Japanese Spitz Breed Information Guide: Quirks, Pictures, Personality & Facts

Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

August 6, 2019

Welcome to the BarkPost guide to dog breeds where we belly flop straight into the depths of dog breed origin, evolution, and purpose. Follow along each week as we publish new guides that highlight the strangest, most interesting, and most surprising stuff about these creatures who have been our best buds the last 30,000 years.  

Intro / Overview

(All dogs are individuals, which means any single dog from any breed can be any number of ways, both good and not so good. Keep that in mind as we discuss breed generalities!)

The Japanese Spitz is an energetic little pooch that loves to run and play. They are very silly, and delight in making their humans laugh. Intelligent and eager to learn, Spitzes always appear to be smiling.

Despite their long, luxurious coats, these dogs are low maintenance and not afraid to get dirty. Whether lounging around the house, romping on the beach, or going for a strenuous hike, the loyal, lovable Spitz is happy just to be by your side!

Also Known As…

Spitz. “If a beautiful snowflake transformed into a breed of dog, it would be a Japanese Spitz!”


As their name suggests, the Japanese Spitz has its roots in Japan. However, their ancestors likely hail from Germany. The German Spitz made its way to Japan via Siberia and China in the 1920s.

The German Spitz is slightly larger than its Japanese descendants with a similar coat that comes in a variety of colors including white, black, cream, gold, black and tan, sable, and chocolate brown. They are thought to be one of the most ancient dog breeds, tracing their origins back to the 1450s when they served as watchdogs.

Unfortunately, the early records of the Japanese Spitz were destroyed in World War II leaving the full history of the breed a mystery. We do know that the Japanese Spitz appeared at a Tokyo dog show in 1921, and that two white Spitz were imported from Canada in 1925.

The Japan Kennel Club officially recognized the Japanese Spitz in 1948.


12 – 15 inches.

Weight Range

10 – 25 pounds.


The Japanese Spitz is the little comedian of the canine world. They are loyal to a fault and their perpetual smile makes it impossible to be in a bad mood!

They are incredibly affectionate towards family, children, other dogs, and even cats. However, the Spitz is very protective of those he loves and may not be as tolerant of strangers.

Intelligence / Trainability

The Spitz is intelligent and easy to train thanks to their strong desire to please. These dogs need leadership to ensure they learn the appropriate things. Therefore, early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended.

Best Training Techniques For Japanese Spitz

Above all else, the Spitz craves attention and time with their humans so owners should participate in the training process. Harsh methods are not necessary as these dogs love to learn and thrive on positive feedback.

Ideal Environment

The cuddly, compact Japanese Spitz can live happily just about anywhere. They make wonderful apartment or tiny-house dogs as long as their energy needs are met.

While these dogs are playful and typically up for anything, they have relatively low exercise requirements. A good walk each day with plenty of stops to sniff and a session or two of one-on-one play should do it.

Good For Families And Kids?

The Japanese Spitz is an ideal family pet known for its love of children. They tend to be active enough to keep up with childish antics and laid back enough to tolerate lots of noise and rough-and-tumble play.

Note: As with any dog, adult supervision is always recommended when young children interact with the Spitz. Despite their particularly easy-going personalities, any pooch may get defensive if hurt or frightened.

Average Lifespan

12 – 14 years.


The Japanese Spitz is a generally healthy breed with an above average lifespan of 12 to 14 years. Many live to be upwards of 16 years old. The most common health problem the Spitz experiences is Patella Luxation.

This condition occurs when the patella or kneecap dislocates from the patellar groove and drifts from its normal position. Luxating patella can range from a mild inconvenience to an extremely painful disability.

Be sure to purchase puppies from a reputable breeder and ask your veterinarian to assess your dog’s knees.

Some Spitz are also prone to runny eyes due to small tear ducts or allergies.


The Japanese Spitz has a low to moderate energy level, but can certainly keep up with an active family. Despite their pretty, dainty appearance, these dogs do not mind getting their paws dirty. Take them swimming, hiking, biking – it’s all good as long as it’s with you!

