Shiba Inu have compact, muscular frames covered in short, dense coats—like a smaller version of the Akita. They have broad heads with pointed muzzles, dark noses and pointed ears. Their dark, triangular eyes have an intelligent and observing gaze. They have thick necks, well-developed chests and strong backs. Their tails curl up and over the back. Their thick coats are usually red or black & tan, with or without off-white markings.
Shiba Inu are bold and independent dogs with a sensitive side. Alert, energetic and full of life, Shibas follow their instincts and do their own thing. But they form strong bonds with their masters and their families, wanting plenty of attention and face-time without seeming needy or dependent. They can be a little standoffish with strangers, but have a playful openness with children. Shibas have loads of energy. Take them on hikes or jogs around the neighborhood and they will stay right at your side.
Shiba Inu are easy to housebreak, not to mention painstakingly clean. They often lick their paws to groom themselves and go out of their way to avoid mud puddles and dirt. Shibas are also fairly quiet, not prone to unnecessary barking. But they have been known to let out a unique, high-pitched scream when something is awry.
Being an ancient breed, Shiba Inu can be somewhat set-in-their-ways. A strong-willed owner is needed to show them who’s the boss. Properly trained and socialized from an early age, Shiba Inu will obey; however, they have powerful hunting instincts that make a leash necessary in public.
A healthy Shiba Inu can live as long as 15 years. Common health issues include hip dysplasia and dislocated kneecaps. Shibas are seasonal shedders and need only occasional brushing. Try not to bathe them too often—soap can strip the natural waterproofing on their coats.
The Shiba Inu is an ancient Asian dog breed. They probably derived from a Chow Chow mix brought to Japan from China several thousand years ago. No one is exactly sure how they got their name. Some say Shiba Inu means “Little Brushwood Dog,” while others say it simply means “Little Dog.” The breed reached near-extinction levels during World War II. But, after the war, Shiba Inu from the Japanese countryside helped restore the population. Today, it ranks as Japan’s most popular dog.