Shiba Inus

Japanese Wonder is Ancient Breed

This fiercely loyal dog breed is known for its adorable, bear-like appearance and its attentive personality. It is often mistaken as one of Japan’s other dog breeds: the Akita Inu or the Hokkaido.

The Shiba Inu is one of the few oldest surviving dog breeds in the world, tracing its ancestry back to ancient history. It should be no surprise, then, that the breed carries itself with a superior-like demeanor: the Shibu Inu is a proud dog.

Shiba Inu

DNA testing has revealed that the Shibu Inu dates back to 3rd century BC. History tells us that the nimble, fast breed was a hunter of small game. Over time, the breed became a companion pet more than a working dog.

During World War II, like many other dog breeds suffering from illness and poor nutrition, the Shibu Inu nearly became extinct. Efforts to revive the breed included combining three surviving bloodlines: the Shinshu Shiba, the San’in Shiba and the Mino Shibas. Each possessed a different feature, whether it be a type of fur coat, the shape of the ears, its size or coat color.

In the mid 1930s, the Shiba Inu was recognized as a Natural Monument of Japan through the Cultural Properties Act. The breed had been successfully preserved.

In 1954, the first Shiba Inu was brought to the United States by an armed forces service family. Twenty years later, the first documented litter was born in the United States. Today, the breed is ranked as the 46th most popular dog breed with the American Kennel Club.

The Shiba Inu has a fiery, spirited personality, marked by possessive tendencies, whether it is guarding food, toys or other possessions. The breed is nimble, quick, alert and intelligent.

The dog’s possessive nature can potentially become aggressive so it is recommended that young Shiba Inus attend socialization training to help curb this behavior.

The breed is also known to be freethinkers: they’ll walk through an open door or gate if given the opportunity. Make sure your Shiba Inu wears a collar with tags and has a microchip to help reunite you should he become lost.

Shiba Inus should get regular exercise to help reduce their energy level. Due to their territorial nature, however, walk your Shibu Inu on a leash to prevent him from chasing other small animals or from potential aggression toward other dogs.

When unhappy, Shiba Inus are known to emit a high-pitched scream. They can also vocalize a variation of this sound when very excited and overwhelmed with happiness.

The Shiba Inu is a loving, loyal family pet.

Shiba Inu puppies

While the Shiba Inu is Japan’s smallest native breed, it is considered a medium-sized dog, weighing, on average, 18 to 22 pounds.

With its double-coated, plush waterproof fur coat, the Shiba Inu can withstand colder climates and requires minimal grooming, although it will shed its undercoat abundantly during warmer seasons.

The breed has two notable features: its pointed ears and a curled tail, which rests on its back.

The Shiba Inu can be a variety of colors: red, sesame (red with black-tipped fur), black and tan, or white.

Shiba Inu

While these may be common medical conditions, your Shiba Inu will not necessarily develop any of those listed below.  

  • Allergies generally express themselves in hair loss, intense itching and infected ears, the skin between the toes of the feet might well be swollen and red. Allergies are caused by an over-reaction of the immune system. Inhalant allergies are generally worse in the summer and fall when pollen, molds and seeds are abundant. As with people, it is possible to get allergy shots for dogs which might help to alleviate some of the symptoms.
  • Cataracts is an opacity of the lens of the eye and may cause blindness if not treated surgically.
  • Entropion is the inward curling of the lower eyelid or ectropion, the rolling out of the eyelid. The condition should be corrected surgically to prevent damage to the cornea (surface) of the eye.
  • Glaucoma is an increase in the pressure of the fluid in the eye which, if left untreated, can cause visual impairment and eventual loss of sight. The condition can be inherited (primary glaucoma) or a secondary condition to a variety of other eye issues including tumors or lens luxation.
  • Hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hips that cause arthritis. Dogs with this condition usually display an obvious limp. They may hold the rear leg out from the body while walking, or even attempt to carry almost all of their weight on the front legs. Signs may be noted as early as four months of age. Although considered a lifelong problem, some dogs can be helped with surgery which, in some cases, can eliminate the problem totally. Symptoms include lethargy, hair loss, weight gain, excessive shedding, high blood cholesterol and anemia. Treatment will be ongoing for the rest of the dog’s life and may include a daily dose of a synthetic thyroid hormone.
  • Hyperthyroidism occurs when not enough thyroid hormones are produced.
  • Luxating patella is caused by anatomical defects of the bones that make up the knee joint. It is manifested by the kneecap (patella) slipping in and out of its normal location in the knee. Mildly affected dogs may carry the leg for 2 or 3 steps while walking. Severely affected dogs may become severely lame and refuse to use their rear legs. Surgical correction of this condition is very rewarding.

As with any pet, be sure to regularly consult a veterinarian for routine care and medical advice for your four-legged friend.

Read more about 5 Things You Didn't Know about Shiba Inus.