Japanese Terrier – Lively Companion with a Dark Head

Nihon Terriers are an absolute rarity in Europe. Outwardly, they are easily confused with Jack Russel Terriers, but their nature is much more reserved since they were bred purely as companion dogs. Your urge to move should not be underestimated! Introducing the only terrier from Japan:

Characteristics of Purebred Nippon Terriers – Dark Head, Light Temper

With an average height at the withers of 30 to 33 cm, the Mikado Terrier belongs to the small terrier breeds. Overall, he appears square and not elongated like short-legged little earth dogs. A special feature is the coat pattern: According to the FCI, the entire head is black or black and tan, while the body remains almost completely white.

The Nihon Teria from the blackhead to the whitetail

  • The muzzle is as long as the skull, making the whole head appear narrow and rather elongated like that of the greyhound or short-haired fox terrier. The stop is not too strong and the cheeks are lean.
  • The nose is always black and the bridge of the nose is straight.
  • The eyes should be dark and moderately large. They are expressive – combined with ears and frown lines, dogs can show so many different facial expressions.
  • The V-shaped ears are set high and fold forward. They may also fold or protrude sideways from the head.
  • The neck is moderately long and strong, without any sign of a dewlap. It transitions into a short, strong back with arched loins and a strong croup. The belly is well drawn up.
  • The front legs are straight, the hindquarters are slightly angled. Dark claws are preferred.
  • In Japan, docking the tail is still standing today. The natural tail is moderately thin and curves slightly towards the tip. It is carried moderately high, not arched over the back.

Coat and colors of the Nippon Terrier

Japanese terriers have very short fur – each hair is only about 2 mm long. The hair grows smooth, dense, and shiny. The following colorings occur:

  • All dogs in the breed have black or black and tan fur all over their heads. The colors are sharply separated from each other.
  • The body is basically white. Black or tan body markings are permitted. The whiter the body, the better the odds for show dogs.
  • Black spots on the body are more common. They have tolerated inbreeding.

The Japanese are accurate

  • The ideal drawing of the head is precisely specified in Japan. Dogs with beautifully drawn heads are significantly more expensive than those with individual spots.
  • Ideally, the Nihon Teria should be tri-colored, with chocolate to light brown tan on the head (tan). The tan color frames the black nose and lips and extends to the cheeks while the bridge of the nose remains black and the lower jaw remains white.
  • With the ideal coloring, tan marks are also visible above the eyes.
  • A V-angle should form in the neck that is as straight as possible, separating the dark color of the head and the white fur on the body.

Other common marks and their meaning

  • Hinomaru: A spot that is as round as possible and not too large in the middle of the back. “Hinomaru” is also a word for the Japanese national flag, which this drawing evokes. It is tolerated in Japan but not favored.
  • Odom is a similar mark at the base of the tail. It is considered more elegant than the Hinomaru spot on the back.
  • Gebasu: Dark patches on the skin on the body, which sometimes shimmer through with a greyish color. This coloring is quite common and is therefore tolerated in inbreeding.
  • Nipper: Whitehead with black ears, this marking is undesirable in Japan, but is tolerated among breeders in Europe.

Frowned upon markings

  • Dark saddle on the back or Hinomaru marking too large
  • Solid white dogs with no dark markings
  • Dark markings on the barrels
  • Dalmatian Polka Dots
  • Panda markings with a white spot between the eyes are very undesirable

The History of the Japanese Terrier – Japanese with European Roots

The origin of the breed at the beginning of the 18th century is quite well documented. Around 1700 AD, Dutch sailors brought ancestors of today’s English Fox Terrier to Nagasaki. European breeds were also popular goods at the port of Kobe. They have been crossed with local mini breeds and kept as companion dogs.

Purposeful modification of a race

After a few generations, Italian Greyhounds were also crossed. The result was the Kobe Terrier, which looked very similar to today’s Japanese Terrier.
The breed’s progenitors also include a dog named Kuro (which translates as “black”), which was created from a cross between an English Toy Terrier and a Toy Bull Terrier.
Kuro’s offspring were crossed with local Kobe Terriers. Through careful breeding selection, the companion dogs grew into the small, short-haired blackheads they are today.

Why are Japanese Terriers so rare?

Nihon Teria is a rarity worldwide. Few breeders are dedicated to propagating the breed. In the last century, the dogs were on the brink of extinction twice: after the Second World War, the population was severely threatened, including by the US atomic bomb attack on Nagasaki. In the 1950s, European breeds became more popular in Japan, and the breeding of native dogs was severely neglected. The stock is pretty stable at the moment.

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