Best Dog Food for Japanese Chins

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November 12, 2022 / Dog Food / By: Krystine Therriault

a cute Japanese chin in park

The Japanese Chin is a relatively active dog with cat-like mannerisms and quite a favorite for many in Asia. The Chin is a high energy dog despite being known as a lap dog and because they are so active, they also have some special dietary needs.

That means that finding the best dog food for Japanese Chins can be a little tough. But that is exactly where we come in! We've interviewed a number of registered breeders and trainers who helped us find some good dietary dog foods for your loyal friend. We hope to impart this knowledge and leave you with some good recommendations for you to consider.

Our Top Picks

Best Dog Food Overall

BLUE Freedom Grain-Free, Small Breed Chicken, Peas & Potato (Adult Dogs)

What is the best overall dog food for Japanese Chins?

Most Popular Dog Food

Castor & Pollux Grain-Free Organic Small Breed Chicken & Sweet Potato (All Life Stages)

What to feed Japanese Chins?

Best Value Dog Food

Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed, Chicken, Brown Rice & Sweet Potato (Adult Dogs)

Best budget food for Japanese Chins

Best Dog Food for Weight Management

Wellness Simple LID Grain-Free Healthy Weight Salmon & Peas (Adult Dogs)

Best kibble for weight management

Best Dog Food for Sensitive Digestion

Annamaet Original Small Breed Formula Dry Dog Food (All life Stages)

Best kibble for all life stages small breed dogs

Best Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food

Stella & Chewy's Absolutely Rabbit Dinner Patties (All life Stages)

Best freeze dried raw dog food for small dogs

Best Chicken-Free Dog Food

True Acre Foods Grain-Free Beef & Vegetable Recipe (All Life Stages)

Best kibble with no chicken

Best Small-Sized Kibble

Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Small Formula Dog Dry Food (Adult Dogs)

What is the best small breed dry dog food ?

Best Low-Calorie Training Treats

Vitakraft Drops Treats for Dogs, Bite-Sized Training Snacks (All Life Stages)

 Perfect size treat for training

Best Probiotic Dog Supplement

Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Calming Care Probiotic Dog Supplement

Best dog probiotic supplement for behavioral issues

A little Bit About the Japanese Chin...

A family of Japanese Chin Dogs

The Japanese Chin (Japanese: 狆, chin), also known as the Japanese Spaniel, is a dog rooted in Japanese nobility

Japanese Chins are distinctively awesome little dogs who are particularly loyal to their owners. This lively, yet sensitive Japanese spaniel with its roots believed to be of Asian imperial courts makes a great companion dog. Some people believe it makes sounds that are perceived as songs.

Here's a few other breed characteristic details:

  • Height: 8-14 inches (20-27 cm) 
  • Weight: 4-9 pounds (1.4 - 6.8 kg.)
  • Behavior: Charming, sensitive and may suffer with separation anxiety.
  • Lifespan: Average 11 years
  • Health issues: May suffer from cataracts and heart murmurs.
  • Unique traits: Loyal, independent and cat-friendly.

Japanese Chin Nutritional Guide

Dog Food

Chins require a diet with the right amount of energy as well as the right mix of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids.

Good pet nutrition begins with knowing the dog breed, their diet requirements, associated health risks and knowing what's inside each product

In this section we provide everything you need to know about diet, health and feeding requirements before we skip to the reviews for each of the pet food brands that made the cut.

What Foods to Feed a Japanese Chin?

Lean meats are a must for Japanese Chins. Look for chicken, bison, venison and fish on the ingredient label. 

These little guys are prone to hypoglycemia, so opt for good, complex carbohydrates. Avoid corn and opt instead for brown rice or sweet potatoes.

To keep their mane as lovely as they are, they'll need good healthy fats. Salmon Oil, chicken fat, flaxseed etc are all good fat sources.

Finally, a good dose of fruits and vegetables on the ingredient label means your furry pal gets all the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants it needs in order to thrive. The more, the merrier!

