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.

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.

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.

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.

Primary Epilepsy in the Toy Dog

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

Atlantoaxial Subluxation

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

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. Collect weight circles (proofs of purchase) from bags of participating Purina brand dog foods and help fund breed-specific health studies through the AKC Canine Health Foundation.