Shiba Inu, Physical characteristics, History, Behviour, Health, Grooming and maintenance

Physical characteristics of the Shiba Inu

The Shiba Inu is a small, well-proportioned dog with a sturdy structure, good bone, and well-muscled. He looks a lot like a miniature Akita Inu. The head presents a broad forehead, well-developed cheeks, a rather accentuated stop, a straight muzzle, a black nose; the flesh-colored truffle is allowed in white subjects. The muzzle is moderately thick, not too long, pointed. The eyes are quite small, slightly triangular, set wide apart, and dark brown. The ears are small, triangular, square, and tilted slightly forward. The withers are high, the back straight and short. The limbs are straight and well developed. The tail is set high, thick, and carried above the back, strongly curled in the shape of a sickle.

Coat: hard and straight, with a soft and thick undercoat.

Color: black and tan, red and white, sesame (an equal mixture of white and black hairs), red sesame (background of red hairs mixed with black hairs).

Size: 39.5 to 36.5 cm

Weight: 6 to 10 kg


Origins and history

Its region of origin is the mountainous area located in central Japan. We do not know his ancestors with certainty. In Japan, the breed has been protected since 1936. Not very widespread in France a few years ago, the Shiba Inu is a sought-after dog today.

Character and aptitudes

He is a very active little hunting dog, always on the move, friendly with everyone. He generally gets along well with other dogs and is not a problem for the house cat. In Europe, The Shiba Inu is mostly a companion and show dog, but in reality, it is a very good hunter of hares, foxes, and even bears, despite its small size. He is an excellent watchdog. Cheerful and friendly, he loves to play and is a very good companion for children. He is not very obedient and tends to be independent, a bit like a “dog-cat”. It will be necessary to ensure a sustained education during its first year.


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

This doggie has the bad reputation of not being very affectionate, but this will depend above all on the education received and the bond created with the members of his social group.


Despite his very independent temperament, this dog will not be against a game if he considers it to be of interest.

He will love to play with young and old, especially if these games bring him mental and olfactory expenditure.


Here again, his character will vary depending on the education he has received from an early age as well as the good response to his spending needs.

The Shiba dog will be able to enjoy moments of tranquility, but only if his needs are met. If it doesn’t, then it can turn and veer in all directions until someone designs to give it the attention it needs.


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

Unfortunately, his independent and sometimes stubborn temperament may suggest that he is not that much. And yet, he will be able to show his great qualities if he perceives meaning in the proposed interactions.


His hunting instinct is highly developed and can sometimes be disarming on a walk. The Shiba Inu puppy will have to be taught the notions of renunciation and recall very early on to guarantee his safety and the tranquility of his masters during walks.

His strong instinct will sometimes be incompatible with letting go everywhere. His masters will then have to be vigilant.

Fearful/suspicious of strangers:

The independence of the Shiba dog is such that it can be fierce towards strangers. Very suspicious of strangers, this dog does not easily trust anyone.

This character trait also allows him to be a good warning guard.


The small Japanese dog is, like many of its primitive cousins, very independent. However, he will greatly appreciate the presence of his masters even if he will show few signs of affection.


Endures Loneliness:

His independent and cuddle-less temperament might mean that this sturdy little dog accepts loneliness without flinching, and yet he’s not made to be left alone all day.

This dog will need regular stimulation and is not made to sit idle for long hours.

Easy to educate / obedient:

Here is the big black point of the Shiba Inu breed: its docility! It can be very difficult to get the cooperation of this dog. If he does not perceive meaning or consistency in what is asked of him, he does not obey and can therefore be very stubborn.

The educational bases will have to be started from the youngest age of the Shiba Inu puppy and the accent will have to be put in particular on the recall to control his strong instinct of hunting.

Education will certainly have to be firm but always respectful of the principles of positive and benevolent education.


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


His highly developed hunting instinct due in particular to his primitive side (which means that the breed was little changed by humans) makes him a great runaway who will not hesitate to follow a trail without looking back.

The Shiba dog will therefore have to evolve in a fenced and secure environment to avoid having to constantly search for it.


