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Discovering the Shiba Inu

By Lynn Published: December 22, 2010

I have a new customer who has introduced me to the wonderful Shiba Inu.

Yakota is a 4 year old red Shiba Inu. He looks like a beautiful fox! Yakota is a formerly abused dog who was rescued and is learning now that people can be trusted.

Bubba is also a 4 year old and is cream colored. The cream Shibas are not recognized by AKC and the cream color is considered a “major fault.” But--we refuse to discriminate on the basis of color!

Bubba is beautiful whether the AKC thinks so or not.  Bubba is appropriately named. He is a dominant force in this household! He tends to be just a bit of a bully with Yakota, but Yakota takes it in stride. On the other hand,  Bubba looks perfectly content kind of propped up against the doorway waiting to get out onto the balcony to survey his kingdom.

The Shiba Inu is a very old Japanese breed and the name can be translated as “little brushwood dog.” This is very interesting because I've found that Yakota and Bubba love to snuffle through the woods looking for treasures under the snow.

As a breed, Shibas can be a challenge. They are very intelligent and independent. They are strong and fast, and they have the DNA to hunt prey. So--they need to be secure on the leash, and no standard fence is going to keep them enclosed. Closed pens with tops are recommended to keep them safely at home. They are hunters, and they will escape if given the opportunity and inclination.

On the other hand, they are drop-dead gorgeous. They are double coated with short, straight hair above a soft undercoat. Their hair is long and dense on their bodies (basically waterproof) but short on their faces, ears, and legs. Their bellies, cheeks, throats, and inside their ears are typically white leading to a beautiful contrast in color. Shibas are also very clean dogs. They keep themselves groomed and tend to avoid puddles or mud, but still should be brushed daily. Their fastidious nature makes the Shiba very easy to housebreak. Shiba’s tails are tightly curled and lie up and over their backs. Their posture is erect and alert.

One unique trait of the Shiba is the “Shiba scream!” If very annoyed, frightened, or joyous a Shiba may emit a loud, high pitched scream. I do believe that I would probably scream back if a Shiba screamed in my face and I didn’t know what it was! Yokota did scream at me today because he was so happy to go outside. But it was nothing to be afraid of. Actually, since I knew what it was, it was pretty cute!

Shibas generally tend to be healthy dogs with a life expectancy of 12-15 years. Mature males may weigh 23 pounds or so and females approximately 17 pounds. However, Bubba weighs more than that and Yakota weighs less--so I guess that’s what average means.

I love meeting and caring for new dogs and learning about new breeds. But I also know that there’s nothing wrong and much right about the Heinz 57 variety pooch. Gotta love the dogs--no matter their pedigree.

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