Shiba Inu

Breed History

Shiba Inu Puppy

Ancient Japanese Spitz dog that is one of the smallest dogs to come from Japan. Well-built with straight ears it is hard to miss the lively medium size dog.

Shiba Inu breed is one of the oldest dogs from Japan. Documentation dating back to 300 B.C. showing the dog hunting and catching prey. Right now, they are the most popular dog in Japan.

Six dogs come from Japan

  1. Akita
  2. Kishu
  3. Hokkaido
  4. Shikoku
  5. Kai
  6. Shiba Inu

Hunters of small game like rabbits and birds. Their size was important for the way that they can catch smaller animals in a way bigger dogs will have an issue. Other dogs lost size with time, but the Shiba Inu was small from ancient times.

There are several versions to the story regarding how the Shiba Inu got their name. One of them is that Shiba means Brushwood a reference to the mountains they come from. Additionally, it can be a reference to the coat color.

Extinction after World War II was a strong possibility and there were breeding programs put in place to maintain the breed. Interbreeding was had to happen to make the breed what it was today. One dog was Stocky and the other was lanky that keep the breed alive.


Taking until the year 1954 to arrive in the United States they have spent most of their time in their native land. 38 years after their first documentation in the states the Shiba Inu became an official dog of the Kennel Club.

Overall, the recognition is from most of the major Kennel Clubs worldwide. There are a few who haven’t had documentation officially on the bloodline, but that can all change any day.

Shiba Inu Size

Male Weight: 18-24 pounds

Female Weight: 15-20 pounds

Male Height: 14 ½ – 16 ½ inches

Female Height: 13 ½ – 15 ½ inches

Male dogs are much bigger than the females. The difference is noticeable.


There are a few colors that are known as acceptable with the Shiba Inu.

Those colors are

  • Cream to White
  • Bright Orange
  • Red
  • Sesame
  • Black and Tan

See Shiba Inu Breed Standards  for disqualifications regarding the colors that aren’t allowed. The above colors are the ones that are in the breed standard.

Different Types

Before the threat of extinction there were three types of Shiba’s in the world.

San in Shiba – Larger in size

Mino Shiba – less definition

Shinsho Shiba – smaller

What you find with each is that certain colors are more associated with these breeds. Distemper ripped into the Shiba and almost took them out completely.

That’s why you will see more of the Shiba Inu’s look like Shinsho while there are a few of them that resemble the San and Mino in description.

Shiba Inu Price

The Shiba Inu is going to cost around $1,000 to $3,500 on average so a purebred with documentation of the bloodline.

Without papers you are looking at spending around $300 to $500 with unknown ancestors in the dog’s family tree.

Lastly, the cheapest option may be to adopt a dog and just pay adoption fees that are standard across different breeds.


Brushing – You need to brush your dog at least twice per week. The reason this is necessary is because of the loose fur on the dogs coat due to the double coat they boast.

Shed heavy – This dog sheds their coat twice per year and it will shed hair throughout the year. You will find hair in the car, couch, floor when you vacuum, and other places you have your dog that isn’t in the backyard. Prepare to comb and brush often before and after baths.  

Bathing – Bath the dog when dirty.

Teeth – Keep the teeth clean. You may need to brush them because plaque build up will happen at some time. You don’t need to brush them every single day, but you will need to brush them at some time in the future.

Nails – Exercising the dog will keep the nails trim. If you don’t trim the nails because you don’t exercise you will need to buy some clippers and cut them.

Ears – Infections of the ears can become irritating and ongoing. When the ears are cleaned on a regular basis you will avoid some of the nuisance of not cleaning them. Reduces your vet bills.

Although the grooming for this breed can be done at home you want to hire some professional help. Contact your local groomers and find out if they have acceptable prices that are within your budget.

Life Span

Shiba Inu has a long lifespan of 12-15 years. That is a long time to live for any dog. Smaller dogs tend to have a longer lifespan as times and this breed is no different.

Having a dog for this amount of time will cement a dog as a long-term companion.

Keeping the dog exercising, taking to the vet, and keeping up with their grooming will keep your dog healthy going into their older age.

