Shiba Inu

  • By: Mick Whitefield
  • Time to read: 13 min.

Some dogs can look exceedingly cute and loveable and with the correct homing and love will remain cute and loveable. Some dogs if given free reign within the household can occasionally be like having a mini tornado in your house. One such dog is the Shiba Inu, a very friendly affable breed with huge excitement and low boredom thresholds, thus interaction and good training are a must.

What is a Shiba Inu Dog? This Dog breed originates from Japan and is a small to medium size used originally as a hunting dog. It is one of Japans most popular companion breeds and is now becoming very popular in the USA. Similar in shape (only) to a Husky this is a very cute, active and agile dog that loves play and the outdoors. They are a very charming, confident and loveable dog that will be very loyal to its owners. They make great family dogs as they crave and need attention and will play with the kids for hours or happily sit on the sofa for a cuddle. This is a dog that needs attention, will love training, learning games and tricks. It is not really a dog to be left for hours on its own.

Quick Facts about the Shiba Inu Dog Breed

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Lifespan – How long do Shiba Inu Dogs live for?
They generally live between 13 to 16 years of age.

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Pedigree Class
Yes, accepted by the AKC in the Non-Sporting group

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Height at the Withers
Male dogs 14 to 17 inches 35 to 43cm
Females dogs 13 to 16 inches 33 to 40cm

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Weight of the Shiba Inu
Male dogs up to 23 pounds or 10 ½ kilos
Female dogs up to 17 pounds or 8 kilos


Are Shiba Inu Dogs Hypoallergenic?

Do Shiba Inu dog’s shed hair?
Yes, they shed hair all year round, but are not difficult to groom.

What Does The Shiba Inu Look Like?

Generally having a reddish hue to their soft glossy mid length coat known as Red Sesame but they also come in Cream, Black sesame, Black and Tan and variations of these mixes.

Picture Of Shiba Inu Dogs
Picture of Shiba Inu Dogs

This native Japanese dog has an alert expression, a smooth cadence (bark), and forward facing pointed ears. These characteristics coupled with its generally reddish fur make the Shiba Inu to appear fox-like in the face.

Shiba Inu Face As Fox

In general, Shibas are medium-sized pets. Under 18 inches tall and weigh between 17 and 23 pounds. Male dogs will be closer to twenty-three pounds, females are closer to 17 pounds. 

Shiba Inus are small but athletic pets usually with a good lifespan generally between 13 and 16 years. They enjoy time spent outdoors and can be a welcome addition to any home.

Over the past few decades, this dog has made its way out of Japan and into the homes and hearts of dog lovers all over the world. In particular, Shiba Inus are growing in popularity in the West. And It’s no wonder, these dogs are loyal, energetic, and beautiful looking canines.

General History about Shiba Inu

Shiba Inus are native to Japan and are one of the country’s most popular breed of dogs! Japanese dogs are split into six main breeds. Among these canines, the smallest and oldest is the Shiba Inu.

The name Shiba is thought to mean small. Though this is not entirely clear. Some believe the archaic word Shiba might also mean brushwood which is in reference to the red brushwood trees which match the breed’s red fur. As a result of these theories, the Shiba has been aptly nicknamed the little brushwood dog.

Shiba Inu On Mountain

Like other Japanese dogs, Shiba Inu are of the Spitz dog heritage. They were used as hunting dogs, appearing in drawings and documents as early as 300 b.c. in central Japan, often in the company of Samurai. Shiba Inu were bred to hunt in mountainous terrain they would flush out birds and other small game for hunters to kill and occasionally, this breed would be used to track and hunt wild boar.

In modern times however, Shiba Inu are mostly companion dogs to pet owners in Japan and the United States. Their popularity is spreading as pets into other countries also including India.

The Breeding and Saving of The Shiba Inu Japanese Dog Breeds

Three types of Shiba originally existed. And each of these breeds were named after the place of their birth. The Shinshu Shiba was from the Nagano Prefecture. The Mino Shiba was from the Gifu Prefecture. And the Sanin Shiba was from the mainland in the north eastern region of Japan.

After the events of World War II, the Shiba Inu nearly went extinct. Then later the population of the breeds continued to suffer when distemper, a viral condition for dogs, spread widely in 1952.

The Shiba Inu needed to be saved. 

To do this, the different type of Shiba breeds were interbred. Breeders crossed heavy-boned dogs from mountain ranges of Japan with the light-boned dogs from other parts of the country. Because of these efforts, the Shiba Inu survived.

Now, there is only one breed of Shiba Inu. They have some variation in bone density and color but overall remain similar to one another.

In the years that have followed, Shiba’s have gained an international following. Their popularity grows each year! In the next section, we’ll talk about some of the characteristics of this dog. This way you can see if this is a pet that is meant for you!

