Shiba Inu Dog Breed Information, Pictures, Characteristics & Facts

The Shiba Inu dog breed has a rich and beautiful history.

These pups originate in Japan and date as far back as 300 BC.

Shiba Inu Dog Breed Information

These dogs originated as hunters, but these energetic animals have long since acted as companions.

These adorable dogs have used their humor and intelligence to become everything from pop culture sensations to news anchors.


While these pups are friendly and animated, they are also particular with nuanced needs.

We all want to provide the best lives for our Shiba Inu pups and learning about their breed’s specific care requirements is a great way to achieve this goal.


Highlights of the Shiba Inu

  • Originally bred in Japan as a hunting dog
  • Small breed dog originally bred to hunt fowl
  • High energy personality and agile form
  • Are susceptible to genetic health concerns
  • Can be possessive and territorial of area and property
  • Brought to the Americas in the mid to late 1970s
  • The first American litter was birthed in 1979
  • Fur colors include tan, red, or black
  • Iconic white markings and upright, pointy ears


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Shiba Inu Breed Information

These beautiful dogs are mostly raised for companionship in the modern era.

There are six known breeds that originate from Japan.


Of these, the Shiba Inu is the smallest.

Many find this dog to resemble a fox due to its fur length and character, as well as erect ears and markings.


The breed is high energy (with a matching metabolism).

Agility and vigor set this small breed apart.


Often these dogs are found in apartments (or other urban settings), due to their small size.

They do well in this environment, provided you supply enough affection and exercise.



  • Shiba Inu


Other Names

  • Brushwood Dog
  • Japanese Small-size Dog
  • Shinshu Shiba
  • Mino Shiba
  • Sanin Shiba

The Origin Story of the Shiba Inu

The Shiba Inu breed originates from Japan.

First records of these dogs date back to 300 BCE.


These compact, fox-like dogs have a rich history of almost 2500 years.

The original breeding purposes were hunting, primarily for fowl.


The three divergent classes of this dog are each named as a reference to their areas of origin: Nagano, Gifu, and the northeastern mainland.

These districts provided the namesake for the different sub-breeds.


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Shiba Inu is a medium-sized breed of dog.

This allows them to fit into apartments and other urban settings.


A small frame pairs with distinctive agility.

The compact size of these pups is one of the reasons they make such great playmates.


This breed is the smallest known dog that originates from Japan.



Male: 16–18 inches (40.6–45.7 cm)

Male Shiba Inu’s are slightly larger than their female counterparts.

This is largely due to the distribution of mass as it relates to reproduction.


Male animals tend towards muscle mass, and external reproductive organs mitigate the need for adipose protection.


Female: 12–14 inches (30.5–35.6 cm)

Female dogs of this breed have slighter frames than their male foils.

Their structure focuses on the biological imperative of rearing litters.


This evolutionary focus causes the female form of the Shiba Inu to be smaller than males of the same breed.


Puppies: 4–8 inches (10.2–20.3 cm)

Puppy size is variable based on how many dogs were in the litter.

The more pups born, the less the height will be.

Assuming the dog is healthy, the size should even out when the pup is roughly three months old.



Male: 22–24 pounds (9.9–10.9 kg)

Male Shiba Inu’s tend to be heavier than their female counterparts.

Though the two look objectively similar, the physiology between the two differs significantly.


Male pups favor weight found in muscle.


Female: 16–18 pounds (7.3–8.2 kg)

Female pups of this breed have different figures than male Shiba Inu’s.

Because their forms focus on fat protecting critical organs, the structure is very different.


Female Shiba Inu’s will look just like the male counterparts but carry their weight as adipose (and fat is lighter than muscle).

The fatty tissue protects vital organs necessary to reproduce.


Puppies: 6.6–8.8 pounds (3–4 kg)

The weight seen here represents the average weight of the pup at three months old.

Since litter size varies, the weight of the puppies born is not consistent.


Around three to six months of age, the Shiba Inu pup’s weight will level out to within these parameters.


Shiba Inu Dog Breed Purity: PureBred or Mixed?

