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Shiba Inu Dog Breed… Everything You Need to Know at a Glance!

The Shiba Inu Dog Breed gets a lot of love in Japan, where he is one of the most popular pet dogs. He is one of the six native breeds of Japan, the other dogs being: Akita Inu, Kishu Inu, Hokkaido, Kai, Shikoku, and Shinshu Shiba.


He is a small dog but not too small. He was initially bred to be a hunting dog and still has a strong prey drive. He can be ruthless when hunting for small game, and you cannot trust him around small animals such as cats or a pet hamster.  He is more of a companion dog or family dog and is considered a part of the Non-Sporting Group. He has this fox-like look and is as agile as any cat. The Inu has a charming personality and is affectionate towards his human family.

But beware…

Inu Puppies are beyond cute, so only put yourself in a room with one if you are sure you want to make one your own because trying to convince yourself not to adopt one while holding one is probably not going to happen!  But is adopting a Shiba Inu puppy right for you?  Our suggestion is to keep reading and find out!

 Shiba Inu Dog Breed Fast Facts

Country of Origin: Japan

Original Purpose:  Hunting and flushing out small game

Height: 13.5 to 16.5 inches

Weight: 17 to 23 pounds

Dog Breed Classification:  Non-sporting group

Life Span: 12 to 16 years

Origin of the Shiba Inu Dog Breed

The Shiba has been around in Japan for more than a thousand years. It was used as a hunting dog for the most part. The Shiba excelled at hunting small game.

That all…

It changed in the 20th century as Japan became a modern country. Everyone wanted to have a companion dog at home. The Shiba was transformed into a family dog from a hunting dog and declared the “National Treasure of Japan” in 1936.


The Shiba Inu became almost extinct during World War II, which devastated Japan tremendously. Nobody cared about having companions or family dogs at home during that time.

The breed was further driven to extinction by a deadly virus that attacked Japanese dogs in 1952.  After that, a concerted effort was made to save the Shiba Inu. The government encouraged breeders to develop a more robust version of the Shiba, using the mountain dogs from the north.

Shiba in the USA

The breed was brought to the United States in 1954 but only made an impression on the public in the 1990s. The American Kennel Club recognized the Shiba Inu in 1993.  The Shiba is a reasonably popular breed in the United States. But it is in Japan where he is a folk hero.

Physical Characteristics

The Shiba is a big dog among small breeds – the male can reach a height of 16.6 inches, and the female can be 15.5 inches tall at the shoulder level. The male may weigh up to 23 pounds, and the female up to 17 pounds.


The Shiba is a robust and muscular dog with a compact body structure. In many ways, he reminds you of a smaller version of the Akita, the most famous Japanese dog breed.

He has a fox-like look and moves with a cat’s smoothness. His eyes are dark and small, and his ears perked up. He has a high-set curled tail, much like a Spitz breed.


The Shiba has a thick double coat with a soft undercoat and a coarse topcoat. The coat colors include Black and Tan, Orange-Red, Sesame, or Urajiro. His coat is smooth and shiny and a big part of his appeal.


The Shiba Inu does not require much grooming. Just give his coat a good brushing once a week and bathe him once a month. This is a low-maintenance pet, unlike some other small breeds we know.

Personality and Temperament

The Shiba Inu Dog Breed is suspicious by nature. While loyal to their owners, they are wary of strangers and always alert. He has a powerful bark, which can go a great distance.

You can trust your Inu to let out that the fearsome “Shiba Scream” should be noticed by a burglar or an armed intruder approaching your house.  He is bold and fearless and does not hesitate to take on humans or dogs much more significant than him.

Be warned…

Shiba Inu tend to be escape artists…The call of the wild often attracts this intelligent, independent dog. You can’t trust him not to jump over the fence or escape by digging underneath it.  It would be best always to have him on a leash when you take him out for a walk. Otherwise, he will make a run for it. And he is fast!

Potential Health Problems

Shiba Inu is a healthy breed of dog. Like all small breeds, he has an excellent life expectancy of 12 to 16 years. That’s pretty good in dog years. But like all dog breeds, even the Inu is vulnerable to specific health issues.

This is not to say

Every Shiba Inu will get any or all of the health problems listed below, but as a dog owner, you should be aware of them. Shiba Inu is susceptible to the following health issues…

Fortunately, none of these health issues are life-threatening by any chance. But these are recurring problems, so their treatment can be expensive.  As you know, vet bills these days can be pretty high. This is why we here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now will a pet insurance policy be suitable for everyone?

No, probably not.  But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Bella G. December 18, 2020, 8:58 am

    Is this dog good with other dogs?

  • Bella G. December 18, 2020, 8:59 am

    Is he good with other dogs?

    • Heskii January 25, 2021, 6:42 pm

      I have a 5 mth old puppy and based on what other owners have said and my own experience here is what I’ve learned:
      My dog loves to play with other dogs, but it is very important to socialise this breed because as you know puppies don’t always have the best manners, and when Shibas are affronted by another dog they can get aggressive.

      My dog likes to nip at dogs faces and many dogs do not like that. One grumble from another dog and my dog gets snarly. They can also be bad for resource guarding so you must be careful when feeding or giving treats to other dogs.
      Training is key. These dogs like to be the boss.

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