The Shiba


The Shiba Ken (or Shiba Inu) is the smallest and most popular of the six, native, Japanese breeds. It is the only Nihon Ken that was not named after a geographical area. The reason for this is that in contrast to the other Nihon Ken, the Shiba is from a very large geographical area in central Japan. Like all the Nihon Ken, the Shiba was a hunting dog first and foremost, used to hunt small game and birds.

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An aka Shiba male. Photo courtesy of Jasmine Lau & Michael Wang

There are differing theories as to how the breed received it's name. One is that they were named because their red coats were similar in color to dried brushwood (shiba). Another is because the archaic reading for the kanji 'shiba' means small. The last theory is that they were named so because they were adept at weaving through brushwood when hunting.

It is said that the Nihon Ken has been present in Japan since the Jomon period. Unearthed shell mounds from the period have uncovered canine bones with approximately the same bone structure and size as the modern day Shiba. The fact that many of these dogs are believed to have been buried with their masters shows the close relationship the people of the time had with these dogs. Today there is a type of Shiba called the Jomon Shiba, which has been back bred to resemble the bone structure and type present in the early native dogs.

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An aka Shiba male. Photo courtesy of Lindsay Tompkins

The Nihon Ken Hozonkai (Japanese Dog Preservation Society, or Nippo) was established in 1928 to preserve the native dogs from extinction. Crossbreeding with western dogs was prevalent, and Nippo members scoured the country collecting dogs from remote areas for breeding programs. The Shiba was declared a Living Natural Monument by the government of Japan in 1936.

During the harsh economic period Japan experienced during and immediately after World War 2, owning dogs was seen as wasteful and unpatriotic. Most dogs were rounded up and killed, and the Shiba was no exception. The dog's coats were used to provide clothing for the military, and many were eaten. It was through the noble efforts of Nippo members that the Shiba survived. The breed's number were severely depleted, and many prime specimens of the breed were lost. It took many years and the efforts of many society members to bring the breed back from the brink of extinction.

Today the Shiba is the most popular of the Nihon Ken, accounting for approximately 80 percent of dogs registered with Nippo every year. The breed has also become popular overseas.

The Shiba is the only small sized Nihon Ken. It has prick ears, and a curl or sickle tail. Like all Nihon Ken the Shiba has a double coat made up of coarse outer guard hairs, and fine thick undercoat which it sheds twice a year. It has a somewhat shorter coat when compared with the other Japanese breeds. There are three recognized coat colors: red, black, and sesame. White (or cream) Shiba are also born on occasion, but are non-standard. All Shiba should have "urajiro" markings which are markings of a white or cream color presented on the ventral portions of the body and legs, as well as on the cheeks and brow of the head. Dogs range in size from 38-41cm, and bitches from 35-38cm (NIPPO, JKC), dogs 38.5-41.5cm, bitches 35.5-38.5cm (FCI).

The Shiba is intelligent, and like all Nihon Ken, is a very independent thinker. They are an alert and energetic breed. Yearly registrations in their home country number from 50,000-60,000 (all registries combined). At present there is no estimate available for the total population. The main breed registry is run by Nippo, but there are several smaller breed clubs, and a large number of Shiba are registered with the JKC. There are also 2 rarer 'types' of Shiba, the Jomon Shiba, and the Mino Shiba. The Jomon was back bred to traits found in the earliest dog bones discovered in Japan, and has less of a stop, and a thinner longer muzzle. The Mino Shiba is a deep mahogany red color and is found in Gifu Prefecture.

19 comments:

  1. Hello,
    I am a shiba Inu enthusiast and have been showing/breedig shibas since 1994. My Nippo club dues need to be renewed and I don't know who to contact about renewing.The person who helped me from Japan is unable to help me anymore. Can you tell me how I can do this?Thanks so much!

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  2. When you say, "an aka Shiba male," are you referring to a dog from the Aka of Fugoku bloodline? Both of the pictures present great examples of the Shiba breed!

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    1. Aka as in Japanese for 'red'. I'm not sure of the bloodlines for either of these dogs, but agree that they are good examples of the breed. Cheers!

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  3. Hi! I'm Miko from the Philippines and I'm very very interested of owning a pure Shiba Inu from Japan. Getting a real pure-bred Shiba Inu in my country is nearly impossible, as such; I've really researched on how to import a Shiba puppy and came across you very helpful blog. I'd like to know if you'll be able to help me with this.

    Please email me at your convenience at mikhail.corpus@enderuncolleges.com

    Cheers!

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  4. Hello,
    I am very Interested in getting a shiba I have done all me research and know this dog will fit mine and my families needs. I currently live in japan and I am having a lot of trouble finding a breeder where I can get a puppy. From everything I have read I don't like idea of a getting a puppy from a pet store. Can you recommend a breeder in the Tokyo area please and thank you. I can be reached at mowens23@yahoo.com

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  5. Hi Im james from manila philippines, after thorough research and by just looking at shiba, i really like to get one. love their qualities and very much suited to me, any one can help me please.

    ezrahjames@yahoo.com
    ezrahjames2013@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can contact me through my export site if you need more information. http://japandogexport.com/

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  6. HI. I lived in bangkok. I will like to adopt a pair of male & female shiba inu. Where can I visit the breeder in Japan?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can contact me through my export site if you need more information. http://japandogexport.com/

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  7. Hi there, I am a Shiba Ken enthusiast and owner living in Scotland.

    I have a beautiful white Shiba that is currently 6 months old.

    I am looking to buy a Minowa Shiba, I do not mind buying in Japan and brining back. I travel to Japan twice a year for karate so I can factor in travel around when pups may be available.

    Any information greatly appreciated.

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    1. Unfortunately I don't know anyone breeding Mino Shiba

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  8. I am going to Japan in April and my siser is coming along. She has had several Shibas and is wondering if there are any Dog shows in April where she could meet Shibas and their owners and breeders. We are aware of a show in Tokyo April 1 & 2 but have not been able to access any further information about it. Any information would be appreciated.

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    1. http://nihonken.blogspot.jp/2017/01/spring-nippo-branch-shows-2017.html

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  9. I want to buy shiba From thailand.
    Who can contact me for import from Japan on email: assholy_ny@hotmail.com or Line : youngnamee

    Thank

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    1. You can send me an email at kato.the.walrus@gmail.com

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  10. Good evening Kato san. Is it possible to buy Shiba inu? Import from Japan to Russia. How much is it. We need a puppy of red color. Thank you for attention.

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    1. You can send me an email at kato.the.walrus@gmail.com

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  11. Hi! I'm Joel from the Singapore and I'm very very interested of owning a pure Shiba Inu from Japan. And I will be heading to Tokyo soon in July. Do u have any reputable breeder to introduce? Or how can I import a Shiba puppy? I'd like to know if you'll be able to help me with this.

    Please email me at your convenience at angcheewoei@hotmail.com

    Thanks a lot!

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    1. Unfortunately I do not know of any pups that are available at the moment. There is bit of a run up necessary to import to Singapore due to rabies regulations. Importing in July will most likely not be possible. If you'd like more information you can email me at kato.the.walrus@gmail.com

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