Shiba Inu

Faithful, affectionate, independent and discreet


78 th

Most popular breed







Family dog


Short hair




5 to 22lbs

Origins of the Shiba Inu

A breed dating from the neolithic period

The Shiba Inu is one of the oldest dog breeds and comes from Japan. The first trace of bones from the breed date from 8000 BC and measured between 36 and 48 centimeters. Other bones belonging to two large skeletons of 57cm have been found in northern Honshu. These bones are the remains of dogs that belonged to the Jomon people.

Despite the discovery of these bones, we still do not know the exact origin of the Shiba Inu. Researchers believe that they were imported from China or Korea.

The different crosses of the breed

In 200 BC, Japan was invaded by a people coming from the West who chased the Jomon people to the north. This new people brought with it many skills, such as agriculture and the creation of iron and bronze weapons. This people also brought with it its dogs. It was a type of dog recognizable by its erect ears and curved tail, both features which are also found in the Shiba Inu, as well as in the Samoyed. These new dogs apparently reproduced with those of the Jomon, thus creating a new breed.

playing shiba inu

The first Europeans landed in Japan in the sixteenth century through Portuguese trading messions. This was the first great period of cultural opening to Europe for Japan.

The Europeans came to Japan with their dogs, mostly terriers and mastiffs. The highest concentration of European dogs was thus found in port cities, the place of residence of their masters. Eventually, these dogs mixed with local dogs, which created a new breed. At the time, this new breed was very popular with the ruling class for its ability to hunt wild boar and deer.

The first sketches of these dogs date back to the nineteenth century. They are the work of Diebold, a Dutch doctor. When Japan, led by the United States and Europe, entered the industrial era, the country came out of its isolation. Many foreign dogs then arrived on the archipelago, threatening the ancient Japanese breeds with numerous crossbreeds. Only dogs that were located in the mountains or other remote areas preserved their pedigree.

Small anecdote : Dog fights were common at the time. To increase the strength and size of the dogs, Akitas were crossed with Mastiffs. In the 20th century, Japan made every effort to save and preserve its culture. Japanese dogs at this time became real treasures. Some breeders have made every effort to restore the original appearance of these breeds.

The purebred Shiba Inu

This mission was led by Dr. Saito, who was famous for his travels throughout Japan to study the last remaining “purebred” Japanese dogs. The breeds were thus named according to their province of origin. The Shiba is an exception to this, since it comes from the mountains of Nagano. Indeed, the origin of the “Shiba” name is a mystery, about which there are many theories. Some think it means “light brown dry brush”, which would be related to its function as a hunter or the color of its coat. Others think that, in ancient Japanese, “shiba” meant “small”, which would refer to its size.

There were three types of Shiba in Japan, located in different areas of the country:

  • The Shiba Shinshu came from central Japan, in Nagano. It was small, with a red coat, round eyes and a black face.
  • The Mino Shiba came from Gifu, near Nagano. It was smaller and also had a red coat but with almond eyes, triangular ears and a straight tail.
  • Finally, the Shiba San’In came from South West Japan. It was of medium height, of a total of about 45 cm, and its dress was spotted black.

However, most Shibas were crossed with European breeds. It is thus difficult to find a true original Shiba.

In 1928, Saito discovered a red Shiba with a curled tail in the Gumma Mountains. The dog was called Jokkoku and became very popular, to the point that many Japanese people began to go into the mountains to acquire this type of Shiba Inu. The same year, Saito decided to create his own club with a closed membership, the Nihonken Honzonkai. His club was supported by the authorities and in 1936 the Shiba Inu received national symbol status.

In 1932, the first dog show was organized by the club. The various dog shows that followed allowed for the selection of several Shiba Inu to organize the reproduction of the breed. In 1948 a male named Naka Go Akashisho was born. It would eventually become the founder of the Shiba Inu breed that we know today.

There used to be four major lineages of dogs, but the Second World War and the outbreak of 1959 resulted in the deaths of many dogs. This forced the breeders to cross several lineages. Nonetheless, the Japanese Shiba remains different from the Shiba of other countries. The “Nippo” type is mainly represented in Japan. As such, different countries have different standards depending on the size and color of the dogs.

