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)