Since these dogs were isolated to Japan for 97.4% of their history, their breed purity is easily traced.

Because of this, finding a purebred Shiba Inu is relatively straightforward.


As with any purebred search, it is important to find a reputable breeder.

This will ensure purebred status, as well as mitigate potential genetic abnormalities or temperament issues.


Purebred Shiba Inus are relatively straightforward to find when dealing with a breeding expert.

That said, limited genetic material has been cited as a factor in compromised canine health.


Diversifying the gene pool (by mixing breeds) is a good way to work towards reduced genetic health conditions.

When getting a mixed breed, it is critical to consider temperament factors of the cross.


Related Reading: 17 Shiba Inu Mix Breed Dogs


Behavior and Temperament

The Shiba Inu is a high energy dog that favors independence.

This can pose a challenge in terms of training.


For this reason, it is best to raise this breed of dog from early on (puppies tend to be more amenable to training).

These dogs are wont to show aggressive traits, particularly when interacting with other dogs.

Preference for ‘the chase’ make these dogs less than ideal when off-leash.


It is important to take additional considerations when having this breed around young children due to the high energy and relatively low impulse control.



The Shiba Inu can be alert to a fault.

Tending to notice all the details, these high energy dogs frequently bark at their surroundings (whether or not the situation actually warrants the barking).


Since these dogs evolved sussing out fowl, they tend to notice small details and remain in a constant state of alertness.



Even with humans, friendliness is relative to the source and its direction.

These dogs can be incredibly friendly- particularly with their human families.


Due to the high energy of children, Shiba Inus have somewhat less friendliness towards younger family members (making them ideal for families without children).

These pups also have reduced friendliness towards strangers and other dogs, which can pose a challenge for socialization.


Nonetheless, when it comes to their human caregivers, these dogs’ energies translate into affection with ease.



All cared-for dogs are trainable, and the eventual attitude of the canines depends entirely on the behavior of the owners.

We, as pet-parents, are ultimately responsible for the temperament of our furry friends.


Shiba Inus tend to be territorial of their possessions and have a propensity to bark and chase.

That aside, these dogs can be gentle creatures that crave the affection and approval of their human families.


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These adorable dogs have held on to the traits pursuant to their breeding history of over 2000 years.

Trained to hunt and chase, these dogs have a historically high demand for intelligence and quick thinking.


From herding cattle to sussing out fowl, this breed has always required quick reflexes.

This has given them a high situational intelligence (a great trait that can result in excessive barking).


The Shiba Inus’ knowledge of their surroundings can lead them to territorialism, though they make fantastic watch dogs for their intense alertness.



Outgoing personalities can often be confused for friendliness.

While the Shiba Inu is outgoing, they are not necessarily the most amicable playmates.


Their curiosity tends to lead them into social situations which can be overwhelming for these pups.

Since they are best suited to physically exerting activities like herding and chasing, these dogs can count outgoing.


Socially speaking, however, these dogs are not necessarily as such.



Personality will vary not only on the breed of the dog (retrievers vs. collies, etc.), but on the individual pup as well (our dogs are from a notoriously barky breed yet are fairly quiet).

Additionally, the environment (being the nurture factor in development) will dictate the parameters by which the personality may develop.


Provided you offer the Shiba Inu a comfortable home and mitigate potential stressors like strangers, other dogs, and children, this is a perfectly amenable breed.

In prime conditions, these dogs are clever, energetic, friendly, and affectionate.


They care greatly for the home and serve as great lookouts and barking alarms.


Coat Types

The Shiba Inu has a double coat, with a coarse outer layer of fur.

The coat beneath the thicker layer is much softer and fluffier.


The coat itself will be of medium length and generally easy to brush.

Due to the high amount of shedding (and non-seasonal fur loss), this type of coat is not prone to matting.


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Coat Colors

Shiba Inus have beautiful fur colors with iconic white patterns that set them apart as a breed.

Because of the fact that these dogs look somewhat like foxes, the red fur is the most popular.


Shiba Inu pups have black or tan fur colors, though these are seen less frequently.

