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Information and traits specific to the Shiba Inu dog breed


Red Shiba
(Photo Credit: Seregraff / Getty Images)

The Shiba Inu dog breed, originally bred to flush birds and small game and occasionally used to hunt wild boar, is one of Japan’s six native breeds: Akita (large), Kishu, Hokkaido, Kai, Shikoku (medium), and Shiba (small). They are one of six native Japanese dog breeds, and is the smallest of the spitz-type dogs native to Japan. They now mainly serve primarily as companion dogs in Japan and the United States today.

The Shiba Inu is an ancient Japanese breed that dates back to at least the 3rd century BC. The breed nearly went extinct in the early 20th century, but was saved by a group of Japanese breeders who dedicated themselves to preserving them.

When considering a Shiba Inu, it’s advisable to prioritize adopting from rescue organizations or shelters to provide a loving home to a dog in need. However, if you decide to purchase, it’s crucial to choose a reputable breeder. Conduct thorough research to ensure that the breeder follows ethical practices and prioritizes the well-being of their dogs. Reputable Shiba Inu breeders prioritize the health and temperament of their dogs, conduct necessary health screenings, and provide a nurturing environment for the puppies. This active approach ensures that you bring home a healthy and happy pup while discouraging unethical breeding practices.

Quick Facts

VIDEO: What You Should Know BEFORE Getting a Shiba Inu
Super Shiba
  • Origin: Japan
  • Size: Small, with males standing 14-16 inches tall and weighing 23-27 pounds, and females standing 13-15 inches tall and weighing 17-23 pounds.
  • Coat: Thick, double coat that can be red, sesame, or black and tan.
  • Shiba Inu Lifespan: 12-15 years.
  • Health concerns: Hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, eye problems.
  • Activity level: Moderate. They need daily exercise, but they can also be content with a few short walks per day.
  • Grooming needs: Regular brushing to remove dead hair and prevent mats.
  • Their name means “brushwood dog” in Japanese.
  • Shiba Inu (SHIB) is type of cryptocurrency known as a “meme coin.” The Dogecoin meme features a Shiba Inu with a surprised expression and broken English text.
  • Cheems Balltze, the Shiba who went viral as the face of the “doge meme,” sadly passed away in August 2023 after a battle with cancer.

Related: Shiba Inu Puppies: Cute Pictures & Facts

Shiba Inu Pictures

Shiba Inu puppy
Shiba Inu playing

Adaptability

  • Adapts Well To Apartment Living

    Looking for the best dog for your apartment? Contrary to popular belief, the suitability of dogs who adapt well to apartment living goes beyond its size. Apartment dwellers have a myriad of dog breeds to choose from as potential companions, with various factors to consider. Some large breeds can adapt well to apartment living and have lower activity levels. Others may require more space and possess higher energy levels. On the other hand, certain small dog breeds with abundant energy can still find contentment with indoor playtime or brisk walks.

    However, when selecting a dog that adapts well apartments, it is essential to prioritize your neighbors. Opting for a pet that doesn’t excessively bark and behaves politely when encountering others in shared spaces like is crucial for maintaining a harmonious apartment environment.

    In high-rise settings, it’s worth noting that numerous small dogs may exhibit a propensity for high energy and frequent barking. This makes them less suitable for apartment living. Therefore, desirable qualities in an apartment dog encompass being quiet, low-energy, and displaying polite behavior towards other residents.

    Factors To Consider When Choosing A Dog For An Apartment

    When considering dogs that adapt well to apartments, size alone should not be the sole determinant. Apartment dwellers have a wealth of dog breeds to choose from as potential furry companions. It’s important to remember that the size of your living space is just one factor to consider. While some larger breeds can adapt well to apartment living, with lower, others may require more space and have higher energy levels, making them less suitable for smaller apartments. Conversely, certain small dog breeds with higher energy levels can still thrive in apartments, finding contentment through indoor playtime or brisk walks. However, it is crucial to consider your neighbors’ comfort when selecting a dog. Opt for a pet that doesn’t bark excessively and behaves politely when interacting with others in shared spaces.

