• Shiba Inu
  • Shiba Inu Breed
  • Shiba Inu Breed information
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  • Shiba Inu Dog Breed
  • Shiba Inu Dog
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  • Shiba Inu
  • Shiba Inu in UK
Exercise Level:
Barking Level:
Good with Children:
Good with other pets:
Height: 36 - 41cm M | 33 - 38cm F
Weight: 8 - 11kg M | 7 - 9kg F
Life Expectancy: 12 - 15 Years

Searching for a Shiba Inu?


The Shiba Inu or Japanese Shiba Inu is one of the six native Japanese breeds. Dubbed as a smaller version of the Akita breed, the Shiba Inu has a similar body type, but he is slightly longer than he is tall. He began as a hunting dog for small game.

Now, the Japanese Shiba Inu dog breed is a beloved canine companion in many homes around the world, including the United States and the UK. Shiba Inus are expressive and playful family dogs.

Although they are more independent than other breeds, they appreciate being given attention and love by their families.

The Shiba Inu breed is more suited for experienced dog owners as he is often strongly resolute to do things his way. He is generally a clean and odourless dog, but since he sheds throughout the year, regular brushing is needed, which gets more frequent in the autumn and spring. The Shiba Inu dog can live up to fifteen years.

Are you thinking of getting a Japanese Shiba Inu puppy? Here is a brief background of this dog.

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The Japanese Shiba Inu is an ancient breed that originated in Japan, as the name indicates. He is considered a basal breed that precedes the development of the newer breeds in the 19th century.

Records show that similar-looking dogs existed in 300 BC, as seen on pottery and terracotta remains. These small dogs are believed to have been taken to Japan by immigrants and crossed with local dogs.

The Shiba Inu is a hunting dog that was bred to hunt small game. The breed's name is inspired by his hunting history in the rugged mountains of Japan. ‘Shiba’ translates to ‘brushwood,’ which refers to either the dog breed's reddish coat colour or the brush in the mountains, whilst ‘inu’ means ‘dog.’

The Shiba Inu dog is one of Japan’s six native breeds along with the Akita, Kishu, Kai, Hokkaido, and Shikoku. The Organisation to Preserve the Japanese Dog was founded in 1928 to avoid the extinction of native breeds. Despite this, many Japanese breeds decreased in number due to the advent of World War II.

Good thing native dogs were found in remote regions that allowed breeding programmes to commence. There was yet another threat to the breed in the 1950s due to a distemper outbreak. Two Shiba Inu dogs with different body types were used to resurrect the breed once again.

The Shiba Inu dog breed is considered one of Japan’s national treasures. He remains to be one of the most popular breeds in Japan. He has gradually won the hearts of dog lovers in the world, although he remains a rare breed in the UK. The Shiba Inu is registered with The Kennel Club under the Utility Group.

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Appearance and Grooming

The Japanese Shiba Inu is the smallest of Japan’s six native breeds. He looks like a mini Akita, having a similar body type, but he is slightly longer than tall.

A male Shiba Inu can grow as tall as 36–45 centimetres (14–17 inches), whilst a female Shiba Inu’s height ranges between 33 and 41 centimetres (13–16 inches).

The weight of a male Shiba Inu is approximately 8–11 kilos (18–25 pounds) and a female Shiba Inu’s is about 6.8–9 kilos (15–20 pounds).

A litter of this small dog breed can be consist of 2–5 Shiba Inu puppies. They are quick to mature. It would only take at least 6–18 months for a Shiba Inu puppy to become a full-grown dog.

The Shiba Inu dog breed has a broad and flat skull, muscled cheeks with a defined stop, an adorable furrow, straight muzzle that taper gradually to his nose, tight lips, and a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite.

This small dog breed’s nose is either black or flesh and his ears are small and triangular in shape. His eyes are dark brown, almond-shaped, fairly small, and set well apart.

The Shiba Inu has a double coat consisting of a straight, stiff outer coat and a soft, dense undercoat. People often describe him as a small breed with a teddy-bear look. He has a slightly longer hair on his curled tail compared to the rest of his body.

