Japanese Shiba Inu

Other names: Japanese small size dog


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Japanese Shiba Inu

The Japanese Shiba Inu is an independent, mischievous, and very energetic dog. Known for his Asian origin, the Shiba Inu has a unique temperament and overflowing energy, and will bring happiness to young and elderly people. This dog has the physical appearance of a fox and can be as intrepid and smart as his ancestors. Since he constantly demands activity, the Shiba Inu would be the perfect companion for a dynamic and athletic owner, as long as they are ready and patient enough to teach this stubborn dog breed. 

Key facts about the Japanese Shiba Inu

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Temperament :


Size :

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Origins and history

The Shiba Inu is a very ancient dog breed and a native of the mountainous area of central Japan. Nobody knows for sure about his ancestors but it is a safe bet to say that he has the same ancestors as other known Japanese breeds. In Japan, the breed has been protected since 1936 due to crossbreeding with English breeds that were impoverishing his genes. The Shiba (which means "little dog") was originally used for wild boar and fox hunting. It was not until 1985 that the first Shiba was introduced into the UK.

FCI breed nomenclature

FCI Group

Group 5 - Spitz and primitive types


Section 5 : Asian Spitz and related breeds

Physical characteristics of the Japanese Shiba Inu

  • Japanese Shiba Inu
    Japanese Shiba Inu

    Adult size

    Female : Between 14 and 15 in

    Male : Between 15 and 16 in


    Female : Between 13 and 22 lb

    Male : Between 13 and 22 lb

    Coat colour

    Type of coat

    Eye colour



    He is a small, resilient, rustic, foxy-looking dog that is elegant and walks proudly. The bones and muscles are well-developed. With an elegant gait and a beautiful physique, the Shiba Inu walks with great confidence.


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      Without being clingy or fond of hugs, the Shiba is still very attached and loyal to his social group for whom he will be a good protector when needed.

      This dog has a bad reputation for not being very affectionate, but this will mainly depend on the education he receives and the bond created with the members of his social group.

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      Despite his very independent temperament, this dog does not oppose playing as long as he finds it interesting.

      He will love playing with young and elderly people, especially if these games can work his mental and olfactory abilities.

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      His character will vary according to the education he receives at a very young age as well as how well his master deals with his energy expenditure.

      The Shiba can enjoy moments of tranquillity but only if his needs are met. If they aren’t, he won’t be calm until someone gives him the attention he needs.

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      Like many primitive dogs, the so-called ‘fox dog’ is an intelligent, mischievous and cunning animal with great abilities.

      Unfortunately, his independent and sometimes stubborn temperament may suggest that he is not very smart. Yet, he can demonstrate his great skills if he encounters situations that he deems worthy of his interest.

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      His hunting instinct is highly developed but can erode with time. In fact, limiting this instinct through training is necessary in order to guarantee the Shiba’s and his owner’s safety during walks.

      His strong instinct can sometimes lead him astray in open spaces. His master will have to be vigilant.

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      Fearful / wary of strangers

      The Shiba's independence can lead him to be fierce towards strangers. In fact, they are very suspicious of strangers, and don’t trust anyone easily.

      This characteristic allows him to be a good watchdog.

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      This little Japanese dog is, like many of his primitive cousins, very independent. However, he will greatly appreciate the presence of his masters, even if he does not respond with the expected show of affection.

      Behaviour of the Japanese Shiba Inu

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        Tolerates solitude

        His self-sufficient and independent temperament could mean that this little dog does not flinch at solitude, yet he is not meant to be alone all day.

        This dog will need regular stimulation and should not spend long hours being inactive.

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        Easy to train / obedience

        Here is the weakest attribute of the Shiba Inu’s breed: its docility! It can be very difficult to get this dog's cooperation. If he is not interested in doing what is asked of him, he does not obey and can be very stubborn.

        His education will have to start from puppyhood and should focus on controlling his strong hunting instinct.

        Training must be firm while remaining respectful of the principles of positive reinforcement training.

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        This dog will bark easily, but not excessively, which allows him to be a good guard dog.

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        Tendency to run away

        His highly developed hunting instinct (due to his primitive side - which leads us to believe the breed hasn’t been heavily modified by man) makes him a great escape artist who will not hesitate to follow a track without looking back.

        The Shiba will have to grow up in a closed and secure environment if you don’t want to have to go looking for him constantly.

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        His need for permanent activity and his reluctance to remain alone makes him a dog that can destroy everything on his path.

        If this is the case, his master will have to offer him more daily activity to meet his natural needs.