Smaller breeds like the Chins have a longer lifespan than larger dogs, so be diligent about what you're feeding your little pal from the outset as you want them to live long and healthy lives. 

By depriving them of quality foods you're leaving their immune system vulnerable to all sorts of hosts. Good health, begins with good nutrition.

Below are some of the top brands we recommend when it comes to feeding your Chin.

Nutro: This brand offers a wide of variety of choice from dry, wet, seafood, vegetables to snack bites.Their blends provide an all-inclusive balanced diet. This brand offers other tailor made formulas for special needs e.g. weight management, high endurance and much more.

Organix: A certified organic food brand.The food is prepared in a variety of ingredients ranging from organic millet, organic oats, dried egg products among others to provide a wholesome meal. A great brand for a diva dog such as the Chin.

Blue Buffalo: Very popular premium dog food brand, that's more affordable but doesn't skimp on quality. Their foods are rich in omega 3, proteins, vitamins and minerals. Available in wet, dry and grain-free form.

Holistic Select: Grain-free foods that are generally rich in omega 3, 6 amino acids. A great food for hypoallergenic dogs, that is dogs that are prone to sensitivities.

Canidae: Grain-free and all favorite of ours. Human grade meats. High protein percentages. High calorie food. Pricey than most others, but nothing but the best quality.

How Much Food to Feed Japanese Chins?

Generally, toy breeds like the Japanese Chins, are quite fuel-efficient and burn through calories faster than larger breeds. Their small stomach is counteracted by their fast metabolism. So feed them small portions frequently!

This can lead to owners over-feeding their Chins, forgetting they are still only small sized dogs.

So how much food should you feed them?

As a puppy, the Chin takes a little longer to start on solid foods as compared to other breeds. The weaning may start at 16 weeks and weighing at least 4 pounds. A Japanese Chin puppy should fed at least 170 calories per day spread over three to four feeds to prevent stomach upsets.

An adult Chin will need approximately 210 calories per day while an active Chin should go up 260 kcal/per day. Other factors to be considered include; age, size, and metabolism levels. Opt for quality meat-based protein when it comes to purchasing brand foods rather quantity or cost for better health for your dog.

That's the key thing to take away with Japanese Chins - choose foods with a high protein to calorie ration. This goes for similar other small breeds - Chihuahuas, Maltese, Miniature Schnauzers, Pugs, Westies etc.

Japanese Chins can be fussy feeders and can be prone to stomach upsets. So choose small sized kibble which helps with chewing and improves digestion and in so doing preventing stomach upsets.

Routine feeding from the breeder should be continued as its feeding pattern especially for puppies. The introduction of new food should be done gradually to avoid digestive problems.

Always ensure bowls are clean and cool drinking water is regularly replaced.1/4 to 1/2 cup per day of dry or grain free foods are recommended with all the appropriate levels of key nutrients such as protein, vitamins and minerals.

Common Health Problems in Japanese Chins

Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease

It is a hip joint disease which may affect the puppy by age 4-6 months. Its major sign is limping with femur connecting to pelvic bone disintegrating. This condition can be corrected via surgery.  You as the owner can also help prevent joint disease by ensuring the foods you buy contain glucosamine and chondroitin.


This is eye condition characterized by opacity of eye lens leading to unclear/cloudy vision. It is a common condition old age related and can be treated by surgery to remove the cataract. You can also help fight eye disease in your furry friend with nutrition. Look for foods that contain beta carotene such as carrots and cantalope.

Progressive Retina Atrophy

Just like many other small breed dogs, a Japanese Chin is no exception to this condition which is common to the small breed. Progressive Retina Atrophy may be diagnosed at an early stage before complete sight loss though its cure has not yet been found. To avoid this, look for a reputable breeder who can thoroughly screen and rule out the condition as it is hereditary.

