Around 1700, during the Edo era, a small terrier-type dog was created in Japan. This dog was the result of a cross between a primitive type of the English Smooth Fox Terrier and Japanese native small breeds. The Smooth Fox Terrier was brought into the country by Dutch sailors from the Netherlands to Nagasaki, Japan. After several generations, the descendants of the small terrier-type dogs were bred to be a type of Italian greyhound.
In the 1900s, at the end of the Meiji era, some of these best dogs were seen on the Kobe streets and known as “Kobe Terriers.” The appearance of these “Kobe Terriers” was like a mixture of the modern Smooth Fox Terriers and the Japanese Terriers. These dogs were the first terrier dogs to be bred in Japan. The dogs had several names such as “Oyuki Terrier” and “Mikado Terrier” and were kept by the Japanese and some foreigners.
Around 1916, a dog named “Kuro”, which means “black” in Japanese, was born at Station Nada near Kobe, from a cross between English Toy Terriers and a Toy Bull Terrier, both of which were imported from Western countries. With careful selection of the breeding pairs from these offspring and the “Kobe Terriers”, a very short-haired, slender dog of the small terrier type, known today as the Japanese Terrier, was born. Her work with the breed helped develop a standard until 1930 and was eventually recognized by the Japan Kennel Club. The Japanese terriers didn’t spread until 1940 when they were seen in most major Japanese cities. The demand for this breed skyrocketed as these cities demanded a small, more active dog than large guard dogs. However, the breed has been exposed to two instances in its history of later becoming critically endangered: first during World War II and then around 1948 when Western breeds became fashionable.