    Therefore, it’s important to prioritize qualities such as being quiet, low-energy, calm indoors, and exhibiting good manners when living in close proximity to other residents. By considering these factors, you can find a dog that will adapt well to apartment living and create a harmonious living environment for everyone involved.

    • Dogs Not Well Suited to Apartment Living

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  • Good For Novice Owners

  • Sensitivity Level

    Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called “easygoing,” “tolerant,” “resilient,” and even “thick-skinned,” can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.

    • See Dogs Who Have Low Sensitivity Levels

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  • Tolerates Being Alone

  • Tolerates Cold Weather

  • Tolerates Hot Weather

All-around friendliness

  • Affectionate With Family

    When it comes to unconditional love and unwavering loyalty, few animals can rival the affectionate nature of dogs. These remarkable creatures have earned their reputation as man’s best friend, and it’s no wonder! Many breeds are particularly renowned for their love and devotion to their families. With their warm hearts and wagging tails, affectionate family dogs enrich the lives of their owners in countless ways.

    While we like to think that all dogs are creatures of love, some breeds may be more outwardly affectionate than others. Some of this is due to temperament, breed group, and purpose. For example, dogs first bred for working or guarding independently of their human companions may show less affection than dogs specifically bred to be companion animals. Of course, this is no indication of the bond between a human and pup, but rather related to temperament and breed origin.

    Affection may be demonstrated through a myriad of heartwarming behaviors. This may including tail-wagging greetings, cuddles on the couch, and an ever-present eagerness to be by their family’s side. This devotion extends to both adults and children, making dogs wonderful additions to family households. The warmth of a dog’s affection not only provides emotional support but also creates an environment of joy and connection within the family, fostering a sense of togetherness.

    How To Know If A Dog Is Good With Families

    The affectionate nature of family dogs extends beyond play and cuddles. Dogs have a remarkable ability to sense their owner’s emotions, offering comfort and support during difficult times. Whether it’s a wagging tail after a long day at work or a sympathetic nuzzle during moments of sadness, they prove time and again that they are attuned to their family’s needs.

    It is important to note that not all dogs of the same breed will be equally affectionate. Some dogs may be more independent or aloof, while others may be more clingy or demanding of attention. The best way to find out how affectionate a dog is is to meet them in person and interact with them.

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  • Kid-Friendly

    Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who’s on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (which are considered Pit Bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren’t always so family-friendly.

    • See Dogs Who Are Not Kid Friendly

    **All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they’re not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.

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  • Dog Friendly

    Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs, even if they’re love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn’t the only factor. Dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least six to eight weeks of age and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.

    • See Dogs Who Are Not So Dog Friendly

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  • Friendly Toward Strangers

Health And Grooming Needs

  • Amount Of Shedding

    When considering adding a pup into your home, you may want to consider the amount of shedding your furry companion will experience. Regardless of the dog breed, you will want to be prepared for at least some amount of pet hair on your clothing and around your house. Of course, this amount can vary greatly as shedding tendencies differ significantly among breeds. Some dogs shed continuously, especially dog breeds with heavy double-coats or long fur. Others undergo seasonal “blowouts” and some hardly shed at all.

    Having a set of grooming tools at your disposal is essential for tending to your dog’s coat. Deshedding tools are excellent for eliminating excess hair that can become trapped in your dog’s fur. There are also brushes designed to gently remove dead hair without causing discomfort to your dog’s skin. Grooming gloves and bathing brushes can aid in loosening dead hair during shampooing, making it easier to brush away. Clippers and a detangling spray effectively tackle matted fur. Additionally, home tools for managing pet hair on fabric and furniture can make a big difference. Pet tape rollers, fur brooms, and specialized vacuums can eliminate pet hair from carpet, clothing, and even furniture.

    If you’re someone who values a spotless environment, you might want to opt for a low-shedding breed. Otherwise, equip yourself with the right tools to fight the fur. Concerns about shedding shouldn’t prevent you from relishing your time at home with your dog. Establishing a consistent grooming regimen can significantly minimize the presence of loose hair in your living space and on your clothing. For additional guidance on managing dog shedding, explore our recommendations for addressing excessive shedding and designing your home with your pet (and their shedding tendencies) in mind.