Shiba Inu Dog, Characteristics

Shiba Inus are known to have strong personalities. They are bold, independent, and strong-willed canines. This is not a bad temperament to have in a dog, but it does make training more important for this breed.

Shiba Inus tend to be more confident in comparison to other dogs. They also like to stay active so being outdoors with you can be very good to. This said, you can keep them indoors when you want a quiet night in. Inus can be calm in your house, after all they love a cuddle, just make sure you give them plenty of activity on a daily basis.

Shiba Inu With Kid

If you have a smaller living space such as a townhouse or apartment your Shiba should be fine, just make sure they get plenty of exercise. A home is a far better place than a rescue pound for your dog. Shibas are pack oriented and like to stay with their family. They won’t like being left alone and will be happier living inside with their owner.

That said a yard is good to have. Shiba’s can stay outdoors for long periods of time due to the waterproofing nature of their fur. Their all-weather coat protects them in both cold and hot conditions. Your Shiba can happily live outside with a good size kennel and a big enough and safe enough yard with plenty of toys and chews to occupy them.

Shiba Inu Outside

Another characteristic to know about this breed of dog is that they are good at hardy living. If you enjoy outdoor activities such as walking or trekking then this is the dog to take with you.

Shiba Inu’s were bred to withstand mountain conditions. If you want to take them on a camping hike you can. Other outdoor pursuits are recommended as well. A trip to a lake or ocean with your Shiba Inu can be a great experience!

Take a look at the fantastic video below of a girl and her Shiba Inu dog.

A Charming Video from Miss Observation .com

On the whole, Shiba Inu are adventurous and curious dogs, and you need to let them know who is boss early on. As we mentioned, these dogs can be headstrong and stubborn. Sometimes this can result in difficulties when training a Shiba. But if you intervene early and make training a priority this dog breed will show you the utmost loyalty.

Why are Shiba Inu’s so aggressive?

A couple of side notes, watch out for your dog around strangers. Shiba Inus are friendly with strangers, but some Shiba Inus may become reserved or shy around people they do not know. 

We must be clear here, Shiba Inu are not aggressive with humans unless they are under attack, the same as any other dog. They can be aggressive toward other dogs, but when trained properly this is not a problem.

Another thing to bear in mind is that these dogs are inbred hunters and they have an instinctively high prey drive, stray cats or other small animals may fall victim to their extremely quick reactions, other family pets need to be introduced under supervision until you are confident that they will treat them as family.

One of the first dogs that Jan from Top Lapdogs had as a rescue dog was a greyhound and we are fairly certain that he was responsible for next doors cat going missing, Shiba Inu are just as quick at catching prey.

The Shiba Inu Guard Dog

It is the misconception about the Shiba Inu aggression that has drawn people to consider using them as guard dogs.

Because they can appear aggressive toward other dogs and small animals and their natural reserve toward strangers they have gained a reputation as good guard dogs and whilst they can appear aggressive they may well back down when converged upon.

Picking out a Shiba Inu for your Family

When buying a dog, you want to make sure you get a dog that will fit in with your lifestyle at home. If it’s a puppy we would recommend meeting and interacting with one of the dog’s parents.

Do this to ensure that your dog has a temperament and personality you are comfortable with. Pups usually take after their parents and relatives. So try meeting your pups siblings and other family members. This will help you predict how your dog may act a few years down the line.

Shiba Inu Pair

In addition, you want to make sure that you are getting your dog from a reputable breeder. Make sure you talk with the breeder and see the condition of the pup’s at their home. You don’t want a dog littered with health problems.

Buying from a good breeder will help you get a quality Shiba Inu. Shiba Inus are usually healthy, but like all breeds, they’re susceptible to certain health conditions. Not all Shiba Inus will become sick or diseased, but it’s important to be aware of any potential problems if you’re considering this breed.

In short, if you’re buying an Inu puppy, go to a breeder that will show you the health clearances for both your puppy and its parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of particular conditions.

For a good information site about Shiba Inu Breeders check out our info at the foot of the page.

The Importance of Training and Socializing Your Shiba Inu

Dogs need to be trained and socialized early on in life. This is especially true for the Shiba Inus. Again, these can be stubborn dogs, so you want to start training them early and get them used to their new environment. You also need to expose your dog to as many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences as possible when they are a pup. This will give them confidence and help make them well adjusted to changes.

Good socialization helps your Shiba puppy grow into a well-tempered dog. They’ll be better behaved socially and at ease around new situations and people. Shiba’s don’t tend to bark a lot, and if you socialize them well, they are even less likely to bark at new people and situations.

A good way to start this process is by getting your dog enrolled in puppy school. This will help your pet meet new friends. You should introduce them to other household pets when young and also invite visitors over regularly, take them to a dog park, acclimatize them to dog-friendly stores, and stroll with them around the neighborhood. Give them as many chances as possible to socialize.

