The Shiba Inu is the smallest of the six originally Japanese dog breeds. The breed was originally bred for hunting in mountainous terrain. It is one of the oldest dog breeds, originally bred to hunt and flush rabbits, mice, and other small game. The breed was declared a national monument of Japan in 1936. During World War II, the breed nearly reached extinction, due to bombing and distemper. Three bloodlines survived, the first Shiba Inu was brought to the United States in 1954, and in 1992 the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club.
The Shiba Inu stands 13 to 17 inches tall and weighs 17 to 23 pounds. The double coat of the Shiba Inu is dense underneath and straight on the top. The coat may be red, black and tan, or sesame (red with black-tipped hairs), with a cream, buff, or grey undercoat. The coat can be creamy white, although it is rare.
The Shiba Inu is an independent and intelligent breed. It should be socialized and trained at an early age. It is a bold breed, and energetic. The Shiba Inu grooms itself meticulously, much like a cat. Due to its need to be clean, the breed is also easy to housebreak. The Shiba Inu has a distinguishing noise which it makes when it is provoked, unhappy, or excessively joyful, dubbed the “Shiba Scream”.
The breed is generally healthy and usually lives 12 to 15 years. It may suffer some health problems which can include glaucoma, cataracts, hip dysplasia, food allergies, luxating patella, and epilepsy.