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The Shiba Inu

"The Shiba Inu: A Comprehensive Guide" is an essential resource for anyone considering adding a Shiba Inu to their family or for current owners seeking to deepen their understanding of this unique breed. This guide covers everything from the history and temperament of Shiba Inus to practical advice on selecting a reputable breeder, preparing your home for a new puppy, and providing lifelong care.

The Shiba Inu: A Comprehensive Guide

Written by Orienta Shiba Inu 



The Shiba Inu, a small but mighty dog breed from Japan, has captured hearts worldwide with its spirited personality, striking appearance, and rich history. Known for their fox-like faces, curly tails, and confident demeanor, Shiba Inus are more than just adorable companions—they are a testament to Japan's cultural heritage and the enduring bond between humans and dogs.

This book aims to provide a detailed understanding of the Shiba Inu, covering its history, characteristics, care requirements, training tips, and much more. Whether you are a prospective Shiba owner, a current enthusiast, or simply curious about this unique breed, this guide will offer valuable insights and practical information.

History of the Shiba Inu

Origins and Early History

The Shiba Inu is one of Japan's oldest and smallest native dog breeds, with a history that stretches back over a thousand years. Their origins are deeply rooted in ancient Japan, where they were bred by indigenous people for hunting small game, such as birds and rabbits. These dogs were highly valued for their agility, keen senses, and independent nature, traits that made them exceptional hunters in Japan's rugged mountainous terrain. The breed's development was influenced by the diverse geography and climate of Japan, which helped shape the Shiba Inu's resilience and versatility.

Role in Japanese Culture

Shiba Inus hold a distinguished place in Japanese culture and history. Their name, "Shiba Inu," translates to "brushwood dog," which may refer to the brushwood bushes where they hunted or their reddish coat, resembling the autumn leaves of brushwood. Historically, they were not just hunting companions but also symbols of loyalty and bravery. In modern Japan, the Shiba Inu is celebrated as a national treasure, embodying a blend of traditional values and contemporary affection. The breed's image is deeply ingrained in Japanese art, literature, and even popular media, reflecting its status as a beloved cultural icon.

Near Extinction and Revival

The Shiba Inu population faced a severe decline during World War II due to bombing raids and post-war food shortages, which decimated their numbers. The breed was on the brink of extinction, but dedicated breeders and enthusiasts undertook significant efforts to revive and preserve the Shiba Inu. Post-war recovery included careful breeding programs aimed at standardising and revitalising the breed. These programs were successful, resulting in the robust and healthy Shiba Inu we know today. Through these efforts, the breed was not only saved but also refined, ensuring that its unique characteristics and genetic diversity were maintained for future generations.

Physical Characteristics

Size and Build

Shiba Inus are small to medium-sized dogs, characterized by their compact and muscular build. Males typically weigh between 23 to 25 pounds, while females weigh between 17 to 19 pounds. They stand about 13.5 to 16.5 inches tall at the shoulder. Despite their modest size, Shibas possess a sturdy and well-muscled frame, built for both endurance and agility. This physical robustness enables them to excel in various activities, from hiking and running to participating in agility sports.

Coat and Color

Shiba Inus boast a double coat designed for both insulation and protection. The outer coat is stiff and straight, providing a barrier against harsh weather, while the soft undercoat offers warmth. The breed standard recognizes several coat colors: red, sesame (red with black-tipped hairs), black and tan, and cream. Among these, the red Shiba Inu is the most common and iconic, often associated with the breed's classic appearance. The variety in coat colors adds to the breed’s visual appeal and uniqueness.

Facial Features

One of the most striking and defining features of the Shiba Inu is its facial expression. They have a broad, slightly rounded forehead, complemented by dark, triangular eyes that convey alertness and intelligence. The erect, triangular ears further enhance their expressive faces, often giving them a fox-like appearance. This distinctive look is not just charming but also indicative of the breed’s keen and observant nature.


