Photo by iamhenry

Shiba Inu - Breed Profile:

Origin: Japan
Colors: Red, black, tan, sesame
Size: Small
Type of Owner: Novice (but confident)
Exercise: Moderate
Grooming: Little
Trainability: Slightly difficult to train
Combativeness: Can be a bit dog-aggressive
Dominance: High
Noise: Not a barker

Physical characteristics

The Shiba Inu is a small dog that resembles a miniature Akita. The compact body is nimble and well-muscled, with moderate boning. The skull is well-proportioned to the body. The forehead is broad and flat with a slight furrow. The muzzle is firm, full, and round; it tapers slightly from stop to the nose tip. The jaws are strong. The cheeks are full. The eyes are small and dark, somewhat triangular; eye rims and the nose are black. The tail is thick and powerful; it curls over the back. The teeth meet in a scissor bite. The gait and movements of Shibas are light and elastic.
The average weight is 23 pounds for males and 17 pounds for females.


Shiba Inus are a very intelligent, fairly independent and clean dogs. Quiet. They are not, however, easy-going lap dogs but bold, high-spirited, and hardy canines. Obedience training and proper socialization are required at an early age. Agile, fast and playful, Shiba Inus are often called a "big dog" in a small body. They are very confident, fearless and courageous but charming and loving at the same time. Be sure to remain a pack leader at all times. Good companions for children. Shibas get on well with other pets if raised with them from puppyhood. However, do not leave your Shiba alone with small pets such as rodents and small birds. Don't forget that these dogs have the heart of a hunter: high prey drive and quick reflexes make Shibas pursue anything that moves. That's why they had better be kept on leash when you walk them. If you ever have to leave your dog outdoors unsupervised, make sure your fences are secure enough. The Shiba's agile jumping/climbing/digging skills may send him over or under any ordinary fence. Once it's loose, it's gone.
Photo by sunsea

A distinguishing feature of the breed is the so-called "shiba scream". When provoked or unhappy, the dog will produce a loud, high-pitched scream. This may happen when you try to handle the dog in a way that it deems unacceptable.

Coat and grooming

Shibas can come in any color but the most common are red, sesame (black-tipped hairs on red), and black with tan markings. All colors should have urajiro (cream to white) markings on the cheeks, inside the ears, on the sides and underneath the muzzle, etc. White can also be present on the legs, tail tip and in spots above the eyes.
The plush double coat requires little grooming. The outer coat is stiff and straight; the undercoat is soft and thick. The tail hair is slightly longer.


Overall, the Shiba Inu is very healthy and robust. Some lines, however, are prone to patellar luxation (slipped kneecap). The lifespan is 12 to 15 years.

Other interesting facts

- The Shiba is the smallest Japanese native breed. It was originally bred for hunting in the dense undergrowth of Japan's mountain areas.
- The foxy look of Shibas may get them into trouble. Be careful in the hunting season as this dog can easily be mistaken for a fox!
- Very clean dogs, Shibas can often be seen licking their paws and legs like a cat.
- Shibas are rather possessive of their toys and food. It is said that if they could utter a word, it would be "Mine!"

Shiba Inu video