FAQ About Shiba Inu
How big is an adult Shiba?
The average male is around 16″ tall at the shoulder, and weighs 24 – 26 lbs. The average female is smaller, around 14.5″ and 18 – 22 lbs. There is a so-called ‘mini’ or mame Shiba, which are smaller than the desired Shiba. They are not truly miniature, as the proportion of bone and substance is not maintained – in the ‘old’ days they would simply be called runts. There are also larger Shibas – neither the small or large sizes are desired, nor do they breed true, much as some marketers would like that to happen. Please do not get taken in by sales pitches – they are not rare or valuable.
Are Shibas a noisy breed?
Not excessively. They will bark to let you know someone is at the door, and once you acknowledge them, will stop.
What colours do Shibas come in?
Red is the traditional, valued colour in the breed, and what they are known as – ‘those little red dogs’. The red can vary from a light, orange-y tint to a deep, fiery red. Black tipping may show across the shoulders and down the back – I prefer the clear red myself. Sesame is a red base coat with significant black tipping over practically the entire body. It is very rare to get a good sesame, and once you see one, you never forget it. Black & tan is the other acceptable colour, and is a black base, with tan markings like a Doberman, PLUS the ‘urajiro’ – the cream shadings on the face, throat, belly and legs.
The Shiba Inu also carries the gene for ‘cream’ – in Japan and most countries (including Canada) this is not an accepted colour, and is not shown in the ring. Most creams have an apricot tinge to them, and dilute pigment (pink or flesh coloured lips, eyerims, and nose). Again, there are those who promote the cream as a ‘rare’ or ‘valuable’ speciman – they are neither and please do not fall for paying more for these creams.
What kind of grooming is needed?
Shibas shed twice a year, and it is messy for about 3 weeks. Bathing and vigourous brushing does help speed up the process. The rest of the time, a weekly brushing is sufficient to remove any loose hair. Frequent bathing is not recommended, as their coat is not oily and can become dry.
Are Shibas good off-leash?
NO! NO! NO! Is that clear? Developed as hunting dogs to run all day and never give up. A mere human running behind, yelling Come Back has little to no meaning to a Shiba. There are some owners who have succeeded with off leash work, but they worked diligently to get to that point, and are the exception to the rule.
How much exercise does a Shiba need?
LOTS! Especially during the first year of life, Shibas need plenty of physical activity, both for their growth, and to keep those little minds occupied! As they mature, they become more settled and require less exercise (and I mean around 3 years old).
Are fences needed?
YES. Shibas can be escape artists, so fences must be solid or a small mesh, at least 4′ high and tight to the ground. If their head will fit through a hole, the rest of the body will too. Some will climb, some will dig, all will check if gate latches can be opened.
Are Shibas good with children?
That depends – are the children good with Shibas? Shibas are not doormats – if poked and prodded, they will defend themselves. Hyperactive children can trigger the same behaviour in dogs – it is important that both children and puppies learn to respect each other, and behave accordingly.
Are Shibas good with other animals?
Cats and Shibas seem to have a natural affinity – in general. Puppies can torment a cat, so it is important the cat has an escape route. But Shibas and cats can become best friends quite easily. On the other hand, ‘prey’ pets such as rabbits, hamsters,and birds will be seen as a potential snack. Shibas are quite discerning regarding other dogs – each Shiba is an individual and as such will react differently, but generally Shibas will take some time to get to know another dog, and do NOT appreciate too boisterous behaviour (ie Goldens and Labs are notorious for those wild rude greetings). Shibas can also be bullies themselves, it is helpful to expose them to well-behaved older dogs for them to model behaviour upon, and to learn social skills.