This section is from the book "Toy Dogs And Their Ancestors", by Neville Lytton. Also available from Amazon: Toy Dogs And Their Ancestors: Including The History And Management Of Toy Spaniels, Pekingese, Japanese, And Pomeranians.
I consider that the Japanese Spaniel originated in China, being the best preserved descendant of the old Chinese dogs, these being much more like Japanese than the modern Pekingese. The Japanese breed has, as I have already mentioned in my chapter on Type, a perfection and harmony of line which fills and satisfies the eye and suggests a long established type, while, as a matter of fact, it still closely resembles the old Chinese dog. This cannot be said of the modern Pekingese.
When breeding with imported dogs there is no difficulty whatever about maintaining the short faces, for they are as natural as are the pointed faces to our King Charles Spaniels. There is also no tendency in the imported strains to revert to a larger sized ancestor. The short nose does not appear to be the result of arrested development. The skull is not open at the top as in most Toy Spaniels, nor is there any special tendency to split or arched palates. The palates are short, wide, and flat, and the skulls well closed. In the present scale of points there is not nearly enough value given to coat. Japanese dogs should be smothered in coat, and a poor coated specimen is not worth a straw. The head should be well proportioned to the body, with a broad skull rounded in front, the forehead coming forward so as nearly to touch the nose; the neck, short and arched, the eyes very large and practically black, set wide apart and low down so as to be almost hidden by the cushions of the muzzle. (See photo of Dai Butzu.) The muzzle I shall describe later. The nose should be exceedingly short, nostrils not exaggeratedly broad, but wide open. The noses, of dogs of whatever colour, should invariably be black. The nose should be turned up between the eyes.
The ears should be small, V shaped, wide apart, set high on the head, and carried pricked forward and not, of course, erect. They should be liberally feathered with streamers of long hair. The body should be very compact and squarely built, a short back, perfectly level and flat; very cobby, the body and legs should form a square, as in the Toy Spaniel, the length of the body equalling its height. At the same time, the dog must not be clumsy, but the essence of grace. The bones should be very fine and slender, and the feet small and harelike and feathered at the toes in a point. The tail should be set on a level with the back and carried twisted over it in a huge plume, spreading on the back and becoming merged in the body feather, which should be extraordinarily long and profuse. The coat must be most abundant and soft (but not limp) and quite free from wave or curl, it should not, however, lie flat, but stand out at the neck in a voluminous ruffle with immense feathering on thighs and breast. This is just the coat which the Toy Spaniel should never have. General appearance exceedingly showy. Action high and prancing. Colour black and white, if possible with the "spot" on the head, which is most desirable.
The other colours are red and white and, we are told, pure black or pure white, but the best colour is black-and-white. I have never seen either white or black. The white should be pearly and the black intense, distributed in even patches. Blaze even and sharply defined, muzzle white. Size from two pounds to ten pounds. The smaller the better, provided the type is not impaired.
I here reproduce one of the oldest paintings ever published of a Chinese dog. The painting is by Shen-Chen-lin, his other name being Feng-Ch-ih, a Chinese artist of about 1700 a.d. The type of head and the black-and-white colour show its close relation to the dogs of Japan, and I cannot find any trace of the Japanese in Japan before this date.
It is a pity that so excellent a draughtsman as the painter Mao I, of the thirteenth century, should not have drawn more dogs, but (as his name irresistibly suggests) he drew chiefly cats, especially one with a coat like a Persian, red orange with cream shading on the face, breast, and body, and which recalls a Japanese dog in appearance.
In disposition they are most intelligent, but not so clever as Toy Spaniels, though far more independent, not to say selfish. They are affectionate, but very easily offended and very disobedient. They are very like cats in some ways. If a Japanese dog is angry he will scream like a chicken being killed. It is not like any other dog's scream, being discordant and pitched apparently in several keys at once. They are very highly strung, excitable dogs, and as beautiful as it is possible to be. It is curious that a pure-bred Japanese dog practically never wags his tail, the movement being almost imperceptible. Thus he again resembles a cat, and he will sometimes wave his tail to and fro when angry. Japanese dogs often wash their faces like cats by licking their own paws. They have a hatred of muddy roads and water, and are very dainty in their ways. They are also like cats in an extraordinary lightness on their feet. Their actual weight is far less for their size than is the case with Toy Spaniels. In my own experience, the male dogs, instead of weighing something under one pound to the inch, are much nearer nine or ten ounces, or even less.
