Shiba Inu

The Shiba Inu is the smallest of the six original and distinct breeds of dog from Japan.

A small, agile dog that copes very well with mountainous terrain, the Shiba Inu was originally bred for hunting. Shiba Inu is similar in appearance to the Akita, though much smaller in stature. It is one of the few ancient dog breeds still in existence in the world today.

Appearance of Shiba Inu

The Shiba's frame is compact with well-developed muscles. Males and females are distinctly different in appearance: males are masculine without coarseness, females are feminine without weakness of structure. Males 14 1/2 inches to 16 1/2 inches (35–43 cm) at withers. Females 13 1/2 inches to 15 1/2 inches (33–41 cm). The preferred size is the middle of the range for each sex. Average weight at preferred size is approximately 23 pounds (10 kg) for males, 17 pounds (8 kg) for females. Bone is moderate.

Coat: Double coated with the outer coat being stiff and straight and the undercoat soft and thick. Fur is short and even on face, ears, and legs. Guard hairs stand off the body are about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in length at the withers. Tail hair is slightly longer and stands open in a brush. Shibas may be red, black and tan, or sesame (red with black-tipped hairs), with a cream, buff, or grey undercoat. They may also be cream, though this color is considered a "major fault" and should never be intentionally bred in a show dog, as the required markings known as "urajiro" are not visible. "Urajiro" literally translates to "underside white". The urajiro (cream to white ventral color) is required in the following areas on all coat colors: on the sides of the muzzle, on the cheeks, inside the ears, on the underjaw and upper throat inside of legs, on the abdomen, around the vent and the ventral side of the tail. On reds: commonly on the throat, forechest, and chest. On blacks and sesames: commonly as a triangular mark on both sides of the forechest.

Temperament of Shiba Inu

Shiba Inus are generally independent and intelligent dogs. Some owners struggle with obedience training, but as with many dogs, socialization at a young age can greatly affect temperament. Traits such as independence and intelligence are often associated with ancient dog breeds, such as the Shiba Inu. Shibas should always be on a leash, unless in a secured area, because of their strong prey drive.

The Shiba is a fastidious breed and feels the need to maintain itself in a clean state. They can often be seen licking their paws and legs much like a cat. They generally go out of their way to keep their coats clean, yet thoroughly enjoy swimming and playing in puddles. Because of their fastidious and proud nature, the Shiba puppy is easy to housebreak and in many cases will housebreak themselves. Having their owner simply place them outside after meal times and naps is generally enough to teach the Shiba the appropriate method of toileting.

A distinguishing characteristic of the breed is the so-called "shiba scream". When sufficiently provoked or unhappy, the dog will produce a loud, high pitched scream. This can occur when attempting to handle the dog in a way that it deems unacceptable. The animal may also emit a very similar sound during periods of great joy, such as the return of the owner after an extended absence, or the arrival of a favored human guest.

Health of Shiba Inu

Health conditions known to affect this breed are allergies, glaucoma, cataracts, hip dysplasia,entropion, and luxating patella. Overall, however, they are of great genetic soundness and few Shibas are diagnosed with genetic defects in comparison to other dog breeds.

The joint evaluations are generally considered good for the life of the dog and are generally discovered early in the dog's life, but the eye test must be performed yearly to be considered valid. At two years old, Shiba Inus can be tested as fully free from joint problems, at which time the skeleton has had time to finish growing.

As with any dog, Shibas should be walked or otherwise exercised daily.

Life span of Shiba Inu

Their average life expectancy is from 12 – 15 years. Exercise, especially daily walks, is preferred for this breed to live a long and healthy life.

Grooming of Shiba Inu

These dogs are very clean, so grooming needs will likely be at a minimum. A Shiba Inu coat is short, coarse and naturally waterproof, so there is little need for regular bathing. However, there is one drawback and that is shedding, also known as blowing coat. They have a thick undercoat that can protect them from temperatures well below freezing. Shedding is heaviest during the seasonal change, especially during the summer season, but brushing should be performed on a daily basis whenever possible.

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