    Related:

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    4 Best Dog Brushes

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  • Drooling Potential

  • Easy To Groom

  • General Health

    Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn’t mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they’re at an increased risk.

    If you’re adopting a puppy, it’s a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you’re interested in. You may also want to ask if your shelter or rescue has information about the physical health of your potential pup’s parents and other relatives.

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  • Potential For Weight Gain

    Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that’s prone to packing on pounds, you’ll need to limit treats, make sure they get enough exercise, and measure out their daily food servings into regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.

    Ask your vet about your dog’s diet and what they recommend for feeding your pooch to keep them at a healthy weight. Weight gain can lead to other health issues or worsen problems like arthritis.

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  • Size

    Get ready to meet the giants of the doggy world! Large dog breeds aren’t just big balls of fluff, they’re like loving, oversized teddy bears on a mission to steal your heart. Need some convincing? Let’s dive into the awesome benefits of owning one!

    First things first, these pooches are a living security system! With their impressive size and thunderous barks, they’ll have any would-be intruder running for the hills. Talk about peace of mind! Plus, who needs an alarm when you’ve got a furry giant protecting your castle?

    But that’s not all. Large dog breeds are all about loyalty and devotion. They’ll stick by your side through thick and thin, becoming your most dedicated bestie. Their love knows no bounds! When you have a giant fluffball showing you unconditional love, you’ll feel like the luckiest human on the planet.

    Now, let’s talk about their talents. These big fellas are the ultimate working partners. With brains and brawn, they’re up for any challenge. From search and rescue missions to lending a helping paw to those in need, these dogs are superheroes in fur coats. They’ll make you proud every step of the way!

    Don’t let their size fool you—these gentle giants have hearts as big as their paws. They’re incredible with kids and other pets, spreading their love like confetti. Their patience and kindness make them perfect family pets, ensuring harmony in your household.

    Oh, and get ready to break a sweat! These dogs are fitness enthusiasts, and they’ll keep you on your toes. Daily walks, jogs, and play sessions will not only keep them happy and healthy but will also give you a reason to ditch the couch and join in on the fun. It’s a win-win situation!

    So, if you’re ready for a dose of big love, go ahead and consider a large dog breed. They’re the best wing-dog you could ever ask for, ready to make your life a thousand times more exciting, loving, and downright awesome! Get ready for the big adventure of a lifetime!

    • Medium-Sized Dogs
    • Small Dogs

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Trainability

  • Easy To Train

  • Intelligence

    Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don’t get the mental stimulation they need, they’ll make their own work–usually with projects you won’t like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.

    • See Dogs Who Have Lower Intelligence

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  • Potential For Mouthiness

    Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in Retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn’t puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or “herd” their human family members, and they need training to learn that it’s fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a toy that’s been stuffed with kibble and treats.

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  • Prey Drive

    Dogs with a high prey drive have an instinctive desire to stalk, capture, and prey upon potential food sources. Dogs who were bred to hunt, such as Terriers, have an inborn desire to chase — and sometimes kill — other animals. Anything whizzing by — such as cats, squirrels, and perhaps even cars — can trigger that instinct.

    How to address a high prey drive

    Off-leash adventures are too great a temptation for pups who will wander and hunt. Dogs who like to chase need to be leashed. And, even on a leash, you may experience your dog pulling on the leash to reach rodents or birds in their sight. Otherwise, these pups should be kept in a fenced area when outdoors. If your pup has a high prey drive, you’ll need a high, secure fence in your yard.

    These breeds generally aren’t a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won’t chase, but you’ll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.

    Other behavioral concerns

    Observing your dog’s prey drive, which is instinctual and biologically-rooted, is not the same as observing aggression. Much aggression is born of fear and anxiety, especially in the case of dog aggression toward humans.

    The tendency to wander, even into oncoming traffic, can produce diasterious results for pups with predatory instincts. It can also lead to pups being bitten by snakes or attacked by other wild animals they may pursue while on the hunt.

