Shiba Inu Information


As the official Japanese national treasure, the Shiba Inu is a charming companion dog with a lively personality, big attitude, and playful sense of humor. Occasionally mistook for a fox with its distinctive appearance, the Shiba Inu is an active animal who loves to hike, walk, and run with their human families. Since the adorable look of the Shiba Inu often causes owners to purchase the dogs without any clear understanding of what it takes to own one, read on to find out a full breed description of the Shiba Inu and determine whether it is the right match for your household.

Shiba Inu
Basic Info
NameShiba Inu
Other NameJapanese Shiba Inu, Japanese Small Size Dog, Shiba Ken, Shiba
Size Type Small Dog Breeds
Breed Group Non-Sporting Breeds
Life Span12 - 15 years
TemperamentAlert, Confident, Charming, Fearless, Faithful, Keen
Height13.5 to 16.5 inches
Weight17 to 23 lbs
ColorsBlack & Tan, Black Sesame, Sesame, Red, Red Sesame
Puppy Price Average $750 - $1000 USD

Shiba Inu

Physical description

Body Type

As a rather small, compact dog breed, the Shiba Inu has a proportional fox-like head with a rounded muzzle that has a defined stop and tapers slightly downwards toward the nose. Along with the black tight lips and nose, the breed has dark deep-set eyes that are slanted to nearly be triangular in shape. The erect ears are also triangular and small to be in proportion with the rest of the Shiba Inu’s body. The front legs are perfectly straight, the muscular hindlegs are slightly curved, and the fluffy tail is high-set to curl gently over the back. The male dogs typically have a shoulder height between 14 and 16 inches with a weight of 18 to 25 pounds; however, the female Shiba Inu is normally smaller from 13 to 15 inches tall and weighs from 15 to 20 pounds.


The Shiba Inu’s coat comes in an array of color variations, including red, red with black overlay, black with tan markings, sesame with red markings, or cream with a buff or gray undercoat. According to the breed standard, the dogs should have noticeable markings on the cheeks, sides of the muzzle, throat, underbelly, and chest areas. In some Shiba Inu, there may also be a splattering of white on the legs, above the eyes, or on the very tip of the tail.


With a thick double coat, the Shiba Inu possesses a stiff, straight, and coarse naturally waterproof overcoat with short to medium length that is around one to one and a half inches in length. Beneath the topcoat, the dogs have a dense and soft undercoat that serves to protect the Shiba Inu from temperatures that are well below the freezing point.

Good with Kids
Cat Friendly
Dog Friendly
Hypoallergenic  No


Grooming needs for the Shiba Inu are mostly minimal as the dogs possess a very clean short-haired coat that is relatively easy to groom. It is generally recommended that Shiba owners brush the dogs with a firm bristle brush at least once a week to remove the dead hair. As a seasonally heavy shedder, the dogs will experience the heaviest shedding during the seasonal changes, particularly before the summer begins. Although the shedding can be a nuisance, it is never advisable to shave or cut the coat of a Shiba Inu because the fur is necessary as protection from both hot and cold climate conditions. Daily brushing throughout these heavy seasons will instead be the wise choice to temper the problem.


Recent DNA research has verified that the Shiba Inu is among one of the oldest dog breeds currently in existence, dating back to the 3rd century B.C. As the smallest of the Asian spitz-type dog breeds native to Japan, the agile dog is closely related to the Kishu Inu, Akita Inu, and Shikoku Inu.

Due to its smaller size, the Shiba Inu was originally bred to hunt and flush small game, including birds and rabbits. As with many other breeds, the Shiba Inu was sadly almost wiped off the map to extinction during World War II from an immense food shortage and post-war epidemic of distemper.

However, after the bombing raids and battles ceased, the three remaining bloodlines of the dog were combined to produce the Shiba Inu as it is known today. Once the first Japanese breed standard for the Shiba Inu was composed in 1934, the breed was nationally recognized as a Natural Monument of Japan through the Cultural Properties Act in 1936 by Nihon Ken Hozonkai and the Assocation for the Preservation of the Japanese Dog. It was not until 1954 when a family in the armed services brought the first Shiba Inu to the United States and then another two decades before the first recorded litter was born in America. Officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1992 in the Non-Sporting Group, the Shiba Inu is now primarily a friendly companion in Japan and abroad.


Considered to be highly confident, alert, brave, bold, loving, kind, trainable, and playful, the Shiba Inu often is a wonderful companion that bonds closely with their handler. Since the dogs are unusually fastidious and clean in nature while always trying to avoid puddles, Shiba Inu are relatively easy to housebreak.

Usually well-adjusted to both young and old children, other dogs, and cats, the Shiba Inu should not be trusted alone with smaller pets, including rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, rodents, and small birds, because of their natural hunting instincts. Although not normally an excessive barker, one of the breed’s distinguishing characteristics is the “Shiba scream,” in which the dog will produce a loud high-pitched scream when provoked or upset.

The Shiba Inu is often described as an undemanding dog that will adapt to most circumstances without fuss, as long as he or she receives a daily walking. Since it is a very active breed, the dogs are usually healthier and happier when they engage in regular exercise. With an astounding amount of endurance, the Shiba Inu also loves to work out in a vigorous game in a large yard or go for a run in a fenced-in area.

Interesting Shiba Inu Facts

  • The Shiba Inu usually lives a long and healthy life averaging a lifespan from 12 to 15 years; nonetheless, the oldest known Shiba named Pusuke died in December of 2011 at the old age of 26 years and was crowned the oldest dog alive at the time.
  • When the Shiba Inu Puppy Cam debuted on October 7, 2008 for a live-streamed show about six newborn dogs, the breed received a huge boost in popularity. In fact, within just the first week, more than three million viewers worldwide spent 1.2 million hours watching the Shiba Inu puppies.
  • With the name translating from Japanese to mean “Little Brushwood Dog,” some believe that the Shiba Inu was named for its destiny hunting in the wild shrubs or because the most common coat color is a reddish shade similar to shrubs.