Shiba Inu – Everything You Need To Know

Shiba Inu Breed Overview

The Shiba Inu means “Brushwood Dog” and is one of Japan’s six native breeds: Akita(large), Kishu, Hokkaido, Kai, Shikoku(medium), and Shiba(small) bred initially to be a hunter, but now it is the most loved and number one companion dogs in Japan. 

The Shiba Inu has a two-layered coat, the outer coat being stiff and straight and the undercoat soft and thick. The guard hairs above the coat are 4 to 5 cm long and are used to protect their underlying skin and repel rain or snow. The Shiba Inus sleep with their tails curled up in order to shield their face and protect the sensitive areas from cold.

Shiba Inu is highly intelligent, possessive (guards his stuff), less obedient, and cannot be trusted off-leash because they love the chase and are a natural hunter. Their general tendency to be suspicious makes them a good watchdog alerting their owners of anything unusual.

Shiba Inu Pros and Cons

Loyal to its familyLikely to develop unusual habits that are hard to break
Exceptionally healthy breedLess affectionate compared to other dog breeds
Coat sheds minimallyHighly stubborn

Shiba Inu Highlights

  • Shiba is an intelligent breed and a quick learner
  • Shiba is a small dog, but he needs plenty of room to romp. 
  • The Shiba Inus need a home with a fenced yard.
  • Shibas might not do well with other dogs and may chase smaller animals he perceives as preyThese are more possessive about its toys, food and belongings

Shiba Inu Basic Information

  • Name: Shiba Inu
  • Size: Small
  • Height: Males: 14.5-16.5 inches & Females: 13.5-15.5 inches 
  • Weight: Males:23 pounds & Females: 17pounds 
  • Coat: High (Double coated)
  • Lifespan: 13-16 years 
  • Color: Urajiro (cream to white), Red, Red Sesame, Black and Sesame, Black with tan points, sesame.
  • Energy: Medium to High
  • Origin: Japan
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Activities: Agility, Herding, Conformation, Obedience, Rally, Tracking 
  • Barking Level: Frequent 
  • Shedding Level: High
  • Litter Size: 6 to 10 puppies 
  • Group: Non -Sporting Group
  • Other Names: Japanese Shiba Inu, Japanese Small Size Dog, Japanese Brushwood Dog, Shiba ken.

Different Types of Shiba Inu

  1. Shinshu 

The Shinshu breed belongs to Nagano Prefecture and possess a solid undercoat, with a dense layer of guard-hairs, and are small and red in color.

  1. Mino 

The Mino breed belongs to former Mino Province in the south of present-day Gifu Prefecture. They tend to have thick, prick ears, and possess a sickle tail, rather than the common curled tail found on most modern Shiba’s. 

  1. San ‘in 

The San ‘in breed is from the Tottori and Shimane Prefectures and are larger than most modern Shiba’s. The San ‘in tend to have black coats.

  1. Jomon Shiba Inu

The Jomon Shiba Inu is a recreation breed created over 1000 years ago to resemble the dogs of Japan. They are tall, lean with a shallow stop and face resembling preserved Japanese wolves.

Shiba Inu History

The Shiba Inu is a Japanese breed that lived in the mountainous areas of the Chubu region. During the Meiji Restoration, dog breeds of the western region were imported and crossbred.

 From 1912 to 1926, almost no purebred remained. Although efforts were made to preserve the purebred species, they nearly became extinct during World War II due to food shortages and a distemper pandemic.

The dogs that were subsequently bred are from three bloodlines: Shinshu Shiba from Nagano Prefecture, the Mino Shiba from the former Mino Province in the south of present-day Gifu Prefecture, and the San ‘in Shiba from Tottori and Shimane Prefectures.

In the mid-20th century, the strain of the three bloodlines was combined into one overall breed, the Shiba Inu. 

