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How To Breed Shiba Inus

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Published on
Wednesday 13 November 2019
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
how to breed shiba inus
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Would you like to learn how to breed Shiba Inus? This dog breed is one of the most popular from Japan, thanks to its adorable appearance, outstanding intelligence and lovely temperament that combines determination and independence with great loyalty for its family.

Therefore, if you plan to start a Shiba Inu breeding business or want to get a Shiba Inu puppy, then our guide will help you. We are going to bring you an exclusive analysis of this breed, which will cover its origin, appearance standards, health profile, and breeding-specific matters.

Background of Shiba Inus

The Shiba Inu is the smallest dog of the six spitz breeds from Japan, and it was bred originally to hunt small game such as rabbits, ducks, geese, and pheasants. Keep reading to know more about its origin and popularity in today’s society.

Origins & Ancestry

The research traces the Shiba Inu back to the 19th century as part of the special group of basal breeds – very ancient breeds of dogs. They originated in the Chūbu region, where they were used as pets and for hunting rabbits, ducks and other birds. See our article on the History of dog breeding.

Its ancestors came in Japan with the immigrants that brought them from the Asian mainland around 7,000 B.C. Since then, they started to breed dogs that resembled the Shiba. During the 7th century A.D, the empire took special care of breeding and keeping the native dog breeds of Japan, an action that paved the way to the Shiba Inu as we know it.

The Samurais used the Shiba – its ancestor – during the medieval period for hunting small game and wild boars. Therefore, it enjoyed prestige during those times.

Breeders united efforts to keep this beautiful breed, but during World War II, it almost became extinct. Fortunately, three bloodlines managed to survive:

  • Mino Shiba (Mino Province)
  • San’in Shiba (Tottori and Shimane)
  • Shinshu Shiba (Nagano)

During the half of the 20th century, Japanese breeders managed to combine these three bloodlines and standardized them into the breed we know as the Shiba Inu. It became highly popular in Japan, and in 1979, the first recorded litter was born in the USA.

In 1992, the AKC recognized it as an official breed, an important step that incentivized more people to own a Shiba Inu and to attract potential breeders to maintain this breed and further improve it.

In 1993, the AKC made it part of the non-sporting group, allowing it to take part in dog shows and contests, where it started to amass even more popularity.

ishi sekishuken (bloodline of shiba inu)
Sekishuken ISHI is the ancestor common to all Japanese Shiba Inus.

In Today’s Culture

Nowadays, the Shiba Inu is the #1 companion dog in Japan and it ranks #44 out of 193 dogs in the AKC Popularity Ranking. Therefore, it sees a healthy and growing demand.

Shiba Inus are relatively new in the USA, but this breed has already become the favorite choice of many American families.

Many famous personalities own this dog due to their cute physical features. Here are a few celebrities that own a Shiba Inu:

  • Daniel Day Kim
  • Ichiro Suzuki
  • Kelly Osbourne
  • Emma Watson

These dogs have even been featured in newspapers. For example, we have Tomi, a Shiba Inu who saved his family from dying in a fire. Now he spends his time participating in the most prestigious contests such as the Westminster Dog Show.

Standard Appearance

The Shiba Inu is famous thanks to its lovely appearance. To preserve these beautiful characteristics, kennel clubs and relevant authorities have provided some standards for this breed. Here is the standard appearance of the Shiba Inu.



The Shiba Inu is a medium-sized dog. These are the preferred measures for this breed:

  • Height: 14 ½ inches to 16 ½ inches (males) and 13 ½ to 15 ½ inches (females)
  • Weight: 23 pounds (males) and 17 pounds (females)

If you want your dog to be considered for shows, then it needs to fall within these measures.


This dog is medium-sized and features a compact frame with well-developed muscles. It is strong without exuberating coarseness. The following key features define the body of the Shiba Inu:

  • Chest: Depth is approximately the same height from the withers to the ground and the fore-chest is well-developed
  • Ribs: They are sprung in moderation
  • Abdomen: Tucked-up and solid
  • Back: Strong and firm
  • Loins: Strong and firm

Its body allows it to be ideal for hunting, which was the original purpose of this breed. Consequently, it is also great for outdoor activities, as it has the physical qualities and high levels of energy.


