Shiba Inu Guide

Non-Sporting Dog Breeds

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The shiba inu is moderately compact, being slightly longer than it is tall. It has typical traits of dogs from Northern heritage: small erect ears, thick fur, powerful body and curled tail. Its expression is bold, spirited and good-natured. The gait is light, quick and agile, with an effortless, smooth stride. The double coat consists of a strong straight outer coat with a soft undercoat, imparting great insulation. These traits enabled the shiba to hunt small game through dense cover.

Bold, independent and headstrong, the shiba is brimming with self-confidence. It is lively outdoors, yet calm indoors, as long as it gets daily exercise. It may be aggressive with strange dogs of the same sex and may chase small animals. It is a hardy breed, ready for adventure. Some tend to be headstrong and domineering. It is territorial, alert and reserved with strangers — ingredients making for an excellent watchdog. It is quite vocal; some bark a lot.


FAMILY spitz, Northern (companion)


DATE OF ORIGIN ancient times

ORIGINAL FUNCTION hunting and flushing small game


AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 14.5-16.5 Weight: 23

AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 13.5-15.5 Weight: 17

OTHER NAME brushwood dog, Japanese small-size dog

Energy level Medium energy

Exercise needs Medium

Playfullness Moderately playful

Affection level Moderately affectionate

Friendliness toward other dogs Shy

Friendliness toward other pets Shy

Friendliness toward strangers Friendly

Ease of training Easy to train

Watchdog ability High

Protection ability Moderately protective

Grooming needs Moderate maintenance

Cold tolerance High tolerance

Heat tolerance Low tolerance

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The shiba needs a daily workout, either in the form of a vigorous game in the yard, a long walk or a good run in a safe area. It can live outdoors in temperate or cool climates, given warm shelter, but it does best when allowed to divide its time between inside and out. Its double coat needs brushing one or two times weekly, more when shedding.
• Major concerns: none
• Minor concerns: patellar luxation
• Occasionally seen: none
• Suggested tests: knee
• Life span: 12 – 15 years
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Native Japanese dogs are divided into six breeds. Of these, the smallest and probably most ancient is the shiba inu. In fact, one theory about the name shiba is that it simply denotes small; however, it may also mean brushwood in reference to the brilliant red brushwood trees that so closely matched the breed's red coat and through which they hunted. These theories have resulted in the shiba 's being nicknamed the "little brushwood dog." The origin of the shiba is unclear; but it is clearly of spitz heritage and may have been used as early as 300 B.C. as a hunting dog in central Japan. Although they were used mostly to flush birds and small game, they were occasionally used to hunt wild boar. Three main types existed and each was named for its area of origin: the Shinshu shiba ("from the Nagano Prefecture"), the Mino shiba ("from the Gifu Prefecture"), and the Sanin shiba ("from the northeast mainland"). After World War II, the breed was nearly lost, and it was further decimated by distemper in 1952. In an attempt to save the shiba inu, the different types were interbred, crossing the heavier-boned dogs from mountainous regions with the lighter-boned dogs from other regions. As a result, the shiba survived as one breed, with some variation in bone substance. The first shiba came to America in 1954 and was officially recognized by the AKC in 1993. Since then, shibas have achieved a staunch following, and their popularity continues to grow.
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