According to KC standards, the accepted colours are red, white, sesame, and black and tan. The black Shiba Inu is quite popular, and so are red and white Shiba Inu dogs. However, the Sesame Shiba Inu is considered rare to find.

The Shiba Inu breed is generally a clean and odourless dog and relatively easy to groom. Bathing can be done 3–4 times a year. However, since this small dog breed sheds steadily all-year round and more heavily in the autumn and spring, regular brushing is required to remove dead hair.

Owning a Shiba Inu dog means accepting the possibility of having hair all over the house, especially on your furniture and clothes. Apart from coat care, you have to pay attention to other grooming aspects.

Oral hygiene is important for pets, so brush the Shiba Inu's teeth twice a week to prevent tooth and gum issues. Trim your Shiba Inu’s nails when you hear a clicking sound on the floor. Lastly, make sure to keep his ears dry and clean to avoid infections.

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Temperament and Intelligence

The Shiba Inu dog is quite a needy breed—always wanting attention, affection, and even food that humans eat. In fact, he yodels when he wants attention. He tends to be wary and aloof around strangers, but once he realises that visitors mean no harm, he is fine with them.

The Shiba Inu dog breed is recommended for families with mature kids that know how to approach and respect dogs. He is not really patient and will not put up with very young children that are rowdy.

Regardless of age, children must be taught to treat animals with kindness, and all interactions must be supervised to avoid untoward incidents.

Japanese Shiba Inus are natural great escape artists. There are many reasons as to why they exhibit this behaviour. It could be because they are bored, anxious, need a mate, or lack exercise.

Dog owners should find the root cause to solve the issue and prevent their Shiba Inu dogs from constantly attempting to escape their home. That said, always take precautions. Do not leave doors unbolted and regularly check your fences to ensure that they are in good condition.

The Japanese Shiba Inu dog breed is intelligent, easily learns, and loves pleasing his owners. However, he is quite independent and stubborn. He will sometimes choose to ignore commands and do what he pleases instead.

This small dog breed is not for first-time owners because of his high prey drive and territorial instincts. The Shiba Inu dog can get quite challenging when it comes to sharing food and toys.

He has a tendency to fight other dogs, especially those of the same gender, and will not hesitate to chase small animals. However, he usually gets along with other pets he grew up with.

Experienced owners must establish the alpha role as well as rules and boundaries early on to curb these possessive and protective characteristics. If not, a Japanese Shiba Inu puppy will grow up to be dominant and difficult to live with.

It is worth noting that consistent training needs to continue throughout his life because the Shiba Inu dog will test and try to bend the rules.

Are Shiba Inu good pets?

The Japanese Shiba Inu breed is an alert, bold, and playful dog. He is usually good-natured when raised properly.

He forms a strong bond with his owners and would love to be included in everything that happens in the house. He is loving and gentle, not known to be aggressive toward people, but it is best not to test it.

Why are Shiba Inus so aggressive?

Shiba Inus are quite primitive compared to other dog breeds, which is the reason behind their aggressiveness. They exhibit wilder traits than domesticated canines such as Labrador Retrievers.

Training and socialising the Japanese Shiba Inu breed at a young age must prevent him from forming behaviour problems, including aggression.

Do Shiba Inus like to cuddle?

No, most of the time, Shiba Inus are not fond of cuddles. This small breed has an independent nature and is often described as a catlike dog. The Shiba Inu will show his love to his owner on his own terms and at his own pace.

However, this trait does not apply to all Japanese Shiba Inu dogs. Some owners of the breed claim that their Shiba Inus are very affectionate.

Are Shiba Inus good for first-time owners?

No, Shiba Inu dogs are not good for first-time owners as they are sensitive and strong-willed dogs. In training, more often than not, they would do things their own way and are deaf to their owners' commands. The Japanese Shiba Inu dog breed can be a handful for novice pet parents.

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Nutrition and Feeding

A typical serving for an adult Shiba Inu is 1/2–1 1/2 cups of excellent-quality dry dog food per day. It is worth remembering that the amount of food will depend on his age, size, build, activity level, and metabolism. Always measure his food and avoid free-feeding to maintain a trim body size.

