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Shiba Inu

Sara Ochoa

By Dr. Sara Ochoa

Once on the edge of extinction, the Shiba Inu is now one of the most popular companion dogs in the world.

This compact but spitfire of a pup hails from Japan and is the smallest of the breeds that originate there.

His bright eyes and soft coat combine to give the shiba an approachable appearance.

Often said to have a foxlike appearance, this breed is hardy despite his delicate look.

If you are looking for an energetic family dog, this might be the breed for you!

Originally bred for hunting in the mountains of northern Japan, the shiba is untiring and devoted.

If you have kids, your pup will adore them and play with them all day.

Your shiba will follow you to the ends of the earth with a smile on his face.

So, what are the needs of a shiba?

What does it take to care for one?

Are there any medical concerns you need to be aware of for this breed?

Do they have a friendly personality?

For the answers to these questions and more, keep reading!

Let’s get to know this spunky breed!


Shiba Inu

The shiba is technically a medium breed but can sometimes err on the smaller side.

His delicate face and bone structure leads to people often thinking he’s related to the fox family.

Your pup’s bright, intelligent eyes will follow you everywhere you go.

His perpetually curled tail gives a constant signal of happiness.

You can feel the shiba’s energy just looking at how he stands.

This breed may be on the smaller side, but he stands with confidence.

Your pup’s small body is packed with powerful muscles that help him run and play for hours on end.

The shiba is both fun and beautiful!

This breed tends to stand between 13.5-16.5 inches tall, and weights 17-23 pounds.

The most common coloring for the shiba is cream.

However, your pup can come in other colors, including black & tan, red, and red sesame.

The shiba boasts a short double coat.

His topcoat is coarse and repels dirt quite easily.

The bottom half of your pup’s coat is a soft, insulating layer.

This double coat was especially helpful in keeping the shiba warm while hunting in the mountains of northern Japan.

Because of his natural insulation, the shiba may have difficulty living in warmer climates.


Shiba Inu

This breed has developed a reputation as a loving but strong-willed pup.

Because of his hunting background, the shiba has a very independent attitude that can make him difficult to train.

It is imperative to assert and maintain yourself as the leader of the household.

If you don’t make sure to establish your authority, your shiba will take control and order the household around.

Early socialization and obedience training are important for both you and your dog.

As with any breed, training should be continuous, not a once-and-done experience.

As family dogs, shibas are affectionate and loyal.

If you have young children, train your pup to be gentle with them.

Your shiba can forget that he is bigger and stronger than small kids and his romping will get out of hand.

This is not an outdoor dog.

If left outside or to his own devices for long amounts of time, your shiba will get loud and destructive.

Once integrated into your family structure, your dog will protect you and your children at any cost.

One more personality trait is important to note.

The shiba is notorious for trying to give his owner the slip.

Any door left cracked open, or gate left unlatched is a portal to freedom for your pup.

These cute con-artists are not to be trusted!

Make sure your yard is fenced-in and keep a close eye on any comings and goings!


Shiba Inu

Exercise needs vary from breed to breed, so it’s important to pay attention to what your specific pup needs.

The shiba has medium exercise requirements.

You don’t have to give him a thorough workout everyday but there is a need to get your pup’s excessive energy out.

Having a fenced-in yard is always a helpful tool since that will help your shiba run off some of his energy.

Don’t depend wholly on letting your pup exercise himself.

The shiba is, above all, a companion-based dog.

Exercising with you will provide your pup with much needed emotional interaction.

In fact, this breed has been known to experience separation anxiety if left alone for long amounts of time.

If you plan to take your shiba on a walk, run, or hike 3-5 times a week that should suffice.

Your pup will get the energy outlet he needs, as well as the personal one-on-one time he wants.

A happy shiba inu will follow you to the ends of the world!


Shiba Inu

The Shiba Inu has a double coat.

This means that there is a coarse top layer covering a soft under layer.

This breed is perfectly equipped with insulation for colder climes.

Technically, shibas shed twice a year.

However, most shiba owners find it necessary to brush their pups at least once (if not twice) a week year-round.

If you live in a warmer part of the world, this is absolutely necessary.

Because of his proclivity for colder climates, the Shiba Inu easily overheats.

Make sure to remove any dead hair in order to give more air circulation to your pup.

One thing that is essential for your pup’s grooming is keeping his nails trimmed.

His nails can get worn down naturally is you take him on runs and walks on pavement.

It is still important to double check to make sure they aren’t getting too long.

As a breed, Shiba Inus are notoriously anxious about getting their nails trimmed.

Start acquainting your puppy with the nail trimmer as early as possible.

Get your shiba used to the sensation of you touching his paws.

These steps will help mitigate the objections your pup might have to getting his nails trimmed.


Shiba Inu

Training your Shiba Inu can be a vastly wide experience.

For example, this breed practically house-trains itself.

According to experts, once you let a shiba know where he should go, he will stick to that spot.

By the age of 5 weeks, your pup will be holding his bladder all night.

However, don’t slack off!

Be sure to reinforce good behavior with lots of praise and the occasional treat!

This breed is known as an adept escape-artist.

Any open door, gate, etc. will be seen as the opportunity for freedom.

Once your pup has escaped, there is no guarantee that you will be able to find and/or coax him back.

Always double-check fences for weak areas and holes that your pup could squeeze through.

Don’t even try to let your shiba off-leash when not inside a fence.

You will get an intense workout trying to chase him down.

Just like with any breed, early socialization training is imperative.

