By Dr. Watuwa JamesDr. James Watuwa Last updated: 2nd May 2023

Shiba Inu

The Shiba Inu is a hunting dog of the Japanese breed and the oldest of the six Spitz dogs that originated in Japan. These days they are among the most popular pet dog in Japan and the United States. They are small to medium-sized, muscular dogs with fox-like faces, small upright ears, spirited personalities, and cat-like agility.

Shiba Inu Pictures

Quick Information

Other NamesJapanese Shiba Inu, Japanese Small Size Dog, Japanese Brushwood Dog, Shiba Ken, Shibe
CoatDouble and thick
ColorBlack and tan, cream, red, red sesame
Breed  TypeSpitz
GroupNon-sporting dogs
Life expectancy  12 – 15 years
HeightMales: 14.5 – 16.5 inches
Females: 13.5 – 15.5 inches
WeightMales: 23 pounds
Females: 17 pounds
Litter Size3 puppies on average
Behavioral characteristicsIndependent, athletic, alert, loyal
Good with ChildrenYes
Barking TendencyLow
Climate CompatibilityWell-adapted to cold climates 
Apartment CompatibilityGood
Do they shedModerately
Are they HypoallergenicNo
How much do they costFull registration pups cost $2000-$3500.
Limited registration from reputable breeders costs between $1400 – $2200.  
Competitive Registration Qualification/ Information American Kennel Club
Country Japan

History and Origin

The Shiba Inu is an ancient Japanese dog breed that hunters used to flush out small game and birds. In Japanese, ‘Shiba’ means ‘Brushwood,’ and ‘Inu’ means ‘Dog.’ Their name Shiba refers to brushwood, where they previously hunted. Also, their fiery red coat matches the autumn color of the brushwood leaves.

Earlier, they lived in the mountainous areas of the Chubu region. During the Meiji Restoration, western dog breeds were imported and crossed with the native Japanese breeds, including the Shiba Inu. As a result, from 1912 to 1926, they almost became extinct, with efforts to protect the remaining pure Shiba taken by hunters and intellectuals from 1928 onwards.

Despite the protection efforts, Shiba Inus nearly became extinct by the end of World War II due to wartime deprivations. The few who survived were rescued from the remote countryside and interbred to produce the modern-day Shiba Inu. Today, they are the number one companion pet in Japan.

Temperament and Personality

Shiba Inus are playful and loyal with strong personalities. Despite being trainable and obedient, they have a mind of their own. Their stubborn and independent streak makes them challenging to handle, but with proper training and control, they can be great companions.

They are friendly and easygoing with their owners but are aloof towards strangers and other dogs. Confident and alert, they can protect a household as guard dogs. When unhappy, they make a strange sound known as ‘Shiba Inu Scream,’ which differs from barking.



These dogs are not crazy about exercise, but it is good to take them for a walk every day for an hour or more. They enjoy dog sports like flyball, tracking, competitive herding, and lure coursing.


Because of their thick coat, Shiba Inus shed twice a year. They need brushing twice a week with a rake brush. In summer, excess hair should be removed from the body to prevent overheating. Their nails should be clipped once a month and they should be taken for dental cleaning annually.

Health Problems

Shibu Inus are a healthy breed that seldom suffers from illnesses but are prone to developing certain diseases like obesity, glaucoma, hip dysplasia, and allergies.


These dogs eat high-quality commercial dog foods. They can eat both wet and dry food. Though they don’t need any special diet, it is advisable to consult a vet to decide on their diet based on age, lifestyle, and individual needs. 


Despite being an intelligent breed, their stubborn nature makes training challenging. Rewards and treats encourage them to learn faster.

Socialization: These dogs are naturally unfriendly and aloof towards other dogs, so they should be socialized more when they are puppies. Taking them to dog parks, doggy daycare, scheduling regular play sessions with other dogs, and obedience classes help them to bond well with other dogs. Early socialization can ease aggression and curb their wilder instincts, making them appropriate family pets.

Leash: Leash training should begin when they are eight weeks old. A medium-sized harness for adults and extra small ones for puppies should be used. Proper leash training is essential because of their hunting instincts. They should always be kept on a leash as they easily get restless when they spot prey.

Specific ground rules must be laid and strictly followed in the training session. Rewarding them with occasional training treats can encourage them to learn quickly.


Q. What is the difference between the Shiba and Akita Inu?

The height of an Akita is 26 to 28 inches for males and 24 to 26 inches for females. On the other hand, Shiba Inu males stand 14.5 to 16.5 inches tall and females 13.5 to 15.5 inches tall. Also, a male Akita can weigh up to 130 pounds, whereas a male Shiba Inu weighs only 23 pounds.

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