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While named Japanese, the Chin is actually Chinese in origin. How the breed got to Japan is the subject of much conjecture and involves a complicated plotline, but in Japan, they became a favorite of the Imperial Family. They were often kept hanging in bird cages there, and are still popular in Japan today.

These are truly lap dogs. They are also boisterous players if socialized well. Though they do not like to be left behind, they can be left alone with less problems than most breeds. They are often described as cat-like.