    • See Dogs Who Have Low Prey Drive

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  • Tendency To Bark Or Howl

    Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how often the dog vocalizes. Learn more about breeds with a tendency to bark or howl.

    If you’re considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you’re considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious “strangers” put your pup on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby? Then you may wish to choose a quieter dog.

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  • Wanderlust Potential

    Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they’ll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses–or that bunny that just ran across the path–even if it means leaving you behind.

    • See Dogs Less Prone To Wander

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Exercise needs

  • Energy Level

    High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they’re more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells.

    Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you’ll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.

    • See Dogs Who Have Low Energy

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  • Intensity

    A vigorous dog may or may not have high energy, but everything they do, they do with vigor: they strain on the leash (until you train them not to), try to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who’s elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.

    • See Dogs With Low Intensity

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  • Exercise Needs

    Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise, especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, like herding or hunting.

    Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don’t like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.

    • See Dogs Who Don’t Need Tons of Exercise

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  • Potential For Playfulness

Shiba Inu Overview

VIDEO: 10 Things Only Shiba Inu Dog Owners Understand
Animal Insider

With his prick ears, squinty eyes, and curly tail, this breed from the Land of the Rising Sun looks like a fox, or perhaps a stuffed toy. He is neither. He is the Shiba Inu, the smallest — and possibly the most ancient — of six spitz dogs that originate in Japan.

The Shiba Inu is known for a bold, fiery personality. The Japanese have three words to describe the breed’s mental traits: kaani-i (spirited boldness), ryosei (good nature), and soboku (alertness). Combined, these traits make up the interesting, intelligent, and strong-willed temperament of this breed. The Shiba Inu is small (about 20 pounds) and athletic. Like a ninja warrior, the Shiba Inu moves quickly, nimbly, effortlessly. He is keen and alert.

And superior — or so he thinks, according to those who know and love this breed. The Shiba Inu approaches the world with a calm dignity that is uniquely his own, which is likely why he is also described as stubborn. Because of his independence, the Shiba Inu is not the easiest breed to train. Socialization — the process by which puppies or adults dogs learn how to be friendly and get along with other dogs and people — and training should begin early to teach the Shiba Inu proper canine manners. It is important to understand the freethinking nature of the Shiba Inu so you won’t be frustrated.

The Shiba Inu is highly intelligent, but he doesn’t necessarily want to do what you want him to do. You may have to make him think obedience is his idea. For best results, it’s important to work with a trainer who understands the breed’s independence. Another tendency of the breed is possessiveness. The Shiba Inu guards his stuff, including toys, food, or territory.

Proper socialization helps minimize this characteristic, but it’s wise to put away any of his favorite toys and treats when other dogs or children are around so he’s not tempted to quarrel over them. Despite all of this, the Shiba Inu is a good family dog — he is loyal and devoted — and does well with children as long as he is properly socialized and trained, and the children treat him kindly and respectfully.

The Shiba Inu has been known to show the fiery side of his personality with other dogs and animals. He can be dog-aggressive, especially intact males with intact males. Most Shibas cannot be trusted off leash because they are natural hunters and love the chase. There’s a strong chance he will chase a squirrel, chipmunk, or cat. He is generally suspicious of strangers and is a good watchdog, alerting you to anything unusual.

Getting outside for some action is also important to a Shiba. He needs a good daily workout, whether it’s a walk in the neighborhood or a jog alongside his bicycling owner. He is best suited to a home with a securely fenced yard (he has escape-artist tendencies) where he can romp. He should always be leashed when he’s not at home because of his prey drive and potential for dog-aggression. The Shiba Inu is a wonderful companion, though his strong-willed personality can be too much for some people. Others are charmed by his pluck and loyalty, which is why enthusiasts say that owning a Shiba isn’t just owning a dog — it’s a way of life.

Shiba Inu Highlights

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Tadashi the Shiba

The Shiba Inu requires minimal grooming, but he sheds heavily twice a year. He is an intelligent breed who learns quickly, but he may not always choose to do what you ask. First-time dog owners or timid owners may find it challenging to train a Shiba Inu.

