The Shiba Inu is a Japanese dog breed that comes from the spitz grouping, and is just one of the six spitz-type breeds that hail from Japan. The name “Shibu Inu” translates as “small dog,” and while they are not tiny, they are certainly one of the smallest of the spitz-type dogs, making them a good pick for people who love the spitz look and temperament but that cannot accommodate one of their larger cousins!
Made popular in recent years due to the proliferation of internet memes produced of the breed, their inquisitive, alert faces give them a welcoming if somewhat comical expression, and once almost unheard of outside of their native Japan, the Shiba Inu today is popular all across the world, including within the UK.
However, due to the breed’s recent burgeoning popularity in the UK, most people who wish to buy a Shibu Inu puppy may have to wait some time or travel some distance to get one, as supply simply cannot keep up with demand! That said, there is no such thing as doing too much research when it comes to potential dog ownership, so if you find yourself on the end of a long waiting list for a dog of the breed, you can use this time wisely to find out as much about them as possible.
In this article, we will share five interesting facts about the history of the Shiba Inu dog breed that you might not already know about, to give you a well-rounded understanding of their past roles and core traits. Read on to learn more.
The Shiba Inu is one of the most ancient dog breeds in the world, although the exact country of origin of the first dogs of the breed is not definitively known. The first dogs of the breed that we call the Shiba Inu today likely came to Japan with early immigrants back in 6000-7000 BC, and the Jomon-Jin people, who settled in Japan in the 1400’s BC certainly established the population of the breed in Japan around that time.
The breed as we know it today is likely to have formed from the crossing of native dogs kept by the Jomon-Jin people, and imported dogs from China and other areas of the Far East.
As you might expect given the breed’s long known history within Japan, they are hugely popular in their home nation and one of the most common dogs that you might see out and about in the streets. They have been declared as a National Treasure in the country, and their size makes them versatile and well suited to apartment life, which works out well because a lot of accommodation in Japan is apartment blocks rather than detached housing.
While the breed today has adapted well to domestic life and urban living, they were originally used for various different hunting working roles, at which they soon proved to be very competent. The core spitz dog traits that the Shiba Inu possesses-such as a thick coat and small ears-made them able to weather the very cold weather that the mountainous regions of Japan often faces, and they were adept at hunting both small and large game.
Flushing out birds, hunting small prey such as rabbits, and protecting livestock and smaller animals from roaming foxes and other predators was all in a day’s work for the versatile Shiba Inu!
The modern Shiba Inu breed is very distinctive and immediately recognisable-and yet this is only a very recent development. Up until World War 2, the Shiba Inu was not one uniform dog breed, but actually three-named the Shinshu, Sanin and Mino respectively, each recognised as individual breed variants in their own rights.
However, post-World War 2, only one Shiba breed or variant is recognised, the one that we now call the Shiba Inu-and this breed shares a combination of traits from all three original breeds, although they have most in common with the original Shinshu dog.
While the Shiba Inu is so popular today that supply cannot always keep up with demand, the breed almost died out entirely as a result of World War 2. Live many countries that were involved in the war, resources became very scarce towards the end of the war, and the average Japanese dog lover would have struggled to have kept both themselves and their families fed.
This meant that dog ownership was for many people a luxury that they could not afford, and so the population of Shiba Inu dogs dropped dramatically, to the point that the ongoing viability of the breed in perpetuity was seriously threatened.
Only a concerted effort to boost the number of dogs of the breed in Japan after the war, and to generate interest in them from further afield, assured the breed’s continued survival and undeniable popularity today.