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Shiba Inu

With his bright eyes, plush coat, and boldly curling tail, the Shiba Inu is an official Japanese national treasure.

Overall Status

Height 13.5 to 16.5 inches
Temperament Alert, Active, Attentive
Weight 17 to 23 pounds
Life Expectancy 13 to 16 years
Coat Color Black, Black and Tan, Red, White
Barking Level When Necessery

Quick Factors

Dog Friendly
Exercise Need
Grooming Needs
Strangers Friendly
Family Affectionate
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Daily Care

Grooming Tips Exercise Tips Feeding Tips Health Tips Trainability

The Shiba has a double coat. The undercoat is soft and thick, the outer coat stiff and straight. The coat never needs trimming and is easy to care for but be prepared for shedding.

Brush the coat weekly with a slicker brush to remove dead hair and distribute skin oils. Twice a year, in spring and fall, the coat sheds heavily for two to three weeks. During this time, you can expect to have piles of fur everywhere and a Shiba with a moth-eaten appearance. Don’t worry unless you see bald patches. A warm bath followed by more brushing and thorough blow drying until the dog is completely dry will help to loosen the hair and speed up the shed.

Check the ears on a weekly basis for signs of infection, irritation, or wax build up. Cleanse regularly with a veterinarian-approved cleanser and cotton ball. Brush the teeth at least once per week to prevent tartar buildup and fight gum disease. Additionally, nails should be trimmed once per month if the dog does not wear the toenails down naturally.

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 dailyexercise, 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 oftime createdeven when the owners are home and at night. Crating guarantees a home will remain intact.

Shibas enjoy interactive games and will happily chase balls and search out hidden toys in the back yard for hours. The most ideal activity for a well-behaved Shiba is the agility course, as their minds are just as active as their little bodies, and boredom can set in quickly. A bored Shiba is a destructive Shiba, so keeping him occupied can save your shoes and furniture.

The Shiba Inu’s diet is not uncommon, despite its hailing from a country known for its unique cuisine. Like many dogs, he will be especially attracted to meats and it loves good, whole ingredients. Feeding the Shiba Inu scraps can be a bad idea as it is relatively small and can be a little prone to putting on extra weight.

If you get aShiba Inupuppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.

Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.

Treatscan be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about whichhuman foodsare safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet.Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

The average life span of the Shiba Inu is 13 to 16 years. The most common health condition in Shibas and in most breeds, as well as humans, is allergies. In dogs, allergies manifest themselves as skin irritation and itching. There is no way of testing breeding stock, but dogs with active allergies should not be bred. Unless the source of the allergen can be identified, most dogs with allergies can lead normal lives with products that treat the symptoms—again, just like humans. Allergies usually don’t manifest themselves until a dog is at least 6 months old.Responsible breedersscreen their stock for health conditions such aship dysplasia, eye disorders, and patella luxation.

Consideredhighly trainableand easier tohousebreak, you won’t find many troubles with the Shiba Inu. It can be stubborn at times, because of its confidence and strong instincts, but if you demonstrate that you’re the pack leader, there should be no problems keeping your dogon a strict discipline program.

Socialization should begin early with your Shiba Inu so that he does not grow up to be mistrustful of strangers. The strong temperament of the Shiba Inu gives them a bad reputation in some circles, but when a commitment is made to properly train, socialize and exercise a Shiba Inu, they are very well-mannered dogs. The consensus among breeders is that ill-behaved or aggressive Shibas are a result of poor training.


The Shiba is the smallest of the Japanese native breeds, which include the Kai Inu, Hokkaido Inu, Kishu Inu, Shikoku Inu, Tosa Inu and the Akita Inu. Despite its smaller size it was bred to hunt small wild game, bear, boar and to flush birds. The name Shiba means, both "small" and "brushwood" in Japanese. It may have been named after the terrain the dogs hunted in or the color of the Shiba's coat, or perhaps the dog's size. The word "Inu" means "dog." As with many breeds, the second world war nearly did the breed in. After the war was over, several breeding programs worked to bring the breed back to safe numbers.

The breed was first imported into the United States in 1954, although no serious importation for breeding or showing was done until the late 1970s. The first litter was born in 1979. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1993. The Shiba ranks 63rd among the breeds registered by AKC.

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