One of Japan's most treasured dogs, the foxy Shiba has fans all over the world.


The Shiba Inu is the smallest and probably most ancient of the six traditional Japanese native breeds. These dogs may have been used as early as 300 B.C. to flush birds and small game.

Inu means dog in Japanese. Shiba can be translated as either brushwood, referring to a tree that has reddish leaves in the fall, like the Shiba's coat color; or as small in an older dialect. The Shiba is sometimes called "the little brushwood dog."

The Shiba is independent and active. It is prone to mischief unless its mind and body are exercised. Be sure to provide mentally stimulating toys.


Some Shibas can develop knee problems. If you see your dog skipping for a step or two, he may have a condition your veterinarian needs to check. He may also eventually develop arthritic changes in his knees. To combat this, add a glucosamine-chondroitin supplement to his diet as soon as he shows any signs of hopping or lameness.

Coat care is fairly simply. Brush once a week to remove dead hair. Brush more often during shedding season, and use a shedding tool designed to remove undercoat. Bathe as needed using an all-purpose or body-building shampoo . If your Shiba has itchy skin, choose an oatmeal or avocado oil shampoo.

Most Shibas have healthy ears, but check them weekly. If they are dirty, apply an ear cleanser. Such cleansers change the pH of the ear canal to make it less hospitable to fungus and yeast, and also have a bacteria-killing and ear drying effect. Any time you must apply ear medication, use the ear cleanser first to remove thick secretions that would block the medication from reaching the surface of the canal. But never put any cleanser or medication in a severely infected or painful ear because of the possibility of a ruptured ear drum.

Brush the teeth daily.

Clip the nails every two weeks or so using a medium duty dog nail clipper.

Shibas are generally active and healthy well into old age. But even they can develop arthritic changes. Besides any intervention recommended by your veterinarian, a soft cushion to lie on and glucosamine chondroitin supplements added to the diet can help soothe aching joints, and keep him as young in body as he is in mind.