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Shiba Inu

Country/Date of Origin: Japan/300 BC

A native Japanese breed, the Shiba Inu looks like the typical Spitz type Northern breed. It is not, however, part of the family that includes the Husky, Samoyed and Keeshond. It is more closely related to the Chow Chow, Shar Pei and Dingo. Shibas are a multi-purpose hunting dog. They are quick enough to chase down most four legged game and agile enough to snatch an ascending bird right out of the air. In the 1950s a combination of World War II and distemper almost wiped out this ancient breed. However, breeders in Japan and abroad have made this little hunter quite popular. It has been registered with the American Kennel Club since 1993 and, in a testimonial to its appeal, two years later has surpassed more than half the long established breeds in popularity.

Other Names Body Type Personality Coat Health Concerns

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Brushwood Dog

AKC Group: Non-Sporting

Breed Club: National Shiba Club of America

Rescue Club: National Shiba Club of America Rescue

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Body Type:

  • Typical build of the Northern Spitz breeds
  • Height: 13-16 inches (at shoulder)
  • Weight: 20-30 pounds
  • The thick tail curls over the back and is not altered
  • The ears are small and erect. They are not altered


  • Fiery temperament. Does not get along well with other dogs
  • Bold, independent and aggressive
  • Tends to roam. Looking for something to "hunt"
  • Clean, almost catlike in personal hygiene
  • Not suggested as a children's pet


  • A double coat of medium length that feels almost velvety. The topcoat is stiff and straight. The undercoat is soft and dense. Tail hair is slightly longer and stands out from the body
  • Allowed colors are red, sesame ( a red with recessive black gene that manifests itself as a sooty overlay), and black and tan. In all three colors white markings are required
  • Moderate grooming is required

Health Concerns:

  • May have problems with their teeth
  • Should be checked for hip dysplasia
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Tasty Tidbits:
  • Shiba Inu in translation means little dog
  • The independent nature of the Shiba Inu makes it very difficult to train. Not suggested for the first time dog owner
  • Very vocal. Will yodel in pleasure on seeing an owner after a separation. Also emits a high pitched scream if it feels frustrated or is unwilling to comply with a command
  • Shibas are regular escape artists
  • They are intensely curious and want to investigate the world around them. Turn your back one second and they are off in a flash

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