Shiba Inus steal hearts wherever they go. From mischievous personalities to their stunning looks—not to mention their internet notoriety with the rise of the “doge” meme—these small dogs pack a major punch. The novice Shiba Inu owner is in for a handful. That’s not to say that they don’t make fantastic pets, but it requires a certain degree of patience and humor to manage the Shiba Inu’s antics.
In Japan, these native ancient dogs are recognized for their companionship, even being declared a national treasure. It’s believed that this breed is likely the result of the ancient Jomon-jin people’s dogs breeding with dogs brought to Japan with immigrants somewhere around 300 B.C.
The Shiba Inu Personality
The Shiba Inu personality is somewhat of an enigma. Fiercely loyal to their owners, but only fond of being touched on their own terms, these dogs are spirited, brash, energetic, and independent. Their stubbornness and confidence can be a double-edged sword for owners, especially when the Shiba Inu decides not to obey. These dogs are prized for their independence and ability to think for themselves.
The Shiba Inu Aesthetic
One thing Shiba Inu owners quickly get used to on walks is hearing how much their dog looks like a fox. According to Nippo standards, Shiba Inus are small, with breed standard males standing 39.5 cm and females standing 36.5 cm, with a 1.5 cm allowance up or down from those heights.
Their iconic double coats are soft and luxurious to the touch but also come with some pretty significant shedding when Shiba Inus blow their coats twice a year. Their coats come in several tones, with breed-compliant colors being red, black and tan, and sesame (red with black tips on the hairs). Other Shiba Inu colors, like cream, white, pinto, or other variations, are considered serious faults by show standards.
Shiba Inus have either a sickle or a curled tail held above their backs. Paired with their pointed triangular ears, these tails can tell a lot about a Shiba’s current mood, unfurling and falling when scared or upset or twitching back and forth in tiny wags when they’re happy.
The Unique Features of a Shiba Inu
The average Shiba Inu lifespan is 12 to 13 years, but this is dependent on the health and care provided. In fact, for a period of time, the oldest living dog in the world was a Shiba Inu mix named Pusuke who lived to the age of 26 years and 8 months.
These dogs are fastidious about their cleanliness, often grooming like a cat. This need for neatness can actually help with housebreaking a puppy because they generally prefer not to soil their living spaces.Their natural independence and intelligence make Shiba Inus one of the harder breeds to train. They’re highly food motivated, which means they’ll pick up what you want them to do quickly, but they may not be (and often aren’t) willing to perform commands on demand.
How to Care for Your Shiba Inu
The baseline care for a Shiba Inu is pretty similar to that of any other breed. However, there are some challenges that new Shiba Inu owners will need to keep in mind, including:
- These dogs can’t be trusted off-leash. If they see something that they want badly enough, they will run regardless of what their owners have to say.
- Don’t be alarmed by what’s affectionately known as the “Shiba Scream.” These dogs will voice their displeasure—very loudly. Trimming nails and bathing are quite likely to trigger this. While this can sometimes be trained out of them, it’s a pretty common breed quirk.
- Shiba Inus are prone to certain health conditions, including cataracts, hip dysplasia, and several allergies. Owners should take their dogs to regular vet checkups to ensure their health.
The Shiba Inu: Fiercely Stubborn but Fiercely Loyal
There’s a good reason Shiba Inus are some of the most popular dogs today. Despite their stubbornness and standoffishness with strangers, Shiba Inus are fantastic dogs for experienced owners ready for a challenge. These dogs enjoy spending time with their families on their terms and are small enough to keep in most living environments.
If you have a Shiba Inu and you want to learn more about you Shiba’s characteristics or you suspect your mixed breed dog may be part Shiba, the answers may lie in their DNA. Order a Know Your Pet DNA test today to help shed some light on your dog’s traits and personality.