive of you and snapped at another dog.

5. Sensitive

The Japanese Terrier temperament features a sensitive side as well. His mood will often directly reflect what’s going on in the environment around him. In other words, if he senses anxiety within a home, he’ll too become anxious.

This trait can be problematic with homes where people are constantly moving in and out; this situation will only cause him stress, and it’s better for everyone when he’s in a stable environment.

It’s also why changing up his exercise routine isn’t a good idea either as new things tend to overwhelm him. If you plan on being a Japanese Terrier owner, a routine will end up being your best friend.

A Quick Look Into Japanese Terrier History

Experts tend to agree that the Japanese Terrier’s origins go all the back to the 1600s. During this period, breeds like the German Pinscher and Smooth Fox Terrier made their way into Japan.

These dogs were crossbred with local Japanese dogs and created small terriers in the Nagasaki area. The small terriers were later named Japanese Terriers and his popularity soon extended well past Nagasaki. In fact, he was soon seen all over the rest of Japan.

And from this point, he has become a familiar companion dog within Japanese culture. Japanese Terrier breeders even thought his popularity was enough to try and write a breed standard during the 1920s.

Their goal was reached when the Japanese Kennel Club recognized the breed standard in the 1930s. The nightmarish events of World War II saw dog breeding almost entirely stop within Japan, and his numbers drastically decreased.

When the war finally ended, his numbers increased slightly. But he never regained his previous popularity and is now considered a rare breed within Japan. Plus, he remains a virtual unknown to the rest of the world; however, the United Kennel Club did recognize him in 2006.

The Japanese Terrier Appearance

As a toy dog, the Japanese Terrier weight will hover between 5 and 9 pounds. His physique will be incredibly well balanced, almost square like, which evokes a sense of him being sturdy. The Japanese Terrier height of 8 to 13 inches will convey that he’s a rather compact dog as well.

It's also imperative you understand his chest won’t be broad, but instead, deep. His ears are on top of his head and will be in an erect position when he’s alert. Otherwise, his ears will fold downward.

His coat will be short, but silky smooth to the touch and his skin will be tightly fit to his body. The Japanese Terrier colors will typically have a combination of a white body with a tan or black head.

You might also see some black or tan spots around his body. We should mention that his nose will be small and black. And he’ll have medium-sized, oval brown eyes.

A Brief Guide to Japanese Terrier Training

If you have the proper approach, training a Japanese Terrier won’t be a difficult task. In fact, it’ll be easy as long as you stick to positive reinforcement methods and stay consistent with your commands.

It’ll be essential that you stay patient and calm during these sessions as well. You see he will not react kindly to yelling or harsh techniques. He’ll instead become extremely resistant to the entire training process and reserved in his daily activities.

But if you keep things positive, he will thoroughly enjoy the training process and be open to learning various commands. In particular, he loves being taught tricks and performing them for the whole family.

You should ensure he receives early socialization as well. Exposing him to various environments, situations, animals, people, and sounds will make sure he knows how to behave appropriately.  It also helps that well-socialized dogs tend to be a lot happier and trust their owners on a higher level.

Helpful Dog Training Resource:

For help with training your Japanese Terrier dog take a look at The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan. Doggy Dan is an expert Dog Trainer based in New Zealand. His online resource contains Hundreds of Excellent Dog Training Videos that will take you step-by-step through the process of developing a healthy, happy well-behaved dog.

The Japanese Terrier Grooming Requirements

The good news for potential Japanese Terrier owners is his grooming needs are significantly less than the average breed. All you need to do is brush him once a week, and his coat will stay in pristine shape.

But we should mention that he does shed moderately all year round and the hair will collect throughout your home. If it becomes a huge issue, you can increase his brushing to daily, and it’ll keep it in check.

The brushing sessions themselves should consist of using a soft bristle brush or soft slicker brush. You might also find it useful to wipe his coat with a damp towel every day: it’ll get rid of any loose hairs or dirt to keep him clean.

