Did you know?
All dogs are the descendants of wolves that lived in eastern Asia about 15,000 years ago.
There is honour in being a dog. – Aristotle
Another member of the Spitz family, the Shiba Inu is the oldest native Japanese dog. His history reportedly goes back to the third century B.C.
“Inu” is the Japanese word for dog but the meaning of “Shiba” is somewhat difficult to say with certainty. Some sources say that Shiba is the word for the red bushes that grow in the area where Shiba Inus come from; others say it means “little”.
The Shiba Inu is used to hunt small game although in the past he was bred for hunting large game. Today, his fox-like cunning, and alert, watchful attitude make him an effective guardian of home and family.
Photos displayed courtesy of Karen Hildebrandt, Dukhan Kennels, British Columbia
The Shiba Inu is the smallest of the Japanese dog breeds. Males stand 15.5 inches (39.5 cm) at the shoulder and females are 14.5 inches (36.5 cm). He has a short, straight, waterproof double coat that comes in red, sesame, black and tan, and sometimes cream. All colours except cream have “urajiro” which is a cream coloured marking around the face, chest, and underside of the body. With his all-weather coat, the Shiba can withstand a wide range of temperatures but is best living indoors with his family.
Like all members of the Spitz family, the Shiba carries his tail curled up over his back. The Shiba can make a variety of sounds ranging from a normal bark to almost talking sounds. He is very particular and will clean and groom himself like a cat.
This dog has a confident, friendly, extroverted nature that has made him the most popular pet in Japan. Since he was recognized by the AKC in 1992, the Shiba’s popularity has been growing. Loyal and strongly intuitive, this is a family dog who needs human companionship and not a dog to be left alone for long periods.
Although Shibas are fine with children, a young dog may shy away from frightening situations to which he has not been exposed and so may avoid strange noisy kids. Children must be taught to respect the dog’s boundaries. No animal likes to be pursued or harassed and Shibas do know when they are being teased.
He may look more like a toy stuffed animal, but beware! Small he may be, but the Shiba Inu has a large dog personality in a small dog body! He is fiery, independent, strong-willed, stubborn, and territorial. As an owner, you must be in control. As with any dog, training and socialization is the key.
Training may be a challenge and should begin when he is a puppy. However, the Shiba is highly sensitive to physical discomfort, and overly firm or negative training methods will damage any chance of cooperation. And a Shiba never forgets! Be patient – consistent encouragement, praise and reward-based training are the most successful. Early socialization will help curb same sex dog aggression.
With a high activity level, the energetic and agile Shiba Inu needs lots of exercise and should have a secure fenced yard. The Shiba can never be safely off-leash due to their high prey drive and unfortunately those who are turned loose often meet a premature death by automobile.