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Your Pet, Our Passion.

Japanese Shiba Inu

The Shiba Inu is a foxy looking medium sized Spitz type dog, with the pricked ears, thick coat and curled tail typical of the type. Sturdy in build, and resembling a smaller version of the Japanese Akita, the Shiba has a soft undercoat covered in a hard, straight topcoat.

The need-to-know
  • Dog suitable for owners with some experience
  • Extra training required
  • Generally healthy breed
  • Enjoys gentle walks
  • Enjoys one to two hours of walking a day
  • Medium dog
  • Minimum drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Barks and alerts to visitors/anything unusual
  • Could have issues with unknown dogs but gets along with known dogs
  • May need additional training to live with other pets
  • May need additional supervision to live with children
  • Needs a large garden
  • Can live in semi-rural areas
  • Can be left occasionally with training
Generally healthy breed

The Shiba Inu is generally a robust breed but can suffer from:
- Patellar luxation
- Glaucoma which is a painful condition where the pressure in the eye builds up.
Priority Kennel Club health schemes and testing: 
- Eye testing for pectinate ligament abnormality testing to look for signs that a dog is affected by glaucoma.

Key Facts

Lifespan: 12 – 15 years
Weight: 6.8 – 11kg
Height: 33 – 43cm
Colours: Coat colours are red, red sesame (red with black guard hairs), black and tan or white. See breed standard for specific details on markings. 
Size: Medium
UK Kennel Club Groups: Utility


Family-friendly: 3/5
Exercise needs: 3/5
Easy to train: 2/5
Tolerates being alone: 5/5
Likes other pets: 3/5
Energy level: 4/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 4/5
Japanese Shiba Inu is standing near the fields


Active, friendly and alert, the Shiba Inu can be quite an independent thinker and can have a strong hunting instinct. Early socialisation with children, other dogs and livestock is essential.

A notable feature of the breed is the ‘Shiba scream’, a high-pitched vocalisation emitted when the Shiba is excited or frustrated! If well socialised and well trained the Shiba is a fun little dog, capable of a variety of activities.

Japanese Shiba Inu is lying on the grass

History and Origins

Country of Origin: Japan 

Believed to be one of Japan’s most ancient breeds, bones matching the modern Shiba Inu have been found at an archaeological site dating from the Jōmon period, at least 500BC. It is thought that later, around the 3rd century AD, these dogs were refined by mating with spitz type immigrant dogs, bringing in the pricked ears and curly tail.

This is one of the most popular companion breeds in Japan, established as part of Japanese culture by the 7th century, and used for hunting both small ground-breeding birds and even bigger game such as wild boar.

Due to the popularity of importing foreign breeds, the Shiba Inu became extremely rare by the 1920’s, so hunters started a preservation programme in 1928. By 1934 the breed standard had been fixed, and by 1937 the Shiba Inu was declared a National Monument which saw the breed rise steadily in number. Although they suffered during the Second World War, and subsequent to that a distemper outbreak reduced numbers even further, the breed has risen again in number and popularity, becoming the most numerous of all the native Japanese breeds and now popular outside Japan, particularly in Europe, Australia and North America.

Did you know?

Did You Know?

  • Shibas have taken to social media, particularly Instagram and YouTube, as if they were born to it. A number of Shiba Inu have become famous via social media, including Shiba-San who helps her owners run a small shop in West Tokyo. Shiba-San opens the window when shoppers ring the bell by sliding it across with her nose!
  • Elsewhere in Japan, Shiba Inu Shibao stars as lead news anchor in a series of news broadcasts that serve as advertisements for a banking service!
  • The word “inu” means dog in Japanese and Shiba means “brushwood”, but it’s not clear whether the breed was named for the terrain where they hunted or the colour of the autumn brushwood.
  • Prior to World War II there were three types of Shiba: the Mino, the Sanin and the Shinshu, the Shinshu is the most similar to the Shiba Inu of today.
  • In 2004, a Shiba Inu named Mari saved her puppies and elderly owner when their house collapsed during an earthquake. This is now a Japanese film called “A Tale of Mari and Her Three Puppies”.