Despite his small size, the Shiba Inu needs plenty of room to roam. He requires a home with a fenced yard. Shiba Inus can be aggressive with other dogs and they will chase small animals. They also tend to be possessive about their toys, food, and territory.

To get a healthy Shiba Inu, it is important to buy a puppy from a reputable breeder. A reputable breeder will test their breeding dogs to ensure that they are free of genetic diseases and have sound temperaments.

Shiba Inu History

VIDEO: Shiba Inu Personality and Temperament - Are Shiba Inus Good Dogs?
My First Shiba

The Shiba Inu originated in Japan along with the Akita, Shikoku, Kai Dog, Hokkaido and Kishu, all of which are larger than the Shiba Inu. The Shiba Inu was used primarily as a hunting dog to flush out small game and birds for hunters.

There are several theories how the Shiba Inu got his name. One explanation is that the word Shiba means “brushwood;” the dogs were named for the brushwood bushes in which they hunted. Another theory is that the fiery red color of the Shiba is the same as the autumn color of the brushwood leaves.

A third idea is that an archaic meaning of the word shiba refers to his small size. World War II nearly spelled disaster for the Shiba, and most of the dogs that did not perish in bombing raids succumbed to distemper during the post-war years. After the war, Shibas were brought from the remote countryside, and breeding programs were established.

The remaining population was interbred to produce the Shiba as he is known today. The Japanese Kennel Club was founded in 1948 and the Shiba Inu breed standard was drafted by Nihon Ken Hozonkai, which was adopted by both the Japanese Kennel Club and the Federation Cynologique Internationale.

An American service family imported the first Shiba Inu into the United States in 1954, but there is little else documented about the breed until the 1970s. The first U.S. litter was born in 1979. The Shiba Inu was recognized in the American Kennel Club Miscellaneous Class in 1993 and acquired full status with the Non-Sporting Group in 1997.

Shiba Inu Size

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Males stand 14.5 to 16.5 inches tall and weigh about 23 pounds. Females stand 13.5 to 15.5 inches tall and weigh about 17 pounds.

Shiba Inu Personality

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Animal Facts

The well-bred Shiba Inu is good-natured, alert, and bold. He is strong-willed and confident, and often has his own ideas about things. He is loyal and affectionate with his family, though tends to be suspicious of strangers. The Shiba Inu doesn’t share well. He tends to guard, sometimes aggressively, his food, toys, or territory.

And he doesn’t always get along with other dogs, especially if he’s intact. He won’t hesitate to chase small animals that he considers prey. This is a smart breed, but training a Shiba Inu isn’t like training a Golden Retriever. While a Golden is delighted to come when called, the Shiba Inu will come when he feels like it — or not. He’s been described as stubborn, but freethinking is probably a more positive way to characterize him. Temperament is affected by a number of factors, including heredity, training, and socialization.

Puppies with nice temperaments are curious and playful, willing to approach people and be held by them. Choose the middle-of-the-road puppy, not the one who’s beating up his littermates or the one who’s hiding in the corner. Always meet at least one of the parents — usually the mother is the one who’s available — to ensure that they have nice temperaments that you’re comfortable with.

Meeting siblings or other relatives of the parents is also helpful for evaluating what a puppy will be like when he grows up. Like every dog, the Shiba Inu needs early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they’re young. Socialization helps ensure that your Shiba puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog. Enrolling him in a puppy kindergarten class is a great start. Inviting visitors over regularly, and taking him to busy parks, stores that allow dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors will also help him polish his social skills.

Shiba Inu Health

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Shiba Inus are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they’re prone to certain health conditions. Not all Shiba Inus will get any or all of these diseases, but it’s important to be aware of them if you’re considering this breed. If you’re buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy’s parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition.

In Shiba Inus, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand’s disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site (offa.org).