The white markings on the face, chest, legs, and tail make these dogs easy to identify by their coat alone.



One of the reasons for the popularity of these dogs are the extremely expressive eyes.

Generally (excepting genetic oddities), the eyes will be a dark brown with thick, dark lids.


These dogs have a distinctively playful personality (and a great sense of humor).

The best way they show this is through their heartful eyes.



The noses of these dogs are moderate in both length and width.

Typically, the color of the snout will be dark and without pattering.


As with all dogs, the nose is a very sensitive area- both to scent and touch.

It is critical to keep this in mind when grooming these pups.



Shiba Inus have perky tails that come to a distinct curl.

How robust the tail presents is a matter of grooming preference.


Many show dogs will cut the hair on the tail short, such as to best present its poise.

If left to its own devices, the tail of these pups can grow to be full and plush.


The curl of the tail has four separate types: the slack tail, the double curl, the single curl, as well as the high and tight tail.


Litter Size

5 – 7 Puppies

The ideal litter size for this breed is 5 pups.

Given that the dog is of medium size, if the litter count is on the lower end of the spectrum, then the pups will have a better chance at health.


Birth weight dictates a great deal about future health.

When the litter is smaller, there is more room for the fetus to grow.


While pup can be healthy at the 7 litter count, the odds of having one of the pups’ health compromised increases.


Life Span

13 – 16 Years

Provided the pet-parent keeps these dogs healthy, the lifespan is will fall within this range.

This assumes a pup of reasonable health, as well as an active lifestyle and suitable nutrition.


While energy tends to decrease at the pup ages, these dogs tend to be healthy into their older years.


Care Needs of the Shiba Inu

Grooming Requirements

Grooming requirements for this breed of dog are fairly extensive, though also straightforward.

It can be humorous (albeit time consuming) to see how much these dogs can shed.


When you groom these pups on a weekly (or even better, bi-weekly) basis, it works to reduce the amount of fur-a-flying.

Shiba Inus prefer to be clean. In fact, they tend to act like cats and practice self-grooming habits.


Properly up keeping with hygiene is a great (and pragmatic) way to show affection to your pup.


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  • Shiba Inus have a high requirement for physical exertion
  • Exercise does not need to be exhaustive (time spent is key)
  • Physical activity improves temperament and behavior
  • Running and walking are ideal forms of exercise
  • Fetch is an ideal method of getting in aerobics (it plays into their desire to chase)


  • Generally, these dogs will be of good health (provided we care for them properly)
  • A reputable breeder will be able to avoid genetic concerns
  • Inherited conditions include eye issues, iron problems, and chest/respiratory concerns, and problems with sodium-potassium pumps (essential to cellular function)
  • Exercise and a healthy diet facilitate general health of these dogs


  • Significant effort and time requirements for training
  • Typically, these dogs obedience training (required due to independent nature)
  • Socialization training is beneficial for Shiba Inu dogs
  • Make sure to take extra care when children are in the home
  • Professional training is helpful for these dogs
  • If training a Shiba Inu yourself, it is useful to take a class
  • Provide consistent routines and always keep to the rules
  • Utilizing positive reinforcement is helpful to most dogs
  • Establish clear boundaries to assist with territorialism
  • Set realistic and achievable goals for the pup in training


Physical Characteristics Of Shiba Inu

Shiba Inus are medium-sized dogs with the fur of moderate length.

Their coloring is generally reddish-brown, with iconic white markings on the face, tail, and legs.


These energetic furballs have thick and bushy tails (a feature that provides the fox-like appearance).

Shiba Inus have small, erect ears, and a dark nose with deep brown eyes.



The flexibility of behavior is a strong suit of this breed.

Provided the situation does not present any unforeseen stressors in the dog’s environment, the Shiba Inu is a highly adaptable dog.


They can function in changing climates and enjoy their own company.

This dog breed is superior in adapting to urban settings (especially apartment living).


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Other Dog Friendly

Shiba Inus are notoriously amicable with other pups.

These dogs do well alone and with their adult human companions.


