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Shiba Inu dogs in snow

Shiba Inu

Shiba Inu dog breed is considered the smallest and oldest of Japan’s canines. DNA research has shown the Shiba Inu is one of the closest relatives to the Asian wolf. It originated in that country’s mountainous regions and was used to hunt game which included boar, rabbit, and bird. The hunting technique involved locating, flushing, and driving the game back to the hunter – not pointing, setting, or retrieving. Shiba Inu is now primarily an excellent companion dog breed.

Shiba Inu breed

Shiba Inu

Shiba Inu Temperament: With its keen senses, legendary cunning and quicksilver agility, the Shiba Inu is a friendly, outgoing companion and an excellent watchdog. The breed possesses a spirited boldness and an independent nature and requires mental challenges. Learns easily, but not motivated to obey. Not a good off-leash dog, as their innate prey drive often overrides learned behavior.

Spirited boldness, good nature, and independence characterize the Shiba Inu breed temperament. Extremely lively and fun-loving with their families. While sometimes aloof with strangers, aggression to humans or extreme shyness to be severely penalized. Shibas may not tolerate other dogs’ intrusions, and will display aggression if challenged.

Shiba Inu dogs

General Appearance and Characteristics: The Shiba Inu is a small dog of Spitz type, just off-square, well-balanced and muscular, with erect ears, dark slanted eyes, tapered muzzle, and coarse standoff coat. Males and females display both strength and elegance, neither coarse nor fine while retaining obvious differences. The overall impression conveys a spirited boldness, good nature, alertness, and agility.

Shiba Inu dogs at play

Shiba Inu Size: Height: Dogs 39.5 cm (15 1/2”), bitches 36.5 cm (14 1/2”). There is a tolerance of 1.5 cm (5/8”) shorter or taller.

Shiba Inu Coat & Colour: Coat: Double-coated, with the outer coat harsh and straight, and undercoat soft and dense. Guard hair approximately 1” on body, 1 1/2—2” on withers. Hair on tail slightly longer and forms a bristle, not a plume. Colour: Red, Sesame,

Shiba Inu puppies

Shiba Inu puppies in all colors

Color: Red, Sesame, Black and Tan. These are the only acceptable colors, and are to be given equal consideration. Colour is clear and intense, with an undercoat of cream, buff or gray. “Urajiro” (creamy white ventral color) is required on all three allowed colors, in these areas: side of muzzle, cheeks, inside ears, on underjaw and upper throat, inside of legs, on the abdomen, around the vent, ventral side of the tail. Cream does not extend over nasal bridge. Cream spots above eyes, on tip of tail, and on fore chest permitted but not required. White markings known as socks permitted but not desirable. Reverse mask (all cream/white face) is a fault.

Red Shiba Inu: light red to deep orange red.

Sesame Shiba Inu: red with black tipped hairs scattered evenly on body and sometimes head, with no concentration in any one area. A widow’s peak may be seen on the forehead, leaving the bridge and muzzle red.

Black and Tan Shiba Inu

Black and Tan Shiba Inu

Black and Tan Shiba Inu: Black has rusty cast, not blue, and extends over the entire dog. Clearly defined tan markings located over the eye, sides of muzzle, “bowtie” pattern on forechest, outside of forelegs from carpus to toes, outside of hindlegs from stifle down to toes, leaving black on rear of pasterns. Black pencilling on toes permitted. Tan may be found inside of ears and underside of tail.

Head: Skull: broad and flat with slight furrow, cheek muscles well developed, and stop moderate. Muzzle: full and round, tapering slightly to black nose, being 40% of total head length. The nasal bridge straight, lower jaw strong. The lips tight and black. Teeth: large, strong with scissors bite and full dentition. Missing teeth to be faulted (note that premolars are the most often missing), with five or more missing a disqualification. Eyes: small, triangular, set well apart and oblique (slanting up at outside corner). Dark brown in color, with black eye rims. Ears: small, thick, triangular, well-furred, inclining forward and firmly pricked.

Neck: Thick and muscular, blends into shoulders. No dewlap.

Forequarters: The shoulders moderately sloping, well developed. The elbows set close to body, and forearms straight. The pasterns slightly inclining. Feet are catlike with well-arched toes fitting tightly together and thick pads. The nails hard and darker color desirable.

Body: Body is tight-skinned and well muscled. Height to length ratio of 10 to 11, measured from withers to ground, and point of shoulder to point of buttock. Bitches may be slightly longer. Chest depth from withers to elbow one-half or slightly less of total height. The chest deep, ribs moderately sprung. Back straight and short, the loins broad and muscular, the abdomen firm and well tucked-up.

Tail: Set on high, thick and carried vigorously curled or curved as a sickle over back. The tip nearly reaching hocks when let down.

Hindquarters: The upper thighs long, and lower thighs short and well developed, with a wide natural stance. Angulation in balance with the forequarters. The hock joint strong. Feet as in front.

Gait: Light, quick and elastic. Forward reach and rear drive are moderate. Viewed from the front or rear, there is a tendency to single track. Topline remains level and firm.

Faults: Light eye color; Level or extremely overshot bite; 1 to 4 missing teeth; Reverse mask

Disqualifications: Under or over height; Coat colors other than described; Ears not pricked; Tail not carried over back; 5 or more missing teeth; Undershot bite.

Shiba Inu image

Links: Shiba Inu club UK; USA