  • Allergies: Allergies are a common ailment in dogs, including the Shiba Inu. There are three main types of allergies: food allergies, which are treated by elimination process of certain foods from the dogs diet; contact allergies, which are caused by a reaction to a topical substance such as bedding, flea powders, dog shampoos and other chemicals; and inhalant allergies, which are caused by airborne allergens such as pollen, dust, mildew. Treatment varies according to the cause and may include dietary restrictions, medications, and environmental changes.
  • Chylothorax: Chylothorax is a condition that causes an accumulation of a fluid in the chest cavity. This accumulation causes difficulty breathing, decreased appetite, coughing, and lethargy. Chylothorax can be caused by an underlying condition. Treatment includes removing the fluid, a low-fat diet or in serious cases, surgery.
  • Glaucoma: Glaucoma is a disease that dogs and people. It is an increased pressure in the eye, and can be found in two forms: primary, which is hereditary, and secondary, which is caused by decreased fluid in the eye due to other eye diseases. Symptoms include vision loss and pain. Treatment and prognosis vary depending on the type. Glaucoma is treated with eye drops or surgically.
  • Cancer: Symptoms that may indicate canine cancer include abnormal swelling of a sore or bump, sores that do not heal, bleeding from any body opening, and difficulty with breathing or elimination. Treatments for cancer include chemotherapy, surgery, and medications.
  • Epilepsy: Epilepsy is often inherited and can cause mild or severe seizures. Seizures may be exhibited by unusual behavior, such as running frantically as if being chased, staggering, or hiding. Seizures are frightening to watch, but the long-term prognosis for dogs with idiopathic epilepsy is generally very good. It’s important to remember that seizures can be caused by many other things than idiopathic epilepsy, such as metabolic disorders, infectious diseases that affect the brain, tumors, exposure to poisons, severe head injuries, and more.
  • Patellar Luxation: The patella is the kneecap. Luxation means dislocation of an anatomical part (as a bone at a joint). Patellar luxation is when the knee joint (often of a hind leg) slides in and out of place, causing pain. This can be crippling, but many dogs lead relatively normal lives with this condition.
  • Hypothyroidism: This is a disorder of the thyroid gland that’s thought to cause conditions such as epilepsy, hair loss, obesity, lethargy, dark patches on the skin, and other skin conditions. It’s treated with medication and diet.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA is a family of eye diseases that involves the gradual deterioration of the retina. Early in the disease, dogs become night-blind. As the disease progresses, they lose their daytime vision as well. Many dogs adapt to limited or complete vision loss very well, as long as their surroundings remain the same.
  • Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is a heritable condition in which the thighbone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but you may not notice any signs of discomfort in a dog with hip dysplasia. As the dog ages, arthritis can develop. X-ray screening for hip dysplasia is done by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred. If you’re buying a puppy, ask the breeder for proof that the parents have been tested for hip dysplasia and are free of problems.
  • Tail Chasing/Spinning: Tail chasing or spinning is an unusual problem that’s not well understood. It usually begins at 6 months of age. The dog is obsessed by his tail and may circle for hours. He loses interest in food and water. All attempts to get the dog to stop the behavior fail. Sometimes the dog yelps while spinning and may attempt to bite. Research suggests that spinning may be a type of seizure. Some dogs respond to treatment with phenobarbital either alone or in conjunction with other medications.

Shiba Inu Care

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The Shiba Inu is best suited to a home with a fenced yard. He is an active breed who likes to play, take walks, or jog along with you. Giving him room to roam will help him get his ya-yas out. Socialization is important with this breed. Like any dog, he can become timid or quarrelsome if he isn’t properly socialized — exposed to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when he’s young. Early socialization helps ensure that your Shiba Inu puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog because he is suspicious of strangers and tends to be aggressive toward other dogs.

He’ll also chase small animals such as cats or squirrels that run away from him, triggering his prey drive. For this reason, he should always be on a leash when he’s in outside his fenced yard. One quirk to the Shiba Inu’s personality is his dislike of being restrained, even though it’s required for his own safety. He doesn’t like wearing a collar or being leashed.

Leash training this breed takes time and patience, but is a must. Puppy and obedience classes are recommended for the Shiba Inu, not only for the lessons learned but also for the amount of stimulation and socialization it provides the dog. Work with a trainer who knows this breed. Don’t be disappointed if the Shiba Inu is a difficult and strong-willed student — that’s his nature. Think of it as a challenge.