The Shiba Inu's tail is another hallmark of the breed, contributing significantly to its unique and endearing look. Thick and curled tightly over the back, the tail adds a touch of elegance and distinctiveness to their overall appearance. This curled tail is not merely decorative; it also serves a practical purpose, helping to maintain balance and agility, which are essential traits for a breed originally developed for hunting in rugged terrains.


Temperament and Personality

Independent and Alert

Shiba Inus are known for their independent nature. They are alert and always aware of their surroundings, making them excellent watchdogs. This independence, however, can sometimes be mistaken for aloofness.

Loyal and Affectionate

While Shiba Inus are independent, they are also loyal and affectionate with their families. They form strong bonds with their owners and enjoy spending time with them, though they may not always be as overtly affectionate as some other breeds.

Intelligent and Curious

Shiba Inus are highly intelligent and curious dogs. They enjoy exploring their environment and solving problems. This intelligence, combined with their independent streak, can make training a challenge, but it also means they can excel in various activities when properly motivated.

Bold and Confident

Shibas are confident dogs that carry themselves with a sense of pride. They are not easily intimidated and can be quite bold, sometimes leading them into tricky situations if not carefully managed.

Caring for a Shiba Inu

Diet and Nutrition

Proper diet and nutrition are crucial for the health and well-being of a Shiba Inu. A balanced diet that includes high-quality protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals is essential. Portion control and regular feeding schedules help maintain a healthy weight and prevent obesity.

Exercise Needs

Shiba Inus are active dogs that require regular exercise to stay healthy and happy. Daily walks, playtime, and mental stimulation are important. They enjoy activities that challenge their agility and intelligence, such as agility courses, puzzle toys, and interactive games.

Grooming Requirements

Shiba Inus have relatively low grooming needs compared to some other breeds, but they do shed, especially during seasonal changes. Regular brushing helps manage shedding and keeps their coat healthy. Bathing should be done as needed, and routine care like nail trimming, ear cleaning, and dental hygiene should not be overlooked.

Health Considerations

Shiba Inus are generally healthy dogs, but like all breeds, they can be prone to certain health conditions. Common issues include hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, allergies, and eye problems. Regular veterinary check-ups and a proactive approach to health care can help identify and manage these conditions early.


Training and Socialisation

Early Training and Socialisation

Early training and socialization are essential for Shiba Inus. Starting from puppyhood, they should be exposed to various people, environments, and other animals to develop well-rounded social skills. Positive reinforcement methods work best, as Shibas respond well to rewards and praise.

Basic Commands and Obedience

Training a Shiba Inu requires patience and consistency. Basic commands like sit, stay, come, and down should be taught early on. Due to their independent nature, Shibas may test boundaries, so firm but gentle training is important.

Behavioural Challenges

Shiba Inus can present certain behavioral challenges, such as stubbornness, possessiveness, and occasional aggression toward other dogs. Addressing these issues early and working with a professional trainer if needed can help mitigate potential problems.


Living with a Shiba Inu

Home Environment

Shiba Inus can adapt to various living environments, from apartments to houses with yards. However, they thrive in homes where they receive adequate exercise and mental stimulation. A secure yard is important, as Shibas are known for their escape artist tendencies.

Family Dynamics

Shiba Inus can be great family pets, but they may not always get along with young children or other pets. Supervision and proper introductions are crucial. They are best suited for families who understand and respect their independent nature.

Travel and Adventures

Shiba Inus often enjoy outdoor activities and adventures. They can be great companions for hiking, running, and exploring new places. Ensuring they are well-trained and comfortable with travel can make these experiences enjoyable for both the dog and the owner.


Shiba Inu in Popular Culture

Internet Fame

Shiba Inus have gained significant popularity on the internet, thanks in part to their expressive faces and unique behaviors. Memes, social media accounts, and viral videos have contributed to their fame, with some Shibas becoming global sensations.

Famous Shiba Inu

Several Shiba Inus have achieved celebrity status, such as "Doge," the Shiba featured in the popular meme that took the internet by storm. These famous dogs have helped raise awareness and interest in the breed.

