Shiba Inu History

Have you ever seen a fluffier dog than the beautiful Shiba Inu? You might not know that, but there’s a lot to learn about this attracting dog breed, especially if you are interested in getting one, or it you already have one and are looking to get to know your dog better.

The marvelous Shiba Inu is one of the six native breeds in Japan, and it gained popularity worldwide, especially recently. After all, this breed has looks that remind of a teddy bear, with physical characteristics that inspire toy manufactures in the creation of stuffed animals.

However, Shiba Inus are not only cute, fluffy, and good-looking: they are also highly intelligent, agile, and can become an extremely loyal component of your family.

If you are familiar with dogs already, you should know that each individual always has a unique personality that characterizes him or her, just like with human beings. However, it is also true that some traits can are typical of the breed. It is such traits that tend to have deep roots in the history of the dogs and that are unlikely to change.

If you want to learn more about your Shiba Inu, or if you are curious to get a better sense of this breed and decide whether it is suitable for you or not, learning about its history and origins can help you. The idea is that having some knowledge of a breed’s history will help you get a better understanding of the reasons for the temperament and the overall personality of your pup. Learn about what you can expect and why is your dog behaving how he is by informing yourself on Shiba Inu History.

Information online tends to be scattered and sometimes contradictory, but we got you covered! Since we love Shiba Inus, just like you do, we decided to put together an essential guide on Shiba Inu history.

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get started!

Shiba Inu: Origin of the Name

Before we get deeper into the history of Shiba Inu, it might be interesting to touch upon the origin of its name. If you are familiar with other Japanese breeds, you might have noticed that the word Inu is often present. Well, that’s because it’s the Japanese word for dog, so if you didn’t know it before, that’s an explanation for why it seems to be always accompanying a breed name.

It is the word Shiba that is supposed to bring more meaning. In Japanese, it stands for “brushwood” and the reason for the choice such a name is unclear and still open to interpretation. Some think it refers to the dog’s characteristic coat color, resembling the typical autumn colors of the typical shrubbery, while others link the name to the shrubs among which the dog breed used to hunt.

Others suggest that the word “Shiba” comes from an ancient dialect, where it stands for “small”, referring to the dog’s size. After all, the Shiba Inu is the smallest of all native Japanese dog breeds, so that would also make sense.

Origins of the Shiba Inu

Dogs seem to have been part of Japan’s history from the beginning of the country’s recorded history. Modern breeds as we know them today are the results of repeated selection over the years from all dogs settled in Japan after several migration periods.

As testimonies for the presence of dogs throughout Japanese history, and their closeness to humans, several archeological excavations found dogs’ rest in several areas of the country, including the first settlements of some of the nomad tribes.

Also, the fact that by the 7th century AD, the Imperial Court set up a dog keepers office is the confirmation of the importance of dogs for the Japanese. It is probably because of that ancient decision that all native breeds of the country remained highly treasured and became an integral part of the country’s culture.

The Shiba Inu originates from the mountainous regions of Japan, which explains the thick coat, designed to protect the dog from the cold winter weather while still being able to enjoy living outdoors and hunting. Because of their small size, they mainly hunted smaller game, even if some owners reported to have been able to hunt boars and bears with them.

Most dogs were bred for hunting but were also family companions. Since Japan was closed to foreigners between the 17th and 18th centuries, the breed remained pure for several centuries. It was only by the mid 19th century that people started to import dogs from other parts of the world, mostly for their physical appearance. That also meant for some Japanese dogs to be crossed with imported breeds, changing the bloodline and giving birth to other types of dogs. Luckily, that was only true for dogs living in more populated areas, with Shibas in the countryside remaining the pure strands over the centuries.

World War II has not only affected human history but also, to a lesser effect, that of some dog breeds. Among them, the Shiba Inu. This breed almost disappeared because of the bombing raids and due to the virulent strain of the distemper.

Luckily some individuals survived, and after the war, Shibas found in the Japanese countryside were subjected to breeding programs to reinvigorate the bloodline. That was the birth of the Shiba Inu breed as we know it today.

Records show that the first Shiba got to the US in the mid 20th century, but the American Kennel Club only recognized the breed in 1993. Today, Shibas are common all over the world but are still the most popular breed in Japan, where they are strongly cherished.

History and Personality Explained

Despite their cute appearance, Shibas are hunters at their core. That might explain their independence, agility, and alertness. If you are a first-time dog owner, you might get disappointed, especially if you are looking for the classical affectionate and playful dog. Don’t expect Shibas to cuddle up beside you or to follow you everywhere. They tend to be solitary and are mostly quiet dogs, not extremely social with others. But if you like this breed, don’t worry: other characteristics make Shibas the perfect dog.

These dogs, despite their independence, can develop strong bonds with their owners, as long as you give them the right care. In that sense, they are more like cats, demanding attention only when it suits them, with their mischievous curiosity and cleanliness. They also enjoy playing and going out for walks, and they can be very affectionate. Because they do not require excessive exercise, they are suitable for apartment living, which is also why they have become so popular nowadays.

Despite being highly intelligent (or maybe because of that), you’ll need some persistence to train them. Shibas are known for being strong-willed, meaning that forcing them to do something is rarely successful. The good news is that they tend to be very food-motivated so, arm yourself with tons of patience and lots of their favorite treats, and you’re good to go!

Japanese Shiba Dogs are great observers, a trait that has developed during the several years spent in the forest hunting. They seem to understand how humans think and can become loyal to their masters and family.

Physical Appearance

We all know about the “fox-like” appearance of Shibas, that makes them so captivating. Shibas come in a variety of colors, including sable and black, but the reddish coat is arguably the most common one. The good thing about these little dogs is that they are known for being clean dogs. Sadly, they shed a lot, especially during the molting season. With the right grooming tools, you’ll only need to put a bit more effort into cleaning and get used to having to deal with some hairs around your home.

Shibas are proportionate dogs, with males ranging from 14 to 16 inches tall, while females being between 13 and 15 inches in height. Their black button nose, pricked ears, and curly tails are other typical characteristics of such dogs.

Because of their origins and the history surrounding the breed, Japanese Shiba Dogs are sturdy, despite being small. Their muscular body is probably a result of the hunting history of these dogs, which gives them gracefulness, elegance, and dignity. They rarely fall ill and can withstand different weather conditions well.

You must not forget that, even if these dogs look cute, they are fierce, bold, and somewhat possessive. If you happen to have a puppy, ensure it socialized from an early stage, as it might become aggressive when not trained. Many claim that Shibas show many remnants from wolf’s personalities, which might be true, given their solitary tendency and their innate agility.

The Bottom Line

We rarely focus on a dog breed’s history before getting a puppy. However, we should do that more. As you might have noticed, learning more about the origin of Shiba Inus is one of the best ways to get to know the dog better and understand his or her behavior. By knowing what you should expect from such dogs, you’ll have a better sense of how to handle even the most difficult situations.