In 1934, the Nippo standard, the first standard for the Shiba Inu breed, was published, and subsequently, In December 1936, Shiba Inu was recognized as the National Monument of Japan under the cultural property act mainly due to the efforts of NIPPO (NIHON KEN HOZONKAI), the association for the preservation of the Japanese Dog.

United States:

The first Shiba Inu was brought to the United States by an armed service family in 1954 and was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1992, and added to the non-sporting group in 1993.

Shiba Inu Personality

The Japanese describe Shiba Inu’s mental trait with three words: Kaani-i (spirited boldness), Ryosei (good nature), and Soboku (alertness). Shiba’s are known for their agility and spirited personality and with their squinty eyes, prick ears, and curly tail, this breed looks like a fox. They are small but athletic and move quickly, nimbly, and effortlessly. They like to remain independent and are difficult to train; early socialization and a good trainer can be helpful.

Friendliness Overview

Affection Level                            High 
Family-Friendly High 
Kid-Friendly Medium
Pet-Friendly Low 
Strangers-Friendly Low 

Adaptability Overview 

Good for New Pet Owners Medium to High
Good for Apartment Living High
Sensitivity Level Medium
Tolerates being alone High
Heat Tolerance Medium
Cold Tolerance Medium to High

Trainability Overview 

Easy to Train Low
Intelligence High 
Prey Drive Medium
Tendency to Chew, Nip & Play-bite Medium
Tendency to Bark or Howl Medium to High 
Wanderlust Ability High
Tendency to Dig Medium.
Tendency to Snore Low 
Attention/Social Needs Medium

Shiba Inu Physical Features

The expression is strong, good-natured with a confident gaze. Eyes are deep-set, somewhat triangular with dark brown Iris and black rims, upward slanting toward the outside base of the ear. Ears are small in proportion to head and body size, set apart, triangular, and firmly pricked.

Skull size is moderate with the furrowed flat forehead. The muzzle is full, firm, and round with a stronger lower jaw. Bite is strong, substantial, and scissors with evenly aligned teeth.

The lip is tight and black. Nose is black.

Neck, Topline, and Body
Neck is sturdy, thick, and of moderate length. Top line is level and straight to the base of the tail. The body is muscular and dry with no signs of sluggishness or coarseness. Fore chest is well developed. The abdomen is well tucked up and firm. The tail is curled, thick, and powerful. Chest depth measured from sternum to withers is one-half or slightly less than the total height from the ground to the withers.

Upper arm and Shoulder blade are moderately angulated and approximately equal in length. Elbows neither turn in or out and are close to the body. Forelegs and feet are parallel, straight, and moderately spaced. Feet have well-arched toes fitting tightly together and catlike.

The hindquarters are moderately angulated and in balance with the forequarters. Hind legs have a wide stance and are strong. The hock joint neither turns in out and is strong. The Upper thighs are longer than the second thigh. Feet are similar to the forequarters.

It is double-coated, with the outer coat being straight and stiff and the undercoat thick and soft.  Fur is short and even. The guard hairs are about 1.5 to 2 inches in length at the withers, and the tail hair is longer. Presented in a natural state is recommended, and trimming the coat should be penalized—serious fault – Woolly or Long coat.

The coat color is white, cream, red, black with tan points, black and sesames, Sesames.

  • White: These are cream to white, and if the breed is of any other color, the presence of white will only be on the cheeks, muzzle, inside the ears, under the jaw, upper throat, inside of legs, on the abdomen, at the side of the tail.
  • Red: The coat color is primarily orange red in color with a mix of white across the muzzle, under the jaw, neck under the throat, inside of legs, and abdomen. These Shiba Inu are mostly preferred due to their clean and tidy appearance.
  • Black and tan: The coat color is primarily black in color. Tan points are located as follows: on the sides of the muzzle between the black bridge of the muzzle and the white cheeks; two oval spots over the eyes; in the front of the stifle, outside of the hind legs, and from hock joints to toes and little in the rear of pasterns; on the outside of the forelegs from the carpus, or a little above, downward to the toes.
  • Black with sesame: The coat color is a mix of both sesame and black. Black is present as a triangular mark on both the sides of the chest, between the eyes, chin, and tail. The preference of this type may not be as popular as red or black with a tan, but the characteristics do not differ much when compared to the standard Shiba Inu.
  • Sesame: It has light tipping on the head and body with no concentration of black in any area. It may appear one-half as red. Eyespots and lower legs are red. Sesame color may end at the forehead, leaving the sides and bridge of the muzzle red. Upfront, the breed may look colorless, but closely it offers the uniqueness and the rarity the one would love to treasure.


