The Shiba Inu has become an increasingly popular breed of dog in America thanks to Internet memes and social media. Like all dogs, the Shiba Inu has distinct personality traits and unique quirks. While many people love their Shiba Inu, this breed is not for everyone. Before adopting a new member of your family, you should always do research on the breed with professional advice. Is the Shiba Inu the right dog for you and your lifestyle?
The Shiba Inu is originally from Japan. It is one of six native Japanese breeds. The other five are the Akita, Kishu, Hokkaido, Kai Ken, and Shikoku. These breeds of dogs are often referred to as spitz type breeds, which are characterized by their pointed triangular ears, elongated muzzle, thick fur coat, and curled feathered tail. Shibas are the oldest and smallest of the six Japanese breeds. Compared to all breeds of dogs, they are medium size. Adults grow to be about one foot at the shoulder and around 20 pounds. A Shiba’s life span is typically about 12 to 16 years. They have a medium energy level compared to other breeds of dogs, but are very active when it comes to exercise needs. Sometimes people describe the Shiba Inu as having a fox-like appearance.
The Shiba Inu was originally bred to flush birds and small game. Occasionally, Shibas would be used to hunt wild boar. The ancestors of modern Shibas accompanied the first immigrants to Japan in around 7000 BC. Archaeologists have discovered evidence that these ancient explorers had dogs only slightly smaller than the Shiba Inu. Later on, more immigrants came to Japan with more dogs. In around the third century BC, these dogs interbred with the older dogs who had come to Japan, and created a breed that looks much like the modern Shiba Inu.
Although many centuries have passed, the smallest dog of the six Japanese breeds has always been called the Shiba. While historians are unsure of the name’s exact origins, they can take many educated guesses. The word Shiba means “brushwood” in Japanese. Historians suspect that this name might refer to the brushwood bushes where the dogs hunted or the brushwood color of their coats. Or, the name could refer to an obsolete word in Japanese, which describes the Shiba’s small size. Typically, these ideas are combined to explain the origin of the breed’s name. Sometimes, Shiba Inu is translated as “little brushwood dog.” The Shiba Inu nearly went extinct in Japan due to World War II; however, they were brought back in the years following the war. Today, the Shiba is the most popular companion dog in Japan.
Some words commonly used to describe the Shiba Inu’s temperament are charming, faithful, keen, alert, confident, and fearless. They are agile and quick like cats, and if you have ever had a cat as a pet, you may notice some similarities in the pets’ temperaments. Shiba’s jumping skills and energy make them great companions for hiking and play. In general, Shibas tend to be very clean pets and take personal grooming seriously. They are typically easy to housetrain and have a distaste for soiling their personal space, due to how highly they value hygiene. Shibas can be quite independent and do not always want human affection. While they enjoy being around humans, they do not always need human affection.
Shibas tend to be very intelligent pets. It is easy to teach them to do tricks and respond to a variety of commands. As intelligent animals, they are very observant of their surroundings. They have great memories and can tell if something is out of place or if there is a stranger around their home. These traits can make a Shiba a great watch dog. While they tend to be quiet and bark infrequently, they will let their humans know when there is something wrong or activity to be concerned about. Shibas are dogs with big personalities, and could even be described as clowns.
While independence, intelligence, and energy are great traits, there are some disadvantages to having a pet Shiba with these characteristics. Since they are such intelligent dogs, they tend to get bored very easily. If left alone in a backyard, they can easily figure out how to burrow under or use their agility to jump over a fence. They are capable of squeezing through small holes and figuring out how to undo a leash. Indoors, a bored Shiba can easily jump up onto a counter and tear apart items left laying around. Young Shibas in particular have tons of energy and are more likely to make a mess or escape from your yard.
Shibas can use their intelligence to outsmart a weak willed owner. They can easily remember what they are capable of getting away with and what they will be punished for. If they sense that a human gives in to whining or moping, they will whine and mope to get what they want or get out of something they would rather not do (such as wearing a collar or harness). Shibas are also very particular about being touched. While it can be great that they have a cat-like independent personality and do not always need to be given attention, they are quite cat-like when it comes to being touched as well. This can make grooming and clipping a Shiba’s nails very difficult. It can also make visits to the vet a challenge. Finally, Shiba Inus can be stubborn and competitive, especially around other dogs.
Shiba Inus make great pets; however, an owner must be patient and persistent when raising a young Shiba. It may be difficult, but it will pay off with years of love and happiness with a canine friend.
- Shiba Inu – American Kennel Club
- Shiba Inu Guide – Animal Planet
- Shiba Inu Personality – Good, Bad, & Quirky
- Shiba Inu Temperament
- History and Tradition of the Japanese Shiba Inu
- National Shiba Club of America
- Association of Japanese Shiba Inu
- Shiba Inus
- Shiba Inu Canada – History of the Shiba Inu
- About the Shiba Inu
- National Shiba Inu Rescue
- Colorado Shiba Inu Rescue