Description: The Shiba Inu is a small, muscular dog. The male will be 14 to 16 inches at the shoulder and the female 13 to 15 inches. The weight of this dog will be from 15 to 25 pounds depending on the sex. The Shiba Inu has small, upright ears on a round head. The Shiba Inu has a double coat with a hard outer coat protecting a dense, soft under layer. The coat may be found in black with tan, red, or sesame. All these colors are combined with cream or buff markings. The tail is curled up over the back. The Inu will have a life span of 12 to 15 years. It is also known as the Japanese Small Size Dog and the Shiba Dog.
History: Japan is home to four native dog breeds, of which the Shiba Inu is the smallest. This dog was used in Japan as a hunting dog for small game. It was useful in flushing birds from cover. The word ‘Inu’ means dog in Japanese, and ‘Shiba’ means brushwood, so it is thought that the dog might have been named for the type of countryside it would hunt in. The distemper epidemic that struck Japan during World War II almost caused the Shiba Inu to go extinct, but remnant populations were gathered after the war and the breed was rescued.
Temperament: As with most dogs originally used for hunting, the Inu bonds closely with its human family and will want to receive a good deal of attention from them. It is good with children. The Inu has an independent turn of mind, however, and can be difficult to train, although the dog is quite intelligent. While the Shiba will get along with the family cat and other dogs quite well, it has a very strong prey drive and will attack small animals, whether they are pets or not. This dog should be kept on a leash when walked.
Health Issues: Although fairly healthy, the Shiba Inu can develop hip dysplasia and slipped kneecap. The Shiba Inu can suffer from allergies and epilepsy. Cancer can also develop in the Inu, although it is more likely a disease of age than otherwise.
Grooming: It is probably a good idea to brush the Shiba Inu once a day, although two or three times a week will do unless the coat is being blown. This occurs twice a year, and at this time intensive grooming is needed to remove the shed under coat. This dog should not be bathed often as it is naturally clean and bathing will remove the coat’s oils. The teeth should be brushed several times a week and the nails kept at a reasonable length.
Living Conditions: Although the thick, protective coat of the Shiba Inu will allow it to live outside in nearly any weather, this dog needs to be near its human friends and will suffer mentally if deprived of their company. The Inu is able to live in an apartment, but will need a walk every day to satisfy its exercise requirements. This dog is playful indoors.