The Shiba Inu developed on the steep slopes of the Japanese mountains and was used to hunt both large and small game for many centuries. They were especially adept at hunting birds, although occasionally boar, bear and deer were their targets. There may be some Chow Chow in this breed’s history. The breed officially got its present name sometime in the 1920s. The first breed standard was written in 1934. In December of 1936, the breed was designated as a precious natural resource of Japan, through the Cultural Properties Act.
The Shiba Inu was entered in dog shows starting in the early 1930s. Most of these dogs came from the Yamanashi or San In areas of Japan, brought down from the mountains, and they were rough and variable in type and temperament. World War II almost extinguished the Shiba Inu breed. The war was closely followed by a massive outbreak of distempter in 1952 that almost finished the task. Those few dogs that were left were from three distinct bloodlines: the San In Shiba, the Mino Shiba and the Shin Shu Shiba. The modern Shiba Inu descends from these three lines. Today’s Shibas are elegant and very consistent in type. They retain their hunting instincts and remain independent, aloof and affectionate only to those who earn and deserve their respect.
The first known Shiba in America arrived in 1954, brought by an American soldier from Japan. In the late 1970s, more Shibas were imported from Japan by breed fanciers. The first litter was born in the United States in 1979, with both sire and dam imported by Julia Cadwell. The Shiba Inu was admitted to the Stud Book of the American Kennel Club in April of 1992. It became eligible to compete in the Miscellaneous class in June of 1992 and received full eligibility for regular classification in the Non-Sporting Group in June of 1993.
The average life span of the Shiba Inu is 13 to 16 years. Breed health concerns may include allergies, dental problems, eye problems, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism and patellar luxation.