If you've ever wanted to adopt a teenager who sort of looks like an extra floofy fox, the Shiba Inu is for you. This dog is not always going to listen to what you say. She's just not. But in a natural disaster, a Shiba Inu could save your life. True story: one of these dogs helped rescue workers find her people under the rubble of their home after a 2004 earthquake destroyed much of Japan. No wonder this island nation declared the Shiba Inu a national treasure! These dogs are still one of Japan's most favorite canine companions, as well as being the nation's smallest and oldest breed.
This breed is independent, knows her own mind, and takes great pride in keeping herself clean — honestly, she's more like a cat than a dog in that way. But she's gorgeous — Shiba Inu is Japanese for “brushwood dog,” probably referring to that lovely sandy color — and she's loving with her chosen person, if not overly demonstrative.
This ancient breed is originally from Japan, can grow to between 15-24 pounds and lives an average of 12-15 years. The breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club and classified as a member of the Non-Sporting group.
AKC Recognized: Y
Breed's Original Pastime: Hunting, Companion
Breed Group: Non-Sporting
Average Lifespan: 12-15 years
Bark Factor: Rarely barks, if ever
AKC RANKING 62
FAMILY spitz, Northern (companion)
AREA OF ORIGIN Japan
DATE OF ORIGIN ancient times
ORIGINAL FUNCTION hunting and flushing small game
TODAY'S FUNCTION companion
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
BEHAVIOR & TRAINING
WHAT IS A SHIBA INU'S PERSONALITY LIKE?
A Shiba Inu's personality is something like a moody and very hairy teenager. (Real-life tiny “Teen Wolf”?) They're attentive, alert, and very aware of everything going on around them. They sometimes like kids and can play well with other dogs, if supervised. Shibas make excellent watchdogs for their chosen family.
WHAT IS SHIBA INU BEHAVIOR LIKE?
This is a very active breed, so plan for rigorous daily exercise. Think long walks, runs, or extended sessions at the dog park. They don't bark much, though they sometimes emit a high-pitched shrieking sound when excited or upset. (Yet another way this dog is not unlike a teenager.) They can make great apartment dogs if they get enough activity.
HOW EASY IS IT TO TRAIN A SHIBA INU?
In all honesty, the Shiba Inu is one of the most difficult breeds to train. They're intelligent, but you're going to have to work to convince them that this “training” malarkey is worth their while. (Except for house training — Shibas are often fastidious and take to potty training quickly.)
CARE & HEALTH
HOW MUCH DO SHIBA INUS SHED AND WHAT ARE THEIR GROOMING NEEDS?
That deep, plush coat looks posh. But this fancy fox-faced dog is a surprisingly easy keeper. Shibas are seasonal shedders and only require weekly brushing. This breed won't need frequent baths — the Shiba Inu's dense coat repels dirt.
WHAT HEALTH PROBLEMS DO SHIBA INUS HAVE?
As a breed, Shiba Inus are generally healthy. Some are susceptible to slipping kneecaps, hip dysplasia, or eye disease.
Breed history has moved while this section is under construction. Please check out the first tab for fun facts about this breed's history. You can also read on to learn about this breed's ideal family situation.
ARE SHIBA INUS GOOD FOR PEOPLE WITH ALLERGIES?
The American Kennel Club doesn't list Shiba Inus among its breeds recommended for allergy sufferers.
Remember that no breed is 100% hypoallergenic, and any breed can aggravate allergies. You can reduce your furry friend's impact on your allergies with frequent baths and brushings to reduce loose hairs and aggravating proteins in your pet's dander. Use a damp cloth to wipe off your dog after you've been playing outside. Smaller dogs have less surface area, and so produce comparatively less dander than larger breeds — definitely something to keep in mind with a dog as small as a Shiba Inu!
WHAT IS A SHIBA INU'S BEST DAY?
A Shiba Inu would probably never tell you about her best day — that's private! But you can't go wrong letting her sniff around and play outside to her heart's content.
SHOULD I ADOPT A SHIBA INU?
With fluff like that, it won't surprise you to learn that a Shiba Inu does quite well in the cold and melts in the heat. A Shiba Inu should probably not be your first dog — their independent streak can be a lot to handle. But for a canine connoisseur living in cool climes, this breed can be a pure delight. They can live just about anywhere, from apartments to rural estates. Wherever you are will be their home.
Have you decided that a Shiba Inu is the perfect dog for you? Why not be your new best friend's hero and adopt a rescue! Be sure to check out our article on what to expect when you're adopting a dog or cat.