The Shiba Inu, the muscular little dog with the smiling face, is the number one companion dog in Japan. In the Japanese language, the word ‘shiba’ means brushwood and the word ‘inu’ means dog. According to the American Kennel Club, this dog is a descendant of primitive dogs of the ancient people of Japan and was originally bred to hunt wild game in the brushwood of the mountains. The Shiba Inu matures at around 20 to 25 pounds.
Exercising the Shiba Inu
The Shiba Inu is an active and agile breed that requires a good bit of exercise but is happy with hiking or playing ball in the back yard. This breed makes a great athletic companion and many Shiba owners enjoy taking part in agility competition with their dog.
Training the Shiba Inu
This Japanese breed is intelligent but quite independent. Some Shibas are quite possessive and may display resource guarding. Shiba owners claim that their dogs respond best to reward and motivational training.
House training often comes easy to this breed but leash training may be a bit of a challenge, although many Shibas excel in obedience competition.
Grooming the Shiba Inu
As with any double coated dog, the Shiba sheds. Flea preventives should be kept current to prevent flea allergy and hair loss. Regular brushing prevents mats but intensive grooming is generally not required.
Health of the Shiba Inu
The Shiba Inu is typically a hardy dog that can be expected to live 12 to 14 years or more. But, as with any breed, they are predisposed to certain health issues. The most common is allergies including inhalant, food, and flea allergy. Symptoms include chewing, licking, hair loss, and watery eyes. Up to date flea preventives will minimize flea allergy.
Patellar luxation is another health issue seen in some Shiba Inus. This is displacement of the kneecap and, depending on the severity, can cause lameness and bowed legs. Diagnosis and treatment can vary among veterinarians and, when surgery is recommended, a second opinion may be prudent.
Eye defects, cataracts, and hip dysplasia can also plague the Shiba Inu.
Adopting a Shiba Inu
Families smitten by these lively little dogs with the teddy bear look will want to look for a reputable Shiba Inu breeder, rescue, or shelter who is more interested in the welfare of the breed than in turning a profit. These people will discuss the temperament of individual dogs and try to match the right dog to the right family. Shiba Inus tend to be possessive by nature and for the dog who displays resource guarding, a family with kids or other pets may not be suitable.
A list of reputable Shiba Inu breeders can be found through the National Shiba Club of America.