Shiba Inu Care Tips

Time is the biggest need to be put into keeping a Shiba Inu. As discussed earlier your Shiba will need plenty of exercise. To fuel this active lifestyle, the Shiba Inu should be fed a high-quality diet. Feed your dog the appropriate amount of food for its age. Ensure they are eating the food you give them, Shiba’s can occasionally be picky with their food so try not to give too many treats except when training.

It is probably rare for a Shiba to gain excessive weight mainly due to their energetic nature, but if you are keeping it as a companion dog and it is getting little exercise it will put unwanted weight on which will inevitably lead to other health problems. This is unfair to the dog and expensive on your pocket.

In addition to this, make sure your dog is properly hydrated. Shiba’s can become easily dehydrated if they aren’t given enough water. Their high activity level requires them to drink more water. So, make sure you have a water dish topped up and nearby for your pet.

Do Shiba Inu dogs shed much hair? Another part of their care to think about is grooming. Shiba don’t shed as much as some other similar sized dogs. But they do shed so regular grooming will be necessary, but they are easy dogs to groom.

Extra shedding generally happens a couple of times a year, often seasonal, but living indoors can sometimes confuse the pattern probably due to the central heating in your house.

You don’t need to brush your pets all the time. But brushing your Shiba while they are shedding can keep your house from being filled with excess dog hair. If you have trouble brushing your dog, you can use other tools to get this job done. One option is a blow dryer. A dryer can remove any extra hair and dirt off your dog’s coat.

So are Shiba Inu dogs hypoallergenic? Clearly not, given the grooming they require.

A blower (hair dryer) can even help you check for fleas. Many dogs actually like blow dryers, it doesn’t scrape them like a brush, but others will hate it or think it’s a game so get them accustomed to it when they are young.

And be mindful of the temperature of the air coming out of your dryer. Overly hot air can be uncomfortable for your dog. Keep your hand in front of the dryer to feel the temperature.

Another grooming routine you’ll need to keep up with is nail trimming. Your dog may not like getting its nails trimmed, but it needs to be done. You should start clipping their nails early on so they get used to it. Please be certain NOT to cut the quick of the nail. If you are unsure then get a professional groomer to trim them for you.

Health Issues for the Shiba Inu

Shiba Inu dog health problems are minimal as they are generally pretty healthy dogs. But they can be prone to certain health issues. So, we will discuss some of those here so you can keep your dog’s health in check.

For some Shiba, skin allergies can be a problem. The reasons can be varied such as incorrect diet, nerves and many other reasons which we have covered in other articles on Top Lapdogs.

Dog allergies have become more and more common over the years. If your dog starts scratching itself a lot, try getting an allergy test done at the vet and take a close look at your dogs lifestyle.

Another health issue to be on the lookout for is hip dysplasia, a common issue for dogs that are constantly on the go. This is an orthopedic disease that can impair your pets movements and cause severe pain.

Shiba with this genetic disease have malformed hip joints. Diseases like this can be insidious, thus you may not notice immediately, so your pet must be cleared and tested for any health issues if sold by a breeder.

Other issues to be on the lookout for are eye problems. A lot of breeds have issues with their eyes in old age, and even when they are born. No dogs’ eyes are perfect. A small percentage of Shiba could have some issues. Make sure to have this checked out at the vet as well. Shiba are prone to cataracts during their later years. 

Patellar luxation is another potential issue for your dog. Very common in small dogs. This is where the knee joint does not fit perfectly into the socket. It might slide in and out. This isn’t as common as the other health concerns, but it should still be considered.

Overall, Shiba Inus experience fewer health problems than many other breeds. Your dog is likely to stay healthy most of its life. Just make sure to take them to the vet and keep them in shape with exercise and good food!

Conclusion about the Shiba Inu Dog

What a fantastic all rounder. The Shiba Inus are great pets for families and also ideal as companion dogs. These athletic little dogs are sure to bring pleasure, excitement and fun into your life. You may be required to do some extra training due to their temperament. But when they are properly trained, you couldn’t ask for a better dog.

Inus have a rich Japanese history that only adds to their value as pets. These canines almost went extinct but are now one of the top companion dogs in the world.

If you like the look and personality of these dogs, Top Lap Dogs heartily recommends giving them a try!

How Much Do Shiba Inu Puppies Cost?

In America you can expect to pay anywhere between $1200 to $2500.

The Shiba Inu Dog price in India where the dog is popular you can expect to pay ₹55,000 to ₹75,000.

A rarity in the UK you can expect to pay £800 to £1500.

In Japan you will pay from 250,000 to 450,000 JPY

Shiba Inu Breeder information

Check out for the USA

In the UK check out

A Charming video from

This information comes from the A to Z of Lap Dog Breeds

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