Shiba Inu: small ‘n’ beautiful


Naturally beautiful, Shiba Inus are the embodiment of dignity and independence. Lively and bold, these small dogs are big dogs in small packages.

Who am I? The Shiba Inu was originally bred for hunting as she is small but agile dog who copes very well with mountainous terrain. Inu is the Japanese word for dog while Shiba refers to a type of red shrub, which either owe its origin to the fact that Shiba Inus hunted in wild shrubs or due to the fact that red is the most common colour in these dogs. It is also believed that in old Japanese, Shiba’s referred to ‘small.’This breed was primarily used for hunting by sight and scen in Japan. Today, Shiba Inus are primarily kept as pets both in Japan and abroad.
How do I look?
Shiba Inus are small dogs with double coats, comprising of a straight, stiff outer coat and a soft dense undercoat. Their all-weather coat protects them from both, heat and cold.
Their frame is compact and muscles are well developed. Shiba Inus give an expression of good natured and a strong dog. Her deep-set eyes are brown in colour, while the eye rims are black. Ears are small but firmly pricked, while the nose is black. They carry their tails over their back in a sickle or curled position.
They may be red, black and tan, or seasame (red with black-tipped hair), with a cream, buff or grey undercoat. They have urajiro markings, which refers to a pattern of white on her underside in contrast to her primary coat colour. Males are 14-17 inches tall, while the females are 13-16 inches high and weigh around 10 kg and 8 kg respectively.
How is my temperament?
Independent, intelligent, strong-willed, bold, alert, good natured… is how a Shiba Inu is. Since they are very independent, they need to be socialised at a very young age. They form excellent watchdogs and companions.
Here’s a dog who is reserved towards strangers but loyal and affectionate to people she loves, says Pam adoringly. They are fast and playful and hence make good companions for children. If they are socialised with other pets like dogs and cats in the house, they do well with them.
How is it to live with me?
“The Shiba Inu is one of the smallest of the Japanese breeds, but is possibly the biggest in attitude. Shibas like to be in charge with their favourite word being “mine.”
In a Shiba’s eyes they see everything belonged to them. They are very independent and don’t always do what they are asked to do. Shibas can be good watchdogs and will often be seen perched on high
objects in order to keep and eye on things,” told Pam Petersen of Royal Kennels.
“They are generally quite and do not bark a lot, although they can scream or yodel when they are asked to do something they do not like, such as nail trimming, bathing and leash breaking,” added Pam.

We like to play!

“The Shiba is both an active and adaptable animal. They enjoy hearty romps in the backyard, but do well in apartment life, as long as the owner takes them for their walk in the park. Shibas are extremely peopleoriented and require a fair amount of love and attention from their owners. It should be noted that most Shibas are not to be trusted off lead unless in a fenced yard. The Shiba is a natural hunter and given a chance will take off in search of game,” cautioned Pam.
How to take care of me as a puppy? Shiba puppies are very intelligent and have great memories. Introduce your puppy to new things and people early and make it a positive experience.
For example, introduce your new Shiba puppy to a calm child, have the child give him a small treat, the Shiba will walk away thinking kids are good. If you allow a young child to chase or frighten your puppy, she will think children are to be feared. Most Shiba pups will not forget any experience, whether good or bad.
How to groom me beautiful?
Like cats, Shiba Inus love to keep themselves clean by licking their paws and legs. They like to keep their coats clean by avoiding mud and dirt. Shiba Inus shed heavily twice a year, which normally occurs at the beginning or end of each season. They need regular brushing to keep their coats healthy.
How much exercise do I need?
They are very adjusting dogs and would adjust to any living style as long as they get their share of daily walk. It keeps them healthier and happier.
Am I healthy?
Shibas are a basically healthy breed but can suffer from eye defects, luxating patellas, seizures and allergies. On a concluding note, Pam added, “The Shiba Inu is a wonderful breed but not the breed for everyone. This “big dog in a small package” combined with some of his unique characteristics could make this breed a challenge to the average dog owner.”
(With inputs from Pam Peterson of Royal Kennels, home of Champion Shiba Inu, Kai Ken, Shih Tzu, Larry The Basenji, Goldberg, Skunkie D’s, The Sly Fox and Tally Ho. Pam has been breeding dogs for 26 years and along with her husband, runs a boarding and grooming business.)