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        Greedy / Gluttony

        The Shiba can be very gluttonous. This is perfect to get good results during his training sessions since he is open to bribes.

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        Guard dog

        Prone to barking and suspicious of strangers, this cute little dog is certainly not very dissuasive but will be committed to protecting his social group and his territory against potential intruders.

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        First dog

        This beautiful fox-dog is particularly elegant, and appreciated for his appearance, but you need to consider other factors before deciding if you want to adopt or buy a Shiba Inu.

        His reluctance to obey along with his strong hunting instinct are aspects to consider before adopting this dog breed.

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          Japanese Shiba Inu in a flat

          The Shiba can live in an apartment if his needs for energy expenditure are met through outdoor activities.

          Life in a house with a garden can also be suitable for him but it will be necessary to maintain a good fence and secure environment to prevent escape.

          Since the Shiba Inu is very robust, he will be able to live outside but will also appreciate the comfort of a warm house in winter.

          In any case, whether he is living in an apartment, in a house, indoors or outdoors, the Shiba will need daily energy expenditure to meet his many physical, mental, olfactory and social needs.

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          Need for exercise / Sporty

          The Shiba needs a lot of exercise to stay in shape. Many outdoor activities will be necessary, especially if he lives in an apartment.

          It is ideal for this Japanese dog to engage in sport activities with his master, for example, running, walking, cycling or scootering.

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          Travelling / easy to transport

          The Shiba’s small size is ideal for moving around but his lack of docility and impatience can sometimes be a problem on long trips.

          A good education and early socialisation are necessary to facilitate transportation.


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            Japanese Shiba Inu and cats

            If this little dog grows up with a cat, he will be able to get along well with cats. However, pay attention to his hunting instinct.

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            Japanese Shiba Inu and dogs

            The Shiba is not known for his great sociability but if he is taught to socialise early in life, the Shiba Inu puppy will get along well with his peers and can even live with them.

            Be careful with males, as they might not always find a common ground.

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            Japanese Shiba Inu and children

            Since he is very protective of his family, the Shiba Inu will get along very well with children who are part of his social group and with whom he will enjoy playing.

            However, put security measures in place to guarantee everybody’s safety.

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            Japanese Shiba Inu and the elderly

            This active and mischievous dog is not compatible with sedentary people. He needs to go out several times a day, rain or shine, in order to regularly stimulate and educate him.



            The price of a Shiba Inu varies according to its origins, age and gender. The average cost for a Shiba dog registered with the Kennel Club is £1470. 

            Regarding the average monthly budget needed to maintain a Shiba, it approaches £30/month depending on the quality of his diet and the care needed to keep him in good health.


            The positive point of the Shiba Inu is that he needs minimal maintenance. He likes to clean himself and therefore does not need constant grooming.

            Despite his thick fur, the Shiba requires only regular brushing to ensure the beauty and cleanliness of his coat.


            Outside moulting periods, hair loss is moderate but nonetheless continuous.

            In spring and autumn, moulting levels are impressive since he loses his hair in bundles. He should be brushed daily.

            Nutrition of the Japanese Shiba Inu

            The Shiba Inu will need nutrients appropriate to his age, weight and especially his physical condition, particularly if he engages with his master in various sports activities.

            The food can be dry or raw according to the means and time available to his master. In any case, do not buy low-quality dry food.

            Finally, the Shiba Inu puppy will benefit from a specific diet that can guarantee good development and growth during the first month of his life.

            Health of the Japanese Shiba Inu

            Life expectancy

            The Shiba lives for about 13 years.

            Strong / robust

            The Shiba is a robust dog so he does not suffer from any particular disease.

            Withstand heat

            The Shiba will tolerate heat but will still need to hydrate himself continuously and rest in the shade.

            Withstand cold

            The soft and thick undercoat of this Japanese dog gives it very good protection against bad weather and extreme living conditions.

            Tendency to put on weight

            The gluttony of the Shiba is beneficial for education purposes but should be minimized to avoid the risk of obesity.

            It will be necessary to ensure quality meals at fixed times of the day. You should also avoid giving him food outside of his mealtimes (with the exception of treats during training).

            Common illnesses

            The Shiba Inu is a very strong dog that is rarely sick. However, he can be affected by skin allergies and suffer from hip dysplasia or dislocation of the patella.

            Frequently asked questions

            Do Shiba Inu like to cuddle?

            How much is a Shiba Inu?

            What type of breed is the Shiba Inu?

            Are Shiba Inus good pets?

            How long does a Shiba Inu live for?

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