Shiba Inu

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20-30 lbs
brushwood dog, Japanese small-size dog
Shiba Inu - The oldest and smallest breed of the Japanese dogs, the shiba inu dates back to the third century B.C. “Shiba” may mean small, but it also could refer to the red brushwood trees that filled the hunting grounds. The color of the trees matched almost exactly the coloring of the shiba inu, establishing the nickname “little brushwood dog.”
hunting and flushing small game
Date of Origin
ancient times
spitz, Northern (companion)

Shiba Inu Health

Average Size
Height: 14-16 inches Weight: 20-30 lbs
Height: 12-15 inches Weight: 20-30 lbs
Minor Concerns
  • Patellar Luxation
Occasional Tests
  • Knee

Shiba Inu Breed History

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. 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. In 1936, the shiba inu was declared a natural product of Japan through the Cultural Properties Act. After World War II, the breed diminished in numbers, and it was almost completely extinct in 1952 due to distemper. The remaining dogs from the three different types of shibas – the Shinshu shiba (“from the Nagano Prefecture”), the Mino shiba (“from the Gifu Prefecture”), and the Sanin shiba (“from the northeast mainland”) – were interbred to repopulate the breed. In 1954, an armed service family brought the first shiba inu to America. In the 1979, the first litter of shibas was born in the United States to a pair owned by Julia Cadwell. The breed wasn’t recognized by the AKC until 1993 and has a large following of supporters.

Shiba Inu Breed Appearance

This compact, powerful breed is slightly longer than it is tall. A northern breed, it has small upright ears, thick fur, and a curled tail. The shiba inu is the smallest of the Japanese dogs. Its expression reveals its personality: bold yet friendly. The shiba’s double coat is soft underneath with a harsh, straight outer coat. It is colored in red, salt and pepper, black, black and tan or white.

Shiba Inu Breed Maintenance

The Shiba Inu requires brushing with a bristle brush several times a week, more so when shedding. Since their double coats are naturally waterproof, it only needs a bath when necessary. This breed needs plenty of exercise to maintain its muscular form. Its daily workout should involve a fast-paced game, a moderate run, or a long walk. It can live in an apartment as long as it receives adequate exercise. If given warm shelter, shibas can live outdoors in temperate to cool climates, however they prefer to be with their family. The shiba inu can be stubborn and should be trained with a loving hand, not harsh methods. Puppies should be trained and socialized to prevent aggression towards other animals. This breed can be vocal, making it a good watchdog.

Shiba Inu Breed Activity Requirements

The shiba inu is an independent, strong-willed breed that requires consistent training. It is intelligent and active – always ready for a good adventure. The shiba may appear aloof at first, however it is a good-natured breed that is affectionate and loyal to its loved ones. It can be reserved with strangers, at least initially. This breed guards its territory and makes an excellent watchdog. It can bark a lot and may show aggression towards strange dogs, especially those of the same sex. It will be calm indoors with proper exercise. Outdoors, it will be active and may give chase to small animals.