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Shiba Inu

The oldest of the native breeds of Japan, the Shiba Inu is thought to have accompanied the early immigrants to Japan around 7000 BC. Another group of immigrants also brought along their dogs to Japan around 300 BC. The breeding of the native Japanese dog with these later dogs produced a dog with erect pointed ears and curly tails. Eventually 6 different breeds in 3 different sizes were developed, the large size….Akita, the medium size….Kishu, Hokkaido, Shikoku and Kai, and the small size….Shiba Inu. The Shiba Inu was originally bred to use its sight and sound to hunt in the forest, steep hills and mountain slopes, where it’s intelligence made it able to hunt alone and hold its prey down till the hunter arrived.

Several theories exist about the name Shiba Inu. They were named after the bushwood bushes they hunted in, (The word Shiba meaning both small and bushwood), they were named after the Autumn color of the bushwood ( A fiery red color) leaves, or simply that Shiba Inu means small dog. It is often called a combination of all three, the little bushwood dog.

Shiba InuTo prevent the extinction of Japanese dogs, also called Nippo, the organization to preserve the Japanese dog was established in 1928. Also in 1928 the first nippo dog show was held. The Shiba were put under the government’s protection in the Cultural Properties Act in 1936. The breed was given official recognition and made a national monument.

After WWII, this breed like many others, almost became extinct. Only three different blood lines remained: the San In Shiba, the Mino Shiba and the Shin Shu Shiba. It is from these three lines that produced the dog we know today.

The first Shiba Inu was brought to the United States in 1954. In the 1970’s the U.S. began to import and breed Shiba Inus. The first litter born in the U.S. was in 1979. First recognized by the AKC in 1992, it was put in the miscellaneous category. Later it received its own classification in the non-sporting group in 1993.

Although it is mostly popular as a show/family dog, it can still be used as a hunting dog for smaller game as pheasant, rabbits etc. The Shiba Inu is gaining popularity in the U.S. as a companion dog. A playful, intelligent, faithful, loyal, dog, the Shiba makes a great family dog.


  • Not a barker
  • Excellent with children
  • Excellent watchdog and guardian
  • Little grooming needed
  • Adapts well to most climates
  • Good for novice owners
  • Ok for apartments if exercised regularly


  • Slightly hard to train
  • Can be active indoors
  • High dominance
  • Needs a good amount of physical and mental activity
  • Do not trust around small pets
  • Heavy seasonal shedder
  • Can be prone to hip dysplasia and patellar luxation

Height: Male 14 ½ to 6 ½ in; Female 13 ½ to 15 ½ in

Weight: Male 23 lbs; Female 17 lbs

Life span: 12 to 15 yrs


By: Linda Eastabrooks

Former AKC Breeder


18 thoughts on “Shiba Inu

  1. John Shiba says:

    Thanks for all the information it’s good to know how to take care of a Shiba so he can stay in good shape.

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