White and red Shiba Inu in a snowy setting.
White and red Shiba Inu in a snowy setting.

Shiba Inu

avatarAlanna Mallory, BS, LVT, VTS (SAIM)

Height13"-15"
Weight20-30 lbs
TypeNon-Sporting
Life Expectancy12-14 years
Area of OriginJapan

Energy Level

Playfulness

Friendliness to dogs

Friendliness to strangers

exercise requirements

affection level

friendliness to other pets

watchfulness

Grooming Requirements

Vocality

The Shiba Inu is a clever, independent, fearless, and agile companion dog. Although they can be stubborn and often standoffish with strangers, they are truly loyal and affectionate toward their owners. Due to their double coat, cooler environments may be optimal, and they always relish the exercise of a brisk run. However, a Shiba Inu should always be secured by a leash when outdoors, as they will most certainly outrun their owner. Their natural bravery and fierce agility make them extraordinary hunters and guardians. The Shiba Inu thrives in city, suburban, and country environments alike.

Energy Level

Playfulness

Friendliness to dogs

Friendliness to strangers

exercise requirements

affection level

friendliness to other pets

watchfulness

Grooming Requirements

Vocality

Where Did Shiba Inu Get Their Name?

There are many theories on how the Shiba Inu acquired its name. The first is that shiba means “small” in Japanese and the Shiba Inu is the smallest and most ancient of Japan’s dogs, being around for nearly 3,000 years. Another is that the breed was named for their unique ability to maneuver through brushwood bushes, as they are also referred to as Little Brushwood Dogs. Either way, they officially acquired their current moniker in 1920.

The ancestors of the modern day Shiba Inu were originally from Japan’s mountainous regions and had a larger boned and harsh-looking appearance. Their strong prey drive makes them magnificent hunters of small game and they are even capable of hunting larger game, including boar, deer, and bears. They are also outstanding watchdogs.

The Cultural Properties Act of 1936 gave official recognition to the Shiba Inu as a “precious natural product” of Japan. The population of Shiba’s dwindled during World War II and today’s Shiba is the result of the interbreeding from 3 different bloodlines (the Sanin Shiba, the Mino Shiba, and the Shin Shu Shiba) to preserve the breed. The Shin Shu Shiba is the most popular of the 3 bloodlines. In 1954, America saw its first Shiba Inu, since a military family brought their pet dog home from Japan. The Shiba was officially imported from Japan to the U.S. in the 1970s for breeding, with the first litter being born in 1979 to Julia Cadwell’s sire and dam. The Shiba Inu remains the top companion dog throughout Japan, and was officially recognized in 1992 by the American Kennel Club.

Where Did Shiba Inu Get Their Name?

There are many theories on how the Shiba Inu acquired its name. The first is that shiba means “small” in Japanese and the Shiba Inu is the smallest and most ancient of Japan’s dogs, being around for nearly 3,000 years. Another is that the breed was named for their unique ability to maneuver through brushwood bushes, as they are also referred to as Little Brushwood Dogs. Either way, they officially acquired their current moniker in 1920.

The ancestors of the modern day Shiba Inu were originally from Japan’s mountainous regions and had a larger boned and harsh-looking appearance. Their strong prey drive makes them magnificent hunters of small game and they are even capable of hunting larger game, including boar, deer, and bears. They are also outstanding watchdogs.

The Cultural Properties Act of 1936 gave official recognition to the Shiba Inu as a “precious natural product” of Japan. The population of Shiba’s dwindled during World War II and today’s Shiba is the result of the interbreeding from 3 different bloodlines (the Sanin Shiba, the Mino Shiba, and the Shin Shu Shiba) to preserve the breed. The Shin Shu Shiba is the most popular of the 3 bloodlines. In 1954, America saw its first Shiba Inu, since a military family brought their pet dog home from Japan. The Shiba was officially imported from Japan to the U.S. in the 1970s for breeding, with the first litter being born in 1979 to Julia Cadwell’s sire and dam. The Shiba Inu remains the top companion dog throughout Japan, and was officially recognized in 1992 by the American Kennel Club.

Care

Shiba Inu Nutrition

The Shiba Inu is a very active dog with a strong prey drive. They were bred for their agility and hunting ability, so they may require a higher caloric intake than a more sedentary breed. Shiba are meant to be trim to maintain their quickness.

Caring for a Shiba Inu

Shiba Inu Nutrition

How Often Should I Groom My Shiba Inu?

Do Shiba Inu Have Health Issues?

How Do You Train a Shiba Inu?

How Much Exercise Does a Shiba Inu Need?

Shiba Inu Nutrition

The Shiba Inu is a very active dog with a strong prey drive. They were bred for their agility and hunting ability, so they may require a higher caloric intake than a more sedentary breed. Shiba are meant to be trim to maintain their quickness.

What Are the Traits of a Shiba Inu?

The Shiba Inu has a compact build. The standard Shiba should look like a small Akita. They stand 13.5 – 15.5 inches tall and weigh 20 – 30 pounds.

The Shiba Inu head is moderately sized with deep set, dark brown eyes with black rims. Their ears are small, triangle shaped, and set apart, with a slight slant forward. The muzzle is round with a strong lower jaw and the lips are tight and black.

The Shiba’s body is muscular with a broad chest. Their abdomen is tucked up and back is quite strong.

Yes, the Shiba Inu’s tail is thick and curled up over the back. The tail extends to the hock when straight.

Shiba forelegs are straight and feet are feline with arched toes and thick paw pads.

Shiba have a thick, double coat with short fur on the legs, face, and ears. Their colors may be deep red, sesame (red and black hair, with red or black being predominant), black/tan, white, and lighter red.

The Shiba’s hindlegs are muscular, moderately angulated, equal in length, and parallel. Their stance is naturally wide.

Shiba Inu Facts

1

Archaeologists discovered bones that resemble the modern-day Shiba dating back to the Jōmon period in 500 B.C.

2

The Shiba Inu is known to have cat-like cleanliness, feet, and reflexes. They also share their aloofness with cats.

3

They're often humorously compared to a Japanese pepper, since they're spicy, but very small.

Other Breeds to Explore

Akita
Choosing a Finnish Spitz
Choosing an American Eskimo

References

  • Morris, Desmond. Dogs: The Ultimate Dictionary of Over 1,000 Dog Breeds. Trafalgar Square, 2002.
  • American Kennel Club. The Complete Dog Book. Random House Digital, Inc., 2006.
  • Wilcox, Bonnie and Chris Walkowicz. The Atlas of Dog Breeds of the World. T.F.H. Publications, Inc., 1995.

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