Let's talk Japanese Terriers

The Japanese Terrier is instantly recognisable, thanks to their white body with a head of black fur perching on top. They also tick all of the classic terrier dog traits such as liveliness, intelligence and sharpness, packed into a small body. Incredibly rare, even in their native Japan, the Japanese Terrier is an affectionate canine companion, capable of forming a strong bond with their human(s). With this dog, there will never be a dull moment, that is for sure. The adventure starts here!

Official name: Japanese Terrier

Other names: Mikado Terrier, Oyuki (snowy) Terrier

Origins: Japan

Black and white portrait of a Japanese Terrier
 Drooling tendencies:  Very low Warm weather?  Medium
 Shedding level:   Suited to apartment living?   High
 Energy level (high, low, medium) *: Low Family pet? *
 Compatibility with other pets:  Medium Can stay alone? *  

* We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed’s specifics should be taken as an indication.

For a happy, healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socialising your pet as well as covering their basic welfare, social and behavioural needs.

Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.

All domestic pets are sociable and prefer company. However, they can be taught to cope with solitude from an early age. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or trainer to help you do this.

Inline Image 15
Illustration of a Japanese Terrier
30 - 33 cm translations.feature.breeds.height
2 - 4 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight
30 - 33 cm translations.feature.breeds.height
2 - 4 kg translations.feature.breeds.weight


 Baby age:  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age:  2-to 10 months
 Adult age:  10 months to 8 years
 Mature age:  8 to 12 years
 Senior age:  From 12 years


Get to know the Japanese Terrier

All you need to know about the breed

The Japanese Terrier is an affectionate canine, capable of great devotion towards their family. Their loyalty translates into great watchdog qualities, and they will not be deterred by size – theirs or others’ – when it comes to protecting their human(s).

The Japanese Terrier may play favourites, choosing one person to shadow around the house, but they will inject some fun into any household thanks to their lively temperament. The breed makes an energetic playmate for children, once the training is out of the way. Like other breeds, supervision is always advised.

Their small stature makes the Japanese Terrier well-suited to apartment life, where they will be content to curl up for a nap, so long as their exercise needs are being met. But they’re highly adaptable, so will be just as content in the countryside with some fenced space for playing in.

Yes, this is a lively dog but Japanese Terriers don’t need an extreme amount of exercise. They will stay in shape with one or two hours per day, including interactive play sessions off-leash (always in a secure space). Their terrier DNA excels at chase and fetch, which will keep them agile. Life with a Japanese Terrier is sure to keep you on your toes, with plenty of affection from them to you, and vice versa!

Japanese Terrier stood with head turned to the camera


2 facts about Japanese Terriers

1. One of a kind

This is the only terrier dog breed native to Japan. It is believed that the Japanese Terrier descends from Fox and Rat Terriers, brought over by British and Dutch sailors. The breed was then developed to their current temperament and appearance in the 1900s.

2. Vermin beware

The Japanese Terrier is believed to have originally been bred for exterminating vermin in the ports of Japan, as well as on travelling ships. While they have evolved into loyal family dogs, the breed can still be found on farms today, hot on the trail of various unwanteds.


History of the breed

Japanese Terriers have been traced as far back as the 1600s, when their ancestors were believed to have travelled with the Dutch and British on ships. The Japanese Terrier was predominantly bred to be a lively but affectionate canine companion, and was especially popular in the harbour city of Nagasaki. However, their keen scent skills quickly made them useful in eradicating vermin.

The breed started to be standardised in the 1920s and were officially recognised by the Japanese Kennel Club in 1930. Like many dog breeds, the Japanese Terrier risked extinction after World War II—but thanks to a few enthusiastic breeders, they have thankfully survived. They remain a rare-sighted breed however, despite steadfast popularity, even in their native Japan.

Black and white portrait of a Japanese Terrier


From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Japanese Terriers

1. Coat

A short, dense coat with a glossy appearance.

2. Eyes

Eyes are medium-sized and oval-shaped, dark in colour.

3. Ears

Thin, V-shaped ears sit high and fold forward.

Japanese Terrier looking at the camera, head cocked


Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Japanese Terrier
Japanese Terrier stood with head turned to the camera


Caring for your Japanese Terrier

Grooming, training and exercise tips

The Japanese Terrier has a short-haired and smooth coat, which requires one weekly brushing to remain healthy. Ears should be checked regularly for wax or dirt buildup, and gently cleaned then carefully dried. Nails should be trimmed down often and teeth should be brushed daily.
Japanese Terriers are lively dogs with moderate exercise demands. A couple of daily walks combined with a play session or two will keep them in optimal shape and their senses keen. Indoors, they are more than content to snuggle next to you on the sofa.
Training a Japanese Terrier is straightforward, unless they let their stubbornness get in the way of things. Start training early to temper this independent breed and always keep them on a leash when out and about, to prevent them from skipping off after an interesting scent. Overall, they’ll be content to spend more time with you.


All about Japanese Terriers

Yes, and then some. The Japanese Terrier has a suitable temperament for children of all ages, once trained, and enjoys playing with them. They are likely to designate one human as their favourite who they stay close to—but they are a good-natured breed that enjoy having fun with their family.

With their origins of eradicating vermin, even the best trained Japanese Terrier will find their prey instinct tickled by smaller household pets. Other dogs however, pose no problem, so long as both canine parties have received training and socialisation.



1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/