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  • Temperament: Alert, Active, Attentive
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 44 of 192
  • Height: 14.5-16.5 inches (male), 13.5-15.5 inches (female)
  • Weight: 23 pounds (male), 17 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 13-16 years
  • Group: Non-Sporting Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Shiba Inu standing sideways facing left
Shiba Inu head and shoulders facing left
Shiba Inu head in three-quarter view outdoors in sunlight
Shiba Inu sitting facing forward
Shiba Inu coat detail

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Shiba is the smallest of the Japanese native breeds of dog and was originally developed for hunting by sight and scent in the dense undergrowth of Japan’s mountainous areas. Alert and agile with keen senses, he is also an excellent watchdog and companion. His frame is compact with well-developed muscles. Males and females are distinctly different in appearance: males are masculine without coarseness, females are feminine without weakness of structure.

HEAD

Expression is good natured with a strong and confident gaze. Eyes are somewhat triangular in shape, deep set, and upward slanting toward the outside base of the ear. Iris is dark brown. Eye rims are black. Ears are triangular in shape, firmly pricked and small, but in proportion to head and body size. Ears are set well apart and tilt directly forward with the slant of the back of the ear following the arch of the neck.

BODY

Neck is thick, sturdy, and of moderate length. Topline is straight and level to the base of the tail. Body is dry and well muscled without the appearance of sluggishness or coarseness. Forechest is well developed. Chest depth measured from the withers to the lowest point of the sternum is one-half or slightly less than the total height from withers to ground. Ribs are moderately sprung. Abdomen is firm and well tucked-up. Back is firm. Loins are strong.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulder blade and upper arm are moderately angulated and approximately equal in length. Elbows are set close to the body and turn neither in nor out. Forelegs and feet are moderately spaced, straight, and parallel. Pasterns are slightly inclined. Removal of front dewclaws is optional. Feet are catlike with well-arched toes fitting tightly together. Pads are thick.

COAT

Double coated with the outer coat being stiff and straight and the undercoat soft and thick. Fur is short and even on face, ears, and legs. Guard hairs stand off the body are about 1½ to 2 inches in length at the withers. Tail hair is slightly longer and stands open in a brush. It is preferred that the Shiba be presented in a natural state.

HINDQUARTERS

The angulation of the hindquarters is moderate and in balance with the angulation of the forequarters. Hind legs are strong with a wide natural stance. The hock joint is strong, turning neither in nor out. Upper thighs are long and the second thighs short but well developed. No dewclaws. Feet as in forequarters.

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shiba inu illustration

About the Shiba Inu

Brought to America from Japan as recently as 60 years ago, Shibas are growing in popularity in the West and are already the most popular breed in their homeland. Their white markings combined with their coloring (red, red sesame, or black and tan) and their alert expression and smooth stride makes them almost foxlike. They’re sturdy, muscular dogs with a bold, confident personality to match.

Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Shiba Inu

Find a Puppy: Shiba Inu

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Care

NUTRITION

Shibas have no specific dietary requirements and generally do well on any good-quality kibble or the raw diet. Some Shibas are picky, and others will eat anything in sight. As with all breeds, the Shiba owner must guard against the dog becoming obese, especially if spayed or neutered. You should be able to feel the dog’s ribs and backbone, but not see them.

GROOMING

Shibas shed — a lot. It has been said that they shed twice a year, but some owners quip that it lasts for six months at a time. Unless a Shiba is a “long coat,” the coat does not mat, so infrequent brushing doesn’t hurt the dog, but brushing or combing during periods of heavy shedding will reduce the amount of hair around the house. Blowing the dog with a strong blow-dryer or a shop vacuum in reverse is a good way to remove loose hair, dirt, and dandruff and to check for fleas. Most dogs learn to like the blower, as it feels good and doesn’t scrape the skin or pull the coat. Don’t let it get too hot, though. Shibas often object to nail trimming nail trimming. Start a puppy early, but if it becomes a major struggle, let a professional do it.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
Weekly Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Seasonal

EXERCISE

Most Shibas are fairly energetic and love to go for walks. They are not so hyper that they will climb the walls if they don’t get daily exercise, but a Shiba owner should be dedicated to exercising the dog, especially if the dog doesn’t have an adequate yard in which to exercise himself. In general, Shibas are not massively destructive if left alone once they reach maturity, but some can suffer separation anxiety and should be able to spend periods of time crated even when the owners are home and at night. Crating guarantees a home will remain intact.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

