<Back to Dog Breeds
Other Names: Japanese Shiba Inu
Dog Group Kennel Club: Non Sporting (AKC) Utility (KC)
In Japan, this breed reigns supreme as the most popular dog. Shiba Inus have a moderately compact, powerful body, a curled tail and small erect ears. The Shiba Inu is a big dog in a small body! Height Ranges from 13 – 16 inches.
They have a soft and thick double medium length coat. Shiba Inus are most commonly associated with a red colour coat. However coat colours also include: black and tan, and sesame (red with black tipping evenly dispersed over the coat). All the colours have “urajiro”, a cream to white colour on the underside of the body.
Weight: Female 17 lbs, Male 23 lbs
Average Life Span: 13-16 years
They are extremely intelligent and are quite primitive in nature, retaining strong instincts to hunt. The Shiba Inu is one breed that has feline comparisons: they hate to be dirty and are always cleaning themselves; they are very independent; and also have climbing abilities.
The Shiba Inu is a good-natured and dignified breed with an independent nature. They are reserved toward strangers and capable of being aggressive with other dogs. The Shib Inu is loyal and affectionate to those who earn their respect. This is an exceptionally clean dog and an easy one to housetrain. Their territorial nature makes them very good at being a watch dog. They are normally quiet dogs and will not bark unless there is something to bark at. If they are raised with kids, they’re good with kids. But dogs introduced to kids only after they are adults may have difficulty adjusting to kids. They are not suitable in a household with other animals.
Interestingly they have a unique bark which may sound like a yodel.
Many Shiba Inus are clever escape artists who will go over or under fences in search of adventure. To keep your Shiba Inu in, you may need higher fences than you might imagine for their small size. Their climbing ability also makes topped kennel runs a necessity.
This breed is not for everyone due to there independent, dominant and strong willed nature. They require a strong hand and very early socialization and consistent obedience training to make them understand who is boss
The shed a lot and need need weekly brushing. Bathe only when necessary as they have a natural water-proof coat.
They require plenty of exercise to meet their natural tendency to roam. Shiba Inus need regular opportunities to vent their energy and to use their busy minds to do interesting things. Otherwise they will become bored — which they usually express by destructive chewing.
Shiba Inu Health Issues
Luxating Patella – Slipping knee joints (also referred to as luxating patellas, slipped stifles) are a common problem in this breed. In this condition, the kneecap slips out of its groove and moves against the thighbone (femur) instead of along its natural groove. Although this has been found to be a heritable condition, small, active breeds are likely to aggravate it through the course of their natural activities (jumping up and down) around taller objects such as furniture.
Hip dysplasia, a malformation of the hip joint resulting in a poor fit between the head of the femur bone and the hip socket. This condition can be alleviated by surgery, at some cost to dog and owner. Because dysplastic dogs often produce dysplastic puppies, buyers should ask if both the sire and the dam of the puppy in which they are interested have been rated clear of hip dysplasia. Do not take yes for an answer without seeing a certificate, and ask for a copy to take to your veterinarian.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a hereditary disease of the eye that has been identified in this breed. PRA is a blanket term for many types of retinal diseases, all of which result in blindness. All shiba inus, regardless of age or breeding status, should be examined yearly by a member of the Veterinary Opthalmologists.
Shiba Inu History
The oldest and smallest breed of the Japanese dogs, the Shiba Inu dates back to the third century B.C. Its ability to traverse steep hills and mountain regions that were inaccessible to men, along with its excellent senses, made it a superb hunting dog. Initially used to flush out birds and small game, it was also occasionally used to hunt boar.
There are different theories on how the Shiba obtained its name. The Shiba has been referred to as the Little Brushwood Dog because of its skill in negotiating the brushwood bushes. The more widely accepted theory is that the Japanese word “Shiba” means small. Hence, the description of the breed: Shiba (small) Inu (dog). Whatever the origin, the official name of Shiba Inu wasn’t given until the 1920s. The origin of the breed itself is in part from spitz heritage and is the oldest of Japan’s dogs. Its ability to traverse steep hills and mountain regions that were inaccessible to men, along with its excellent senses, made it a superb hunting dog. Initially used to flush out birds and small game, it was also occasionally used to hunt boar.
After World War II, the breed diminished in numbers, and it was almost completely extinct in 1952 due to distemper. The 3 remaining bloodlines of shibas, the San In Shiba, Mino Shiba and the Shin Shu Shiba, were interbred to repopulate the breed as we know it today.