Otherwise, the socialization limitations of these dogs are a large drawback of the breed.

You can approach the social aspects through specific canine training.


This will work to improve their temperament around other dogs.


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Shedding Level

Though not the worst for shedding, this breed shows significant hair loss year-round.

Due to the bright color of the fur, this is a highly noticeable trait.


You can mitigate this by a dedicated grooming schedule (ideally started in puppyhood).

Shedding increases in spring and peaks around summertime.


Typically, there is a slow down in the colder months.

For areas with a more consistent climate, the shedding level will typically remain the same year-round.


Affection Level

Shiba Inus are friendly with their families and those who they trust.

With their human family members there is a specific bond.


You love your pups, and they love you back. It is all a matter of how we communicate affection.

For this breed, this affection comes through distinctly by proximal companionship and occasional cuddles.


Since these dogs are relatively introverted, it is important to balance affection with space.


Exercise Needs

The demand for physical exertion on these canine companions is relatively high.

While they do not require as much exercise as a large breed dog, Shiba Inu needs daily aerobic engagement.


Running, walking, and playing physically engaging games are great ways to spend time and meet the pup’s exercise needs.


Social Needs

All creatures require social contact.

The degree to which each creature requires this contact, however, varies from creature to creature.


Shiba Inus must learn how to properly interact with other canines.

It is especially important to expose these dogs to other animals, since they are so content being solitary.


Our job as pup-parents is to look out for the best interests of our canine companions.

In order to do this, socialization training is a possible requirement (but is well worth it).


Apartment Friendly

One of the reasons for the continued success of this breed is the ability to live happily and comfortably in apartment settings.

Due to willingness to be alone and limited requirements for space, this breed is one of the best-suited canines to urban living.


If you provide sufficient exercise for the dog, there should be no issue with this dog residing in an apartment.


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Reactions to Grooming

Shiba Inus display strange behaviour when it comes to grooming.

From acting like a cat and trying to self-clean, to squirming significantly during brushing, these dogs are unique in their grooming behaviours.


We love them because, if grooming is done regularly from a young age, the Shiba Inu will grow accustomed to the routine.

Changes to grooming schedules may result in some upset, so keeping to the established system of hygiene is best practice.


Stranger Friendly

While Shiba Inus make great alarm systems, they are not the stranger-friendly canines.

These pups are highly territorial, and due to high sensory awareness, are generally quite loud when it comes to company.


This is an ideal example of bark being worse than bite.

Generally (unless otherwise trained), these dogs will be entirely harmless to strangers, however loud they present.


Barking Tendencies

A side-effect of high intelligence, coupled with a good sense of awareness, is the desire to communicate.

These dogs are constantly bombarded with stimuli; and, to express those sensations and search for understanding, they will bark.


Clear communication and proper training improve this behavior.

However, even with this instruction, most Shiba Inus will continue to bark at strangers (provided the stranger is on the dog’s perceived territory).


Health Issues

Since modern breeding has such significant oversight, and these dogs are relatively new to the Americas, most genetic health issues are vanquished to a significant degree.

This does not speak to the individual illnesses which dogs can develop, just to evolutionary disadvantages that are now gone.


A proper diet and suitable exercise regiment work to prevent health issues and extend the lifespan.



Especially since these dogs are so used to small spaces, they can be highly territorial animals.

This makes them ideal for small, family homes since they take so seriously their duties to the household.


It is best to establish clear boundaries with these dogs by setting them aside some space that is just for them.


Cat Friendly

Shiba Inus are not the most cat friendly canines.

There are exceptions to every rule, however.


If the pup is particularly well-trained, there can be a great bond with cats.

Especially if the cat is an introvert, the two can typically leave each other alone.


Felines can be overwhelming company for the Shiba Inu.

Your best experience will come from having a Shiba Inu in a household with no other pets.


Read: Are Chihuahua Good With Cats?



High intelligence and excellent powers of observation set this breed apart.

Evolving as hunting and gaming animals, these dogs are still highly alert and aware.


Their barking is largely to try and communicate the extensive amount which they perceive.

