Shiba Inu: Dog Breed Facts and Information

Country of origin: Japan
Shoulder height: 36 – 41 cm
Weight: 6 – 12 kg
Age: 12 – 15 years
Colour: red, black, and tan, sesame with light markings
Use: hunting dog, companion dog

The Shiba Inu is a fox-like small dog with pronounced instinctive behavior. It is very dominant and independent, enterprising but never submissive. One cannot expect blind obedience from a Shiba. Therefore, he is also not a dog for beginners or easygoing people.

Origin and history

Shiba Inu has its origins in Japan and is one of the primeval dog breeds. Its natural habitat was the mountainous area by the Sea of ​​Japan, where it was used as a hunting dog for hunting small game and birds. As English hounds became more popular in Japan in the late 19th century and were frequently crossed with the Shiba-Inu, the stock of Shiba’s pure lineage steadily declined. From the 1930s onwards, breed lovers and breeders made more efforts to pure-breed. The first breed standard was established in 1934.


With a shoulder height of around 40 cm, the Shiba Inu is one of the smallest of the six original Japanese dog breeds. It has a well-proportioned, muscular body, the head is broad, and the eyes are slightly slanted and dark. The erect ears are relatively small, triangular, and slightly tilted forward. The tail is set high and carried curled over the back. The appearance of the Shiba is reminiscent of a fox.

The coat of the Shiba Inu consists of a hard, straight top coat and a lot of soft undercoats. It is bred in the colors red, black, and tan and sesame, where sesame describes an even mixture of white and black hair. All color variants have lighter markings on the sides of the muzzle, neck, chest, belly, inside of the legs, and on the underside of the tail.


The Shiba is an extremely independent dog with a strong hunting instinct. It is very dominant, courageous, and territorial, which places great demands on the leadership qualities of the owner. A Shiba is assertive and only slightly submissive. Therefore, it needs sensitive, consistent training and clear leadership. Puppies should be socialized as early and carefully as possible.

Keeping a Shiba Inu purely as a companion dog is a demanding task. It needs a lot of exercise in the great outdoors and lots of varied activities. Processes that are repeated over and over quickly bore him. Because of his passion for hunting and his independent personality, you can hardly let a Shiba run free. Otherwise, the fox-like little fellow is very enterprising, alert, and, when busy, a pleasant housemate. He rarely barks and his short coat is easy to care for. The Shiba only sheds a lot during the molt.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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