The Shiba Inu is a small-sized dog, well-balanced, with good bones and developed muscles. It has a strong and agile structure, which tolerates mountainous areas, as it was originally bred for hunting. It has a similar appearance to the Akita Inu, but it is much shorter in height.
Although the Shiba Inu is a very ancient breed, it is not clasified in the “Primitve Dogs” group by the FCI, but in the “Spitz Dogs” group. It comes from the Southern Asia; its appearance in Japan dates back to the year 2000B.C. and it was considered to be a descendant of some wild dogs from the South of China.
As most Japanese dogs, it was used for hunting in mountainous areas in the center of the country, which were also very uneven and populated. It was also used to hunt mountain pheasants (called yamadori) and other preys, as birds and small mammals, inside the woods. It is though that it also used to hunt foxes and roe deers. The Shiba’s habitat was the mountainous area in front of the Sea of Japan.
In 1920 it was given the name of “Shiba” (Inu is the Japanese word for “dog”) and in 1934, the first breed Standard was established. Three years later, the Shiba Inu was recognized as a Natural Monument of Japan, and as a consequence, Japanese citizens started preserving and taking care of their native dog breeds.
After a long time, the Shiba Inu has become the typical Japanese companion dog, and even though there have been many European breeds introduced in Japan the last few years we can firmly say that the Shiba is still the excellence companion dog of the Japanese culture.
The word “shiba” means “brushwood” in Japanese, and refers to a type of tree or shrub whose leaves turn red in the fall. 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 diminutive stature. However, this is a theory that has not been used for a long time.
Despite its small size, the Shiba Inu looks like a big-sized dog. It is well-balanced, has good bone and muscles. It has some erect, triangular and small ears. The tail is broad and curled over its back. Its coat is rough and straight, and it can be brindle, pure black, black and tan or pure white.
Shibas may be red, black and tan, or sesame (red with black-tipped hairs). Colors must have “Urajiro” markings (between creme and white) on the sides of the muzzle, on the cheeks, inside the ears, on the underjaw and upper throat, inside of the legs, on the abdomen, around the vent and the ventral side of the tail. It is also accepted to have white markings in the tail’s tip and on the eyes.
The Shiba Inu is very affectionate with its owner, it is considered to be a good guardian and companion dog. It gets on well with children as long as it is treated respectfully. It gets on well with other pets. It can adapt easily to live in an apartment or in a house. As a defect, even though it is really intelligent, it is not easy for them to follow orders. This dog needs usual exercise and to be brushed frequently.
The Shiba Inu is an independent and quiet animal, which feels very close to its owners but keeps its distance. It thinks it is a smart dog and it does not follow orders. It is anxious, playful and a little mischievous. It loves being outdoors, but it can easily adapt living indoors.
The Shiba Inu is a clean dog, and it is enough to brush it once a week. Some of them hate water, which is why the owner must stay firm with bathing, because this dog will always try to get what it wants.
It is not recommended to go for a walk with a Shiba without leash because of its instinct of following any kind of prey.
The Shiba Inu is a healthy dog. Hip dysplasia and Progressive Retinal Atrophy are not very common but it is suggested to check if everything is alright.
You can download the FCI (International Cinological Federation) standard at the following link: http://www.fci.be/Nomenclature/Standards/257g05-en.pdf