Japanese Terrier

The Japanese Terrier is a rare small dog breed with a lively and cheerful disposition. Also called Kobe Terrier, Oyuki Terrier, Nihon Terrier and Mikado Terrier, this confident dog is friendly and humorous. Ideal for novice dog parents, this Terrier lives only to make his close companions happy. 


This small-sized Terrier was created around 1920 from breeding smooth-haired Fox Terriers with small-sized native dogs native to Nagasaki, Japan. This breed was mainly kept as a lapdog and popular in ports like Kobe and Yokohama. 

The breed standards were fixed in the 1930s and registered as a breed by the Japan Kennel Club. Ten years later, demand for the Japanese Terrier increased because of his size and activity level.

Instances where the breed faced extinction, included World War II and a period when western breeds were more popular.

The American Kennel Club has yet to recognise this dog as a breed but has listed it on its Foundation Stock Service. 

Physical Characteristics

The Japanese Terrier has a sleek, compact body complemented by smoothly contoured lines. His general appearance is called Imari by the Japanese, which means looking like a porcelain figure.

This dog’s body is sturdy, and the tail is relatively thin. His eyes are dark, medium-sized and oval-shaped. When alert, the dog’s folded ears become erect. This Terrier’s coat is short, dense and smooth. The coat is tricoloured with black, tan and white head or white with black spots or markings or tan markings on the body. 


The general height measurements of this small dog breed are 10 to 13 inches (27 to 33cm), with a weight range of 10 to 12 pounds (2 to 5kg).

Character & abilities

Bred to be a human companion, the Japanese Terrier is independent, cheerful, calm and friendly. However, he can sometimes be mischievous and playful. 

This breed tends to get attached to one individual and can be reserved around new people. However, when well socialized, he gets along well with other dogs and children. 

The Japanese Terrier is sensitive to his home environment. Therefore, he is best suited for stable, loving homes with no or minimal conflicts.  

Care should be taken when this dog is around small children because they might injure him accidentally because of poor handling. All children should be shown how to play with this dog carefully. 

Trainability & Intelligence

The Japanese Terrier is highly intelligent and versatile. He is trainable, eager to learn and has terrific instincts to be a natural athlete. He will appreciate participating in dog sports like obedience, rally and agility shows. 

Like other terriers, this breed can sometimes be stubborn. Therefore, puppy training classes and early socialization is highly recommended. Positive, reward-based training will provide good results. 

Exercise Needs & Nutrition

Even though the Japanese Terrier is one of the calmest terrier breeds, this small dog breed is active and lively. He has moderate exercise needs and requires regular walks or play sessions. 

Walking this breed is safer with a leash to avoid him running off. Play sessions are also better in a fenced-in yard. 

Bred to be a lap dog, the Japanese Terrier is happy to curl up next to his owners on the couch. However, he will enjoy getting involved in any physical and mental exercises.

This rare breed can eat either commercially manufactured dog food or vet-approved homemade meals according to the dog’s age, size and activity level. However, calorie consumption and weight need to be monitored to avoid excess weight gain.


This small dog does not shed a lot and requires minimal coat care. However, the sleek short coat can benefit from weekly brushing with a grooming glove or soft brush. This will stimulate natural oils and maintain the coat’s sheen.

It is essential to start grooming the Japanese Terrier at an early age to get accustomed to being handled. Baths with dog shampoo should be given when necessary. 

Cleaning the ears regularly is essential to remove dirt and excess wax. This can be done using a soft gauze or cotton wool with a dog ear cleaning solution.

The dog’s nails should be trimmed to keep them short and neat. Overgrown nails make clickety sounds on the ground when the dog walks and can easily get torn to cause bleeding and pain. 

Regular dental care involves brushing the teeth with a dog toothbrush and toothpaste formulated especially for canines. Grooming sessions are an excellent time to bond and examine the dog for any infections or parasites. 

Living Conditions & Adaptability

This charming dog adapts easily to urban living in small apartments or homes with yards. 

The Japanese Terrier does not do well in extreme weather. Therefore, avoid walks and play sessions when it is too hot or too cold.

Leaving this dog alone in the home for long durations can lead to separation anxiety and destructive behaviors. 


Even though the Japanese Terrier is a rare breed, he is still predisposed to develop conditions like other small dogs, including:

It is crucial to consider the availability of a local veterinarian with knowledge of this rare breed to ensure the Japanese Terrier gets all the necessary vaccinations and yearly care for a healthy and happy life. 

This companion dog has a lifespan of 10 to 12 years.


The Japanese Terrier is a gentle lap dog with a lot of personality. Highly intelligent, trainable and with minimal grooming, this small dog adapts well in different environments. Though rare to find, this breed can bring a lot of joy to any home. 

Adopting a rare small dog breed like the Japanese Terrier can be a difficult task. If there are reputable local breeders, the cost will likely be high due to the breed’s limited numbers. 

Here at All The Small Dog Breeds, we appreciate every breed as unique. The dog-human relationship is a lifetime commitment and requires research to make an informed decision. Our small dog breed descriptions are tailored for new and old dog parents to assist in finding a dog breed that is the right fit for their home and lifestyle. 


2.5 stars - All The Small Dog Breeds


2.5 stars - All The Small Dog Breeds

Energy Level

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2.5 stars - All The Small Dog Breeds

Good with kids

5 stars - All The Small Dog Breeds


5 stars - All The Small Dog Breeds

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