Movement is light, nimble, and elastic. The legs are towards a centerline at the trot while the topline remains firm and level.

Shiba Inu Temperament 

Shiba Inu likes to be independent and does not share instead guard his/her possession, be it toys, food, or territory. They are stubborn and resist training. Early socialization and training can be helpful. Shiba Inu is loyal and affectionate towards the handler but can be aggressive and reserved towards strangers. Shiba Inu should be trained in a manner to avoid that aggressive tendency.

Shiba Inu Exercise Needs

Most Shiba’s love to go for walks and are fairly energetic. Exercising daily is unnecessary, but having a routine can make them less destructive, and crater training in the early years can prevent separation anxiety.

Exercise Needs Overview 

Energy Level                                 Medium
Exercise Needs                            Medium
Playfulness                                   Medium
Intensity Low

Shiba Inu Grooming

Shiba’s shed twice a year, and they do not have a long coat, so brushing once or twice a week would be sufficient. Shiba’s do not like nail trimming, and gradually they tend to like being blow- dried, so using a blower to remove the loose hair, dirt, and dandruff is a good option.

Grooming Overview

Amount of Shedding      High 
Tendency to Drool Low 
Easy to Groom High 

Shiba Inu Health

Shiba Inus are healthy but, like all breeds, they are prone to various health conditions that you should be aware of and consider while buying this breed.

Health Overview

Basic Health Medium  
Weight Gain Possibilities Low 

It is also essential to check the necessary health clearances from Orthopedic Foundation for Animals for hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and von Willebrand’s disease; and for eyes from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation.

  • Allergies: Shiba Inu suffer from three types of Allergies: food allergies, which are caused by the presence of particular food in the dog diet and are treat by identifying those foods and removing them from the dog’s diet; contact allergies, presence of allergens in topical substance such as bedding, dog shampoos, flea powders; and inhalant allergies, it is caused by airborne allergens such as dust, pollen, mildew. Diet restrictions, medications, and environmental changes can prevent these allergies.
  • Chylothorax: It is caused by an accumulation of fluid in the chest cavity. Symptoms include difficulty in breathing, coughing, and lethargy. Chylothorax can be treated by removing the fluid, giving a low-fat diet, or surgery if it is severe.
  • Glaucoma: It is caused by increased pressure in the eye and found in two forms: primary, which is hereditary, and secondary, caused by the decreased fluid in the eye. Symptoms include pain and loss of vision. Treatment includes surgery or eye drops.
  • Cancer: Signs of cancer are abnormal swelling of a bump or sore that does not heal, bleeding profusely from anybody opening, difficulty in elimination or breathing. Treatment includes surgery, medications, and chemotherapy.
  • Epilepsy: Also called idiopathic epilepsy causing seizure and are exhibited by unusual behavior such as running as if being chased, staggering, or hiding. It is hereditary but can be caused by many other things such as infectious diseases that affect the brain, metabolic disorders, tumors, exposure to poisons, and severe head injuries.
  • Patellar Luxation:  It is also known as “slipped stifles,” a common problem in small dog breeds that is caused when the patella, which has 3 parts-the femur (thigh bone), patella (knee cap), and tibia (calf) — is not correctly bounded. This leads to lameness in the leg or an abnormal gait, like a hop or a skip. This condition is caused by birth, although the actual misalignment or luxation does not always occur much later. The rubbing caused by patellar luxation leads to arthritis. There are 4 patellar luxation grades, ranging from phase I, an occasional luxation causing unstable lameness in the joint, to grade IV, where the turning of the tibia is heavy, and the patella cannot be realigned manually. This gives your dog a bow-legged appearance. Uphill grades of patellar luxation may require surgery.
  • Hypothyroidism: It is caused by a disorder in the thyroid gland. Symptoms include hair loss, dark patches on the skin, obesity, and lethargy. Treatment includes changes in the diet and medications.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy: A group of eye diseases involving the retina’s slow deterioration. In the initial stages of this disease, dogs become night-blind. As it advances, they lose their vision during the daytime as well. Most dogs adapt to their limited or complete vision loss gradually, as long as their home surroundings remain the same.  
  • Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is an abnormality of the hip joint where the socket portion does not entirely fit the ball portion, resulting in an ascending risk for joint dislocation. Hip dysplasia may occur at birth or in early life. As the dog ages, arthritis can develop. Some dogs exhibit discomfort and lameness on one or both rear legs. The Orthopedic Foundation does x-ray screening for hip dysplasia for Animals or the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program. Dogs who suffer from hip dysplasia should not be bred.
  • Tail Chasing/Spinning: The dog becomes obsessed with his tail and may circle it for hours and yelping while spinning. The appetite falls drastically. Treatment includes phenobarbital either alone or with other medications. 

