Average Height: 18 – 17 in
Average Weight: 18 – 22 lbs
Average Life Span: 12 – 15 yrs
Coloring: Red, sable, black and tan, white
Area of Origin: Japan
Similar Breeds: Akita Inu, Chow Chow, American Eskimo Dog, Keeshond
History and Origin:
Believed to be one of the oldest dog breeds, the Shiba Inu is the smallest of the six original spitz dogs of Japan. Despite its small size, the Shiba was used to hunt not only water fowl and small game, but also wild boar and bear. It has served as a watch dog throughout history, and has also become the most popular companion dog in Japan. Nearly becoming extinct after World War II due to food shortages and a Japan-wide distemper epidemic, the modern day Shiba Inu can trace its ancestry back to just three bloodline groups. Due to political tensions, the Shiba Inu did not arrive in North America until the 1950s, and it was not until 1992 that it was accepted into the American Kennel Club. Despite its history as a hunting dog and working dog, the Shiba Inu is classified under the non-sporting group in the United States today. This unique looking breed continues to grow in popularity, currently the 46th most popular breed of dog in America.
Personality and Temperament:
The Shiba Inu is a vibrant, loving, and intelligent breed. It is extremely clean and develops a strong bond with its owner, which may lead to timidity or aloofness with strangers. Typically, the Shiba is a delightful companion for children, and tends to get along well with other dogs and cats. Confident and self-assured, the Shiba Inu can be a fantastic watch dog; the breed rarely barks except when a threat is perceived. As a hunting dog, the Shiba tends to have an extremely independent nature, and can be stubborn if not given adequate socialization and direction from its owner. Due to its strong, energetic nature, the Shiba Inu is not an appropriate companion for a nervous or first-time dog owner.
Exercise & Training:
An active and robust breed, the Shiba Inu needs plenty of exercise and mental stimulation in order for it to remain happy and healthy. Daily walks and activities that challenge it mentally – such as agility or obedience trials – will help to ensure that the Shiba’s physical and mental needs are met. If given sufficient exercise, the Shiba can adjust well to apartment living; its compact size and minimal barking make it suitable for smaller homes. Extremely intelligent, the Shiba Inu is bold and independent; while highly trainable, it needs confident, calm, and firm leadership in order for it to submit itself naturally and happily. Obedience classes with a trainer who knows the breed’s fiery nature is ideal.
The Shiba Inu’s thick double coat needs daily brushing to help ensure shed undercoat is removed – this is particularly important during the shedding seasons of spring and fall. The Shiba is naturally a clean dog, and needs very little bathing. Do not shave the dog, as its coat is designed specifically to resist both hot and cold temperatures.
As a Spitz breed, the Shiba Inu shares many qualities with other Spitzes, such as the Chow Chow, American Eskimo Dog, and the Keeshond. It is the smallest of the six original Spitz breeds from Japan: the Akita Inu, Kai Inu, Hokkaido Inu, Kishu Inu, Shikoku Inu, and the Tosa Inu. Most of these breeds, with the exception of the Akita Inu, are virtually unknown in the United States, and are not recognized by the American Kennel Club.
Interesting Facts about the Shiba Inu:
1. A Shiba Inu named Pusuke was thought to be the world’s oldest living dog before his death in 2011 at the age of 26, and is the tenth oldest dog ever to be recorded.
2. The words “kaani-i” (spiritful boldness), “ryosei” (well-natured), and “soboku” (alertness) are used by the Japanese to describe the Shiba Inu’s personality.
3. In Japanese, the word “Shiba” can mean “brushwood” or, in an old Nagano dialect, “small”. “Inu” is Japanese for “dog”, and therefore the Shiba Inu is sometimes referred to as the “Little Brushwood Dog”.
4. The Shiba Inu was inducted into the Japanese Cultural Properties Act in 1936 as a National Monument, with the goal of preserving the breed.