As far as baths, he’ll only need one a couple of times a year. You should use a vet recommended mild shampoo during these sessions. And other than those few requirements, the rest of his grooming needs fall under basic care:

  • Trim his nails monthly
  • Check his ears for build ups regularly
  • Brush his teeth weekly

Relevant Japanese Terrier Health Issues

Often considered an extremely healthy breed, the Japanese Terrier lifespan is much longer than the typical dog: 12 to 15 years.  As a result, it’s not entirely shocking that the number of health issues he has a proclivity for isn’t extensive:

Although the Japanese Terrier might be a breed with low health issues, it doesn’t mean you can skip vet visits. He still needs to see a vet every six months; it’ll help both of you stay on the right track.

Aside from keeping up with vet visits, it’s a good idea to avoid water as much as possible; excessive amounts of water in his ears can cause ear infections. You’ll also want to make sure the Japanese Terrier puppy you get has parents with the right certifications.

These certifications include a patellar luxation examination that’s registered with Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). You should ensure his parents got an eye exam done by a veterinary ophthalmologist as well.

Japanese Terrier puppies with these certifications tend to have a lower chance of contracting these conditions. If the breeder you're in contact with doesn’t have them, it’s best you move onto a different one. There’s a high likelihood that a breeder without is somewhat shady.

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Finding Your Japanese Terrier

Japanese Terrier For Sale

Since the American Kennel Club hasn’t recognized the Japanese Terrier, finding one in the US will be difficult. It also doesn’t help that a club hasn’t been formed in North America for the breed either.

You’ll have to rely on sites like Puppyfinder.com to find one and using these sites can be problematic. You see the breeders you’ll come in contact with won’t have to follow any guidelines regarding their breeding practices.

It becomes highly likely that you’ll come into contact with a bad breeder. With this in mind, you’ll need to be extra vigilant about the breeder you buy from as a potential customer. And being aware of specific warning signs will help in this regard.

If a breeder allows you pay for a puppy online via a credit card, it’s a sign something isn’t right. Likewise, if the breeder has numerous litters at once, they're more than likely using questionable breeding practices.

You should also ensure the breeder has all the appropriate paperwork. In this case, this requirement means certifications stating the puppy’s parents had an eye and patellar luxation examinations.

And it’s essential you explore their breeding facilities before making a final decision as well; therefore, set up a meeting with the breeder and examining their entire operation becomes a must. It’ll give you the opportunity to evaluate whether or not everything feels right about the situation.

If everything does seem on the up and up, a Japanese Terrier price should be around $600. This cost can vary and ultimately depend on factors such as bloodlines, medical history, and the breeder.

Japanese Terrier For Adoption

Adopting one won’t be easy either as there isn’t an established Japanese Terrier rescue inside the United States. You’ll have to rely on sites like Adoptapet.com, which will point you towards the nearest shelter/rescue carrying a Japanese Terrier.

Your other option is going to your local shelter or humane society and perusing their selection. In most cases, you’ll end up striking out, but it doesn’t hurt to look. Plus, you can leave your contact information with them just in case one does come into their facility.

Now, if you do get lucky, there’s an essential part of this process you can’t forget: asking questions. You should never bring home an adopted dog without first going over their background and history.

It also essential you ask questions about their temperament and training to ensure you know as much information as possible. This knowledge will come in handy and help make the transition into your home more comfortable.

The answers you get will help you decide whether or not your household represents a good fit as well. If you do feel comfortable bringing the dog home, the adoption fee will range from $50 to $400.

In the end, there aren’t many avenues to choose from for people who find the Japanese Terrier temperament appealing.

Conclusion: Is the Japanese Terrier the Right Dog For You?

If you’re looking for a highly active, loving lapdog, the Japanese Terrier temperament might be the perfect fit. His affectionate personality will make sure every day has some joy in it. And his high activity needs will keep you on your toes.

But if you’re looking for a lazy or independent dog, he’s not a good option for you. His neediness and high exercise needs will end up driving you crazy. He’s also not a good fit for potential owners that will always be coming and going; he needs stability.