Atrioventricular Valve Endocardiosis

This is a heart condition which happens when polysaccharides deformity changes the shape of valves making them leak leading to heart failure. Regular exercise and change of diet may help suppress this condition.

Heart Murmurs

This may be an indicator of a bigger disease developing.The murmurs are as a result of blood flow disturbance within the heart chamber. The level of noise can be graded which could help to determine the condition.

Atlantoaxial Subluxation

This is a genetic condition characterized by the compression of the spinal cord leading to paralysis. It is more common to young chins.

Best Dog Food for Japanese Chin Reviews

Since this toy dog breed is prone to corn sensitivity and other common food allergens, feeding Japanese Chins with high quality dog food is essential in maintaining their health.

Here are the most popular dog foods to prevent skin and allergy conditions that are so common in this breed.


Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain-Free Small Breed

A highly recommended grain-free dog food that contains none of the common allergen triggers.  This recipe is high in protein and gluten-free.

Best Dog Food for a Japanese Chin

Blue Buffalo is a holistic dry dog food made in the USA, that was designed to meet the high energy requirements of small breed dogs. Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free is one of the best options for dogs like the Japanese Chin, since it doesn’t contain grains or glutens that lead to allergic reactions or sensitivity in some dogs. This formula is proudly made using only natural ingredients like potatoes, peas, carrots, sweet potatoes, cranberries, and blueberries.

One of the main ingredients found in this blend is high-protein deboned chicken for healthy muscle development. To promote great skin and a healthy coat, Blue Buffalo's recipe also includes Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids in the form of flaxseed and Canola oil.

This food has everything a Japanese Chin needs to live a healthy active life, it even has small kibble that is designed to be easy to chew and helps remove tartar buildup. Best of all, there is no corn in this recipe, so owners don't have to worry about sensitivity of allergic reactions in their Japanese Chins.

Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free comes highly recommended by other small dog owners. Many parents have seen a big difference in their furry friends after switching them to this brand, like softer coats and improved energy. Even the pickiest dogs enjoy Blue. We particularly like that this food doesn't contain any artificial flavors, artificial preservatives, or chicken/poultry by-product and comes with an affordable price for such high-quality food.


Castor & Pollux Organix Small Breed Grain-Free

This formula will help maintain your dog's active lifestyle throughout its adult and senior years.

Best Dry Food for Japanese Chin Puppies

The Castor & Pullox Organix Small Breed is an organic grain-free dog food that is actually hand crafted in small batches. 

This formula uses organic, free-range chicken as its main ingredient, complimented by other ingredients like fresh fruit and vegetable purees, peas, potatoes, and salmon.

Organix small breed recipe doesn’t contain grains, corn, soy, or wheat, so it won’t trigger allergies or digestive issues in breeds like the Japanese Chin. This recipe uses organic flaxseed as its source of Omega 3 fatty acids to promote healthy skin and coat. Organix Small Breed provides your dog with a great source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to ensure that they are getting the best care possible. Organix is USDA certified organic and made in the US. The company doesn't use any chemical pesticides or harmful preservatives that can negative affect a dog's health, so owners can feel good about giving it to their pets.

We love this brand of organic small dog food because of its great reputation and healthy ingredients. Feedback has been positive - owners have seen great improvements in their dog’s health after being switched to this brand and picky dogs don’t seem to get tired of Organix Small Breed like they do with other dog food brands. Several pet owners have successfully used Organix to get their dog's weight problems under control.


3. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed

Nutro is a trusted pet food brand that has been around since 1926. Their pet food is made in the USA using traceable, responsibly sourced ingredients.

Runner Up Dog Food for Japanese Chins

The Nutro Wholesome Essentials Small Breed Adult Farm-Raised Chicken, Brown Rice & Sweet Potato Recipe Dry Dog Food is another great choice for Japanese Chins. The main ingredient in this recipe is real chicken. The rest is loaded with other natural, non-GMO ingredients like whole brown rice, split peas, and whole grain oatmeal. Nutro Natural Choice is another corn-free brand with small sized kibble perfectly designed for the little jaws of small breed dogs and to help maintain healthy teeth.

