Shiba Inu – Little Big Dog from Japan

shiba inu

Did Japanese dog breeds catch your eye and you’d like a dog with big personality but Akitas and Hokkaidos are too big? Then Shiba Inu might be just the right one for you.

Shiba Inu is an internationally recognized Japanese breed (FCI Spitz group) of rather smaller statue but don’t let it fool you! The Shibas are very lively and independent and they need an experienced owner.

History of Shiba Inu

Shiba Inu is the eldest Japanese breed, its ancestors came to Japan in around 8.000 B.C. from China. Much later, in the 3rd century B.C. new type of dogs came to the islands and both these groups bred together resulting ultimately in the first dogs of pointy ears and curved tail. Japan stayed isolated from the rest over the world over a long period of time and it’s opening almost brought not only foreign travelers but also the canine distemper disease. The traditional Japanese breeds were facing extinction.

Some of them would probably be extinct now if it wasn’t for Hiroyoshi Saito who traveled all around Japan, described the traditional breeds and named them after the places they came from. In 1928 he founded the club dedicated to saving the traditional Japanese dog breeds. His efforts resulted in an official breed standard published in 1934 and Shiba Inu was declared a national treasure. The breed was recognized by the FCI in 1964 and in 1992 by the AKC. The first Shibas were imported to Europe in 1969.

Shiba Inu Appearance, Temperament and Health


Height: 35 – 43 cm/14 – 17 in (dogs), 33 – 41 cm/13 – 16 in (bitches)

Weight: 10 kg/22 lb (dogs), 8 kg/18 lb (bitches)

The Shiba Inu breed is the smallest of the Japanese breeds. Despite being shorter than its cousins its typical feature are very well developed muscles. It’s overall appearance is fox-like, especially in case of the red Shibas. The dogs are double coated with a very thick undercoat and guard hairs that literally stand on the body and protect it from snow, rain, both hot and cold temperatures – the coat should never be shaved but it requires daily brushing during the shedding season. The tail is typically curved and during sleep the Shibas lay it over their faces for protection.

shiba inu

When it comes to the color of Shiba Inu, there is a bit of a controversy between clubs. The base colors may vary from red to black and tan or sesame. While the Japan Kennel Club as well as the American Kennel Club require the dogs to have the so called urajiro (裏白) – translates to “underside white” – cream or white ventral color of certain areas of the body, and therefore, they consider the cream or white color in a dog a mayor fault, the British Kennel Club accepts this color.


Shiba Inu is an independent breed not suitable for extremely strict training.

They also tend to be very alert but very quiet. When it comes to sound, there’s one interesting thing about the Shibas – similar to the Basenji dogs, when they experience extreme joy or are very unhappy, they produce a high-pitched noise called the “Shiba scream”.

Another distinguishing characteristic of the breed is their fastidiousness. They do everything they can to keep their coat clean (but they don’t like to be bathed) and the Shiba puppies are very easy to housebreak, some dogs even do it themselves.

Shiba Inu can be a perfect family dog if the owners give the dog enough opportunity to use its energy. The Shibas generally love to play with children.

Hana Petrusová, the founder of the Czech Shiba breeding says: “If any Shiba could say just one word, it would undoubtedly be “MY” – my food, my toys, my house, my human – my world.”

The Japanese use three words to describe the temperament of Shiba Inu: Kan-i (fearlessness, strength of ming, harmony and self-confidence), ryousei (kindness, loyalty), and soboku (spontaneity, liveliness)


The breed is generally a very healthy one. Usual checks are recommended together with joint checks until two years of age. The lifespan of the Shiba Inu is averagely 13 years, although the oldest Shiba called Pusuke lived to the admirable age of 26 years.

Do you have a Shiba friend at home? Let us know what you love about it!