Japanese Shiba Inu

Japanese Shiba Inu picture

The Shiba Inu


This ancient breed native of Japan was first introduced into the UK in 1985 by Gerald and Kath Mitchell of Kiskas Kennels. Followed closely by Mr Roy Mulligan of Makoto Kennels and the late Anne Shimwells Wellshim Kennels. These 3 kennels are the main founders of all stock currently in the UK

The Shiba-inu are the smallest of the "Nippo" style of dog native to Japan. This starts from the massive Akita and goes down through seven sizes to the little Shiba. They all have the same shape and colouring with a few special exceptions which make each breed different, such as Height, temperament and a few colours individual to each breed, but they are essentially the same style of dog. The shiba is a tough little dog which were used for hunting small game such as birds, rats and rabbits in the mountainous regions of Japan. Courageous little dogs full of spirit they have lots of cat like tendencies and make wonderful family pets, but retain a very strong instinct for hunting which can lead to them going off on their own if not correctly controlled.

The little dog became very popular in Japan as a family pet and once recognised by Japan it gained status as a precious natural resource. This led to the dog being recognised by the FCI (world canine body) and the dog then went on to be shown by fanciers around the world. The name Shiba-Inu literally means "small dog", but whilst they have always been known as shiba-inu, they have also been known as the "Brushwood dog". This was because they were red in colour, and were most often seen scurrying through brushwood hunting small game.

Quick Reference


HEIGHT : Dog 39.5 cm Bitch 36.5cm (Jack Russell - Shetland Sheepdog)
GROOMING : Moderate
EXERCISE : Moderate
LOCALITY : Town & Country
LIFESPAN : Over 9 years

In the Home

FAMILY & CHILDREN : Friendly, but aloof with strangers.
OTHER PETS : Friendly with other dogs, cats. Can be overpoweringly playful with smaller dogs. Not suitable to be near small animals Rabbits, Mice, Hamsters etc or Birds.
TRAINING : Reasonably easy to train, can be difficult to train for recall due to strong hunting instinct, so it is advisable to be safe and keep on a flexi.
HOUSE TRAINING : Scrupulously clean, and cat like in their habits. Washing themselves etc.
NOISE LEVEL : Not a particular yapper or barker, thought they will bark to let you know a stranger is near. An Amazing, ear shattering Scream if hurt or frightened


CHARACTER : Friendly & Lively
TEMPERAMENT : Alert, Active, Intelligent & Faithful.


COAT : Harsh, fairly short straight outer coat with soft dense undercoat needs moderate grooming, moults once to twice a year, when it needs stripping out. Best done by plucking the tufts.
GENERAL : A natural breed they take little specialist care. General exercise, plenty of toys and a normal diet should see this little dog live for a number of years.


PEOPLE : Essential to introduce to as many people as possible at an early age.
PETS : Socialise well with dogs larger than themselves, OK with cats

Other Info

GENERAL APPEARANCE : Foxy faced, Small, well balanced, sturdy dog of spitz type. Very slightly longer than height at withers.
COLOURS : Red, Red & White, Black and Tan, Sesame (Salt n pepper) & Cream or white.

Summing Up

A shiba surveys all in his kingdom with a keen oriental eye, then leaps into life, lively, playing and racing, especially with children and toys. For a spitz breed you expect a noisy dog, but they are remarkably quiet, only barking when necessary. Independent and reserved especially with strangers, once welcomed into their world you are greeted with great affection. and they are totally devoted to you. A very big dog in a little package but with a strong hunting instinct. They are good with larger dogs, but need to be controlled on the lead for off lead, they are off hunting and turn an immediate deaf ear to your calls.

Japanese Shiba Inu breed guide written by : Ros Reynolds (Skiandu)