Meet Japan’s most popular dog, the Shiba Inu. It doesn’t get much cuter than this pup with the smiley, foxlike face and curly tail. Yes, Shibas are completely adorable, as can be seen from the many popular social media accounts totally devoted to people's pet Shibas, but what's it like to actually own one of these distinctive dogs?
Shiba Inus are an ancient breed that originated in Japan as a hunting dog. Shibas have been around for centuries, but are fairly new to dog lovers in the West. The first Shiba was brought to the U.S. in the 1950s, but the breed didn’t receive official recognition from the American Kennel Club until the 1990s. Growing in popularity, the AKC reports that it is currently the 46th most popular dog breed in the U.S.
Shibas are cute, sturdy, medium-sized dogs. Their coat is plush but relatively low maintenance, and they are a generally healthy breed. But a Shiba Inu is not for everyone. They are strong-willed, confident, and independent, and new owners need to be prepared for serious obedience training and socialization, both in puppyhood and ongoing.
Shibas are known to be possessive of their things and a bit mouthy when young, so good training is important. They also need to be leashed, or in a securely fenced-in yard, as these little hunters may take off after the neighbor’s cat in a flash.
The unique and appealing look of the Shiba Inu will get you both a lot of attention on your daily walks. While Shibas love their families, they can be a little reserved with strangers. They don’t particularly like being grabbed at by young kids and Shiba experts warn new owners with children to train the kids to sit and wait for the dog to approach them, rather than go after the dog…hard to do because they are so dang cute, but necessary.
Hey, it’s the Shiba’s world, we just live in it!
Photo credits: 2nd from top: "Tokyo at the shibapalooza after party" by Taro the Shiba Inu on Flickr; 3rd from top: "Mom I am bored" by Kristen Adams on Flickr; 4th from top: "The friendly alley cat walking closer to the Shibas" by Taro the Shiba Inu on Flickr.
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