Shibas are primitive dogs, closely decended from the Southeast Asian dingo. Similar breeds include the African Basenji, Korean Jindo, and the New Guinea Singing Dog. Shiba-like dogs are part of the foundation of the Japanese Akita. While shibas can bark, they are more often heard to make a variety of sounds from soft coos when they want something to loud shrieks of happiness (arriving at the park) or screams of terror (arriving at the vet's office). While they have been domesticated so they are reliable around people, they are still highly predatory and independant. They are prone to panic if they are tied or physically restrained, though walking on a leash is a must. They think for themselves, and easily tire of repetition. Shibas do best with positive, fun training methods (like "clicker training') and calm, firm, and fair discipline. (For example, "Today I will cut two of your toenails and then you will get a liver treat. No, you will not die from having a toenail cut. Tomorrow I will cut three of your toenails and then you will get a liver treat.") And walking on a leash is very important, as shibas will generally not come when you call them. Why should they? All shibas know they are smarter than their people. A shiba's goal in life is to have fun, and their people are welcome to join!
14 to 17 inches at the shoulder, 18 to 30 pounds. Females are in the lower end of this range, males are in the higher end.
red (most common), red sesame, black and tan (rare), cream (very rare)
oderate. Daily walks, running in a small yard, leaping about on furniture and a good game of ball can suffice. Shibas do need mental stimulation: a bug hunt, a game of hide and seek, or teaching their people a new trick.
12 to 16 years
Shibas like to chose their own body contact, and do best with children capable of interpreting and respecting the dog's wishes. Shibas will also run out a gate or a door left open, so children need to be old enough to help keep the dog secure.
Often aggressive with dogs of the same sex. Almost always predatory toward small animals (mice, rabbits, birds). Will get along with cats if the Shiba is very young or has lived with cats before.
Very agile, quick. Excellent ratters. (Shibas are very recently descended from "village dogs", which hang about villages, killing rats and going along on hunting trips to find game.) Shibas are often charming, sensitive and very gentle. Good company for people. Excellent bed-warmers, but generally not keen on being lap-dogs. Most make good watchdogs.
Shibas shed out their undercoat twice each year. Combing/brushing during shedding helps control the hair loss. Otherwise they keep themselves quite clean. Short coat sheds mud and dirt as soon as it dries.
Hip displaysia is rare, patellar luxation is more common, though it does not usually impede a pet shiba from a happy, healthy life. Glaucoma should be watched for as shibas age. Prone to allergies that manifest as skin-conditions, shibas do best on a high quality dog food with no soy proteins.
Early socialization is important, as shibas are primitive dogs. They are very social and do NOT do well if they are kept alone for long periods of time. Often they are happy living with a dog of the opposite sex. Shibas seem happiest when they can be indoors with people as much as they want and still have access to a fenced yard (for wildlife watching, bug hunting, sleeping in the sun, etc.) These dogs need very patient owners with a good sense of humor, as shibas love to play tricks on people.
Those who don't appreciate self-thinkers, or people not willing to train in a patient and consistant manner. Shiba owners need to understand pack behavior and indicate that they are dominant, yet teach the shiba to trust them. (If a shiba thinks you are going to hurt him you will NEVER catch him and he may even bite.)
Never boring. Affectionate, yet able to entertain themselves. Gentle and charming toward people. Usually not big barkers.
Highly prone to pack behavior - often aggressive with same sex dogs, and territorial toward all dogs. Often innately uncomfortable with physical restraint, so they can be "head shy" or can easily panic if tied or tangled. Very unreliable offleash, and they have a high prey drive. Unusual looking. Expect to be bothered a lot in the park, and get used to hearing people say "it looks just like a fox"! Reserved with strangers. Shibas are often escape artists if bored.