The one thing every Shiba owner must know is that a Shiba can never, ever be considered reliable off lead unless in a confined area. No amount of obedience training will ever change that. Letting a Shiba off lead—or any dog, for that matter—is playing Russian roulette with its life. An open door, an unlocked gate, a moment of inattentiveness, and the Shiba may be gone forever. On the positive side, a Shiba is practically born housebroken. By 4 weeks of age the puppy is trying to get as far away from his sleeping area as possible to eliminate. By 5 weeks the puppy will hold it all night and wait until taken outside to go. Controlling the bladder tales a little longer and depends a lot on immediate access to outdoors and diligence of the owner.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Independent

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Reserved with Strangers

HEALTH

The most common health condition in Shibas and in most breeds, as well as humans, is allergies. In dogs, allergies manifest themselves as skin irritation and itching. There is no way of testing breeding stock, but dogs with active allergies should not be bred. Unless the source of the allergen can be identified, most dogs with allergies can lead normal lives with products that treat the symptoms—again, just like humans. Allergies usually don’t manifest themselves until a dog is at least 6 months old. Other conditions that sometimes occur in the breed include hip dysplasia, eye disorders, and patella luxation. Responsible breeders screen breeding stock for these conditions.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Hip Evaluation
  • Patella Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation

Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Shiba Inu
Shiba Inu
Shiba Inu
Shiba Inu
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Shiba Inu

History

The first documented Shiba to enter the United States was imported by a military family in 1954. But the Shiba is an ancient breed, having been around since 300 b.c. The breed is named after its history as a hunter in the rugged mountains of Japan; “Shiba” means “brushwood” (referring either to the brush in the mountains or to the dog’s reddish color) in Japanese, and “Inu” means “dog.” By the end of World War II Shibas were nearly extinct, but they survived Japan’s wartime deprivations and are today the country’s number-one companion animal. Their popularity has been growing in the United States for the past 50 years.

Did You Know?

The Shiba Inu is AKC's 136th breed.
The Shiba Inu is one of 9 monument breeds to Japan.
Shibas are considered the oldest and smallest of Japan's dogs.
The Shiba Inu is a superb hunting dog, and the ancestors of the breed were the hardiest survivors of Japan’s mountainous regions. They were originally used to hunt large game, but they are currently used on smaller animals.
The Shiba Inu is the number-one companion dog in Japan.
The first documented Shiba in the U.S. was in 1954, but the breed did not receive official AKC recognition until the early '90s.
Most of the Shibas shown in the 1930s came from the Yamansashi or San’in areas of Japan, and after reaching near extinction after WWII, those Shibas remaining were from three different bloodlines, San’in, Mino, and Shin Shu.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Shiba is the smallest of the Japanese native breeds of dog and was originally developed for hunting by sight and scent in the dense undergrowth of Japan’s mountainous areas. Alert and agile with keen senses, he is also an excellent watchdog and companion. His frame is compact with well-developed muscles. Males and females are distinctly different in appearance: males are masculine without coarseness, females are feminine without weakness of structure.

HEAD

Expression is good natured with a strong and confident gaze. Eyes are somewhat triangular in shape, deep set, and upward slanting toward the outside base of the ear. Iris is dark brown. Eye rims are black. Ears are triangular in shape, firmly pricked and small, but in proportion to head and body size. Ears are set well apart and tilt directly forward with the slant of the back of the ear following the arch of the neck.

BODY

Neck is thick, sturdy, and of moderate length. Topline is straight and level to the base of the tail. Body is dry and well muscled without the appearance of sluggishness or coarseness. Forechest is well developed. Chest depth measured from the withers to the lowest point of the sternum is one-half or slightly less than the total height from withers to ground. Ribs are moderately sprung. Abdomen is firm and well tucked-up. Back is firm. Loins are strong.

FOREQUARTERS

Shoulder blade and upper arm are moderately angulated and approximately equal in length. Elbows are set close to the body and turn neither in nor out. Forelegs and feet are moderately spaced, straight, and parallel. Pasterns are slightly inclined. Removal of front dewclaws is optional. Feet are catlike with well-arched toes fitting tightly together. Pads are thick.

COAT

Double coated with the outer coat being stiff and straight and the undercoat soft and thick. Fur is short and even on face, ears, and legs. Guard hairs stand off the body are about 1½ to 2 inches in length at the withers. Tail hair is slightly longer and stands open in a brush. It is preferred that the Shiba be presented in a natural state.

HINDQUARTERS

The angulation of the hindquarters is moderate and in balance with the angulation of the forequarters. Hind legs are strong with a wide natural stance. The hock joint is strong, turning neither in nor out. Upper thighs are long and the second thighs short but well developed. No dewclaws. Feet as in forequarters.

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shiba inu illustration

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
BLACK & TAN Check Mark For Standard Color 018
CREAM Check Mark For Standard Color 076
RED Check Mark For Standard Color 140
RED SESAME Check Mark For Standard Color 298

Markings

Description Standard Markings Registration Code
WHITE MARKINGS Check Mark For Standard Mark 014

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