This dog features a double coat. The outer coat is straight and stiff, whereas the inner coat is thick and soft. According to the breed standards, there are only three official colors:

  • Red (most popular and desirable)
  • Cream
  • Sesame
  • Black and tans

Extreme variations on color are penalized in dog shows, and therefore, are not acceptable.

shiba inu color genetics
Color locus “A” – Shiba Inu Probability


The skull size of Shiba Inus is moderate and well-proportioned to the body. It also features a flat and broad forehead, which finishes with a slight furrow.

The eyes, which are slightly triangular and deep-set, bring this dog a confident gaze, which complements its strong and gentle expression.


Similar to the eyes, the ears also feature a triangular shape. They are small and prickle and are well-proportioned in relationship to the body and the head.


Since the Shiba Inu was originally bred as a hunting dog, it’s only natural that it has razor-sharp teeth as well. Ideally, a Shiba Inu should have a perfect “scissors bite” with a strong jaw.


Due to their double-coat, Shiba Inus need to be groomed at least 2-3 times per month. Nonetheless, during the spring, you need to do groom them at least 1-2 times per week. That’s because spring is their shedding season.

Their shedding level is moderately high all around the year, but it specifically increases in spring and fall. Therefore, they are not good dogs for people who are allergic to pooches. Regular clipping of their coat is also recommended, generally by a professional groomer.

shiba inu puppy litter size
Female Shiba Inus generally give birth to anywhere from three to five puppies.


The Shiba Inu is a mix of features that make its temperament unique. According to many owners, their temperament is cat-like, due to their aloofness, independence, and held-back nature when interacting with strangers.

The good

The independent nature of Shiba Inus is a good thing if you do not like clingy dogs. With a Shiba Inu, you will get a dog that does not need high levels of affection and attention.

They are very smart, and therefore, they can process training well. Nonetheless, due to their strong-willed temperament and independent nature, it can be challenging for new owners.

Shiba Inus are hyper-alert, which makes them ideal watchdogs. They will also alert you and warn you whenever something is off or danger is nearby.

Surprisingly, despite their strong temperament, they are good-natured within the home. As long as you remain as the alpha of the household, then this breed’s attitude will stay within the limits.

The bad

Unfortunately, their strong temperament comes with all sort of challenges:

  • Desire to dominate
  • Manipulative nature
  • Independent thinking, which can be a big challenge for many owners
  • Strong tendency to run away from you
  • Tendency for moodiness, which can lead to aggression towards other pets and dogs of the same sex

Therefore, they require consistent and firm training to show them what is acceptable and what is not.

Who is the Ideal Shiba Inu Owner?

The temperament of the Shiba Inu makes it a big challenge, but it is the same trait that makes it shine. If you can handle it, then you will have an amazing time and can even be fantastic at breeding Shiba Inus.

Nonetheless, we recommend this breed for experienced dog owners, especially those who want a dog with low levels of separation anxiety. Furthermore, remember that they need plenty of physical exercise and mental stimulation.

Also, we do not recommend this dog for homes with small children due to its aggressive nature. Since they are territorial and aloof, it can lead to problems.

Health Issues when Breeding Shiba Inus

When breeding Shiba Inus, it is important to be aware of the health issues that tend to affect these dogs.

Nonetheless, they are a generally healthy breed that can live around 12 to 15 years. With a proper diet, enough exercise and optimal mental stimulation, your Shiba Inu can live many years with you.

Below you will find our complete guide on all the health concerns of this breed. Nonetheless, it does not mean that your puppy will develop them, only that they are more likely to.


Shiba Inus are prone to developing allergies, be it due to their diet or external factors such as pollution and allergens. These allergies are caused due to a number of problems such as inflammation, gastrointestinal problems, and itching.


The Shiba Inu breed is especially susceptible to skin allergies, especially atopic skin dermatitis, which causes extreme itching and tends to get progressively worse.

