The Shiba Inu is a sturdy, medium-sized, Spitz-type dog (i.e. he has prick ears, a thick coat, and a curled tail). A smaller version of the Akita, adult males stand at around 39.5cm and adult females at 36.5cm. The thick, soft undercoat is covered in a hard, straight topcoat that comes in red, red sesame (red with black guard hairs), black and tan, or white.
Bred to hunt and flush small game in the mountains of Japan, the Shiba Inu dog breed is a smaller version of the Akita – indeed, Shiba Inu translates as 'small dog'. One of the oldest known breeds, dating back to the 3rd century BC, the Shiba Inu dog almost died out entirely in the Second World War but the small number of dogs who had survived bombing raids and a distemper epidemic were bred to save the breed.
An alert, active and friendly dog, the Japanese Shiba Inu dog breed can be quite independent and often has a strong hunting instinct. Early, thorough socialisation is essential, particularly to help them be sociable with other dogs. An unusual feature of the breed is 'the Shiba scream' – a high-pitched vocalisation emitted when excited or agitated.
The Shiba Inu is generally a healthy, robust breed. Like many breeds inherited eye problems can occur and breeding dogs should be routinely eye tested.
About an hour's daily exercise is needed. Because of their potential desire to chase, do ensure you have a reliable recall before letting them off the lead and only exercise in safe, enclosed areas.
Your dog's diet needs to have the right balance of all the main nutrient groups including a constant supply of fresh water. It's also important to conduct regular body condition scores to ensure you keep your dog in ideal shape and remember to feed him at least twice daily and in accordance with the feeding guidelines of his particular food.
The Shiba Inu is a very clean breed – in fact, he self-grooms rather like a cat. However, the coat does need brushing about once a week, and when the coat sheds, you'll realise how thick that undercoat really is!