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Shiba Inu

The Shiba Inu

An ancient Japanese breed, the Shiba Inu is a little but well-muscled dog once employed as a hunter. Today, the spirited, good-natured Shiba is the most popular companion dog in Japan. The adaptable Shiba is at home in town or country. Brought to America from Japan as recently as 60 years ago, Shibas are growing in popularity in the West and are already the most popular breed in their homeland. Their white markings combined with their coloring (red, red sesame, or black and tan) and their alert expression and smooth stride makes them almost foxlike. They’re sturdy, muscular dogs with a bold, confident personality to match.

The first documented Shiba to enter the United States was imported by a military family in 1954. But the Shiba is an ancient breed, having been around since 300 b.c. The breed is named after its history as a hunter in the rugged mountains of Japan; ‘Shiba’ means ‘brushwood’ (referring either to the brush in the mountains or to the dog’s reddish color) in Japanese, and ‘Inu’ means ‘dog.’ By the end of World War II Shibas were nearly extinct, but they survived Japan’s wartime deprivations and are today the country’s number-one companion animal. Their popularity has been growing in the United States for the past 50 years.

A spirited boldness, a good nature, and an unaffected forthrightness, which
together yield dignity and natural beauty. The Shiba has an independent nature and can be
reserved toward strangers but is loyal and affectionate to those who earn his respect.

An ideal environment for The Shiba is a well-fenced yard. The independent free-spirited nature of the Shiba makes it a dog that abhors the use of collars or leashes. So, unleashing it inside the yard is a welcome idea. However, training should be given to it at an early stage to incorporate obedience. The Shiba is a highly active breed that loves to indulge in play, walks and can even accompany its master during jogs. Creating a buffer zone for it to roam freely can greatly improve its well-being.

The Shiba is an active dog breed that loves stimulating activity. Taking the dog for daily walks is an ideal exercise regimen. Regular exercise will great Improve the dog’s life and make it less susceptible to common diseases like entropion, hip dysplasia cataracts, etc.

Shibas shed a lot. It has been said that they shed twice a year, but some owners quip that it lasts for six months at a time. Unless a Shiba is a “long coat,” the coat does not mat, so infrequent brushing doesn’t hurt the dog, but brushing or combing during periods of heavy shedding will reduce the amount of hair around the house. Blowing the dog with a strong blow-dryer or a shop vacuum in reverse is a good way to remove loose hair, dirt, and dandruff and to check for fleas. Most dogs learn to like the blower, as it feels good and doesn’t scrape the skin or pull the coat. Don’t let it get too hot, though. Shibas often object to nail trimming. Start a puppy early, but if it becomes a major struggle, let a professional do it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Although the Shiba inu aren’t to be trusted when they’re unleashed, the Shiba remains a good dog to have around the family. They’re quite playful and a joy to have around older children. Plus, who wouldn’t love to stroke those furs?

Most Shibas are fairly energetic and love to go for walks. They are not so hyper that they will climb the walls if they don’t get daily exercise, but a Shiba owner should be dedicated to exercising the dog, especially if the dog doesn’t have an adequate yard in which to exercise himself. In general, Shibas are not massively destructive if left alone once they reach maturity, but some can suffer separation anxiety and should be able to spend periods of time crated even when the owners are home and at night. Crating guarantees a home will remain intact.

The one thing every Shiba owner must know is that a Shiba can never, ever be considered reliable off lead unless in a confined area. No amount of obedience training will ever change that.

Shiba Inu are also independently minded and will demonstrate their own preferences regularly.  This makes the breed less ideal for the first-time dog owner.

Shiba Inu have a moderate level of barking.  They have a strong watchdog nature so unfamiliar people, noises, or circumstances can trigger barking.

No! They don’t! Their relative self-awareness keeps them hunkered down in their turf. They prefer to be around you but not with you snoozing and cuddling.

This breed can be a challenge in some ways for a first-time dog owner.  They have a mind of their own and are somewhat strong willed.  You must have patience to train a shiba and not all new pet owners have the necessary patience to succeed.  


Just as humans say, “too much of everything is bad.” Shibas tend easily getting bored, and when they so they become spiteful or aggressive. A moderate amount of daily exercise is required to keep the dog functioning optimally.

Most Shibas are fairly energetic and love to go for walks. They are not so hyper that they will climb the walls if they don’t get daily exercise, but a Shiba owner should be dedicated to exercising the dog, especially if the dog doesn’t have an adequate yard in which to exercise himself.

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