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Shiba Inu

3 year old red Shiba Inu
Other names Japanese Shiba Inu
Japanese Small Size Dog
Shiba Ken
Nicknames Shiba
Country of origin Japan

The Shiba Inu (柴犬?) is the smallest of the six original and distinct breeds of dog from Japan.[1]

A small, agile dog that copes very well with mountainous terrain, the Shiba Inu was originally bred for hunting.[1][2] It is similar in appearance to the Akita, though much smaller in stature.


Origin of the name

Inu is the Japanese word for dog, but the origin of the prefix "Shiba" is less clear. The word shiba means "brushwood" in japanese, and refers to a type of tree or shrub whose leaves turn red in the fall [3]. This leads some to believe that the Shiba was named with this in mind, either because the dogs were used to hunt in wild shrubs, or because the most common color of the Shiba Inu is a red color similar to that of the shrubs. However, in an old Nagano dialect, the word shiba also had the meaning of "small", thus this might be a reference to the dog's small size.[3] Therefore, the Shiba Inu is sometimes translated as "Little Brushwood Dog".[1]


Cream is a color not recognized by any major kennel club


The Shiba's frame is compact with well-developed muscles. Males and females are distinctly different in appearance: males are masculine without coarseness, females are feminine without weakness of structure. Males 14 1/2 inches to 16 1/2 inches (35–43 cm) at withers. Females 13 1/2 inches to 15 1/2 inches (33–41 cm). The preferred size is the middle of the range for each sex. Average weight at preferred size is approximately 23 pounds (10 kg) for males, 17 pounds (8 kg) for females. Bone is moderate.

Coat: Double coated with the outer coat being stiff and straight and the undercoat soft and thick. Fur is short and even on face, ears, and legs. Guard hairs stand off the body are about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in length at the withers. Tail hair is slightly longer and stands open in a brush. Shibas may be red, black and tan, or sesame (red with black-tipped hairs), with a cream, buff, or grey undercoat. They may also be cream, though this color is a major fault and should never be intentionally bred, as the required markings known as "urajiro" (裏白?) are not visible. "Urajiro" literally translates to "underside white" are unable to be seen.[2] The urajiro (cream to white ventral color) is required in the following areas on all coat colors: on the sides of the muzzle, on the cheeks, inside the ears, on the underjaw and upper throat inside of legs, on the abdomen, around the vent and the ventral side of the tail. On reds: commonly on the throat, forechest, and chest. On blacks and sesames: commonly as a triangular mark on both sides of the forechest.[4]


Black and tan Shiba Inu

Shiba Inus are generally independent and intelligent dogs. Some owners struggle with obedience training, but as with many dogs, socialization at a young age can greatly affect temperament. Traits such as independence and intelligence are often associated with ancient dog breeds, such as the Shiba Inu. Shibas should always be on a leash, unless in a secured area because of their strong prey drive.

From the Japanese breed standard:

A spirited boldness, a good nature, and an unaffected forthrightness, which together yield dignity and natural beauty. The Shiba has an independent nature and can be reserved toward strangers but is loyal and affectionate to those who earn his respect. They can be aggressive toward other dogs sometimes.

The terms "spirited boldness" (悍威 kan'i?), "good nature" (良性 ryōsei?), and "artlessness" (素朴 soboku?) have subtle interpretations that have been the subject of much commentary.[5]

The Shiba is a fastidious breed and feels the need to maintain itself in a clean state. They can often be seen licking their paws and legs much like a cat. They generally go out of their way to keep their coats clean, and while walking will avoid stepping in puddles, mud and dirt. Because of their fastidious nature, the Shiba puppy is easy to housebreak and in many cases will housebreak themselves. Having their owner simply place them outside after meal times and naps is generally enough to teach the Shiba the appropriate method of toileting.[6]

A distinguishing characteristic of the breed is the so-called "shiba scream". When sufficiently provoked or unhappy, the dog will produce a loud, high pitched scream. This can occur when attempting to handle the dog in a way that it deems unacceptable.[1][7][8] The animal may also emit a very similar sound during periods of great joy, such as the return of the owner after an extended absence, or the arrival of a favored human guest.


