Seen today throughout Japan, the Shiba Inu is a favorite Japanese companion dog. Shiba means "brushwood" in Japanese, and Inu means "dog." The Shiba began his history in the rugged mountains of Japan, where he was valued as a bold, alert, and athletic hunter, able to scramble up steep slopes and handle the terrain. His tough opponents included wild boars.
The Shiba was brought to the United States in 1954 by an American family that had lived in Japan and knew firsthand the loving qualities of this steady companion. His popularity continues to rise.
Spirited as he is outside, the Shiba is a tidy dog indoors. He often washes his face with his paws like a cat. Sometimes he jumps high in the air trying to catch birds.
Coloring and markings give the Shiba his foxy look. He can be red, red sesame, or black and tan. His deep, plush double coat needs brushing several times a week. He sheds every few months.
Excerpts from the Standard
General Appearance: A small, muscular dog; compact and well furred, alert and active.
Size, Proportion, and Substance: Height--males, 141/2 to 161/2 inches at the withers; females, 131/2 to 151/2 inches. Males are slightly heavier than females.
One day in the 1970s, a woman found a reddish-brown dog on the side of a busy highway in California. Julia Caldwell brought the dog home, and her family fell in love with "Rusty." Caldwell was curious about what kind of dog he could be. She found a picture of a similar dog, a Shiba Inu, in a book. She contacted the Japanese diplomatic office in her city to verify her discovery, but they couldn't help her. So she wrote the Japanese Kennel Club, sending along a photograph of Rusty.
The Japanese value this breed so highly that the Japanese Kennel Club sent a representative to the United States to examine Rusty. Rusty was declared to be a purebred Shiba Inu and was given official registration papers. Caldwell imported a mate for Rusty from Japan and became one of the first Shiba Inu breeders in this country.
Excerpted from The Complete Dog Book For Kids © 1996, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.