Shiba Inu – Breed Profile

The Shiba Inu is a small to medium sized breed of dog. They are the smallest of the spitz breeds to originate from Japan. To find out more about the breed, and if it is a good fit for your family, read on below.

Shiba Inu Breed Profile image

Shiba Inu


Shiba Inus are known for their fox-like face and short, thick coat. They have a double layered coat, with a stiff outer layer over a thick and soft under layer. Coat colourings are usually red/orange, white/cream, black and tan, or sesame, while the undercoat is typically cream, buff or grey. The expected adult weight for the breed is 7-9kg for females and 8-11kg for males. Despite their soft and cuddly appearance, they are a well muscled and agile dog. Prick ears and a tail that curls over the back are the other key breed characteristics.


Shiba Inus are typically intelligent and independent. They can be stubborn, and it is advisable to train them from a young age, in order to raise a well-mannered adult. Due to their high prey drive, Shiba Inus are not always at home in multi-dog households or those with small children. They can also be prone to aggression towards other dogs. This characteristic is most prominent in females. As always, we recommend early socialisation, but this is particularly important with a Shiba Inu. They can be wary of strangers and unfamiliar environments. Because of this, early exposure to a wide variety of people and places is vital. They are loyal and affectionate towards their family and love nothing more than exercising with their owners. Their need for plenty of regular exercise makes them a great companion for very active families.


Shiba Inus tend to live a fairly long life, with an expectancy of between 12 and 15 years. They are largely a very healthy breed. Despite this, there are a few health concerns to look out for. The most common problems that develop in Shiba Inus are allergies, eye and joint problems. Eye problems include glaucoma, cataracts and entropion, which is a condition that causes the eyelid to fold inward, causing irritation to the eye. Joint problems typically present within the first two years of life and can include luxating patellas and, unusually for a breed their size, hip dysplasia. Grooming requirements are minimal, as Shiba Inus take very good care of their own coat.


Shiba Inus originate from Japan and are part of the spitz group that includes the Japanese Akita. They were bred as hunting dogs, used to flush out birds and small game. They came close to extinction during the second world war. Many died during the conflict, with most of the remaining population succumbing to starvation and distemper in its aftermath. During the Japanese recovery from the war, three surviving bloodlines were brought together. As a result of this breeding program, the breed was saved. The three lines used in the program are ancestors of every Shiba Inu around the world today.

The Shiba Inu in the attached photo is Kobi. We recently received a visit from Kobi at our Horsforth surgery.

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