The words Dog Breed Info with the letter D inside of a black paw print

The Purebred Shiba Inu

Information and Pictures

Two dogs with small perk ears and thick coats - A black with tan and white Shiba Inu is standing against pillows on the arms of a couch. There is a brown with white Shiba Inu laying in front of it.

"These are my 2 Shiba Inus, Tobias (2-year-old red sesame) and Dozer (1-year-old black and tan). They are actually half-brothers, having the same mother. Tobias, my 2-year-old red sesame Shiba Inu is a quiet boy, and very loyal and loving. He doesn’t bark much, and while he’s usually very good natured, he is very protective of me and his half-brother Dozer when he senses danger. Dozer, my 1-year-old black and tan Shiba Inu is energetic and always ready to play. He’s also quite the little guard dog, sometimes “sounding the alarm” before guests have even reached the door, though he’s never hostile toward people unless he senses danger."

Other Names
  • Japanese Shiba Inu
  • Japanese Small Size Dog
  • Shiba
  • Shiba Dog
  • Shiba Ken

SHEE-bah-EE-noo speaker


The Shiba is a small, compact dog. The head is in proportion with the body. The round muzzle has a moderate stop and tapers slightly toward the nose. The tight lips and the nose are black. The teeth meet in a scissors bite. The deep-set eyes are triangular in shape and dark in color. The eye rims are black. The erect ears are triangular in shape and small in proportion to the rest of the body. The front legs are straight. Dewclaws may be removed. The high-set tail is thick at the base, curled and carried over the back, either in a ring or with a sickle curve. The coat is double with a soft, thick undercoat and a stiff, straight outer coat. Coat colors come in red, or red with a little black overlay, black with tan markings, sesame with red markings, all with a cream, buff or gray undercoat. Markings should appear on the cheeks and sides of the muzzle, throat, underside and chest. There may be white on the legs, tip of the tail and above the eyes.


The Shiba is alert, confident, courageous and bold. It is loving, kind, trainable and brave. It is clean and most try to avoid puddles and are relatively easy to housebreak. They bark little and bond closely with their handler. Playful and delightful, a well-adjusted Shiba is good with kids, other dogs and cats. Active, lively, agile and fast. Socialize this breed well as a puppy, as they can be reserved with strangers. If the Shiba is not completely convinced that its handler can handle the pack leader position and regards itself as stronger minded  it will become a bit stubborn as it will believe it needs to make up its own rules. Proper human to canine communication is essential. A natural hunting dog, the Shiba should not be trusted alone with small pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs, rodents and small birds. Be careful when taking them off leash as they like to chase, especially if they do not regard their owners as a strong pack leader. Adapts well to traveling. Make sure you are this dog's firm, confident, consistent leader, providing daily pack walks to avoid behavior issues.

Height, Weight

Height: Males 14 - 16 inches (36 - 41 cm) Females 13 - 15 inches (33 - 38 cm)
Weight: Males 18 - 25 pounds (8 - 11 kg) Females 15 - 20 pounds (6.8 - 9 kg)

Health Problems

Prone to hip dysplasia, PRA and patellar luxation (slipped kneecap).

Living Conditions

The Shiba will do okay in an apartment if is sufficiently exercised. It is moderately active indoors and will do best with at least an average-sized yard. The Shiba's waterproof, all-weather coat protects it in both cold and hot conditions, so it can live outdoors if you have a secure yard of reasonable size. However, it does regard itself as part of the family and does not like to be left alone outside. This breed would be much happier living indoors with its family.


The Shiba Inu is an undemanding dog that will adapt to your circumstances, so long as it gets a daily walk. It is a very active dog and will be healthier and happier with regular exercise. This breed can walk for hours on end as it has tremendous endurance.

Life Expectancy

About 12-15 years

Litter Size

About 4 - 5 puppies


The Shiba has a clean, coarse, stiff, shorthaired coat that is easy to groom. Brush with a firm bristle brush to remove the dead hair and bathe only when absolutely necessary as it removes the natural waterproofing of the coat. This breed is a seasonally heavy shedder.


