Shiba Inus Combine Intelligence and Independence with Fierce Devotion to Owner

By Steve Kruse

StoneHenge Kennels

One of the dog breeds I find most interesting is the Shiba Inu. The Shiba Inu, which traces its roots back to the 3rd century B.C., has garnered international attention over the last few years thanks to the Shiba Inu Puppy Cam, an online recording of the daily lives of six puppies that went viral in 2008. 

The breed’s name stems from the Japanese word for “dog,” which is “inu.” Although the exact etymology of the word “shiba” remains unknown, some people believe that the name could come from the Japanese words for “red” and “brushwood.” Because of this and the dog’s small stature, people sometimes call Shiba Inu the “little brushwood dog.” The Japanese originally bred the Shiba Inu to hunt. Although the breed was revered, it nearly died out during World War II because of events related to the war and because of a canine distemper epidemic that swept the country immediately afterwards. As a result, all of the Shiba Inu dogs alive today are ancestors of three bloodlines that survived the hostilities and disease. The breed is considered a cultural treasure of Japan.

An American family that had been stationed in Japan brought a Shiba Inu back to the United States. The first American-born Shiba Inu puppies were part of a litter born in 1979. The Japanese standards for the breed call for a dog that is beautiful and dignified, with a “spirited boldness” and a good nature. Naturally clean, the dogs often groom themselves in a manner similar to that of cats, and they tend to be very easy to housebreak.

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