Showing your Shiba Inu in Australia


Showing a Shiba Inu in Australia is an exciting endeavor that can be both rewarding and challenging. This guide provides comprehensive information on preparing, training, and presenting your Shiba Inu in Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) dog shows. Whether you are a novice or an experienced handler, this book offers valuable insights to help you and your Shiba Inu excel in the show ring.

Overview of Dog Shows

Dog shows are competitive events where purebred dogs are evaluated based on how closely they conform to their breed standard. These events provide a platform for breeders to showcase their dogs and for enthusiasts to celebrate the qualities of their breed. Judges assess each dog on specific criteria including appearance, movement, and temperament, ensuring they meet the established standards of their breed.

Role of the ANKC

The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) is the governing body for purebred dog registration and dog shows in Australia. The ANKC establishes breed standards, organizes events, and ensures the integrity of dog shows. It provides guidelines for judging, maintains breed registries, and supports the promotion and improvement of purebred dogs across Australia.

Objectives of Showing Your Shiba Inu

Participating in dog shows can help you assess the quality of your Shiba Inu, meet other enthusiasts, and contribute to the breed's development. It also provides opportunities for titles and recognition. Showing your dog allows you to demonstrate their conformity to the breed standard and offers a chance to receive feedback from experienced judges, which can be invaluable for future breeding decisions.

Selecting a Show-Quality Shiba Inu

Not all Shiba Inus are suited for the show ring. A show-quality dog should closely adhere to the ANKC breed standard, which includes specific physical traits, movement, and temperament. Consulting with experienced breeders can help you select a promising puppy. Look for a balanced structure, proper coat, and a confident demeanor, as these are crucial for success in the ring.

Socialisation and Basic Training

Early socialization and basic training are crucial for a successful show dog. Expose your Shiba Inu to various environments, people, and other dogs to build confidence. Basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, and heel are essential. Ensuring your dog is comfortable in different settings will help them remain calm and focused during shows.

Show Training

Show training focuses on specific skills needed for the ring, such as stacking (standing in a specific position), gaiting (moving in a specific manner), and allowing examination by judges. Practice these skills regularly and consider enrolling in handling classes. These classes can provide hands-on experience and tips from seasoned handlers, improving both your skills and your dog’s performance.

Understanding the ANKC Shiba Inu Breed Standard:

General Appearance

The ANKC breed standard describes the ideal Shiba Inu as a small, well-balanced, and muscular dog with a keen and confident expression. Key features include a fox-like face, erect ears, and a curled tail. The overall look should convey agility, strength, and alertness.

Detailed Standard

Size and Proportion: Males typically stand 38-41 cm at the withers, while females stand 35-38 cm. The overall balance and proportion are more important than size alone. Dogs should present a harmonious, compact frame with an efficient and graceful movement.

Head: The head should be in proportion to the body, with a broad forehead, distinct stop, and strong muzzle. Eyes should be dark brown, slightly slanted, and with a confident expression. Ears should be small, triangular, and firmly erect, contributing to the breed’s alert look.

Body: The body should be compact with a straight back, deep chest, and well-sprung ribs. The neck should be strong and of moderate length, supporting a poised head carriage.

Tail: The tail should be thick, high-set, and curled over the back in a tight or curved fashion. It should complement the dog's overall balance and appearance.

Coat and Color: The coat is double-layered, with a soft undercoat and a stiff, straight outer coat. Acceptable colors include red, sesame, black and tan, and cream. The coat should be well-maintained to highlight its natural texture and color.

Faults and Disqualifications

Understanding faults and disqualifications in the breed standard helps you identify areas for improvement. Common faults include weak muzzles, light eyes, and incorrect coat colors or patterns. Disqualifications can include significant deviations from the breed standard, such as incorrect ear set or improper tail carriage.

Health and Grooming for Show Shiba Inus:

Health Considerations

A healthy Shiba Inu is essential for success in the show ring. Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and preventive care are crucial. Ensure your dog is free from common health issues like hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, and allergies. Maintaining your dog's health not only improves their performance but also ensures their overall well-being.