These dogs do best in environments with which they are familiar.


This allows them situational understanding (so they have context for everything they perceive).



The Shiba Inu is a reasonably trainable dog, due to great energy and sufficient intelligent.

Training is best to start from as young an age as possible, since the propensity towards independence can detract from success.


It is best to seek professional training for this breed, when possible.

In all cases, remaining steady and consistent will yield the most training success.


Child Friendly

While these dogs are not likely to nip or bite, they are wont to bark at stressors.

Due to the unpredictable nature of children, if both are in the home, it is best to seek specific training for the dog to ensure proper relationship development.


Kids and Shiba Inus can get along well, though it is important to keep the territorial nature of these dogs in check.



Shiba Inus are extremely playful dogs.

Since they are a clever breed, they are generally able to understand physically oriented games.


While these dogs do enjoy their own company, they are also prone to showing affection through play.

A great way to show love (and get the necessary daily exercise), is to incorporate play into the day.


Watchdog Ability

Though the Shiba Inu is not necessarily the most intimidating pup, their loudness functions as a great alarm system.

They are generally high energy and alert to surroundings, so they can work as watchdogs with ease.


Since these pups are excellent runners, they can avoid confrontation and work to warn (as opposed to deterring threats).


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Other Pets

Shiba Inus love attention. They love even more when all the attention focuses on them.

Coupled with high territorialism, this breed is not the best suited to households with other pets.


You can get specific training for the Shiba Inu, and it will facilitate improvement.

That said, situations that involve socializing and compromise the dog’s sense of territory are generally stressful for the Shiba Inu.


Eating Needs and Habits

These dogs require anywhere between ½ to 1 ½ cups of food daily.

This is best when divided into two meals (one in the morning and the other in the evening).


When you feed these pups, it is important to check the feeding charts on the specific food being used.

We prefer to feed according to weight and metabolism as opposed to age.


In this way, we can prevent overfeeding and keep the pup’s system from being strained.



Puppies have specific dietary necessities resultant of the transition from breast milk to puppy food.

Taurine and DHA simulate some of the comforting ingredients found in canine breast milk.


Since their minds are developing, omega fatty acids are beneficial as they work to improve cognitive function.

A high-quality dog food primes the pup for a healthy life.


We are what we eat, and puppies benefit significantly from getting the building blocks necessary for a strong form.



Adult dogs (including seniors) have specific dietary requirements that depend on their metabolic speed and general health.

It is important to ensure high protein content, limits on additives and by-products, and enough fibre.


Healthy fats are an essential macronutrient, along with leafy, green vegetables.

Most foods include supplements to cover all vitamin and mineral bases.


To be sure, check with your vet to ensure that the dog is getting all necessary nutrition.

As with all living creatures, hydration is key to good health.


Famous Shiba Inu Dogs Worldwide

#1 Kabosu- The Meme King

Memes are a phenomenon first referenced by the scientist and writer, Richard Dawkins, as a reference to a social occurrence wherein an idea can spread.

Kabosu used this principle to thrust himself into fame.


This pup came from a Japanese puppy mill (in a major rescue effort) early on in his life.

His tragic roots did not prevent him from going on to a life of happiness and fame.


This dog’s face has been seen the world over, as the background of hilarious memes.


#2 Mari-Chan- The Comedic Canine

YouTube spurred this adorable, Japanese pup into stardom.

Her original schtick shows the affection of her human owner, coupled with the adorable disinterest of the dog.


The hilarity is highly relatable to Shiba Inu owners around the globe.

In fact, this dog now has a herd of followers online.


Videos of this famous pup were made available in DVD format given the extreme popularity of the dynamic duo.

Highlights include Mari-Chan rescuing her owner, as well as acting in detailed stories filled with props and detailed scenes.


#3 Bodhi- The Fashion Icon

This iconic Japanese dog is not only a star, but the breadwinner of his home.

Known the world over for his stylish apparel, this dog has modelled everything from Revlon to Ferragamo.


After starting his career by posting funny pictures of Bodhi in costume on Facebook, his human companions were able to leave their jobs and dedicate themselves full-time to the success of their stylish pup.


