What Is a Shiba Inu? Everything You Need to Know

 Wednesday Aug 18,2021
By  Lancaster Puppies

Whether you are aware or not, the Shiba Inu is one popular breed that you likely pass by on the block more often than you realize! This peppy, alert little dog should not be underestimated when it comes to being attentive to their owner. With a life expectancy upwards of 15 years, this is one companion you can plan to rely on for years to come. Read on to learn more about this happy breed. 

All About the Shiba Inu

History of the Shiba Inu

Brown Shiba Inu puppy with white markings

Brought to this country a little more than 50 years ago, the Shiba Inu has been the most popular breed in Japan for its adaptability and good-spirited nature. Dating back to ancient times, this breed also fares well whether they are located in the city or countryside. As a result, the Shiba Inu is quickly gaining popularity in countries such as the USA.  

Relatively new to gain acceptance by the American Kennel Club (AKC), the Shiba Inu was recognized officially in 1992. The breed is considered by the AKC to maintain a medium range of breed popularity ranking. 

Appearance and Coat

Considered a small to medium breed, the Shiba Inu can be expected to reach an overall height of 14.5”-16.5” for males and about an inch shorter for females on average. Males will reach a final adult weight closer to 25 pounds, whereas females can be expected to reach maturity between 17-18 pounds or so.

Another one of the pros of the breed is its beautiful coat, which features a double layer that is neither wiry nor curly. The smooth, soft coat is considered medium level when it comes to shedding, with regular monthly grooming typically sufficing for care. 

A variety of colors and markings are typical of the Shiba Inu, with Black and Tan, Cream, Red Sesame, and Red colors recognized by the AKC. In addition, standard white markings designate key highlights around the dog’s chest, face, and paws. 


Lancaster Puppies Shiba Inu breed spotlight infographic: apartment friendly, great watch dog, intelligent, playful & active, devoted & loyal

The Shiba Inu ranks in the middle in terms of being welcoming to people they are not familiar with. An alert and patient breed, this can be considered a lookout dog of sorts! You can expect your Shiba Inu to be playful in the medium range as well, with frequent but short play or walk sessions to be expected. Those on the go or who live active lifestyles will also be glad to learn that this is one dog that can learn to roll with the punches, so to speak, with respect to adapting routines. With socialization and training, this spirited and devoted breed can be great for families with children.


All breeds have certain susceptibility to health conditions and impairments in later years, and the Shiba Inu is no exception. This being said, you should be sure to monitor your Shiba Inu for patella, hip, and ophthalmological issues through your veterinarian’s office. 

  • Patellar Luxation: You may need to consult your veterinarian about this issue in the event you notice your Shiba Inu “skipping a step” or otherwise attempting to walk on three legs while in motion. This may indicate that the knee has become dislocated, which requires quick medical attention. 
  • Hip Dysplasia: Similarly, being keen on your dog’s normal behavior can also help you notice a decreased range of motion in the hip area. This combined with a loss of thigh muscle mass or grating in the joint while your dog walks can indicate hip dysplasia.  
  • Cataracts: This inherited disease does tend to appear more frequently in Shiba Inus. Cataracts occur when the lens in the back of the eye loses its ability to focus light. As a result, a cloudy or opaque lens becomes apparent over the eyes. 

Be sure to develop a regular health care plan for your Shiba Inu with your trusted veterinarian to be sure you can reach the maximum lifespan of your pet. In this case, you can expect to enjoy more than 15 years with your dog with regular care. 

A Shiba Inu’s Ideal Home

The same adaptability to country or inner city living that made this breed popular in Japan has jettisoned the Shiba Inu’s demand in the US. In addition to its colorful coat, peppy attitude, and attentive nature, this breed enjoys stability for the most part with a willingness to engage on the occasional outdoor or far-away adventure. 

Person giving a brown and white Shiba Inu a treatTraining a Shiba Inu

The intelligence of the Shiba Inu combined with its assertiveness makes for a bit of a challenge when it comes down to training. With regular dedication and practice, however, this breed can be swayed to follow suit. This is especially true when you are able to convince the Shiba Inu it wanted to comply with your request all along!


Perfect for a big backyard in the countryside, or a cramped living quarters in the downtown section, you can expect your Shiba Inu to require an average amount of daily exercise. You should plan to provide plenty of activities and fun spaces for your dog, though, when you plan to be away for several hours at a time. This can help prevent unwanted barking, chewing, or otherwise naughty behavior in your absence. 

Grooming and Hygiene

Although their coat is not wiry or rough in feel, you should expect to brush your Shiba Inu regularly to prevent its double coat from matting or becoming unruly with shedding. 

Be sure to keep their nails in proper length and form, and check teeth regularly for any signs of decay or foul-smelling breath. The latter can indicate an infection or abscess and should be addressed quickly by a veterinarian.

What do you think, is a Shiba Inu the perfect match for your city or country home? Consult one of the breeders from Lancaster Puppies to be matched with the pup of your dreams.