Health Issues

Allergies – there are many allergies that are going to flare up with Shiba’s and owners must be aware if they start having some issues. Itching, hair standing, throwing up, diarrhea and many more symptoms that aren’t normal can be the result of allergies. Track what foods they ate or any areas that might flare up this condition.

Cancer – Lymphoma is one of the most common types of cancers they will experience. Take them to the vet often and make sure to get annual checkups. Licensed vets will be able to catch some of these issues early in the process.

Epilepsy – seizures that occur repeatedly is what they call epilepsy. Sometimes seizures are an underlying issue of something much bigger like brain or lung disease. Causes for this condition are unknown currently. Strange behavior for no reason can be a sign the dog is having a seizure.

Glaucoma – Irregular eye pressure that affects the inside tissue of the eyes. Animals inherit this condition from their parents, and it is going to be given to their children.

Patella Luxation – Top 20 for many years in the number of reported incidents regarding this breed. Smaller dogs are always in danger of suffering from a knee luxation, or dislocation. Limping, jumping, or uncomfortable exercise body language should lead to a vet visit where they can conduct an x-ray.

Breed Group

They are a member of the Non-Sporting Group. One of the few groups where the dogs don’t have much in common. For example, you can’t make strong connections to working, coats, size, or anything that would be common for each dog.

These are the following dogs that are in this group:

What all these dogs have in common is that they’re wildly popular in many countries according to kennel club records. They come from all over the world consisting of cold, warm, and humid climates from different continents.

Exercise Needs

Shiba’s are energetic dogs. If a dog is anywhere near energetic, we recommend two exercise sessions per day. Once in the morning and the other in the afternoon. Although it may seem like a lot it is the only way to provide the outlet.

For a younger dog two sessions per day with a lot of runs, walks, and treadmill work will be enough. Getting to the pavement early and often will assist you later when you need to train your dog.

Ultimately, when the dog gets 3 years and older you may be able to scale back the exercise and still get the right behavior. If you scale back and bad behavior starts back, go back to exercising.

Around this age and older you will notice a big difference in the energy levels. Some of the more energetic types will be hyper at this age without any exercise prior. Giving them the outlet will cause them to be calm at this age.

Senior dogs will need much less exercise. An hour may result in too much. Like I always preach I don’t have the right answer. Your dog’s behavior will tell you what is too much and not enough.

For a quick summary, if you are experiencing a lot of behavior problems increase and if not, you can maintain or decrease. When you start taxing the dog enough you shouldn’t have any behavior problems for the day.

As time progresses you won’t hear anything for days at a time.

Finally, giving consistent exercise will lead to you not having any behavior problems at all.

Exercise well!

Training a Shiba Inu

An excellent dog to train that can easily become a disaster in the hands of a novice. Tactics of begging, pleading, wishing, and hoping won’t train this breed. You will need to work hard at your exercise program, commands, and discipline to provide the full package.

Examining exercise in the last section we won’t go over the details. What you need to know is that this part is for behavior and compliance. You won’t be the authority figure if you fail to provide an outlet. Relationships will always appear rocking with the dog not listening all the way.

Subpar performance in this area can be detrimental with an overly excited dog. That goes for any breed! You can’t cheat the system a dog will need a lot of exercise. If you didn’t exist, the dog would be walking and running all day long.

Next, we have the commands. Commands are so easy to teach they don’t need a section. What your dog gets for following the commands differ. Some people prefer a toy and others prefer a dog treat.

Working with a dog that has a prey drive or a strong appetite can produce a strong response. Some people have dogs who have little desire for both.

That’s why we always teach life rewards.

Discipline should have hyper focus on attention so that the owners use the least amount of force possible. Follow this guideline for detail instructions.

Are Shiba’s Good Pets

Every dog could be a great pet. Some dogs are more of a challenge than others. If you implement the strategy, we explained earlier in the post there should be no issues.

Exercise, commands and discipline should get you exactly where you want to be. Use those to the best of your ability to respond to bad behavior and you will have a great pet.

They get along with other dogs that you may have at the home. Protecting the house is one of their highest priorities. Strong hunting instincts may produce a dog with excellent prey drive.

Becoming a dog that wants to play with toys, play fetch, and other activities is a big possibility. Overall, this is a dog that can be a great fit in any family.