Housebreaking is relatively easy with this breed. Once your Shiba Inu understands the concept of where he needs to go, he will go to that area whenever he can. Crate training is a great housetraining aid that benefits every dog and is a kind way to ensure that your Shiba Inu doesn’t have accidents in the house or get into things he shouldn’t. A crate is also a place where he can retreat for a nap.

Crate training at a young age will help your dog accept confinement if he ever needs to be boarded or hospitalized. Never stick your Shiba Inu in a crate all day long, however. It’s not a jail, and he shouldn’t spend more than a few hours at a time in it except when he’s sleeping at night. Shiba Inus aren’t meant to spend their lives locked up in a crate or kennel.

Shiba Inu Feeding

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Recommended daily amount: 1/2 to 1.5 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals. Note: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don’t all need the same amount of food.

It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you’ll need to shake into your dog’s bowl. Keep your Shiba Inu in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you’re unsure whether he’s overweight, give him the eye test and the hands-on test.

First, look down at him. You should be able to see a waist. Then place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see his ribs without having to press hard. If you can’t, he needs less food and more exercise. For more on feeding your Shiba, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.

Shiba Inu Coat Color And Grooming

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The Shiba Inu has a thick double coat that gives him a Teddy Bear look. The outer coat is stiff and straight, and the undercoat is soft and thick. He sheds moderately throughout the year and heavily twice a year when he “blows” coat (imagine a snowstorm — but on your furniture and clothing).

The Shiba Inu coat comes in orange-red, urajiro (cream to white ventral color), and sesame (black-tipped hairs on a rich red background). Sometimes, there are white markings on the tip of the tail and on the forelegs and hind legs. The Shiba Inu is fairly easy to maintain when it comes to grooming. He is a naturally clean and odor-free dog. He does need brushing to remove dead hair and distribute oils once a week, or more often when he’s shedding heavily.

A bath now and then is necessary, too, but not too often because over-bathing will dry out his skin and coat. Many owners bathe the Shiba Inu every three to four months. Brush your Shiba’s teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath. Trim his nails once or twice a month if your dog doesn’t wear them down naturally to prevent painful tears and other problems.

If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they’re too long. Dog toenails have blood vessels in them, and if you cut too far you can cause bleeding — and your dog may not cooperate the next time he sees the nail clippers come out. So, if you’re not experienced trimming dog nails, ask a vet or groomer for pointers. His ears should be checked weekly for redness or a bad odor, which can indicate an infection.

When you check your dog’s ears, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to help prevent infections. Don’t insert anything into the ear canal; just clean the outer ear. Begin accustoming your Shiba Inu to being brushed and examined when he’s a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth.

Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you’ll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he’s an adult. As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.

Shiba Inu Children And Other Pets

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The Shiba Inu is a good family dog, as long as he is raised properly and receives training and proper socialization when he’s young. He gets along with children who treat him kindly and respectfully. As with every breed, you should always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party.

Teach your child never to approach any dog while he’s eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog’s food away. No dog, no matter how friendly, should ever be left unsupervised with a child. Early training and socialization go a long way in helping the Shiba Inu get along with other dogs and animals, but it’s not a guarantee. He can be aggressive toward other dogs and he will chase animals he perceives as prey. Training and keeping him on leash are the best ways to manage the Shiba Inu with other dogs and animals.

Shiba Inu Rescue Groups

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Shiba Inus are often purchased without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. There are many Shibas in need of adoption and or fostering. If you don’t see a rescue listed for your area, contact the national breed club or a local breed club and they can point you toward a Shiba rescue.

Shiba Inu Breed Organizations

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Finding a reputable dog breeder is one of the most important decisions you will make when bringing a new dog into your life. Reputable breeders are committed to breeding healthy, well-socialized puppies that will make great companions. They will screen their breeding stock for health problems, socialize their puppies from a young age, and provide you with lifetime support.

On the other hand, backyard breeders are more interested in making a profit than in producing healthy, well-adjusted dogs. They may not screen their breeding stock for health problems, and they may not socialize their puppies properly. As a result, puppies from backyard breeders are more likely to have health problems and behavioral issues.

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Sources


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