Shiba Inu

Share |
Shiba Inu
  • Breed: Shiba Inu
  • Description: Shiba Inus are the smallest of the native Japanese dog breeds. To many people, they look like mini Japanese Akitas. In fact, their coloring is very similar to Japanese Akitas. There are a few accepted colorings for the Shiba – red, black and tan, sesame (equal mix of white & black hairs), black sesame (more black than white), and red sesame (red with mix of black). All of these colors must have what is called Urajiro – a whitish coat on sides of muzzle and cheeks, on underside of jaw & neck, on chest and stomach, and on underside of tail and inside of legs. Shibas have a delicate, fox-like face, more like the Japanese Akita than the American Akita.
  • Temperament: Similar to the other spit-type Japanese dog breeds, like the Akita, Shiba Inus are well known for their aloof personalities. In general, they are weary of strangers, but very loyal and affectionate to their owners. They have a strong prey drive, and can be aggressive to small animals, young children, and other dogs. Proper socialization and training is a must. Despite this, the Shiba Inu makes an excellent companion and watchdog.
  • Height & Weight: Males should be 14.5 to 16.5 inches and females about 13.5 to 15.5 inches (at withers). Weight depends on the animals, but generally ranges from 15 to 25 lbs.
  • Living Conditions: Shiba Inus make excellent companion animals and adapt to most living conditions. They fit well into apartments, as long as they are given plenty of regular exercise. Because of their strong prey drive, they may not adapt to living with small animals. Proper socialization and obedience training is a must.
  • Exercise: Shibas need regular exercise, not only for their health, but also to keep their minds busy. As an intelligent breed that was originally bred to hunt, these dogs can get destructive if they don’t have another outlet to release their energy.
  • Life Expectancy: The Shiba’s life expectancy is roughly 12-15 years.
  • Grooming: Like other spitz-type dogs, Shibas have a double coat that is generally thick and easy to care for with regular brushing.
  • History: The word “shiba” means brushwood in Japanese. This could refer to the terrain Shiba Inus were bred to hunt in, or the color of the brushwood leaves (which nicely mimics Shibas’ coloring). While bred usually to hunt small game and boar, it was not unheard of to hunt bear with these dogs (much like the larger Akita). Similar to other Japanese breeds, the Shiba Inu was nearly decimated as a breed during World War II. However, careful breeding by dedicated owners ensured the breed’s continuance.
  • Group & Recognition:
    • AKC – Non-Sporting Group
    • F.C.I. – Group 5 (Spitz & primitive types); Section 5 (Asian Spitz & related breeds)
    • JKC – 5G Primitive Spitz Dog


Read more about Japanese dog breeds


Georgia Crane July 13, 2010 at 9:39 am

I’m very interested in the Shiba Inu. Could you send me more information about the breed. I would interested to know how much they are. I would really like to know more about. They are beautiful.

sarah September 1, 2010 at 2:10 am

If anyone could give me some more information on this breed and also the Akita Inu i would really apriciate it. My partner really wants for us to get an Akita but i have read different things on each website. We have a 2 and a half year old son and i dont want to get a dog that is not good with children. Someone help please!

Admin September 5, 2010 at 12:02 am

Akitas are like any other breed- there are good and bad ones. Since you are not familiar with Akitas (or Shibas), I would suggest meeting with a couple breeders first. A decent breeder will allow you to meet their dogs before you decide you want a puppy (a decent breeder will also want to make sure you are a good fit for one of their pups).

Both Akitas & Shibas can be headstrong/strong-willed dogs – if you are not prepared to firmly, but gently assert your status as pack leader, then this probably isn’t the breed for you. They are intelligent and need plenty of exercise and activity. An adult Akita can be over 100lbs; an adult Shiba will be around 25 or so pounds. Many Shiba Inus are quite agile and can dig or jump over fences (especially if bored). You should be prepared to modify your backyard to keep your dog in. If you live in an apartment, you will want to be sure you can give your dog enough exercise – both breeds can be pretty active and can also get pretty destructive when bored.

Both breeds can be dog aggressive – especially same sex aggressive. Proper training and socialization is a must for these breeds. If you aren’t willing to make sure your dog is trained and socialized around both people & dogs, then you may want to pick a different breed. The prey instinct also tends to be strong in these breeds – so small animals (cats, rabbits, small dogs, etc) may be at risk.

As for children, both breeds are known for their loyalty to their family. They can be very protective, sometimes to the point of interfering with your child’s play with other children. The size of the Akita could be a problem for small children, but that is true of any large breed. Children should never be left unsupervised with dogs – no matter how gentle & sweet the dog normally is. Every dog is different, even within the same breed. Some dogs will love children, and some won’t. Most of the time, a puppy raised with children will have no problem with children.

I have a 110 pound, 5 yr old, male Akita who is my 3.5 year old’s best friend. My Akita is very submissive, friendly, and social. He loves people, including children, but small animals are at risk around him, and I can’t let him play off-leash with other dogs. Although he is submissive, he tends to play very rough with other dogs. I don’t leave my son alone with my dog, but that is more because I don’t trust my son, rather than fear that my dog will turn aggressive.

It’s so hard to say whether either breed will be a good fit. Try to avoid making a decision based on how “cool” the breed looks. These are breeds that need owners who can be pack leaders. Personally, I wouldn’t worry about having small children with an Akita or a Shiba anymore than I would with a lab or other “kid-friendly” breed. I would, however, make sure that I as comfortable with all the aspects of a breed’s temperament – both good and bad – before buying a pup. Talk to breeders, meet some adult Akitas and Shibas. After that, if you are still concerned about what you’ve read and about having the dog around a small child, then look for a different breed.

nancy May 11, 2011 at 4:59 am

I live in North Providence Rhode Island ..and I would like to own a Shiba Unu….I know all about the breed..I previously owned Greyhounds…and I was employed as a sitter…and walker..and trainer for all types of pet animals….Mostly dogs. I live alone..mature in age..and have all the time to give my pet…… Could you send me any information on where to find and inquire a breeder or adoption shelter or anyone I could speak to to go ahead and get one of these awesome ubu”s

Next post: