Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
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The Jatzu, also known as the Chin-Tzu, is a hybrid dog that is the result of breeding the Japanese Chin with a Shih Tzu. Both parent breeds have an enviable reputation for being wonderful canine companions, which means there’s every chance the Jatzu will also be loyal, peace-loving, and cuddly lapdogs.

As a small dog, the Jatzu does best in a calm home, perhaps as a lone companion, rather than amidst the chaos of a lively family household. Indeed, they make a good choice for seniors or those with reduced mobility, as this loveable breed doesn’t need as much exercise as other more lively breeds. However, their long coat needs the care of a devoted owner who is prepared to groom their pet every day.

About & History

Hybrid dogs are relatively new on the scene, and so the history of the Jatzu is really the story of the parent breeds.

The Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu has roots dating back to ancient China with their image found on ancient tapestries. Their name is a derivation of the Chinese for ‘lion dog’ – a name awarded to the breed because of their hirsute appearance and wonderful mane of fur.

The early Shih Tzus were highly prized and rarely seen outside of Imperial Courts. Indeed, it was an offence punishable by death for common people to own one. The noblewoman blessed with ownership of a Shih Tzu, were said to hide these little dogs beneath their skirts to provide warmth in cold weather. It was as late as the 1860s that the first Shih Tzu were seen in the Western World.

The Japanese Chin

Confusingly, the Japanese Chin may also have originated in China, but been gifted to the Japanese Emperor as a gesture of goodwill. Indeed, no-one is certain to what the ‘Chin’ moniker refers. One thought is that it derives from a Chinese word for ‘cat’ and is a reference to this little dog’s feline qualities.

Again, this dainty dog was prized as a companion in both the Japanese and Chinese courts. Once again, this breed was a late-comer to the Western World, with the first representatives introduced in the second half of the 19th century.


Hybrid dogs are a blend of two breeds and as such their physical appearance is something of a lottery. Whilst some pups may strongly resemble one of the parents, other exist on a spectrum which blends the two together.

However, both parents breeds are small in stature but with a long luxurious coat. Therefore it is not unreasonable to assume that a Jatzu will also share these characteristics. The silhouette of the dog may vary, depending on whether they lean towards the longer, stocky shape of the Shih-Tzu, or the more petite, tucked-up appearance of the Japanese Chin. This is also the case with their head with the skull varying from the rounded, apple-like face of the Shih Tzu, to the more doll-like flat face of the Japanese chin.

Their coat is guaranteed to be long and luxurious, with a tail held proudly curled over their back. Colours range widely with the most likely being a combination of cream and gold, apricot, black, or brown.

Character & Temperament

The original parent breeds were specifically bred to be polite and peaceful companions to the nobility. They both excelled in this and therefore it’s a fair assumption so will the Jatzu. Described by words, such as sweet, intelligent, and loyal, these dogs are lovers rather than fighters and crave the quiet life.

This trait, along with their small size, means they don’t enjoy being treated roughly. They are not a good combination with energetic children, and much prefer a cuddle to a vigorous game of ball. It is also possible they have a wilful, stubborn streak, which means their owner needs to be patient when toilet training.


The Jatzu can be a touch stubborn at times. Their owner should be prepared for this and not allow the dog to get away with unacceptable behaviour. This doesn’t mean punishment, but rather applying reward-based training methods with a consistency that helps the dog to understand the message. Not to do so risks Small Dog Syndrome where the pet gets big ideas above their station and starts to boss their owner around.


As a hybrid dog, there are few statistics reporting their health problems. However, both parent breeds carry certain predispositions to disease, so it’s reasonable to assume these may also be a potential risk for their pups.

Heart Murmurs

Many small breed dogs are at increased risk of developing a heart murmur, and the Jatzu is no different. The murmur should be monitored regularly by a vet, and when necessary the heart scanned. The latter can give an indication when heart medications should be started which are proven to extend life-expectancy.

Patellar Luxation

Also known as wobbly kneecaps, patellar luxation refers to instability of the kneecap. This allows the leg to lock in the wrong position causing the dog to skip a step or having difficulty jumping. Mild cases can be treated with occasional pain relief, whilst more severely affected dogs need reconstructive surgery.

Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome

Anatomical quirks in dogs with flat face can make it more difficult to breath. These issues include narrow nostrils, a long soft palate, oversized tongued, enlarged tonsils, and a narrow windpipe.

Dental Disease

Both the Japanese Chin and Shih Tzu have a tendency to a shorter snout, which leads to dental overcrowding. In turn, this traps food and debris, predisposing to dental disease. Prophylactic tooth brushing goes a long way to keeping at Jatzu’s mouth healthy.


Low energy levels coupled with a sweet face can lead to overfeeding and weight gain. The wise owner is aware of this and gives treats sparingly.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The Jatzu is happy and playful but doesn’t require large amounts of exercise. As with any dog, they do need to get out for walks, as this provides both mental and physical stimulation. But a sedate stroll is fine rather than a long hike or engaging in rough games.

Indeed, be careful exercising a Jatzu in hot weather. That thick coat, along with the potential for a flat face, makes them prone to overheating and heat stroke. With this in mind, avoid the hottest parts of the day and always take plenty of water along on the walk.


The Jatzu requires daily grooming in order to keep their long coat tangle-free and in tip-top condition. The Japanese Chin coat is a single layer with a silky texture, whilst the Shih Tzu has a thicker double layer coat. Either way, combing to remove tangles combined with brushing to smooth and condition, is a daily must.

The Jatzu is regarded as a low to moderate shedder. However, somewhat misleadingly they are classed as a hypoallergenic dog breed by some. This is dubious as hair and dog dander are potent allergens and just as likely to be present on a Jatzu as most other breeds.

Bathing is recommended every 3 to 4 weeks. But care needs to be taken to use mild shampoos and rinse thoroughly, to avoid stripping out the skin’s natural conditioning oils, leading to a dull, harsh, coat.

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