The Shiba is the smallest of the Japanese native breeds, which include the Kai Inu, Hokkaido Inu, Kishu Inu, Shikoku Inu, Tosa Inu and the Akita Inu. Despite its smaller size it was bred to hunt small wild game, bear, boar and to flush birds. The name Shiba means, both "small" and "brushwood" in Japanese. It may have been named after the terrain the dogs hunted in or the color of the Shiba's coat, or perhaps the dog's size. The word "Inu" means "dog." As with many breeds, the second world war nearly did the breed in. After the war was over, several breeding programs worked to bring the breed back to safe numbers. The Shiba is one of the most popular breeds in Japan today and is gaining numbers in the USA. The Shiba Inu was recognized by the AKC in 1992. Some of the Shiba's talents include: hunting, tracking, watchdog, guarding, agility and performing tricks.


Northern, AKC Non-Sporting

  • ACA = American Canine Association Inc.
  • ACR = American Canine Registry
  • AKC = American Kennel Club
  • ANKC = Australian National Kennel Club
  • APRI = American Pet Registry, Inc.
  • CKC = Continental Kennel Club
  • DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.
  • FCI = Fédération Cynologique Internationale
  • KCGB = Kennel Club of Great Britain
  • NAPR = North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • NKC = National Kennel Club
  • NZKC = New Zealand Kennel Club
A tan and black Shiba Inu puppy is sitting on a hardwood floor, it is looking down and towards the right. It has white tipped paws, small perk ears and a black muzzle.

Baby Rocky the red sesame Shiba Inu as a puppy at 3 months old

Close up a fuzzy - A tan Shiba Inu puppy is laying across table, it is looking forward and its head is slightly tilted to the left. Its ears are very small compared to the size of its head.

Edge, a female Shiba Inu puppy

Left Profile - A reddish-brown with white Shiba Inu is posing in a field and it is looking to the left. Its mouth is open and its tongue is sticking out. The dogs fluffy tail curls tightly over the top of its back. It has small perk ears and squinty eyes.

"Aust. Ch. Torza Totally Awe Some," photo courtesy of Trina and Ian Kennard, Torza Shiba Inu\Bichon Frise, Australia

The left side of a brown with white Shiba Inu that is standing in grass, it is looking to the left and it is panting. It has a thick coat, a ring tail and small perk ears.

Bluetooth the male Shiba Inu at 3 years old

Side view of a brown and tan dog with small perk ears, a black nose and slanted eyes wearing a black collar standing on a large rock covered with snow.

"This is my Shiba Inu, Cooper. He is 2 years old and very independent. He loves to go for a good run and always follows it with a good nap!"

Close up front side view - A tan Shiba Inu is laying across a carpet and it is chewing on a yellow fuzzy plush toy. The dog is fuzzy with small perk ears.

"This is Sushi as a 10-week-old puppy. Sushi gets walked at least once a day. He also gets exercise from playing with our 6-month-old cat. I have watched the Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan. We actually bought a 3-set of DVDs that we watched the night we brought Sushi home. One philosophy that we absolutely use on a daily basis is trying not to get him overly excited all the time, especially when we want him to do something or are taking him out of his cage. Also when he yelps as if he is in pain, we do not react right away. From the DVDs we learned that most of the time dogs will just get up and walk it off and people can make it worse by overreacting."

The front right side of a thick-coated, tan with white Shiba Inu that is laying down on a brick surface.

Griffin the Shiba Inu at rest

The back left side of a brown and white Shiba Inu puppy that is laying across a carpet and it is looking forward. The dog has a thick fluffy coat.

Gizmo the Shiba Inu puppy at about 3 and a half months old

The right side of a black with tan and white Shiba Inu standing across a concrete sidewalk and it is looking forward. The dogs tail curls sideways over the top of its back. It has small perk ears.

Bear the 9-year-old black and tan Shiba Inu

A black with tan and white Shiba Inu is laying across a grass surface and it is looking to the right. It has a thick coat and small ears.

Sadie the Shiba Inu at 4 years old

See more examples of the Shiba Inu