In nature they are both defiant and reckless and as bold as brass.
There are some mistakes in the standard recently drawn up for Japanese. The muzzle should not be over "strong," and the head should emphatically not be large in comparison to the body. The muzzle should be very small compared to the size of the skull, but wide, full, soft, and round, and perfectly arched under the eyes so as to form rounded cushions almost touching the eyes. The mouth should be level or just finished. Delicacy and exquisiteness of form are the essential characteristics of this breed, and a heavy head is unpardonable. A coarse Japanese is an abomination. America beats us all round for quality in Japanese dogs, no doubt owing to the absence of quarantine regulations. Mrs. Senn has some exquisite specimens, and I have seen many photographs of first-class dogs. I have been exceedingly depressed on visiting the English shows during the last two years. The quality of the exhibits has enormously deteriorated, and the aims of the breeders appear to me to be the wrong ones, so that they do not recognise the admixture of Toy Spaniel blood even when plainly visible to unprejudiced eyes, and yet they probably imagine the breed is improving.
I think the Japanese breed is in very great danger of being spoilt by Toy Spaniel blood. This mixture has even been advocated by veterinary surgeons to improve its stamina. I see more and more of the modern Toy Spaniel type among the Japanese, to my very great regret. As a former breeder of Japanese, I must protest against the stamp of dog which is now becoming common. A Jap dog should not have a big head compared to his size, and this point will lead to a totally wrong type if adhered to. I well understand the difficulties of breeding Japs and the temptation encouraged by some veterinaries to cross them so as to avoid the fearful "plague " to which they succumb in hundreds, but, once the breed is contaminated, it is not worth keeping at all. Breeders must accept the fact of inevitable severe losses if they show the dogs and not avoid them by crosses. Dogs that are never shown and do not come in contact with other show dogs do not contract the disease so readily.
A dog fancier once said to me: "If you have got an enemy, give him a Jap!" This is true with regard to any breeder, as, if he has a Jap, ten to one he will lose the whole of the other stock through it. I lost twenty-six dogs in one year, and gave up the breed as only suitable for millionaires. I did so with the greatest regret, as I consider it the loveliest of all breeds. Nevertheless, I shall never own one again unless I go to live on a desert island.
Mr. Watson finds fault with the Japs in America for having too small heads. He says he does not consider himself competent to speak authoritatively on this breed, . but no dog ought to suggest a fault to one accustomed to look for symmetry in proportion. I venture to think that it is only because Mr. Watson's eye has become accustomed to the abnormal size of the English Toy Spaniel head that the Japanese heads appear small to him. This seems the more likely, as he quotes the English Toy Spaniels as of good proportion, saying that the fault is not noticeable in them to the same extent, if at all. It would be very extraordinary if it were, for over here the heads are like footballs; possibly they are less outrageous in America.
Miss Serena says the feet should be large and well separated, but this is not, in my opinion, correct, as they should be, on the contrary, as I have already said, small and harelike, and the dog should stand somewhat on its toes and certainly not be flat-footed. The English bred Jap is inclined to be too tall on its legs.
The following instructions were sent from Japan with a very valuable dog, and may be of interest. I copy them as they came:
"He must never have any meat. Fish and rice are his ordinary food.
"Rice regularly twice a day - about nine a.m. and 4 p.m., and fish therewith sometimes, both of them cooked.
"He should only drink twice a day - at his meals.
"Along with the box containing the dog is a small, flat board, and if the latter be kept half filled with sand, the dog will come out of his cage and perform the necessities of nature."
The present scale of points is as follows:
Size of head............................ 5
Shape of skull.......................... 5
Shortness of nose ....................... 5
Width of muzzle........................ 5
Eyes ..................................... 10
Ears ..................................... 5
Coat and feathering...........
Colour and markings..........
Legs and feet.............
Action,shape,style,and carriage of tail...............