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Issues with looping over an object, the Object.hasOwnProperty() method, and the Object.create() method in vanilla JS

Last week, Pablo Marques pointed out an issue with my freeze() helper function caused by looping over objects created with Object.create(null).

Today, I wanted to look at the issue, the cause, and how to avoid it. Let’s dig in.

The loop, prototypal inheritance, and the Object.hasOwnProperty() method

Let’s say we have a Wizard() constructor function that we can use to create a new wizard object.

// Create a prototype
function Wizard (name) { = name;

// Add properties to the prototype
Wizard.prototype = {
	summon: 'Accio',
	vanish: `Now you see me, now you don't`,
	appear: 'Abracadabra'

// Create a new instance
var merlin = new Wizard('Merlin');

If we loop through our merlin object with a loop and log each key into the console, name, summon, vanish, and appear will all log.

for (var key in merlin) {

Here’s a demo.

The keys summon, vanish, and appear are part of the prototype, not the actual wizard object itself. What if we only wanted direct properties of our object and not ones that were inherited?

For that, we can use the Object.hasOwnProperty() method, which checks that the key is a property of the object itself and not just its prototype.

for (var key in merlin) {
	if (!merlin.hasOwnProperty(key)) continue;

Now, only name shows up. Here’s an updated demo.

Object.hasOwnProperty() and Object.create(null)

The Object.hasOwnProperty() method is very useful for ensuring you don’t loop through any inherited properties. But, there’s an edge case where it can cause an error.

The Object.create() method creates a new object, using an object you pass in as the prototype.

If someone creates an object with it but passes in null as the argument, the resulting object will have none of the methods on the Object prototype, including Object.hasOwnProperty().

This causes an error.

let gandalf = Object.create(null); = 'Gandalf';

for (var key in gandalf) {
	// Uncaught TypeError: gandalf.hasOwnProperty is not a function
	if (!gandalf.hasOwnProperty(key)) continue;

You can see the error here.

To prevent this error, we can use the method to access the Object.prototype.hasOwnProperty() method directly, even if the current object doesn’t have it.

// No error
for (var key in gandalf) {
	if (!, key)) continue;

Here’s a final demo.