Remember, for your Spitz, the world revolves around you. They may not have high exercise requirements, but they do need your time and companionship.

Should the Japanese Spitz become lonely or bored, he may develop anxiety or destructive behaviors.

Friendly With…(Dogs? Strangers? Cats/Other Pets?)

The Japanese Spitz typically gets along great with other dogs and is even happy to share his home with cats and pocket pets. These dogs are rarely aggressive, but they may act aloof or bark at strangers and new humans.

It is important to provide early, thorough socialization with all kinds of people and offer strong leadership when new people come to the home.

Coat & Grooming

The Japanese Spitz is rare in that he has a long, luxurious coat, but requires relatively little grooming. Their snow-white hair coat is straight and smooth with a short, dense undercoat that they shed or “blow” twice a year.

Unlike true long-haired dogs such as Shih-Tzus and Maltese, the Spitz has short hair on his face, ears, and front of the legs. The rest of the body is covered in long, soft hair with a thick mane or frill at the neck, shoulders and forechest. They also have a long, feathered tail.

Weekly brushing and baths on an as-needed basis are usually enough to keep the Spitz’s coat healthy. During the bi-annual coat blow, daily brushing can help manage the mess.


Despite their thick double coats, the Japanese Spitz craves warmth. While they are usually up for any adventure, they may prefer to spend a snow day snuggled up under the covers rather than on the slopes!

Toys Japanese Spitz Would Like Best

The Japanese Spitz is energetic, intelligent and fun-loving so they can have a blast with just about any toy. Thrasher toys are great for shaking and working off some nervous energy. Tuggable Toys let these little dogs feel big, and give them an opportunity to bond with their favorite human. And the delightful sound of a squeaker toy is sure to please their inner wolf!

Check out this post about the Best Toys for Pomeranians, close cousins of the Japanese Spitz.

Recommended Diet Or Supplements 

Since the Japanese Spitz is a hearty, healthy breed, they typically do not have any special dietary requirements. Choose a well-balanced diet sourced from high-quality ingredients and made in the USA. Your vet can help you decide on an appropriate diet and tell you how much to feed. Use treats sparingly to prevent obesity and other health problems.

A daily multivitamin with a mix of 25 vitamins and nutrients plus antioxidants will help keep your Spitz healthy and happy for life!

Recommended Products

All dogs deserve a cozy, supportive bed. After all, they spend the majority of their time lying down or sleeping! BarkBox’s Memory Foam Orthopedic Beds are made with two types of foam for maximum joint support and comfort.

Notable Rescues to Find the Spitz of Your Dreams

  • Pom E Ranch Dog Rescue: This small dog rescue located in Colorado rescues Pomeranians and other Spitz-type dogs.
  • Rescue Me! Spitz Rescue: This site features a clickable map of the United States with the number of rescues for the breed per state.

Notable Instagram Japanese Spitz

Kaya The Spitz @KayaTheJapaneseSpitz

Ice the Japanese Spitz @Ice_The_Spitz

Amora the Spitz @AmoraTheSpitz

Pablo the Japanese Spitz @ PabloGraphs

Siumei the Japanese Spitz @SiumeiXOXO

Sushi the Japanese Spitz @Sushi_The_Japanese_Spitz

***Looking for a gift to blow Spitz’s mind? Spoil them with BarkBox! Every month BarkBox delivers 2 original toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and a chew. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month. <– This deal is worth up to $120 in value if you sign up for a 12-month subscription! 🙂

Dachshund with chewrassic bark barkbox

Featured image via KayaTheJapaneseSpitz/Instagram

Want More Helpful Breed Guides Like This?

Yorkshire Terrier Breed Information Guide

Miniature Pinscher Breed Information Guide

Italian Greyhound Breed Information Guide

Shiba Inu Breed Information Guide

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Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

August 6, 2019


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.


A themed collection of BARK-designed toys, treats, and chews.