The Shiba Inu is the smallest of the six native Japanese breeds. It resembles the Akita Inu but smaller in size. Shiba in Japanese can mean “small” (pertaining to its size), and “brushwood” referring to the kind of terrain where the dog hunts in. The breed went the way of most other dogs after WWII and was revived through a series of breeding programs. Today, the Shiba Inu is one of the most popular breeds in Japan. Female dogs weigh from 15 to 20 pounds and stand at 13 to 15 inches tall, while the males are larger at 18 to 25 pounds and a height range of 14 to 16 inches. It is compact and well-proportioned with a round muzzle and a moderate stop. The dark eyes are deep set and triangular in shape with black eye rims. The ears are also triangular in shape, erect and small in proportion to the rest of the body. The tail is high set, curled and carried over the back either in a ring or curved like a sickle. It has a double coat made of a stiff and straight top coat and a soft, thick undercoat. The colours range from red, red with some black overlay, black with tan markings, sesame with red markings on the cheeks, throat, chest and sides of muzzle. Some white may appear on the legs, tip of the tail and above the eyes.
A versatile breed, the Shiba Inu is skilled in hunting, tracking, watch dog, agility, guarding and performing tricks. Bold, playful, active and alert, they are good with kids, other pets and bond closely with their owner. They have a distinctive “scream” – a high pitched and loud sound which they emit when provoked, unhappy,or even during periods of great joy.