Interacting with other dogs and people will help your pup to acclimatize easily to any situation he might find himself in.

This breed does typically suffer from separation anxiety, so be careful how long you leave your pup alone for.

Continuous training is the key to maintaining a happy and well-behaved shiba!


Shiba Inu

As with many breeds, the Shiba Inu is generally healthy.

However, there are some health issues that this breed can be prone to.

The most common issue with the shiba is allergies.

Most puppies don’t manifest symptoms of allergies until after 6 months of age.

Responsible breeders will not breed dogs that already have existing allergy problems.

There is no way to test for this issue before-hand, so be sure to double check your pup’s parentage and their medical history.

If your pup has allergies, check with your local veterinarian for possible treatment options.

Most often a change of diet is enough to get them under control.

Another potential health problem is hip dysplasia.

This occurs when the hip socket does not form properly.

Over time, the joint pops out of its socket and causes discomfort.

Once again, there is no way to really predict if your pup will manifest this condition.

Asking your breeder for your pup’s parents’ medical clearances will give you the best idea of what you might need to expect.

When looking for a puppy, it is imperative to find a reliable breeder who will answer any questions you have regarding medical history.


Shiba Inu

One of the oldest breeds in the world, the Shiba Inu is documented as far back as 300 B.C.

He originated in Japan and was bred for hunting the rugged mountainous region of that country.

The name “Shiba Inu” means ‘brushwood’ (meaning either the brush on the mountains or the dog’s color), and ‘dog’ in Japanese.

The smallest of the Japanese breeds, the shiba excels at sniffing and flushing out birds and small game.

There were originally three types of Shiba Inu.

The Shinshu comes from central Japan and has rounder eyes.

The Mino is a rich mahogany color and also comes from central Japan.

Hailing from the northeastern part of the country, the San’in is larger than the other two types and usually sports a black coat.

During WWII, this small spitfire of a breed almost went extinct.

Not only were the bombings destructive to the breed, but there was a widespread epidemic of distemper that nearly killed off the remaining shibas.

However, since the end of the war, the breed has been brought back from the brink.

The three types have been melded into the breed that we now know and love.

The Shiba Inu is now the most popular companion dog in Japan.

The first shiba came to the United States in 1954 with a service family who had been stationed in Japan.

However, there is no documentation of the shiba being bred in the U.S. before 1979.

Since then, the breed’s popularity has exploded.

The American Kennel Club added the Shiba Inu to their official registry in 1993.

They rank within the top 50 most popular dog breeds in the United States!

Known for their independent adoration of their human companions, the shiba is a wonderful dog who boasts an impressive history!

Where Can I Find Shiba Inu Puppies?

Shiba Inu

As always, when looking for a breeder, you must be careful.

Beware of puppy mills and internet scams that will rip you off.

Always look at a breeder’s credentials and any certifications they have available.

The National Shiba Club of America provides a list of breeders who adhere to the breeding standards of the club.

These breeders may say that they abide by the rules of the NSCA.

However, it is always wise to double check any breeder’s credentials.

A reliable breeder will be more than happy to provide you with any paperwork or documentation that you ask for.

Always check the medical history of your pup’s parents.

This is helpful in ruling out any glaringly obvious hereditary medical issues.

If you have a hard time picking a puppy, many breeders have a personality quiz you can take.

This helps them suggest one or two puppies who will most likely be a good fit for you and your family.

Once you have chosen a puppy, take the time to hang out with him at least once or twice before taking him home with you.

This ensures that your pup will be comfortable enough with you that moving to a new home won’t be as big a deal.

Check out these adorable shibas today!


Q: Are Shiba Inus good with kids?
A: While this breed likes children, they aren’t always the best with really little kids. Their prey instinct can kick in with small children and other pets.

Q: Does this breed need a lot of exercise?
A: The shiba needs a brisk walk or long hike at least 3-4 times a week. Having a fenced-in yard is a great option if you aren’t able to get out that often.

Q: What is the Shiba Inu’s personality like?
A: Very independent with a loyal streak a mile wide. Your pup will adore you to the ends of the earth, but don’t ever forget that he is his own dog!

In Closing

Shiba Inu

This small yet mighty pup is one for the history books.

Journeying from Japan to the rest of the world, the Shiba Inu is a wonderful companion.

If you are ready to start looking at these absolutely adorable fluffballs, click here!

Thank you for coming on this journey with me!

Until next time!

American Kennel Club. (2022, 3 22). Shiba Inu. Retrieved from American Kennel Club:

Be Chewy. (2022, 3 22). Shiba Inu. Retrieved from Be Chewy:

Daily Paws. (2022, 3 22). Shiba Inu. Retrieved from Daily Paws:

Dogtime. (2022, 3 22). Shiba Inu. Retrieved from Dogtime:

National Shiba Club of America. (2022, 3 22). Homepage. Retrieved from National Shiba Club of America:

Petfinder. (2022, 3 22). Shiba Inu. Retrieved from Petfinder:

Vetstreet. (2022, 3 22). Shiba Inu. Retrieved from Vetstreet:

Picture of author Dr. Sara Ochoa in her scrubs with a cute dogSara Ochoa, DVM is an expert veterinarian ready to help you give your dog an amazing life. Stationed in East Texas, Dr. Ochoa specializes in small and/or exotic animals. She’s currently loving life alongside her husband Greg and their three fur babies: Ruby the Schnoodle, Monkey the tortoise, and Oliver James (affectionately dubbed “OJ”) the cat.

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