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Japanese Shiba Inu

The Shiba Inu dog is a foxy looking medium sized Spitz type breed, with the pricked ears, a thick coat, and curled tail typical of the type. As the name suggests, this popular breed is native to Japan and is among the world’s oldest dog breeds. Bred to hunt small game like rabbits or birds, the Shiba Inu still have very strong prey instincts as they will run after pretty much anything that catches their attention. 

If you’re interested in getting a Shiba Inu as a pet, you’ll be happy to know that they make excellent companions as they are very loyal, charming, and affectionate. However, given their high energy and bold nature, they’re not recommended as a first-time pet.  

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

Shiba Inu Appearance

Sturdy in build, and resembling a smaller version of the Japanese Akita, the Shiba has a soft undercoat covered in a hard, straight topcoat. As for the Shiba Inu colours, the most common one is red, but you might also see them in black and tan or sesame colour. Their markings, however, are cream or white and can be found on multiple parts of their bodies such as the sides of the nose, cheeks, belly, inside the ears and legs, upper throat, and under the jaw and tail. 

Compact and highly athletic, this breed is easy to recognize given their fox-like appearance and alert expression. Despite their intimidating appearance, the average Shiba Inu size is considered to be medium as they measure approximately 34–40 cm and weigh about 7-11 kg.  

Shiba Inu Personality

Active, friendly, and alert, the Shiba Inu dog 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. 

Shiba Inu Facts

  • 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! 
  • The Shiba Inu also inspired a cryptocurrency coin as it’s the mascot of Dogecoin, a parody coin created by software engineers Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer back in 2013. Since its release, Doge’s value has skyrocketed, reaching its highest value of $0.73 in May 2021. It’s also the only accepted cryptocurrency on the Tesla website. 

    • Elsewhere in Japan, the 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”. 


    Can Shiba Inus be left alone all day? 

    Yes, a Shiba Inu can be left alone for up to eight hours a day, but they would have to be trained for this as they are usually very active and need plenty of exercise.  

    What are Shiba Inus afraid of? 

    As with many dog breeds, Shiba Inus have anxiety issues that can be triggered either by separation, noise, or certain social situations. 

    Do Shiba Inu dogs bark? 

    Yes, Shiba Inus can be quite vocal but only when necessary or when they’re very happy or mad. 

    Do Shibas like to cuddle? 

    Shibas are quite independent so even though they might seem clingy following you around everywhere, they only appreciate cuddles and affection on their own terms and whenever they feel like it. 

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