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Shiba Inu: 8 Amazing Facts About These Adorable Pups

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Despite being Japan’s most popular dog breed, the Shiba Inu is a relatively new dog in the Western world.

Shiba Inu dogs are quickly growing in popularity and are known for their stark resemblance to the fox and their ‘human-like facial expressions.

After looking into the face of a Shiba Inu, it’s easy to see why they are quickly stealing our hearts, and are becoming a family favorite.

LocationJapan
DietOmnivore
Fun FactThey are the cats of the dog world
Other NamesJapanese Brushwood
ColorWhite, Red, Black, Tan, Sesame
Life Span13-15 Years

Shiba Inus are active, affectionate dogs that can be described as stubborn or hard-headed. They are very loyal and gentle which makes them perfect as a family dog.

The Shiba Inu was once a hunting dog, bred and domesticated to flush out smaller animals.

Now they are a favorite worldwide, especially in Japan where they are the people’s most popular dog breed.

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1. Shiba Inu’s were bred to be versatile hunters

These dogs are quite a small dog breed which makes them perfect for hunting and flushing out small animals and birds from places like bushes. They were also bred to go after prey such as boars and bears. They are tenacious creatures and sport very dense undercoats meaning they can withstand even the coldest of temperatures which is essential for a hunting dog. These hardy dogs survived on their own in the mountainous regions of Japan for thousands of years.

2. Where do Shiba Inus come from? They are an ancient breed of dog

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Going on from the last point made, these dogs have been around for tens of thousands of years, and before they were domesticated by humans, they lived in the mountainous regions of Japan.

According to National Geographic, the Shiba Inu’s are one of the most genetically similar dog breeds to wolves, which suggests that they are one of the oldest domesticated dog breeds to exist. They are one of six original Japanese dog breeds and go way back. The Shiba Inu’s ancestors are thought to have accompanied Japan’s earliest immigrants, all the way back in 7000 B.C. Archeologists have even found remains of dogs that resemble Shiba Inus in sites inhabited by the Jomon-jin people who date all the way back to 14,500 B.C.

3. Shiba Inus are Japan’s favorite dogs.

Shiba Inus don’t only have strong historical roots in Japan, but they are also the most popular companion across the country. They have been unofficially declared as the countries national treasure and therefore, many Shiba Inus have become popular online sensations. It may be their high energy and long lifespan which makes them such a popular choice.

4. Shiba Inus were once nearly extinct

The Shiba Inu species were almost completely wiped out during World War II. Those who didn’t die from bombing raids were left to suffer from distemper, a contagious and deadly canine viral infection. Thankfully, the Japanese government helped restock the bloodlines using breeding programs, and since then, the modern Shiba Inu has gained its popularity back!

5. Are Shiba Inus in the US? They are relativley new in the west

The first-ever Shiba Inu dog to arrive in the United States was in 1954, this was when an American service family brought one back from Japan. It still took a while for the species to make its debut and be officially recorded. It wasn’t until 1979 when a litter of the species was born. It took until 1992 for the American Kennel Club to officially recognize the breed. Shiba Inus have certainly come a long way, now, they are the 46th most popular dog in the US.

6. Are Shiba Inus Cats? No, they are dogs but have many ‘cat-like’ qualities

cute Shiba inu about to get into the water

The adoption papers may say you’re getting a dog, but in many ways, this species is much more like a cat. Shiba Inus are very independent, spend a lot of time grooming themselves, and are stubborn and set in their ways. These pups are prolific sunbathers and enjoy taking a snooze in the sun, much like a cat would.

7. A Shiba Inu once saved its family from an earthquake

Her name is Mari, and back in 2004, when an earthquake struck the village of Yamakoshi in Japan, she sprang into action. At the time she lived with an elderly owner and her recently born puppies. She moved her pups to safety and returned to wake up her owner who was trapped under a cabinet that had fallen. He eventually managed to free himself and was rescued by an airlift. Unfortunately, he had to leave Mari behind. He came back two weeks later to find her and her puppies all alive. Mari’s story was even made into a Japanese movie called  “A Tale of Mari and Her Three Puppies.”

8. Where does the Shiba Inu name come from? That is still a mystery

Nobody is quite sure exactly where the species name came from, there are three well-accepted theories regarding this. “Shiba” means brushwood in Japanese and “Inu” means dog, so it is believed this name was given due to their tendency to run through brush and thick grass while hunting. Another theory is that the name is related to the color of the dog’s coat. Both brushwood and the Shiba Inus coat sport a similar fiery red color. Finally, the third theory states that ‘Shiba’ in fact means ‘little,’ and therefore the dog was named due to its size.

Written by Joe Kahlo

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