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Shiba Inu Breed Information and Personality Traits

The Shiba Inu is one of Japan’s oldest purebred dogs and is a member of the Spitz family. They’re alert, intelligent, loyal and very strong-willed. The word ‘Shiba’ means brushwood in which these Japanese dogs hunted. ‘Inu’ is a Japanese description of small, thick-coated, agile dogs.

Shiba Inu at a glance
The Afghan Hound Dog Breed

The oldest and smallest of Japan’s dog breeds, the Shiba Inu is a strong willed and confident dog that is known to be a loyal companion. Find more dog breeds and dog care information at Hill’s Pet Nutrition Australia.


Weight Range:

Male: 7.5-11 kg
Female: 6.5-8.6 kg

Height at Withers:

Male: 37-42cm
Female: 34-39cm


Small but muscular dogs with a curled tail and very thick double coat. These dogs were bred for hunting - so they have a natural alert, attentive nature. Don’t bark unnecessarily - but do produce a high-pitched scream to get attention.


Exercise Requirements: 30 minutes/day
Energy Level: Medium
Longevity Range: 13-16 yrs.
Tendency to Drool: Low
Tendency to Snore: Low
Tendency to Bark: Low
Tendency to Dig: Low
Social/Attention Needs: Low
Mental Stimulation Needs: Moderate
Health risks: Low. Allergies and skin conditions (mostly in spring and summer due to grass and other allergens)

Bred For:



Length: Short
Characteristics: Thick double coat. Sheds a lot.
Colors: Black, tan, red, red sesame, cream.
Overall Grooming Needs: Moderate. Brush weekly. Bath every 3-4 months.

Club Recognition:

AKC Classification: Non-sporting
UKC Classification: Northern Bread
Prevalence: Uncommon

The Shiba Inus is a dog breed that’s smart and independent.

Shiba Inus is an ancient Japanese dog breed and a member of the Spitz family. They are natural watchdogs and very loyal companions. They’re also highly intelligent and can learn many obedience skills – however, their stubborn nature often prevents them from following commands.

For this reason, Shibas require a lot of patience when training and are better suited to experienced dog owners.


Shibas have a mind of their own. They are alert, active, friendly, spirited and have a strong self-reliant streak. In fact, like Basenjis, they’re often considered to have the temperament of cats – being generally aloof and independent – so it’s best not to expect a lot of affection.

They will bond strongly to owners, however, and enjoy regular play time with you. Shibas are also happy to be around family members but are quite reserved around guests or strangers.

Living With:

Due to their strong hunting instincts and sense of independence, it’s wise to keep a Shiba Inu on the lead when not inside. They usually refuse to come when called and disappear to wherever their nose takes them.

They’re also not very social. Shibas can be possessive with food and toys and don’t particularly get along with other dogs or young children.

Dealing with these personality traits requires an early introduction to rules and consistent training. But apart from that Shibas are excellent indoor dogs that are clean and very easy to house train. They’re even recommended for apartment living – as long as they get their exercise.

Diet Suggestions (>11 kg adult weight):

Puppy: Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Dry Dog Food

Adult: Hill’s Science Diet Adult Dry Dog Food; Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight Dry Dog Food

Mature: Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Senior Dry Dog Food

Diet Suggestions (<11 kg adult weight):

Puppy: Hill’s Science Diet Puppy Small Paws Dry Dog Food

Adult: Hill’s Science Diet Adult Small Paws Dry Dog Food; Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight Small & Mini Dry Dog Food

Mature: Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Senior Small Paws Dry Dog Food; Hill's Science Diet Adult 11+ Senior Small Paws Senior Dry Dog Food


Shiba Inus are the smallest and oldest native dog breed of Japan and have been around since 300BC. Having an alert and attentive nature, they were ideal hunting dogs that found small game for their owners in the mountainous Chūbu region.

By the end of WWII Shibas were nearly extinct due to bomb raids and the contagious distemper virus, which flourished after the war. The few surviving pure-bred dogs were taken to the city to help rebuild their population. Now they are Japan’s most prolific and adored dog breed again and are gaining notoriety worldwide.

Health Concerns:

Whilst they are not prone to too many ailments, there are some conditions they’re prone to. These cam include:

  • Allergies (itching red skin, odour and hair loss during warmer months),

  • Eye diseases (glaucoma, cataracts, retinal atrophy),

  • Luxating Patella (where a kneecap slips out of place),

  • Hip Dysplasia (a hip joint condition that results in arthritis).