The Shiba is a small, compact dog. The head is in proportion with the body. The round muzzle has a moderate stop and tapers slightly towards the nose. The tight lips and the nose are black. The teeth meet in a scissors bite. The deep-set eyes are triangular in shape and dark in color. The eye rims are black. The erect ears are triangular in shape and small in proportion to the rest of the body. The front legs are straight. Dewclaws may be removed. The high-set tail is thick at the base, curled and carried over the back, either in a ring or with a sickle curve. The coat is double with a soft thick undercoat and a stiff straight outer coat. Coat colors come in red, or red with a little black overlay, black with tan markings, sesame with red markings, all with a cream, buff or gray undercoat. Markings should appear on the cheeks and sides of the muzzle, throat, underside and chest. There may be white on the legs, tip of the tail and above the eyes.
The Shiba is alert, confident, courageous, and bold. Loving, kind, trainable and brave. They are clean and most try to avoid puddles and are relatively easy to housebreak. They bark little and bond closely with their handler. Playful and delightful, a well-adjusted Shiba is good with kids, other dogs and cats. Active, lively, agile and fast. Socialize this breed well as a puppy, as they can be reserved with strangers. If the Shiba is not completely convinced that its handler can handle the pack leader position and regards himself as stronger minded they will become a bit stubborn as they will believe they need to make up their own rules. Proper human to canine communication is essential. A natural hunting dog, be careful when taking them off leash as they like to chase, especially if they do not regard their owners as a strong pack leader. Adapts well to traveling. Make sure you are this dog's firm, confident, consistent leader, providing daily pack walks to avoid behavior issues if possible.
Shibas are very good about training. If you have just gotten a Shiba, you’re no doubt amazed with the celerity that you have learned to feed, walk, potty, and worship the Shiba with naught but a whine. And you’re so quick to learn what different whines mean! Such a good Shiba person you are! Now go, fetch the snack.
Shibas work best on an I- give- you- this- you- give- me- that regime. Shibas are incredibly smart and they get smarter if you stuff bits of chicken in their mouths every so often. A toy also works as a reward if your Shiba is very playful. Start training the minute the dog arrives in the house; even an eight-week-old puppy can begin practicing “sit” and “down” with food rewards.
Puppy classes are highly recommended to get an early start on puppy obedience. Seek out training classes based on positive reinforcement rather than punitive methods. Many kennel clubs have graduated programs that can take your dog from puppyhood to adulthood as its learning capacity increases.
These dogs are very clean, so grooming needs will likely be minimal. The Shiba has a clean, coarse, stiff, short-haired coat that is easy to groom. Brush with a firm bristle brush to remove the dead hair and bathe only when absolutely necessary as it removes the natural waterproofing of the coat. This breed is a seasonally heavy shedder.
Males Shibas average 14½ inches to 16½ inches at withers. Females Average 13½ inches to 15½ inches. Average weight at preferred size is approximately 23 pounds for males, 17 pounds for females.