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Shiba Inu

Instantly recognisable in pop culture due to the popular “Doge” meme and more recently the cryptocurrency “Dogecoin”, the Shiba Inu is the smallest of Japan’s native dogs. Simply translated, shiba means small and inu dog. For centuries, the Shiba Inu was used for small game hunting. Today they are loyal family pets.

An ancient breed, the Shiba Inu is thought to have its origins in Japan over 5,000 years ago. They were used in Japan’s thick undergrowth in mountainous areas to flush and hunt small game such as birds, rabbits, and foxes, as well as bear and wild boar. The Shiba Inu almost became extinct after World War II and a subsequent distemper outbreak in 1952, but dogs from remote communities were added to the breeding program, which provided the genetic foundation for the breed that is known today. 

Compact in size, the Shiba Inu ranges in height from 36 to 40cm tall and weighs around 7 to 11kg. Females are typically a little smaller than males. The double coat is composed of a thick, dense, short undercoat which is buff, gray, or cream in colour and a straight, hard outer coat which is white to cream. The light outer coat pattern is present in three coats colours - red, sesame, and black and tan. They have an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years.

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Dog Breed Facts & Characteristics

Origin

Japan  

Also known as 

Shiba Inu, Brushwood Dog, Japanese Small-size Dog, Kabo-chan, Doge

Size

Small; 36.5 cm to 39.5 cm height; 7.5 to 10.5 kgs weight

Weight Range

7.5 to 10.5 kgs

Colours

Red, sesame, black & tan

Life expectancy

12 to 15 years 

Coat

Thick double coat, sheds

Temperament 

Bold, independent, faithful

Activity levels

Moderately active 

Best suited for

Experienced dog people   

Apartment friendly

Yes, but can be quite vocal and territorial 

Personality 

The Shiba Inu is known for having an independent spirit. They can be headstrong, and some can even be domineering. They are often reserved with strangers and may be aggressive with unknown dogs or other pets. These traits make them a better choice for a household with experienced dog people rather than first time pet parents. Early training and socialisation are very important, and this should continue into adulthood. In saying that, they can make exceedingly loyal and affectionate companions for the right family. Energetic and lively, they will thrive on lots play and a good run around in a fenced space in combination with daily walks. The Shiba Inu is said to be quite good with children but is better suited to a household with older children who can treat them gently. Although their compact size may make them an appealing choice for apartment dwellers, it is worth noting they can be quite territorial and will bark if stirred up which may not appeal to the neighbours! 

Grooming

The Shibu Inu thick double coat is known for shedding quite a lot. Frequent brushing is needed to help prevent fur “tumbleweeds” from gathering in your home! Flea control all year around is recommend as is tick control if in a tick area. 

Feeding

When choosing a food for your Shiba Inu, select a premium dog food appropriate to your dog’s life stage. Follow the recommended feeding guides on the food appropriate to your pet's size. Make sure your dog always has a supply of fresh, clean water available.

Common Health Concerns 

The five most common reasons for a Shiba Inu to visit the Vet (excluding routine care visits) according to PetSure data across the 2020 calendar year included allergic skin disease, ear infections, gastrointestinal complaints, eye problems such as conjunctivitis and accidents including claw injuries and bite injuries.  

Rank

Condition

Average cost for single treatment
(average pet insurance claim amount)

Highest cost for single treatment (highest pet insurance claim seen for this condition)

1

Skin problems including allergic skin disease

$167

$947

2

Ear infections

$201

$996

3

Gastrointestinal problems, such as vomiting and diarrhoea

$364

$2,000

4

Eye problems, including conjunctivitis and corneal ulcers

$132

$345

5

Traumatic accidents, including claw and bite injuries

$417

$5,637

Disclaimer: Reimbursement for these claims would be subject to limits, such as annual benefit limits or sub-limits, benefit percentage, applicable waiting periods and any applicable excess. Cover is subject to the policy terms and conditions. You should consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement or policy wording available from the relevant provider.

Most popular Shiba Inu names (PetSure data 2020)

Most popular names

  1. Sadie
  2. Archie
  3. Frank
  4. Lola
  5. Alaska
  6. Alfie
  7. Apollo
  8. Biggie
  9. Bosco
  10. Bronte

Most popular female names

  1. Sadie
  2. Lola
  3. Alaska
  4. Daisy
  5. Elsie
  6. Hazel
  7. Maui
  8. Mishka 
  9. Miss
  10. Nala

Most popular male names

  1. Archie
  2. Frank
  3. Alfie
  4. Apollo
  5. Biggie
  6. Bosco
  7. Bronte
  8. Buddy
  9. Butters 
  10. Charlie

Did you know?

Pusuke, a Shiba Inu mix who lived in Japan, held the 2010 Guinness World Record as “Longest Living Dog”. Pusuke died in 2011, at the age of 26 years, eight months old! 

Where can I get a Shibu Inu?

Although they are a pure breed of dog, breed specific rescues may have Shiba Inus for adoption. It may also be possible to find a wonderful small dog for your family at the local shelter or rescue organisation who is looking for a loving home. 

References

  1. American Kennel Club, Shiba Inu, Accessed on 27/05/2021
  2. Australian National Kennel Council 2021, Breed Standard of the Shiba Inu, Accessed on 27/05/2021
  3. PetMD 2021, World’s Oldest Dog Passes Away, Accessed on 10/05/2021

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Kylie Mitchell is a veterinarian with over 17 years experience in animal health and welfare, including in the veterinary and pet insurance industries

She has three rescue cats (Noah, Bei Bei and Meeka), four very old cockatiels and a pond-full of fish.

Kylie's pets

Noah
Noah
Bei Bei
Bei Bei
Meeka
Meeka