#4 Marutaro- The Social Media Star

This Japanese pup gained a significant amount of social media fame.

This canine (and his human companion’s) posts started after the tragic 2011 tsunami and earthquake in Japan.


After beginning to post online, Marutaro received countless messages about brightening peoples’ days during a dark time.

Eventually, this pup went on to be the second biggest celebrity out of ‘The Land of the Rising Sun’.


This dog has been featured on the cover of magazines and in television advertisements.

The iconic, smiling face became associated with strength and optimism in the face of adversity.


#5 Elee- The Talented and Trainable

This British pup has stormed the world stage due to her unique skill set.

We all know that Shiba Inus are notoriously difficult to train.


Elee is the exception that proves the rule.

The digital shorts were first posted to show the progress of this adorable pup.


After a dedicated 5 minutes of training everyday, Elee showed the world that it is possible (and fun) to train a Shiba Inu dog.

By challenging stereotypes, Elee has made training more accessible to these dogs the world over.


#6 Shibao Inuyama- The Media Mogul

News media is everywhere, but what sets this pup apart from the crowd is the unconventional media that has built his success.

The news, for many, is an inherently serious event (where we source much unfortunate information).


Shibao works to clear up this stereotype.

He appeared on many news broadcasts which double up as ads for banking services and 7/11s.


Shibao is found on the evening news, relieving the anchor of duties with his adorable doggy expression and eagerness to please.


#7 Shiba San- The Japanese Shoe Seller

The humble career of this furry creature started by encouraging customers into her owner’s shop.

She would open the door with her nose and hold it open for patrons.


Countless people followed the friendly face and wagging tail.

After all, who wouldn’t?


They quickly noticed that Shiba’s personality was sparking business and brought her on full time.

This shop keeping Shiba works in retail with extreme success.


When on break, this fun-loving pup will rest in the window, waiting for more potential customers to come by.


#8 Ryuji- The Okayaman Online Star

After being on Instagram for only one year, this cute and friendly pup had gained tens of thousands of followers.

Fans will go so far as to send the pup handmade drawings of his image.


Ryuji is a friendly furball, known for his love of attention.

One quirk of this dog is his need to live outdoors due to high sensitivity to chemicals.


This hasn’t held him back from becoming a smiling success, known the world over.


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How to Collect This Breed

When you are planning to bring home a Shiba Inu, one of the most important things to investigate is a reliable breeder (especially if you are pursuing a purebred pup).

Breeders understand genetics and temperaments of the dogs under their care and can match you to a perfect pet for your situation.


Do diligence on the breeder themselves to ensure that you have the best possible experience.

Alternative solutions include pursuing adoption of these pups.


If you pursue this route, talk to the shelter to ensure that your situation matches the needs of the dog.


How Much Does a Shiba Inu Cost?

  • Purebred pups of this breed typically cost anywhere from $1400 to $3500
  • Limited Registration prices range between $1400 to $2200
  • Fully registered Shiba Inu purebred dogs range from $2000 to $3500
  • Adopting dogs typically have a lower cost (a few hundred at most)


Breed Group

Non-Sporting Group

This breed group refers to dogs that were, at one time, bred for work but are now raised for companionship (or other non-work-related matters).

The classification does not reference size or ability, it is merely a reference to their origin and how it relates to their present status.


All Shiba Inu’s fall into this category since, when they are bred, it is with a view of companionship and fully domesticated living.


National Breed Clubs

Rescue Groups

Which Shiba Inu Data Shred Did You Like Most?

Now that we looked at everything to like and to love about these canine companions, was there anything that surprised you?

Were there some things that you already knew?


When you bring home this dog, what is the one thing you would keep in mind?

We would love to learn from your expertise.


If you have a Shiba Inu story to tell, let us know in the comments.

We hope this article helped you; and, if it did, share it along so that it can find fellow Shiba Inu fans and families.


Understanding the specific needs of our furry friends helps us relate to the best.

Our pets are a huge part of our lives, and the more we know the more affection we can show.

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