Breed History

Shiba Inus are one of the oldest dog breeds in the world, dating back to 3rd century BC. They originated from Japan and were originally bred to hunt and flush small wild game, such as birds, rabbits and boars. The literal Japanese to English translation of the name “Shiba Inu” is “Brushwood Dog”. We are not sure whether they are called brushwood dogs because of their red coat which represents the color of brushwood, or because they hunted in the wild shrubs.

Shibas are characterized as spitz-type dogs and are both primitive and have a high prey drive. Other spitz-type dog characteristics that they possess are characterized by their long, thick double-coat, pointed ears and muzzles, and their tails are usually curled over the dog’s back.

During World War II, Shibas nearly became extinct due to bombing raids and the distemper epidemic. Luckily, they survived and were bred into the dogs that we know today.

The first recorded Shiba to enter the United States was by a military family in 1954. The American Kennel Club recognized the Shiba in 1992.


The average life expectancy of a Shiba is 12 to 16 years

General Appearance

Shibas are the smallest of the Japanese native breeds of dog and have compact frames with well-developed muscles. Shiba males are masculine without coarseness whilst females are feminine without weakness of structure.

Males Length: 14½ inches to 16½ inches at withers Weight of 23 pounds Height to length ratio: 10 to 11

Females Length: 13½ inches to 15½ inches Weight: Average 17 pounds Height to Length Ratio: Slightly longer than males

Shibas have an expression is good natured with a strong and confident gaze. Shibas’ eyes are dark brown/black with an upward triangular slant in shape. Eye rims are black with black rims. Their ears are triangular, firmly pricked and small, in proportion to head and body size. Skull size is moderate and in proportion to the body. The muzzle is firm and full with a length that is 40% of the total head length. They have a scissor bite with strong and evenly aligned teeth. A Shiba’s body is well muscled and their abdomen is firm and well tucked-up with a firm back. The tail is thick and curls over the straight back in a curled position.

Like any spitz-type dog, Shibas have double coats with the outer coat being stiff and straight and the thick and soft undercoat which is blown twice a year. Urajiro (white underside color) is on the sides of the muzzle, cheeks, under jaw and upper throat inside of legs, inside the ears, on the abdomen, around the vent and the ventral side of the tail. They may be red, black and tan, sesame with a cream, buff or gray undercoat. There are Shibas which are fully cream or white but are not recognized by the AKC.


Shibas are clean dogs and will need little grooming. Their coat is naturally waterproof and they do not need to be bathed often. They will need some help blowing their thick undercoat during shedding seasons.

Health Conditions

Shibas are of great genetic soundness in general but there are health conditions that should be checked for. On the list are glaucoma, cataracts, hip displasia and luxating patella. They can be prone to allergies and some Shibas have epileptic bloodlines.


Shibas are independent and are known to be reserved toward strangers but are loyal and affectionate once you earn their respect. Shibas are wonderful apartment dogs if they are exercised regularly and trained properly at a young age. They are a fastidious breed and will often be caught grooming himself and avoid dirtying themselves wherever possible, making housebreaking easy. Shibas can be extremely stubborn and are notorious for ignoring or obeying commands on their own terms.