The Basics - Shiba Inu

AKA: Brushwood Dog, Japanese Small-Size Dog

Group Classification


Country of



Date of Origin




Life Expectancy



17 to 23 lbs

15 to 17 inches


Red, Black and Tan, Sesame, and occasionally Cream (not desired coloring with breed standards


13 to 17 lbs

14 to 16 inches

Coat Type

Double Coat, hard, coarse outer coat of short length that stands out due to soft dense undercoat

Recognized Registries

ANKC, CKC, UKC, AKC, TKC, FCI, NCA and others

Overall Appearance

Small well-balanced Spitz (curled tail over back, foxy face and pricked ears on square body) type dog. Smallest of the Arctic Breeds.

Personality – Behavior - Training

Energy Level

High Energy needs space to run.

General Nature

Bold, charming, entitled and knows it, what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine

With Children

Probably only good if heavily socialized and supervised with very well behaved children. Best results occur when the Shiba puppy is brought into a home that already has children. Can be very questionable if the Shiba is already there before the children. Jealousy issues.

With Other Pets

Not reliable as they were developed to hunt birds and small animals, however every Shiba is unique and depends on temperament and socialization at an early age.

With Other Dogs

Generally not ideal with other dogs (especially intact males), see above. Most breeders are hesitant to place two shibas of the same sex together.

Socialization Requirements

Strongly recommended at a young age. The Shiba is born with an exalted sense of him/herself. Socialization helps them balance this with sharing the rest of the world with everyone else. Although every Shiba is unique, they share similar characteristics with jealousy being fairly consistent within the breed.

Ideal Home Characteristics

Most breeders recommend a home environment that does not have other pets. Owners need to recognize that they are owned by the Shiba, and are willing to accept their role in the world of the Shiba.

Temperament Notes

Independent, curious, self-entertaining, clever, bold, and runners. Most Shibas must always be on a lead.

Training Requirements

Moderate to extensive training sessions. Shibas are highly distractible making it a difficult process to train them. The combination of their cleverness, creativity, brilliance and independence does not sit well with “traditional” trainers, and makes the training somewhat frustrating. When training the Shiba, a person needs to have exceptional understanding of training theories, and a heightened sense of fun and creativity. They must be willing to accept that the results may not be reliable and always remember that the Shiba owns them, at least in the Shibas mind, and the Shiba is always going to be thinking “What’s in it for Me!”

Background Information


It was around 600 AD that the Japanese Emperor called for the organization of all records related to Japanese Culture, within this information was included all of the breeds known to Japan. The Shiba was among the smaller of the native Japanese breeds. Shibas began to be exported after World War II.

Breed for Purpose

Shibas were originally bred for hunting birds and small game. In some accounts Shibas were used in conjunction with larger breeds, the Akita and such, to flush out wild boar and larger game.

Fast Facts Compiled By Jack Owens

How much is that Doggie in the Window?  by Dave Boykin

"Information about Most Pet Shop Puppies"

Cute, playful, and wanting to be adopted, those adorable little pet shop puppies tug at your heartstrings. A Shiba Inu in itself is special, and when you see one in a pet store, it just calls out your name, and you want to take him home.

STOP! Let's look at where the pet shops usually obtain their Shiba puppies. Certainly not from any reputable breeder or member of the National Shiba Club of America, because all our members are required to subscribe to a strict code of ethics prohibiting any sale of pups through brokers or pet shops.

While many people may be familiar with the term "puppy mill," the horrors associated with them are often not known to the public. Puppy mills are facilities, (and there are thousands of them) licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture, that mass-produce puppies for pet stores throughout the country. Many of these facilities house hundreds of dogs in cramped hutch-style cages with wire floors. Puppies are frequently subjected to deplorable conditions from birth and during transport from breeder, to broker, to pet stores hundreds of miles from where their lives began.

A few midwestern states are home to the largest concentration of puppy mills in the Country. Many of the operators of these puppy mills hold other jobs and utilize mass-production methods. The USDA does what it can to inspect when they receive enough public complaints, but the mills just keep popping up elsewhere.

The average puppy mill will house dozens up to hundreds of breeding animals, most housed in hutch-style cages with wire floors. The fecal matter drops to the ground below and waste accumulates beneath the cage, providing a haven for flies and other vermin. Even with fairly prompt removal of waste, the ground becomes permeated with stench as the urine cannot be raked away.

Dogs housed in indoor facilities endure an equally deplorable existence with ammonia vapors and odors permeating poorly ventilated buildings. Rodents, flies and other pests plague the animals almost constantly.

At 8 weeks of age puppies are "harvested" and cleaned up for the trip to the broker. They are bathed to clean up feces and odors they have endured during their brief lives in the puppy mill. Pus is wiped from their sad and scared eyes just before they are shoved into whatever is convenient, with any luck, an approved shipping container. Some will perish. Some will be rejected by the broker to be saved for breeding stock by the breeder. Many others will be inhumanely killed or sold for research. The survivors can be seen at your local pet store, but the emotional scars and irresponsible animal husbandry can bring misery into your home instead of anticipated joy.

If you have compassion for the animals bred and raised under these miserable conditions stay out of pet stores. Each puppy purchased from a pet store serves an industry with no conscience and little enforcement.

Select a recognized breeder from our list, and do your own investigation. If possible, visit the breeder, and see the Shibas in their natural surroundings. If this is not possible, ask for placements that they have made that are within driving distance of you, and ask if you may call them for reference. You may wish to visit them, and get an idea of the temperament you may be getting if you adopt a Shiba from this breeder.

Try not to be in a hurry. You are making a 14-16 year or more commitment, and this should never be taken lightly.

Good breeders do health pre-screening of all their breeding stock in the form of OFA Certifications (for hips), and CERF clearances for possible eye defects. Many good breeders also have the patella’s checked in all breeding stock for soundness.

Be patient, go visit the breeder, and be prepared to put a deposit on a future puppy, if your breeder has none available at this time. Please stay away from the pet shops that sell dogs. Buy your pet foods from responsible pet stores that leave the puppies to reputable breeders.

David Boykin and Tenshi

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