Therefore, you need to remain vigilant to detect what elements might be triggering allergies in your dog, so that you can handle them promptly.


Glaucoma causes abnormal pressure on the eye, which results in inadequate fluid drainage. It causes progressive damage to the optic nerve, which can eventually lead to blindness.

These are the most common symptoms:

  • Redness in the white of the eyes
  • Bluing of the cornea
  • Watery eyes
  • Squinting

To prevent it from causing total blindness, immediate treatment is mandatory.


Cancer affects all breeds, but Shiba Inus are at a higher risk since they live longer. However, they are especially vulnerable to canine lymphoma, which attacks the lymphoid tissues. It is highly aggressive and tends to develop in senior and old dogs.

Here are the symptoms of cancer in dogs:

  • Unusual bumps or lumps
  • Odor
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Discharges from the mouth, ears, eyes or rectum
  • Decrease or increase in appetite
  • Wounds and sores that will not heal

Fortunately, according to Shiba Inu breeders, the VDI Laboratory Test is a great way to detect cancer in its early stages. Therefore, you should use it to monitor the health of your pet.

If you detect these signs, then take your dog for immediate treatment because the sooner you do, the better.


Chylothorax is a rare condition provoked by the progressive buildup of lymph fluid in the chest cavity of your dog. It affects the normal functioning of the lungs since this buildup prevents them from expanding properly. Consequently, it leads to breathing difficulties and respiratory problems.

It tends to show the following symptoms:

  • Respiratory difficulties
  • Frequent coughing
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Cyanosis (A characteristic bluish tinge to the skin or mucus)
  • Decrease in appetite

Nowadays veterinarians use CT-based lymphography in which they inject a contrast agent into the perianal subcutaneous tissue to diagnose this disease, and to determine the causes after surgery.


Epilepsy is the most common neurological disorder in dogs because it affects approximately 0.75% of all dogs in the world. Nonetheless, the incidence rate is higher in certain breeds. Unfortunately, that is the case for Shiba Inus.

If your Shiba Inu suffers from epilepsy, then it will start to show the first signs of seizures around 6-36 months of age. Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that there are three types of seizures:

  1. Primary: Idiopathic epilepsy
  2. Secondary: Caused by trauma, brain stroke or tumors
  3. Reactive: Caused by other factors such as low blood sugar and certain toxins

In case your puppy is diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy, then it will need life-long medication and it should be excluded from breeding, to help clean up the gene pool of this breed.

how to breed shiba inus
Our Guide to Breeding Shiba Inus Ethically!

Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation is a common health issue in Shiba Inus. This orthopedic disease dislocates the kneecap from its normal position in the groove of the femur. Unfortunately, it is a congenital defect and it will affect your puppy from an early age.

If your Shiba Inu is affected, then it will display the following signs:

  • Lameness
  • Crying
  • Pain in the knee
  • Licking the knee
  • Unable to walk normally

If the patellar luxation of your dog is Grade 4 – chronic – then it will need to undergo surgery. For milder cases, therapy and prescription drugs, along with exercise limitations will be enough.


Hypothyroidism is a metabolic disease that handicaps the ability of the thyroid gland to produce enough thyroid hormone. This disease manifests in all sort of health problems:

  • Unable to maintain weight
  • Sudden weight increase
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Intolerance to exercise
  • Hair loss
  • Intolerance to cold

Shiba Inus become more vulnerable to this disease when they become seniors. Fortunately, with early diagnosis and immediate treatment, you can counter these symptoms.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

PRA is a congenital eye disease that provokes the gradual degeneration of the retina – mainly the photoreceptor cells of the cone and the rod – leading to total blindness.

These are the most common signs of Progressive Retinal Atrophy:

  • Visibility issues in low light or in the darkness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Disorientation

There is no treatment for PRA, and therefore, the best way to deal with it is early diagnosis so that your veterinarian can help you cope with it and improve life quality for your pet.

Furthermore, Shiba Inus with PRA should be excluded from breeding to help eliminate this disease from the gene pool.