Typical calorie needs of adult Shiba Inus per day:

  • Senior and less active: up to 950 calories daily
  • Typical adult dogs: up to 1,060 calories daily
  • Physically active/working dogs: up to 1,200 calories daily

The Shiba Inu is a small dog, so it is best to provide him with high-quality food that is appropriate for his size. It should contain a wide range of foods, starting with meat, as well as vegetables, fruits, and grains. Dogs react to carbs differently, so if you notice a negative reaction to a certain food, stop giving it to your Shiba Inu dog.

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Health and Exercise

A well-cared-for Japanese Shiba Inu can live up to 15 years, but some hereditary health issues may hinder him from living out his golden years. The most prevalent genetic health conditions of this small dog breed include:

Eye Problems

Japanese Shiba Inus are susceptible to many optical disorders, including cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and glaucoma. There are various treatment procedures to correct these health problems except for PRA.

Dogs with this condition will slowly lose their eyesight, and it is irreversible. Thus, it is best for dog owners to make adjustments in their home for a blind dog.

Hip Dysplasia

When the hip joint and thighbone become dislocated, hip dysplasia occurs. Mild cases may cause pain, abnormal gait, and lameness in Shiba Inu dogs. If not treated, it can lead to immobility.

Patellar Luxation

It is caused by the degeneration and eventual dislocation of a knee ligament. This condition in the Japanese Shiba Inu breed can either be a result of genetics or injuries. Severe cases of this bone and joint problem require corrective surgery, whilst mild ones are negligible but need regular monitoring.

As a high-energy and intelligent dog, the Shiba Inu would need at least 40 minutes of daily exercise to maintain a healthy weight and have a happy disposition. Unmet exercise needs tend to cause destructive and noisy behaviour.

Aside from short walks, the Shiba Inu dog should have more interesting activities, so he does not get bored. This small breed should also have access to a securely fenced yard.

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Cost of Ownership

To ensure that your Shiba Inu puppy stays healthy at whatever age, you will need to feed your dog high-quality dog food and treats, which can set you back £20–£40 a month. You would also need to spend on dog accessories such as lead, collar, bowls, crate, bed, and toys. The combined initial cost for these things is estimated at £40–490.

Moreover, you need to consider paying for pet insurance to offset veterinary bills in case your Shiba Inu puppy suddenly falls ill or gets into an accident. Depending on where you live and your pup’s health and age, a time-limited cover can cost £22 a month, whilst a lifetime one can cost up to £43 a month.

Generally, insurance companies do not cover routine veterinary consultations. It will cost around £110–£400 for spaying or neutering your Shiba Inu puppy. His routine vet check-ups will cost around £30–£60 per session.

Since vaccinations are essential for your Shiba Inu puppy, be ready to pay about £100–150. Expenses for annual boosters range from £50 to £60. The price for flea and tick treatment is £5–£15, whilst worm treatment costs £10–£15.

On average, the minimum recurring expenses to care for a Japanese Shiba Inu is £60–£90 per month depending on your pet insurance premium. Lastly, this estimate does not include the rates for other services such as walking and grooming.

How much is a Shiba Inu?

If you are set on getting a Shiba Inu dog, be ready to go on a waiting list as very few puppies are bred and registered each year. The Shiba Inu price is around £800–£1500 for a well-bred Shiba Inu puppy.

When buying a Shiba Inu puppy, be sure to buy a puppy from a trustworthy breeder. Or you may adopt a dog from a canine rescue organisation or shelter and give him a chance to have a better and happier life.

Shiba Inu Breed Highlights

  • The Shiba Inu is a confident, alert, and imposing small breed of dog.
  • He builds a strong bond with family and can be wary toward people that he does not know.
  • He is ideal for experienced dog owners and families without young kids.
  • Whilst the Japanese Shiba Inu can get along with animals he grew up with, he can be aggressive toward other dogs of the same gender.
  • He needs at least 40 minutes of exercise to maintain a healthy weight and be truly happy.

Are you sure the Shiba Inu is the best breed for you? Take the Pet Breed Selector Quiz to find your perfect breed match.

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Do you feel like a Japanese Shiba Inu is too challenging for you? The Pet Finder can assist you in finding other suitable breeds.

The information, including measurements, prices and other estimates, on this page is provided for general reference purposes only.

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