This compact canine is an ancient dog; however, they were not given the name “Shiba Inu” until some time in the 1920s. The Shiba Inu of old was a hardy dog, able to traverse hills and mountainous terrain that men could not travel. They had excellent senses and became a proficient hunter. They were used to flush out birds and small game, but were also used to hunt wild boar. This sturdy dog was declared a natural product of Japan by the nation in 1936 under the Cultural Properties Act. During and after World War II, the breed diminished almost to extinction. Distemper was a major cause of this decline in the dog’s population. Three variations of the Shiba Inu were interbred in order to give a comeback to the breed: the Shinshu Shiba, the Mino Shiba, and the Sanin Shiba. In 1954, United States service members brought the dog to America. The first litter was born in the United States in 1979. The American Kennel Club finally recognized the breed in 1993. The dog’s name is descriptive of the dog itself; the word shiba means “small” (although some argue that it means “brushwood” also). The word inu means “dog.”
The Shiba Inu is a compact dog. Their head is proportional to their body. They have a round muzzle which tapers slightly at the nose. The lips and nose are black. The teeth are in a scissors bite. Deep-set eyes are small in proportion to the rest of the body. The front legs are straight, and they normally have dewclaws, which can be removed at the discretion of the owner. This alert canine has a high-set tail which is thick at the base and curled and carried over the back. They have an attractive double coat with a soft undercoat and a stiff, straight outer coat. Usually red, red with a little black overlay, black with tan markings, or sesame with red markings, the undercoat is usually cream, buff, or gray. Markings, if any, appear on the cheeks and sides of the muzzle, throat, underside, and chest. Occasionally, there is white on the legs, tip of the tail, and above the eyes.
The Shiba Inu is an alert, brave, and bold little dog. They are also loving, kind, and highly trainable. They are very clean – surprisingly, they will avoid getting dirty if possible – and they are also easily housebroken. They are not noisy dogs, barking very little. Playful, this amicable pup gets along well with other dogs and children (even without early socialization). The Shiba Inu can be fairly shy around strangers. Training from an early age will be beneficial. This pup will take the “pack leader position” if they do not feel that their handler is firm and confident. Unfortunately, this pooch is primarily a hunter, and should not be trusted around small animals – even other family pets. Caution should be taken when letting this canine off the leash; they will chase cars and small animals. Also, handlers should always present themselves as firm, making sure their dog views them as the pack leader. If not, they will attempt to become the alpha and many behavioral problems will ensue.
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