His almost constant need for activity and his reluctance to alone make him a dog that can destroy anything that passes under his nose, just to keep busy.

If this is the case, then questioning will have to be made on the part of his masters to offer him a daily life more suited to his true nature.

Greedy/gluttonous: The gluttony of the Shiba is such that it will be the perfect weapon to obtain satisfaction during the education sessions.


Barker and suspicious of strangers, this cute little dog is certainly not very dissuasive but will be keen to protect his social group and his familiar territory against possible intruders.

First dog:

This magnificent fox dog is particularly elegant, with a very popular physique, but these criteria should not be relied solely on for the adoption of a first dog.

His reluctance to obey coupled with his strong hunting instinct must be aspects to take into account before adoption, and more so for a first adoption.

Living conditions

Given its small size, it adapts well to apartment life as long as it has been out several times a day and can exercise. If these conditions are not applied, they can become destructive and will be miserable. However, he prefers to live in a pavilion with a garden. Its coat is very easy to clean.

Shiba Inu in an apartment:

The Shiba dog will be able to evolve in an apartment if its spending needs are met daily through several outings.

Living in a house with a garden will also suit him, but care will have to be taken to properly fencing and securing the environment to avoid running away.

Very solid and particularly robust, the Shiba Inu can live outdoors but will still appreciate the comfort of a heated house in winter.

The Shiba will require regular trips to fulfill his numerous physical, mental, olfactory, and social demands whether he lives in an apartment, a home, inside, or outdoors.

Need for exercise/athleticism:

The Shiba needs a lot of exercises to be well in his paws and his head. Many activities should be offered to him and several outings per day will be necessary, especially if he lives in an apartment.

The ideal for this Japanese dog will be to follow his master in various sporting activities such as cani-running, on foot, by bike, or on a scooter.

Travel / Ease of Transport:

The small size of the Shiba Inu is ideal for transport, but its lack of docility and impatience can sometimes be a drag on long trips.

Good education and early socialization to the various situations and people he will encounter will be necessary to facilitate transport.


The Shiba Inu and the Cats:

If this little dog grows up with a cat, he will be able to get along very well and live with him. On the other hand, beware of his very developed hunting instinct with cats he does not know.

The Shiba Inu and other dogs:

The Shiba Inu is not known for its great sociability but if socialization is offered early and intelligently to the Shiba Inu puppy, it will get along well with its congeners and may even cohabit with them.

Be careful though with whole males who might not find common ground.

The Shiba Inu and the children:

Very protective of his family, the Shiba will get along wonderfully with the children who constitute his social group with whom he will enjoy playing.

Be careful, however, to respect the rules of life and the dog’s warning signs to guarantee everyone’s safety.

The Shiba Inu and the Elderly:

This energetic and mischievous dog is not a good match for sedentary persons. He will need to go out several times a day, whether it is snowing, raining, or windy, and especially to be stimulated regularly and educated with firmness.


Resistant / robust:

Rustic dog, the Shiba is solid and does not suffer from any particular disease.

Tolerates heat:

The Shiba will tolerate heat but must nevertheless be able to hydrate continuously and rest in the shade.

Withstands the cold:

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

Tendency to gain weight:

The gluttony of the Shiba dog has its advantages for education but should not, all the same, become excessive at the risk that this doggie suffers from being overweight.

Care should be taken to provide him with quality food and meals at fixed times and not self-service throughout the day. We will also avoid giving him food outside of his meals (except a few treats for his education).

Frequent illnesses:

Very strong, the Shiba Inu is rarely sick. However, he may be prone to skin allergies and suffer from hip dysplasia or dislocation of the kneecap.

Grooming and maintenance

The positive point of the Shiba Inu dog is that its maintenance is minimal. It is self-cleaning and therefore does not need to be groomed.

Despite its thick fur, the Shiba will only need regular brushing to ensure the beauty and cleanliness of its coat.

Hair loss:

Outside the molting periods, hair loss is moderate but continuous.

In spring and autumn, the molt seems impressive since it loses its hairs literally in bundles. The frequency of brushing should then be daily.

What do you think?

Written by Sammy

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