Shiba Inu Diet and Nutrition

Shiba Inu is a small breed with a high metabolic rate and burns more energy. The calorie requirement to their body weight may be higher. Since it is a low maintenance dog with fewer energy needs, a regular diet balanced with necessary protein, fat, and limited carbohydrate would be enough.

The following type of food is considered: 

  • A Kibble made with a quality animal protein as the first ingredient.
  • A product rich in animal fats like chicken fat and fish oil.
  • A dog food supplemented with beneficial additives like probiotics and chelated minerals.

The amount of calorie intake can be calculated using the general formula.

70 + 30x Body Weight (kgs) = Daily Calorie Intake

Shiba Inu Living Condition Shiba Inus are small and can live in the apartment as well as in an average sized yard that is properly fenced. The waterproof coat helps them to bear the cold as well as hot climate. These dogs would not do well if left alone for a longer time.

Did You Know?

  • Shiba Inus are one among the 9 monument breeds of Japan
  • In 1992, the American Kennel Club (AKC) has recognized Shiba Inu as its 136th breed 
  • The first documented Shiba Inu in the United States was in 1954
  • Shiba Inu is the oldest and smallest among the dog breeds that belong to Japan
  • Shiba Inu is considered as the best companion dog in Japan
  • All the Shibas during the 1930s came from the Yamansashi or San’in areas of Japan but after reaching extinction after WWII, the remaining Shibas came from three different bloodlines, i.e., San’in, Mino and Shin Shu.

Shiba Inu Club Recognition

  • ACA = American Canine Association Inc.
  • ACR = American Canine Registry
  • AKC = American Kennel Club
  • ANKC = Australian National Kennel Club
  • APRI = American Pet Registry, Inc.
  • CKC = Continental Kennel Club
  • DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.
  • FCI = Fédération Cynologique Internationale
  • KCGB = Kennel Club of Great Britain
  • NAPR = North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • NKC = National Kennel Club
  • NZKC = New Zealand Kennel Club

Adding a Shiba Inu to Your Family

Shiba Inu Rescue Groups

There are countless Shiba Inus in need of adoption and/or nursing, and there are several breed-specific rescue associations across the country that are listed below:

  1. National Shiba Club of America
  2. Saving Shibas
  3. Midwest Shiba Inu Rescue

To Buy Shiba Puppies Online 

Shiba Inu for Sale – Puppyspot

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