In the United States, the Shiba Inu was first imported in 1954, and the first locally born dog was recorded in 1973. For France, the Shiba Inu was introduced in the 1970s and it is still quite rare.

Characteristics of the Shiba Inu

black shiba inu

French actress Catherine Deneuve takes her Shiba Inu, named Jack, everywhere with her.

The Shiba Inu’s qualities

The Shiba Inu is a loyal and affectionate dog. It is attentive but independent. This dog can usually be toilet trained very quickly. It can be virtually autonomous and toilet trained by the age of eight weeks.

The Shiba Inu has an easygoing personality. It adapts easily to apartment living.

This discreet and quiet dog adapts very well to children and may even share in their play time. The Shiba generally gets along with cats very well.

The Shiba Inu’s shortcomings

The Shiba Inu can be very stubborn. When training it, be firm and patient. It is said that the Shiba Inu cannot be trained, but rather tamed. It also has a rather bad memory.

We should not forget that the Shiba Inu was originally a hunting dog. Cohabitation with small animals can therefore be difficult. It is the same for other dogs, with which relationships can be complicated, especially if they are male.

Physical Characteristics of the Shiba Inu

During the period from 1898 to 1912, imported dogs, such as English Settlers or Pointers, were often crossed with the Shiba. As such, purebred Shibas are very rare. In 1928, hunters and scholars wanting to preserve the original breed began the work to preserve the few remaining pure lineages.

In 1934, the first unified standard was established and, following the 1937 declaration of the Shiba as a “natural monument” the breed was raised up and improved to become the one we know today.

General aspect of the Shiba Inu

It is a short breed, measuring between 37 and 40 cm, and can weigh up to 10 kg. It is well-proportioned with a well-developed bone structure and muscles.

The ratio between its height and withers to body length is of 10:11.


  • Skull: broad forehead
  • Stop: nose with a slight furrow
  • Nose: black
  • Muzzle: moderately thick, it shrinks as it nears the tip
  • Lips: tight
  • Jaws and teeth: strong teeth with scissor bite
  • Cheeks: well-developed
  • Eyes: fairly small, triangular and dark
  • Ears: rather small, triangular, well pitched and slightly tilted forward


The Shiba Inu has a thick, strong and well-proportioned neck in relation to its head and body.


  • Back: straight and strong
  • Kidneys: broad and muscular
  • Chest: well-descended with slightly sprung ribs
  • Belly: well-tucked in
  • Tail: thick and curved, the tail is set high and carried firmly curled or bent. The tip nearly reaches the hocks when extended downward.
  • Shoulders: Slightly oblique shoulder blades
  • Elbows: Held close to the body
  • Thighs: long
  • Legs: short but well-developed
  • Hock: very strong and thick


Effeminate males or masculine females
Over or underbites
Missing teeth
Cowardly dog

Not pricked ears
Drooping or short tail
The males should have two fully descended testicles into their scrotum.

shiba inu in the snow

I am quite stubborn but still remain a lovely dog! And mom and dad are happy with me every day!


Coat, Color and Care for the Shiba Inu

Coat of the Shiba Inu

Its outer coat is hard and straight, and its undercoat is soft and dense. On its tail, the hair is slightly longer.

Color of the Shiba Inu

The colors of its coat can be red, black and tan, sesame, black sesame, or red sesame.

Sesame is a color that evenly blends black and white hairs. Black sesame has more black than white hairs.

Red sesame mixes a red colored background with black hair.

All colors must show the "urajiro", namely whitish hair on the sides of the muzzle.

Care for the Shiba Inu

Brushing once a week. Baths from time to time.

shiba inu

The Shiba Inu can smile. They flatten their ears and smile. You should know that this facial expression is exclusively reserved for moments of pure happiness!

Size and weight of the Shiba Inu

Size: 37 to 40 cm at the withers
Weight : 9 to 11+ kg


The Shiba Inu has a robust health without any particular identified problem.

A good dog for children?

Although it enjoys quiet environments, it is nonetheless a very good companion for children and will be happy to play with them.

Is the Shiba easy to train?

The Shiba can be quite stubborn. You must be patient but firm with it, because it is not easy to train. It is not trained, but rather tamed. It does not have a very good memory either.

Pictures of Shiba Inu

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