This blend uses a patented combination of Omega 6 fatty acids, zinc and B vitamins to provide your dog with glowing skin and a soft, healthy coat and antioxidants to support your pet’s immune system. The company guarantees that this dry dog food promotes healthy digestion for dogs with sensitive stomachs. 

This recipe is great for dogs with digestive issues and for pets with coarse coats and dry skin. After being switched to Nutro, many pet owners see a dramatic improvement in their dog's overall health! The small kibble is easy for little dogs to chew, has none of the fillers used in a lot of common dog food brands - and is another affordable option we recommend!


4. Wellness Simple LID Grain-Free Healthy Weight Salmon & Peas 

Limited ingredient formula that is excellent for weight control and Chins with digestive issues.

Best kibble for weight management

Often a limited ingredient dog food can be an excellent choice for pups with sensitive stomachs as well as for those whose pet parents are trying to monitor their weight

This formula offers a simple formula, but one that still packs a good nutritional punch. 

As it makes use of salmon as its primary source of protein this formula provides lean protein – great for weight control – as well as the omega 3 fatty acids that are essential for coat, skin and brain health as well as for joint health.

Peas are a great source of fiber, helpful for pups with digestive issues – and the addition of glucosamine & chondroitin provides excellent joint health support, something that is especially important for senior dogs.

As this is a grain free formula it may also help pups with sensitive stomachs avoid digestive problems and, just as importantly, even though this is a ‘healthier ingredient’ dog food many pet parents report that their dogs seem to love the taste. 


5. Annamaet Original Small Breed Formula Dry Dog Food

Formulated for small dogs at every stage of life, suited also by pups with sensitive stomachs.

Best kibble for all life stages small breed dogs

This dry dog food is formulated to meet the special dietary needs of small dogs at every stage of their life, from puppy to senior. It is deliberately lower in calories – as smaller dogs simply don’t need as many as their larger peers – and is formulated to provide the right amount of protein – not too much and not too little – to give most small dogs the energy they need. 

The formula itself makes use of chicken meal, brown rice and carrots to meet a pup’s dietary needs and is also supplemented with DHA and Omega 3 fatty acids to help support brain and skin and coat health. Many pet parents report that their small pup tolerates this formula well and like the fact that the kibble is smaller than many other options and easier for their small pup to eat. 


6. Stella & Chewy's Absolutely Rabbit Dinner Patties

Nutritionally balanced raw-nutrition especially high in protein featuring farm raised rabbit.

Best freeze dried raw dog food for small dogs

More and more pet parents are interested in trying out raw dog food for their pup, but preparing raw dog food from scratch at home can be time consuming and even pose a risk for foodborne illness, so choosing a pre-packaged version like this one is often a better option. 

These patties look like little burgers, and are made using 90% organic, farm-raised rabbit. This is complemented by a selection of organic vegetables including blueberries and kelp. In addition, these are vitamin supplemented patties that offer ample quantities of essential vitamins and minerals as well as Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. 

Pet parents who tried this formula reported that it’s relatively easy to prepare and, that for the most part after a little hesitancy their pup seemed to enjoy it, even some who were previously considered very picky eaters. 


7. True Acre Foods Beef & Vegetables Recipe

An inexpensive yet still quality dog food that is free of chicken made with US farm-raised beef.

Best kibble with no chicken

This is perhaps what some might consider an ‘old fashioned’ dog food formula as its primary ingredients; beef and vegetables like carrots and peas, have been common in both wet and dry dog foods for decades.

This does not mean this is not a good choice though, although beef is higher in fat than some other protein options. However, the vegetables are a great source of vitamins and minerals and many pet parents report that their pups enjoy eating this particular brand of dry dog food. 


8. Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition Small Adult Formula Dog Dry Food

Inexpensive dog food made with grains specially formulated for small dogs.

What is the best small breed dry dog food ?

Smaller pups have different nutritional needs than their larger peers, especially when it comes to calories and protein. This with-grains formula is tailored to meet their needs without adding calories they don’t need or an excess of protein that can, in some small pups, cause health problems. 

This formula, offered by Royal Canin, who have been a big name in healthy dog food for years, is both formulated and sized for smaller pups. With a primary protein source of chicken meal this is a lean formula that provides just the right amount of protein for pups of between about 8 and 22 pounds. It is vitamin and flavor enhanced and while not grain free many pet parents report that it is very well tolerated by their small pup and that they really seem to enjoy the taste. 


9. Vitakraft Drops with Yogurt Dog Treats

Low-calorie training dog treats featuring yogurt which offers numerous health benefits.

 Perfect size treat for training

Dogs love treats, but many of them need to be offered in strict moderation especially Chins, as they are quite calorie laden and don’t offer a lot in terms of nutrition. These treats are designed to be different. 

These perfectly-sized treat training treats contain real yogurt, which offers several health benefits including being a great source of protein and calcium, and some studies have suggested that giving yogurt to pups can decrease their risk for heart disease and diabetes. These are also treats that are lower in calories than many, so you could slip your pup a few more (but not too many!) 


10. Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Calming Care Probiotic Dog Supplement

A high-quality source of probiotics that can help with anxiety, and behaviors like excessive barking and improve digestive health.

Best dog probiotic supplement for behavioral issues

The benefits of probiotics for humans have been well documented over the last few years, and many have found that adding probiotics to their diet can make a big difference to their digestive health. What you may not know is that it seems the same can be true for dogs as well.

This supplement contains a probiotic known as BL999 which is not only great for digestive health but has been shown to help calm anxiety in pups, something that is great for pups who suffer from separation anxiety, or become scared of things like thunderstorms. 

In terms of its effectiveness a number of pet parents report a noted change in behaviors like excessive barking and hyperactivity and that adding the formula to their food is easy and does not seem to discourage pups from eating it. 

So, What's the Best Food for Your Japanese Chin?

All of the dog food brands mentioned above are great options for small breed dogs like the Japanese Chin.

These dry kibble formulas are put together with healthy, natural quality ingredients to improve a small dogs' overall health and each and every one provide the nutrition your furry pet needs!


Krystine Therriault

Krystine Therriault is an accomplished writer. With a passion for all creatures cute and furry, Krystine's life has been touched by many beloved dogs over the years. She is also a loving mother of two boys and an avid yogi.

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  1. I have a Japanese Chin she’s 14 years old still plays by her self. I live on N. Hutchinson Island , Florida would love to buy one or adopt one central or south, Florida Large house with large yard mostly stay inside NEVER LEFT OUTSIDE ALONE groomed once a month.

  2. My ‘Ralphy’ red and white Chin is spoiled rotten.. My daughter passed and left him to me. She only fed him off her own plate. I cannot get him to eat dry OR canned dog food. How do I cope…and change him. He’s approx 4 yrs old…was a rescue dog for her. Thanks.

    1. Hi Samm and thank you for your comment. I’m truly sorry to hear about your daughter’s passing away. Try setting his meal down for ten minutes. If he doesn’t eat it, pick it up and store it away. Wait until next scheduled meal time and try again. Repeat this process until he eats. Make sure you give him no cookies or treats in between meal times. It may be hard if he whines or barks but trust me, he will eat when he is hungry, a healthy dog won’t go starving by himself. Have you also tried other brands of kibble? If you’re very worried you can try getting a can of wet food or add dehydrated/lightly cooked/freeze-dried raw foods like Stella & Chewy and mixing a spoonful in with his regular kibble to entice him. It might take you a little time and some work but he will un-learn the old ways and hopefully begin to love his new food.

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