Shiba Inus

Letters From Us Archive

About Shiba Inus

An Overview Of Shiba Inus

According to the American Kennel Club, Shiba Inus have “a spirited boldness, a good nature, and an unaffected forthrightness, which together yield dignity and natural beauty.” They are alert and agile, have an independent spirit and are wonderful companions and watchdogs. Bred to flush birds on the hillsides of Japan, they are athletic, muscular and enduring.

Their independent nature is sometimes described as feline-like aloofness. But, this coolness is reserved for strangers. They are great family dogs and, when raised with children, happy to be kiddy magnets.

The breed standard Shiba height ranges from 13.5 – 16.5 inches, with males are on the taller end of the range. Weight varies with height, up to about 25 pounds. The dogs are very proportionate, with a height to length ratio of 10 to 11. The average Shiba life span is 12 – 15 years. And the dogs look exactly like the photo above.

For more information on Shiba breed characteristics and behaviors, please visit:

Shiba Breed History

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An Ancient Breed

The Shiba Inu is one of the 14 ancient dog breeds, those with the fewest genetic differences from wolves. Researchers today suspect that the ancestors of the Shiba migrated with the first humans to Japan about 7000 BCE. In the third century BCE, a new group of dogs, accompanied by still more humans, arrived in Japan. Interbreeding between the new arrivals and the first group of dogs eventually produced the Shiba Inu breed.

The smallest of six native Japanese breeds, Shibas were trained to flush birds for hunters in the dense undergrowth of Japan’s rugged mountains. Due to wartime bombings, and outbreaks of distemper, Shibas almost went extinct after World War II. However, they recovered to become the number-one companion dog in Japan, a position they still hold.

In 1936 the Shiba, along with the other indigenous Japanese breeds, was placed under government protection. Since that time they have all been regarded as “national monuments”. The first documented Shiba in the U.S. was in 1954, and the breed received regular AKC classification in 1997.

The derivation of the word “Shiba” is uncertain. It may mean “small” or “red” or “brushwood”. Small refers to the size of the dog. Red is for the breed’s predominant color. But it also describes the brushwood growing in the dog’s native hunting regions. So, you can’t go wrong if you refer to a Shiba as a “little red brushwood” dog. The meaning of “Inu” is well known. It means “dog” and is commonly omitted when referring to the breed.

There are several very good articles on the web detailing the Shiba breed history. Two of them are:

For an excellent summary of Shibas, including their physical and behavioral characteristics, health, history, temperament and other qualities, please visit the website of the National Shiba Club of America:

Siidney and Riley

Do Your Research

Are You Right For A Shiba

Or, maybe, another breed? To build a successful relationship with any dog, just do a little homework ahead of time. If you’re interested in a purebred, first learn about the characteristics and behaviors of several breeds. Then choose one that fits your lifestyle and you the lifestyle of the breed.

But before selecting a purebred, please consider a mixed-breed dog. They make terrific companions, too, and there are millions of them who need good homes.

For the benefits of having a mixed breed dog as your next best friend, please visit this site, among others:

Finding Your Dog

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Resources For Adoption

Once you’ve decided on the type of dog that’s right for you and you for him or her, all that’s left to do is to find The One.

In selecting your companion, please do not support puppy mills, either directly or indirectly. The deplorable conditions and just plain horrors of those places are gut wrenching.

For documented examples of puppy mills in action, please visit the following site, among others:

An excellent source of purebred dogs is adoption through both rescue organizations and shelters. To find a rescue organization near you, please visit:

Another resource for finding purebreds is the American Kennel Club breeder information page:

To find your next mixed breed dog, please stop by your local shelter. You’ll save a life. A good shelter should be able to match you with the right dog, for both you and the dog. To find a shelter near you, please visit:

Just one more thing. Unless you intend to be a breeder or to show your dog professionally, please spay or neuter your new friend. 3 – 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters each year. Most of the deaths are due simply to overpopulation.