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Meet the breed: Shiba Inu

Choosing to add a furry friend to your growing household is a long-term commitment, and picking a breed that fits your lifestyle presents the key to a happy home. With over 160 American Kennel Club-recognized breeds, that decision can seem overwhelming. We’re here to help you meet the breed that’s right for you. If you’re looking for a smart, loving and bold breed to add into your family, learn everything you need to know about the Shiba Inu.


  • Charming
  • Agile
  • Alert
  • Bold
  • Affectionate


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Bred in Japan, the Shiba Inu is a small wild game hunter. One of the most popular breeds of the country, it is also the smallest of the Japanese breeds. Nearly extinct by World War II, the Shiba Inu’s popularity picked up and is gaining more traction in the U.S. Alert and lively, this breed is a great watchdog for families.

Breed standards

  • AKC group: Non-sporting
  • UKC group: Northern
  • Average lifespan: 13 – 15 years
  • Average size: 20 – 30 pounds
  • Coat appearance: Soft and thick top coat, straight and tough undercoat
  • Coloration: Red, black and tan
  • Hypoallergenic: No
  • Other identifiers: Compact with well-defined, muscular build; body is longer than dog is tall; dark, deep-set eyes rimmed with black; large, triangular, erect ears; curved tail.
  • Possible alterations: May have white markings

Is this breed right for you?

An extremely affectionate breed, the Shiba Inu gets along well with children and other animals. Kind and gentle, they bond well with their direct masters. While doing OK in apartment life if properly exercised, it’s best that the Shiba Inu has a small yard to run in. A bit on the reserved side, he will still need a leash when being walked. A natural-born hunter, he’s not to be trusted with smaller pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs. A bit harder to train, this breed does make a good watchdog. Like other small breeds, he will need a consistent leader to avoid any behavioral issues. Easy to groom, the Shiba Inu is a heavy shedder.

Breed characteristics

A dream day in the life of a Shiba Inu

Waking up at the foot of his master’s bed, the Shiba Inu will calmly join his family in the kitchen for breakfast. Going outside to sniff the yard, he may chase a wild rodent if he sees one. Excited for his walk, the Shiba Inu will be on his best behavior unless you take him off of his leash. Back inside the home, he will love up on the little ones while keeping proper watch of the family home. Going to sleep with the rest of the family, his best day will be spent independently yet quietly attached.

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