What You Need to Know About Shiba Inu

Shiba inu is an ancient Japanese dog breed and is one of the most popular companion dog in Japan and is getting more popular in western world in recent years due to its compact size and extremely cute looking figure and of course we’ve all seen viral online dog memes photos and videos about Shiba Inu.

In fact, Shiba inu was recently recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club in 1992 and according to them it is the 44th most popular dog breed in the US. Shiba Inu has a long history of being bred for as a hunting dog to hunt small animals like rabbit or other wild poultry and it still possess that hunting instinct up till today, so it is not recommend to ever let a Shiba Inu off leash because it will easily get distracted by anything that moves. My dog Jimmy sometimes will chase over a moving leaf during our walk and occasionally if there are squirrels or birds in our backyard Jimmy in no time will immediately sprint toward those poor animals until they are off sight.

Shiba inu or at least the breed that look like a Shiba Inu has a long history of being hunting partner with human. There are evidence found from around 300 BC discovered ancient Japanese families living with a small Shiba- like dog that had a thick coat and curled tail.

This ancient and full of personality dog breed is extremely loyal once he accepts you as his pack leader but keep in mind that loyal doesn’t necessarily mean obedient. A Shiba inu will do what a shiba inu wants or what makes sense to him. That is also why it can be challenging to train a Shiba Inu if you are a first-time dog owner. If you are looking for in depth Shiba Inu training tips check out here to learn more.


Shiba Inu is naturally a very clean breed and will clean itself often so its almost cat like. This makes potty train easier for them than most other dog breed. Just make sure you let your dog out after each meal or after a puppy wakes up from a nap to give it chance to release outside. If you are considering to get a new puppy always start by introducing your puppy to a confined area like a crate or a playpen and make sure the area is dog proofed because puppy Shiba Inu has a lot of energy and he will bite your furniture if you let him roam around freely in the house. Shiba Inu can adjust to an apartment setting as long as you provide him plenty of walks and play time throughout the day to use up his energy. Remember, a tired puppy is a best puppy so make sure you exercise your dog fully every single day. Another note about the environment is you are going to need a vacuum because Shiba Inu shed during season changes. It has a thick coat so when it sheds you will find fur all over your space so prepare to vacuum a lot when it is shedding season.


This cute compact looking creature although small in size but has a big temper and is extremely stubborn and smart so it can be hard to train if you are a first time dog owner. Shiba Inu is also a fairly independent breed so he is pretty good on his own most of the time, but he does like to receive attention from its owner, and you should give him your full attention during playtime or training session to build the mutual bond between you and your puppy. Shiba Inu also has a mind of his own, and will do what makes sense to him and not necessarily what makes sense to you, the owner. If you are just getting a new puppy, make sure to spend plenty of time in the first few months to play and bond with your dog. It takes time and effort to build bond between you and your new puppy but once Shiba Inu accept you as his pack leader he is extremely loyal and protective of its owner. Shiba Inu typically is not the most friendly dog to strangers and can be aggressive if not properly socialized so it is critical to socialize your Shiba Inu early on and have it get in contact with as many people and animals as possible to enhance its social skills and prevent later on dog aggression. For more detailed about how to raise a happy dog check out this video.

Energy Level

With the energy level I am breaking it down base on age. From my own experience raising Jimmy he is extremely energetic for the first year or a year and half. When Jimmy was just a few months old, I took jimmy to an indoor dog park almost every single day for one full hour to both exercise and also socialize him to as many dogs as possible to improve his social skills. After one hour playtime Jimmy still seems to have endless energy that he will find his own projects at home if I am not playing with him or train him. For Shiba Inu puppy, be prepared to spend extra time for the first year to exercise, socialization and to train him. The first year, especially the first 6 months is also the critical puppy development period so it is the best time to have it exposed to as many stimulations as possible like car noises, kitchen sound, laundry, lawn mowers and more to desensitize the dog early on and have it get used to human living environment.

For more grownup Shiba Inu after one year or a year and half the energy level will decrease a to more manageable range. Jimmy is now 2 years old and during the day most of the time he is napping and we walk him 3 times a day. First one in the morning and then one in the early afternoon around 4pm and then before sleepy time he has his last walk. On top of walks we spend about 1-2 hours sporadically throughout the day to play and train him. If you just got your new puppy and wonder if the energy level is ever gonna drop. It will, so hang tight and know that all the hard work you are doing before your dog reaches one year old is going to pay off in the long term so hang in there, you are doing a great job.

Common health problems and care

Shiba Inu in general is a very healthy breed but just like most other dog breeds there are some potential health problems. The most common health condition in Shiba inu is allergy. I’ve met a few Shiba inu owners and most of their Shiba Inu dogs at some point in their life suffer some sort of allergy problems. Unfortunately, Jimmy also is going through a rough path of mysterious allergy symptoms and when it comes to diagnoses it can take awhile before a vet diagnose what is the root cause of allergy. Typically the most common cause of allergy is flea and tick if it is during warmer months so make sure you follow a strict routine of flea and tick control. The other cause of allergy could be environmental or food related. In order to rule out the cause of food allergy the vet is likely going to prescribe your dog special diet to follow for an extended period of time(usually for 90 days) to role out food allergy. If the cause of allergy is environmental meaning he is allergic to pollen, grass or anything in the air then it is likely to be something you need to dealt with for the rest of your dog’s life. The good news is there are a lot of different treatment for environmental allergy so check with your vet to find what makes the most sense for you and your dog.


To summarize, Shiba Inu is full of personality with a compact size and curly tail. Their expression is often bold, spirited, and good natured. Shiba Inu’s fur is double coated so make it a perfect dog in colder weather. It is not the most friendly dog to strangers but it is very affectionate and loyal to its owner. To learn more about the personality of this ancient yet extremely cute looking dog check out here to learn more.