Japanese Chin Health Information

This page provides information on health related issues and studies that may affect the Japanese Chin. The JCCA strongly encourages participation in health testing, and supports research to improve the health of future generations of Chin.

The Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) provides a CHIC certificate to dogs who have completed the required tests specific for their breed. The results are recorded with the Orthopedic Foundation For Animals (OFA).

AKC Canine Health Information Center OFA About CHIC Certification

Tests recommended for the Japanese Chin include but are not limited to:

  • patellas
  • eyes
  • heart
  • DNA testing for GM2 mutation

The JCCA Health Committee helps coordinate health-related seminars and clinics at the JCCA National specialty.

Chin Health

The Japanese Chin is a fairly healthy breed with a typical life expectancy of 10-12 years; some live to be 15 years of age or more. The majority of problems seen in the Chin are common to toy dogs in general. Among the most common are luxating patellas (slipping kneecaps), cataracts, and early-onset heart murmurs.

Reputable breeders attempt to breed from stock that are free of major health defects in hopes their progeny will have a better chance at a healthy life. The Japanese Chin Club of America recommends that all Japanese Chin breeders follow the health testing recommendations of the Orthopedic Foundation For Animals (OFA) to screen systematically for congenital conditions involving the Eyes, Heart, and Patellas, and include DNA testing for the GM2 mutation.

In an effort to raise awareness of health problems in toy breed dogs, the JCCA Health Committee sponsors health clinics, inviting veterinary specialists such as ophthalmologists, cardiologists, and orthopedists to examine breeding stock. The club also supports studies by AKC Canine Health Foundation.

If you have specific questions, comments, or suggestions, please feel free to contact the health committee.

Contact JCCA Health Committee

Health Issues

Series of Articles by Leanne Bertani, MD

New Approach to Vaccination of the Canine

For years, it was believed that annual vaccinations for viral diseases were necessary to keep our beloved companions out of harm's way. But we have recently come to a turning point in vaccination of the canine. While we are grateful for protection from diseases such as distemper and parvovirus, there is growing realization that vaccination is not always benign.

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Endocardiosis In The Toy Dog (Mitral Valve Disease)

Atrioventricular Endocardiosis, or Myxomatous Valvular Disease, is a chronic degenerative disease affecting the mitral and tricuspid valves of the heart. It is the most common cardiac disease in small-breed dogs, and has a hereditary predisposition.

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Cataracts in Canines

A cataract is any opacity in the lens of the eye or the lens capsule. The cause, size, location and severity of a cataract may vary. They can be caused by trauma, inflammation, diabetes or other metabolic disease, retinal atrophy, persistent pupillary membranes, hyaloid remnants, nutritional deficiencies, congenital abnormalities, or heredity.

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Primary Epilepsy in the Toy Dog

Primary Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain characterized by recurrent seizures.

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Atlantoaxial Subluxation

Atlantoaxial Subluxation is an instability of the first and second vertebrae in the neck.

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Heart-Screening in the Japanese Chin, Cavalier and English Toy Spaniel

List of board-certified veterinary cardiologists by state (also includes Canada, Brazil, Switzerland).

Japanese Chin Coat Color Study


By Leanne Bertani, Adrienne Wilder, and JP Yousha. Published in the December 2007 Chin Chit Chat.

Purina Parent Club Partnership Program


The JCCA is a member of the Purina Parent Club Partnership Program. When Individual members purchase designated bags of Purina brand dog foods they can declare their membership in the JCCA and then submit their proof of purchase to Purina. Purina tracks these weight circle submissions, and for every $100 of qualifying weight circle points earned by Pro Club members, Purina donates $10 to the participating national parent breed club.

Annually, one-half of each club’s individual annual earnings is issued directly to the Canine Health Foundation to support research grants aimed at a better understanding of genetics and other conditions impacting our dogs’ health. The other half is issued to the individual national parent breed club for use in the support of canine health research, education and/or rescue efforts. The PPCP Program has raised in excess of $3.5 million for canine health research, education and rescue efforts since 2002.

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