The Shiba Inu is a popular companion dog breed known for its foxlike features and Japanese origin. Its fiery and strong-willed personality has made it not only the most popular dog breed in Japan, but also one of the most highly sought-after dogs in the world.

Origins of the Shiba Inu

Shiba Inus have been around since 300 B.C. in what is now Japan. They are one of the six dog breeds native to the country. The other Japanese dog breeds are Shikoku, Kai, Hokkaido, Kishu, and Akita.

Although there are many theories on what Shiba Inus are named after, "shiba" means "brushwood" and "inu" means dog. Some believe that the Shiba Inu is named after brushwood for their reddish coat, while others believe that the breed is named after the brushwood in the mountains where they used to hunt. Other theories suggest that the ancient meaning for the word "shiba" refers to the small size of the Shiba Inu dog breed.

In Ancient Japan, Shiba Inus were originally bred to hunt birds and small animals.

During World War II, however, many of these dogs died. By the end of the war, the breed was almost extinct. In order to protect the breed from extinction, Shiba Inus were brought to the countryside to breed and interbreed. Thanks to these efforts, the Shiba Inu is here today.

Nowadays, the Shiba Inu is the most popular dog breed in Japan. The breed is also very popular overseas. The first Shibas arrived in the USA in the 1950s, and then gained recognition by the American Kennel Club in 1993. According to the 2018 AKC Most Popular Breed list, the Shiba Inu is ranked as the 44th most popular dog breed.

Physical characteristics of the Shiba Inu


The Shiba Inu is famous for its foxlike features. They have triangular, deep set eyes and ears that are pointy and upright. Their muzzles, which are also rather foxlike, are pointy and on the smaller side.


Of the six Japanese dog breeds, the Shiba Inu is the smallest. As it was originally bred as a hunting dog, the breed has an athletic and muscular body. This gives them impressive agility and nimbleness.


The Shiba Inu has a thick double coat which comes in four different color variants: orange-red, urajiro (white), black and tan, and sesame (red coat with black tips). While the outer coat is stiff, the undercoat is soft and silky. This double coat allowed them to stay warm in the Japanese mountains when they were still hunters.

Cute little Shiba Inu dog sitting on floor at home

The Shiba Inu's personality

Shiba Inus are the most popular dog breed in Japan, not just for their foxy looks, but for their bold and spirited personality.

The Japanese describe this breed's personality as kaani-i (spirited and bold), ryosei (good-natured), and soboku (alert).

These expressive pups are known to be one of the most charming and loyal dog breeds. They make excellent watch dogs and companions. If well-trained and socialized from a young age, they could get along with children and other dogs. However, the Shiba Inu is not easy to train. While they are intelligent dogs, Shiba Inus are freethinking and independent. The breed is also very possessive. Make sure to put away your Shiba Inu's favorite toys away when other dogs or children come over. This will prevent the Shiba Inu from guarding his possessions and fighting with others.

This breed is energetic and playful. To keep them happy and healthy, they need to go for walks and exercise daily. However, it is very important to train your Shiba Inu to be leashed. As they were bred to hunt in the past, it is in their nature to chase and hunt. Although this breed is not fond of being restrained, keeping it leashed will prevent it from running off.

It is important to ensure that your Shiba Inu has a fenced backyard where they can run around and play. Make sure to always keep your eyes on the breed. When left unattended with open doors, Shiba Inus are known to try to escape.

Health and grooming


The Shiba Inu has a high tendency to shed. It is, therefore, recommended to comb them weekly. When the breed is shedding heavily, it should be brushed more often. It is also best to bathe them every once in a while or whenever they get dirty. While grooming, check for signs of infections or inflammations. This will help to detect health problems early.


A Shiba Inu's teeth should be brushed daily or a few times a week.


Shiba Inus should have their nails trimmed once or twice a month. Do not hesitate to ask your local vet or groomer for tips on how to safely trim your dog's nails.


This breed is prone to obesity. It is important to measure out their food to prevent them from overeating.

Common health issues

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Epilepsy
  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Chylothorax

Life span

If a Shiba Inu is given proper care and has a healthy lifestyle, it could live up to 16 years.

The Shiba Inu in pop culture

One of the most popular Shiba Inus became famous thanks to the "Doge" Internet meme trend which was popularized in 2013. The original meme featured a picture of Kabosu (かぼす), a female Shiba from Japan, with cute phrases written in broken English surrounding her head.

Many Shiba Inus have also become famous thanks to Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube. Some of the most followed Shiba Inus on the Internet include Marutaro, Mari, and Bodhi. Bodhi is a famous menswear model that makes around $15,000 a month. Another very popular Shiba Inu is Shiba. She became an internet sensation in 2013 when a video of her went viral.

Japanese films about Shiba Inus:

  • Shiba Park (2019)
  • Yôjû mameshiba (2009)
  • Sword of the Stranger (2007)

Shiba Inus on Yummypets

If you would like to know more about this breed, take a look at the Yummypets Shiba Inu dog breed page. There you'll find hundreds of photos of this breed posted by our fellow Yummypals, as well as a list of Shiba Inu owners on Yummypets. It's a great way to get to know fellow Shiba Inu owners or to learn more about the breed by people who own them themselves.

Source: AKC, My First Shiba, Chewy Pet Central, Wikipedia (Doge meme)

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    Sofija K Hai thanks for information