Hailing from Japan, the Shiba Inu, or “Shiba”, is known for its appealingly shaggy, fox-like appearance. Shibas are intelligent dogs, and can be boisterous and energetic. However, this doesn’t preclude them from being great family dogs. Although Shibas are spirited, with a bold and cheeky temperament, training and socialisation from an early age will help ensure that they react well to children.

Shibas: a good-looking dog

A small breed, Shibas were originally bred for hunting small animals. They are compact in build, and tend not to reach more than 40 centimetres in height. They have a double coat that is usually either red and black or black and tan in colour. Some Shibas have white tips on their tail or on their legs. Shibas are similar in appearance to the Japanese Akita, but are smaller in size. One physical attribute that is unique to the Shiba Inu is its triangular-shaped eyes.

Feisty and strong-willed

Like many smaller dogs, Shibas tend to have an exaggerated sense of self, and like to think of themselves as bigger than they are. For this reason they tend to settle into the ‘alpha’ position within a household or amongst other dogs. Careful and rigorous training is recommended to help establish an appropriate household pecking order with family members and other pets. Still, owners should bear in mind that Shibas do best in households without other dogs, and may not necessarily become truly comfortable around other dogs. Shibas tend to be fine around cats and other small pets, however.

Shibas: around the home

Shibas may sport a fluffy double coat, but they tend not to have a doggy smell. This means that they’re suitable as indoor dogs. In addition, while Shibas do need to be walked regularly, they don’t need a large yard. Many Shibas are easily accommodated in a small yard, or even in a flat. However, because Shibas are prone to jumping and leaping, fences around the yard need to be tall and secure.

Shibas: points to consider
In addition to being feisty animals, Shibas do have some characteristics that should be considered by potential owners. Shibas need to be regularly groomed, particularly when they’re shedding. However, bathing only needs to be undertaken on an occasional basis as bathing too frequently may dry out a Shiba’s sensitive skin.

In addition, Shibas shouldn’t be taken off the lead when being exercised. This is because they’re prone to excitement and will not respond to an owner’s calls to return. Shibas however, do require plenty of exercise, as they are a naturally active breed. In fact, it is said that it’s impossible to overexercise a Shiba, such is their verve for life. In terms of health, Shibas are generally low maintenance, although some Shibas can suffer from problems in and around their knee-caps.