Grooming Requirements

Shiba Inus have relatively low grooming needs, but regular maintenance is essential for a show dog. This includes:

  • Brushing: Regular brushing to remove loose hair and maintain a healthy coat.

  • Bathing: Bathe your Shiba Inu as needed, usually every few weeks, to keep their coat clean and shiny. Show dogs are generally bathed and groomed on a weekly basis

  • Nail Trimming: Keep nails short and neat to ensure proper foot structure and movement.

  • Teeth Cleaning: Regular dental care to ensure clean teeth and fresh breath.

  • Ear Cleaning: Check and clean ears regularly to prevent infections.

Show Grooming Techniques

Show grooming involves additional steps to ensure your Shiba Inu looks its best:

  • Trimming: Trimming of the Shiba Inu is generally not accepted.

  • Conditioning: Use coat conditioners to enhance the texture and shine of the coat.

  • Finishing Sprays: Apply finishing sprays to add a polished look and keep the coat in top condition.

The Day of the Show:

Preparing for the Show

Preparation for the show day begins well in advance. Ensure all necessary documents, such as registration papers, health certificates, and entry forms, are in order. Pack a show bag with grooming supplies, treats, water, and a comfortable crate for your dog. Having everything ready will help you focus on your dog’s performance.

Arrival and Check-In

Arrive early to allow your dog to acclimate to the new environment. Check in with the show officials (if necessary) and find your designated ring. Ensure your dog is comfortable and relaxed before the event begins, allowing them to perform their best.

Ring Etiquette and Procedures

Understanding ring etiquette is crucial for a successful show experience:

  • Entering the Ring: Enter the ring confidently and follow the judge's instructions.

  • Stacking: Position your dog in a proper stack, highlighting their best features.

  • Gaiting: Move your dog around the ring at a controlled pace, showing their movement and structure.

  • Judge's Examination: Allow the judge to examine your dog calmly, including checking the teeth, coat, and overall structure.

  • Final Presentation: Maintain a positive attitude and keep your dog focused until the judging is complete.

Handling Tips

Effective handling can make a significant difference in the show ring:

  • Stay Calm: Your dog will pick up on your energy, so remain calm and confident.

  • Use Positive Reinforcement: Reward your dog with treats and praise for good behavior.

  • Practice at Home: Regular practice sessions will help your dog feel more comfortable in the ring.

Titles and Awards:

Understanding Titles

In ANKC shows, dogs can earn various titles based on their performance. Common titles include:

  • Champion (CH): Awarded to dogs that have earned a specified number of points from winning classes.

  • Grand Champion (GR CH): Awarded to champions that achieve additional points and wins.

  • Supreme Champion (SUP CH): The highest conformation title, requiring exceptional performance.

Point System

Points are awarded based on the number of dogs defeated in competition. Understanding the point system helps you track your dog's progress toward titles. Points are typically accumulated over multiple shows, rewarding consistent performance and excellence.

Achieving Titles

Consistency and dedication are key to achieving titles. Regular participation in shows, continuous training, and maintaining your dog's health and grooming are essential. Each show offers an opportunity to earn points and gain valuable experience.

Beyond the Show Ring:

Breeding Considerations

If you are interested in breeding your show Shiba Inu, it's important to understand responsible breeding practices. Ensure your dog meets the breed standard, has a good temperament, and is free from hereditary health issues. Responsible breeding helps preserve the breed’s qualities and contributes to its overall improvement.

Other Activities

Shiba Inus can excel in various activities beyond conformation shows, such as obedience, agility, and rally. These activities provide additional outlets for your dog's energy and intelligence. Participating in different dog sports can strengthen the bond between you and your Shiba Inu while keeping them physically and mentally stimulated.

Community and Networking

Participating in dog shows allows you to connect with other Shiba Inu enthusiasts, breeders, and handlers. Building a network of supportive contacts can provide valuable insights and opportunities. Engaging with the community can enhance your experience and provide support throughout your journey.

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