“People love to stay surrounded by happy and playful dogs. There are many beautiful, smart dogs, and one very special type of them is the Shiba Inu!” writes animal blogger Farah. Therefore, in this first part of our series on Japanese pets, she tells you all about the Japanese dog breed Shiba Inu. We also meet Tenko, Vanessa’s adorable Shiba Inu.


Shiba Inu are small Japanese dogs that are cunning and have fox-like faces. They love to run around. Their peculiar features have made them popular pets not only in Japan but all around the globe.

Dogs of this breed are beautiful and are quite popular as Shiba Inu was the dog, featured in the Doge Internet meme that became popular in 2013. The Shiba Inu dog belongs to the Japanese hunting dog breed. These vigilant, small, and fast-moving dogs have a double fur coat. They have a soft and thick inner coat, while the upper coat is straight and hard. 

They have sturdy musculature, and evenly distributed fur on the face, ears, front legs, and back legs. The body hair grows up to 4 to 5 cm in length. Their tail is pretty, with hairs standing in a brush-like fashion, and it acts as a protection shield in strong winds and winters. It is often claimed that when Shiba Inu curls to sleep, their tail might hide their face, but as Vanessa explains, that depends on the individual dog: “Tenko loves to sleep, but most of the time he sleeps completely on his side. Sometimes – but rarely – he sleeps like a fox with his tail behind his face”. The breed comes in numerous colors: red, black and tan, cream, sesame, and black sesame to red sesame.”



Shiba Inu has quite a history. The pure Shiba Inu used to live in the mountains of Chibu state, Japan. It was the breed that gave modern Shiba Inus its particular features. The hunters used the Shiba Inu dog breed. During the Meiji revolution, western dogs were crossed with pure Japanese dog breeds to get dogs with peculiar features from both. Following world war two, events led to the Shiba Inu becoming an endangered species. 

Despite the efforts, it was not possible to protect the pure Shiba Inus, so the remaining three breeds were crossed as an initiative to protect them. These three breeds include Shinshu Shiba, Nagano Prefecture, Mino Shiba, Gifu prefecture, Sanin Shiba, Tottori, and Shimane, which created a successful Shiba Inu breed. The resultant breed was called Shiba Inu. An army family took a Shiba Inu to America. Eventually, Shiba Inu got acknowledged in America and the American kennel club. The White Shiba Inu are rarely found and are considered a mutant breed, but these dogs are exceptionally beautiful.


Shiba Inus are independent, meticulous, and bold dogs. They have an independent nature. They love to keep themselves clean to the level that they often lick their paws as cats do. They don’t let dirt get to their coats. They are curious, playful, good-natured, and really smart! Vanessa explains: “It’s not a hard deal for them to learn tricks but because they are primitive dogs (very close to the wolf) it’s quite complicated to educate them. It is said that they need to be educated with ‘an iron fist in a velvet glove’. Because they are intelligent, they don’t do things if they don’t see the point!“ Shiba Inus have an ingrained habit of screaming when they are highly uncomfortable or too ecstatic. In Japan they say that Shiba inus are: 1/4 dog, 1/4 cat, 1/4 monkey and 1/4 human!


 Shiba Inu Personality Traits

 Shiba Inu is a dog that has gotten features from 3 pure breeds. It makes him a dog of high value. It has all the following traits:

  • Loyalty
  • Alertness
  • Fastidiousness
  • Smartness
  • Charm
  • Confidence
  • Boldness
  • Fearlessness 


Shiba Inu is a pretty little dog with a 13 to 16 years life span. They are fit and fine mostly, but occasionally they get allergies (skin irritation and itching), glaucoma, cataracts, hip dysplasia, obesity entropion, and luxating patella. 

To avoid this problem, you have to pay regular visits to the vet. They need to get yearly eye examinations, Joint examinations, and weight checks. Taking care of hygiene and health always comes first. 


Diet is an important factor in maintaining the health of a dog. A balanced diet is always good. Because they are hunting dogs, they need to have varieties in their diet. Giving too little or too much will get them sick. The dog’s vet should prove the food you are giving. Dogs of different ages need different quantities of food. The vet will make sure that you know the exact amount of food. You can give them treats now and then but not in excess. 



You have to do very little grooming of Shiba Inus as they tend to clean themselves. These dogs often hate water – although Tenko loves to go into the water! – and because of their double coat and cleaning nature, they don’t need regular bathing. They shed their hair in the summer season the most, so you have to do proper brushing now and then. Vanessa tells: “I personally go twice a year to the groomer to get it clean and deep clean. And they take out all the dead fur.”


Shiba Inu loves to play around and run. As they are hunting dogs by nature, they like to explore new places. The exercise time should be from 30 to 40 minutes but be careful as these dogs are experts at running away. It is better to play games and exercise in a closed field or lawn. It is however possible to train them to have ‘recall’. As Vanessa explains: “Recall is a daily task and is never a given with them. We must therefore be careful. Trust in your dog is essential, but release is possible with some work beforehand.”

Follow Tenko!

Tenko is an adorable Shiba Inu owned by Vanessa. You can follow their adventures via .

Tenko’s ID card was made by Sakura Webdesign – Web & Print: