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Japanese Shiba Inu

Other names: Japanese small size dog

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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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

    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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