Recent DNA analysis confirms that this is one of the oldest dog breeds, dating back to the 3rd century BC.[9]

Originally, the Shiba Inu was bred to hunt and flush small game, such as birds and rabbits. Despite efforts to preserve the breed, the Shiba nearly became extinct during World War II due to a combination of bombing raids and a post-war distemper epidemic.[1] All subsequent dogs were bred from the only three surviving bloodlines.[10] These bloodlines were the Shinshu Shiba from Nagano Prefecture, the Mino Shiba from Gifu Prefecture, and the San'in Shiba from Tottori and Shimane Prefectures.[3] The Shinshu Shibas possessed a solid undercoat, with dense layer of guard-hairs, and were small and red in color. The Mino Shibas tended to have thick, prick ears, and possessed a sickle tail, rather than the common curled tail found on most modern Shibas. The San'in Shibas were larger than most modern shibas, and tended to be black, without the common tan and white accents found on modern black-and-tan shibas.[3] When the study of japanese dogs was formalized in the early and mid-twentieth century, these three strains were combined into one overall breed, the Shiba Inu.[3] The first Japanese breed standard for the Shiba, the Nippo Standard, was published in 1934. In December 1936, the Shiba Inu was recognized as a Natural Monument of Japan through the Cultural Properties Act, largely due to the efforts of Nippo (Nihon Ken Hozonkai), the Association for the Preservation of the Japanese Dog. [3] [11]

In 1954, an armed service family brought the first Shiba Inu to the United States.[10] In 1979, the first recorded litter was born in the United States.[10] The Shiba was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1992 and added to the AKC Non-Sporting Group in 1993.[1] It is now primarily kept as a pet both in Japan and abroad.[12]


Health conditions known to affect this breed are glaucoma, cataracts, hip dysplasia, and luxating patella.[13] Shibas are also prone to food allergies[citation needed]. Overall; however, they are of great genetic soundness and few Shibas are diagnosed with genetic defects in comparison to other dog breeds.[citation needed]

Life span

Their average life expectancy is from 12 to 16 years.[10]


These dogs are very clean, so grooming needs will likely be at a minimum for most individuals. A Shiba Inu coat is short, coarse and naturally waterproof, so there is little need for regular bathing. However, there is one drawback and that is shedding, also known as blowing coat. They have a thick undercoat that can protect them from temperatures well below freezing. Shedding is heaviest during the seasonal change, especially during the summer season, but brushing should be performed on a daily basis whenever possible.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f "‘‘Dog Owners Guide: Shiba Inu’’". Retrieved August 20, 2007. 
  2. ^ a b "‘‘Shiba Inu Breed Standard’’ from AKC". Retrieved August 20, 2007. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Haskett, Gretchen; Susan Houser (1997). The Total Shiba. Loveland, CO: Alpine Publications. ISBN 1-57779-049-9. 
  4. ^ "NSCA: Urajiro". Retrieved August 23, 2007. 
  5. ^ Miriam Clews (Ed.). The Japanese Shiba Inu: A detailed study of the Shiba.
  6. ^ "‘‘An Introduction to the Shiba Inu (part 2)’’". Retrieved August 20, 2007. 
  7. ^ "‘‘Shiba Inu Traits’’". Retrieved August 20, 2007. 
  8. ^ "The Misanthropic Shiba". 
  9. ^ "‘‘Collie or Pug? Study Finds the Genetic Code’’". Retrieved August 20, 2007. 
  10. ^ a b c d "‘‘Shiba Inu Dog Breeds’’ at 5 Star Dog". Retrieved August 20, 2007. 
  11. ^ Atkinson, Maureen (1998). The Complete Shiba Inu. Howell Book House. pp. 11. ISBN 0-87605-177-8. 
  12. ^ "‘‘Shiba Inus’’". Retrieved August 23, 2007. 
  13. ^ "‘‘An Overview of Health Problems in the Shiba Inu’’". Retrieved August 20, 2007. 

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Wikipedia has an article on:



From Japanese 柴犬 (shibainu). inu means dog.


Shiba Inu


Shiba Inu

  1. a breed of Japanese dog

Simple English

Shiba Inu
A red Shiba Inu
Other names Japanese Shiba Inu
Japanese Small Size Dog
Shiba Ken
Nicknames Shiba
Country of origin  Japan

The Shiba Inu is a breed of dog from Japan. It looks like a smaller version of the Akita Inu, and was first bred for hunting.

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