Shiba Inu Breed Guide

Shiba Inus are compact dogs with a double coat that comes in red, red sesame, and black and tan. The outer coat is straight and stiff, while the undercoat is thick and soft and comes in cream, gray, or buff. The fur on the face, ears, and legs is short. These dogs have dark brown, triangular eyes, black noses, and pointed muzzles. Their ears are triangular, pricked, and small, and their tails curl over the back. Shiba Inus measure 13.5 to 16.5 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 17 to 23 pounds.

These dogs form strong bonds with human family members without seeming needy, and they get along well with children.

Shibas are independent dogs and may be reserved around unfamiliar people, but the breed is affectionate and devoted to anyone earning its trust. These dogs make good companion animal for families with children. They adapt easily to new situations and do well in most living environments. The breed does need regular exercise, however, and benefits greatly from early and continued obedience training.

Shiba Inus are very vocal dogs, even though they don't usually bark without reason. They do use various screams and yodels to communicate or get attention, though.

Shiba Inus make great companion animals and excellent watchdogs. They have an independent nature and may be reserved around unfamiliar people, but they are affectionate, attentive, and loyal to their loved ones. These dogs form strong bonds with human family members without seeming needy, and they get along well with children. Shiba Inus may be aggressive toward other dogs, however.

Spirited and bold, Shiba Inus prefer to do things their own way. They are very energetic dogs and enjoy hikes, jogs, and long walks. These dogs are always up for adventure and are known for chasing small animals. Although they love spending time outdoors and may be extra lively when turned loose in the yard, Shibas are calm and quiet inside the house.

Although they don't usually bark unnecessarily, Shibas do sometimes let out high-pitched screams or yodels when something is wrong or when they want food or attention. They also may be domineering, territorial, and headstrong. Providing them with plenty of attention and regular exercise is beneficial.

Shiba Inus are a generally healthy breed and are not known to suffer from a large number of genetic diseases. However, this is not a guarantee that any individual dog will be free of genetic conditions or other health problems. Adopting or purchasing a Shiba puppy from a reputable source helps ensure a healthy dog.

Hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, and a variety of eye disorders are all known to affect the Shiba Inus. The breed is also prone to inhalant allergies, or atopy, that can lead to itching, redness, hair loss, and other symptoms. Periodontal disease is another concern; early establishment of a preventative program to care for the teeth and gums is helpful.

With regular exercise, attention to diet, routine veterinary care, and timely vaccinations, Shiba Inus typically live a full and active life of up to 16 years.

Easy to housebreak, but set in their ways, Shiba Inus need a strong-willed owner and an experienced trainer. These dogs need to learn when it is appropriate to bark and when it isn't, and they must be taught not to growl or bite to protect toys and food. Firmness, consistency, and positive reinforcement go a long way toward motivating these dogs and encouraging them to learn and obey rules and commands.

These dogs have very powerful hunting instincts that put small animals at risk and make it necessary to keep them on a leash when in public. Additionally, Shibas tend to be aggressive toward unfamiliar dogs. Early socialization can minimize this behavior and make the breed less aggressive and shy. Puppy kindergarten, followed by time at the local dog park and walks around the neighborhood, can help tremendously.

Shiba Inus should never be allowed to show aggression toward people. Care must also be taken to ensure these dogs don't attempt to run the house. Inexperienced owners should consider hiring a professional trainer.

Shiba Inus are low-maintenance when it comes to grooming. The breed needs only occasional brushing with a slicker brush, maybe two or three times each week, and these dogs never need trimming. During shedding seasons, more frequent brushing will control loose hair and keep it from landing on furniture and clothing. At the peak of shedding, the Shiba may take on a moth-eaten appearance. This is normal. If large bald patches develop, consult a veterinarian.

An unusually clean dog breed, Shibas not only go out of their way to avoid all forms of dirt, but they lick their paws to groom themselves. This is a good thing; bathing these dogs too often will strip the natural waterproofing from their coats. When bathing is necessary, it's important to use a gentle, pH-balanced shampoo and warm water, followed by a thorough rinsing and a blow drying.

Weekly ear checks to look for signs of wax accumulation and infection, and regular nail clippings, are both essential parts of grooming Shiba Inus. Brushing the teeth every day with a canine toothbrush and toothpaste is also very important; proper dental care helps prevent tooth decay, periodontal disease, and bad breath.

The Shiba Inu's origin is unclear, but experts mostly agree that the breed is of Spitz heritage and may date back as far as 300 B.C. These dogs were primarily used to hunt small game and birds, but they may also have hunted boar and bear. They were developed for hunting in Japan's mountainous areas where the undergrowth was very dense. Some say the breed's name means "Little Brushwood Dog," while others believe it means only "Little Dog."

During World War II, the breed almost became extinct. The Shiba's numbers declined further due to an outbreak of distemper in 1952. After the war ended, the different types of Shiba Inu from around Japan were interbred in order to restore the breed's population. The resulting mix of light-boned and heavy-boned dogs resulted in the breed as we know it today. Today, these dogs are Japan's most popular breed.

Shibas first came to the United States in 1954, but it was not until the 1970s that the breed was imported in any real numbers. Since America's first litter in 1979, Shiba Inus have become increasingly popular.

The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Shiba Inu in 1992.