Breed Group: Non-Sporting
Height: male: 14.5-16.5, female: 13.5-15.5 inches
Weight: 20-30 lbs
Description: The Shiba is a small, compact, agile furry dog that looks like a miniature Akita. It has a pointed face, broad forehead and triangular prick ears.
The eyes are small and dark. The teeth should form a scissors bite. The nose is dark. The Spitz-like tail is thick and strong curling over the back and carried either in a ring or with a sickle curve.
Though all colors are acceptable, the plush double coat most often comes in red, or red with a little black overlay or black with tan markings.
The dog should have white or cream-colored markings on the cheeks and sides of the muzzle, throat, underside and chest. White is also permitted on the legs, tail tip and above the eyes.
Temperament: The Shiba is an alert, lively and bold dog. Independent, but affectionate and loving. Kind, trainable, brave and clean. Confident, fearless and courageous.
A big dog in a small dog’s body. The Shiba is agile, fast and playful. Charming and open. They bark little and bond closely with their handlers while remaining independent. It may be a bit reserved with strangers but children do not usually cause any problems, for Shiba’s make good companions for children.
Socialize this breed well as a puppy. They do well with other dogs and cats if they are raised with them from puppyhood, though they tend to be aggressive with members of the same sex.
Don’t trust this dog around other small pets such as rodents and small birds. Big birds such as parrots may be okay. The Shiba is an easy dog to travel with.
Be careful during hunting season as the dog looks like a fox and may be mistaken for one. It is not usually a reliable off-leash dog. It is easy to housebreak these dogs because they are naturally fastidious.
Health problems: This breed is generally hardy and healthy with few genetic weaknesses. A small proportion of Shibas have histories of hip dysplasia and PRA. Some lines are prone to patellar luxation (slipped kneecap).
Living conditions: The Shiba will do okay in an apartment if is sufficiently exercised. It is moderately active indoors and will do best with at least an average-sized yard. The Shiba’s waterproof, all-weather coat protects it in both cold and hot conditions, so it can live outdoors if you have a secure yard of reasonable size.
However, it does regard itself as part of the family and does not like to be left alone outside. This breed would be much happier living indoors with its family.
Exercise: The Shiba Inu is an undemanding dog that will adapt to your circumstances. It is however, a very active dog and will be healthier and happier with regular exercise.
This breed can walk for hours on end as it has tremendous endurance.
Life expectancy: About 12-15 years.
Grooming: The Shiba has a clean, coarse, stiff, short-haired coat that is easy to groom.
Brush with a firm bristle brush to remove the dead hair and bathe only when absolutely necessary as it removes the natural waterproofing of the coat. This breed is a seasonally heavy shedder.
Origin: The Shiba Inu is an ancient Asian breed, probably with Chow Chow and Kyushu blood.
It was brought to Japan from China two thousand years ago. Six distinct breeds developed from these original dogs, including the Akita and the Shiba Inu.
The Shiba is the smallest of the six Japanese Spitz-type dogs. Some of the other six breeds are now extinct. Shibas were originally bred to flush birds and hunt small game.
The breed may have been named for the brushwood environment where the dog hunted, because the bright red color of the autumn brushwood leaves matches the color of some Shiba’s coats, or perhaps just for size, as the word “shiba” means both “brushwood” and “small.” The word “Inu” means “dog.”
World War II was a difficult time for many dog breeds worldwide, and the Shiba was not an exception. Though the breed almost become extinct, breeding programs were established after the war, using individuals from the countryside.
The Shiba is now the most popular breed in Japan and in recent years has been gaining popularity in the United States as well, primarily as a companion dog.
Some of the Shiba’s talents include: hunting, tracking, watchdogging, guarding, agility and performing tricks.