Fortunately, the efforts of breeders have managed to reduce its incidence rate in dogs, reducing the percentage of affected dogs down to 0.7%.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is one of the most common orthopedic and congenital diseases in Shiba Inus. It causes the deformation of the hip socket, which leads to movement problems as well as the risk of developing arthritis.

ofa grades dysplasia
Read Our Guide to the OFA Grading System

If your puppy suffers from hip dysplasia, then it will display the following signs:

  • Lameness (especially in the hind)
  • Grating in the joint whenever your dog walks or moves
  • Intolerance to exercise
  • Limited range of motion (in comparison to before)
  • Crying

Other factors such as obesity and excessive exercise can aggravate the disease. Your veterinarian will determine the best treatment, which normally involves joint fluid modifiers, anti-inflammatory drugs and dietary changes along with physical therapy.

Tail Chasing

Tail chasing is the clearest sign of canine compulsive disorder (CD), and it is surprisingly common amongst Shiba Inus and other Japanese breeds. It causes your dog to chase its tail in tight circles, and it has all sorts of negative consequences like:

  • Aggression when attempted to stop
  • Disinterest in physical activities other than chasing its tail
  • Unwillingness to eat
  • Skin abrasions and subsequent infections
  • Fractures

According to evidence, tail-chasing has environmental and genetic causes, and in the case of the latter, studies point out that canine chromosome 7 locus might make dogs more susceptible to this behavior.

The best treatment for this disease is behavioral therapy supplemented with special drugs such as fluoxetine, acepromazine and gabapentin.

How To Breed Shiba Inus

Now that you are aware of the most common health issues in Shiba Inu breeding, their origin, and complex temperament, it is time to review breeding-specific points.

If you’ve ever wondered how to breed Shiba Inus, then this section is for you.


Average Litter Size of a Shiba Inu

Shiba Inus have an average litter size of three puppies and can usually range from two to five pups. This small litter size is due to the small built of this dog. Furthermore, it is also worth noting that this breed has a coefficient of inbreeding of 6.9%, which is slightly higher than the recommended average for purebred dogs (6.25%).

To ensure that the mother yields an excellent number of puppies, it is important to supplement it with a good diet, to keep environmental stress at a bare minimum and to take it for regular checkups to diagnose potential problems early on.

Birthing Problems

According to evidence, the Shiba Inus are not likely to suffer birthing problems. Nonetheless, this study shows that some Spitz dogs can suffer from dystocia due to fetal anasarca.

In addition, since this breed is considered as medium-sized, they are at a slightly higher risk from suffering dystocia-related problems such as complete urine inertia and abnormal orientation of the fetus.

Therefore, it is worth it to examine the mother before breeding to find potentially problematic maternal factors such as the inadequate size of the birth canal, as well as during the pregnancy, to detect fetal factors such as an oversized fetus.


A healthy Shiba Inu puppy will cost you between $800-$4,000 USD. The most influential factors are the reputation of the breeder, type of registration, bloodline and pedigree, health certificates and temperament of the parents.

To give you a better idea on how much a puppy usually sells for, here you have some real examples of Shiba Inu pups for sale:

  • A female puppy from a champion bloodline with all the health certificates, full registration, microchip, 10-year guarantee, FCI pedigree, vaccinations, show quality certification and one that meets all the appearance standards will cost you around $4,100 USD
  • A puppy with ICA registration, health guarantee, vaccinations, and health tests will cost you roughly $800 USD

As you can see, the quality of the bloodline, registration, and appearance have a huge influence on the price of Shiba Inus. It all depends on what kind of dog you want.

If you want to use it for shows and contests, then you will have to invest more. On the other hand, if you only want a loving companion, then you can find a much competitively priced option.

Another factor that drives up the price of puppies is their high demand. If you browse the marketplace, you will notice that many puppies are reserved even before birth.

selling puppies at the right price
Selling your own puppies should never be a race to the bottom. Don’t lower your prices or you will soon start lowering your breeding quality.

Shiba Inu Breed FAQ

During our research phase, we found these four questions to be the most common amongst aspiring Shiba Inu owners and breeders. You will find a concise answer for each one below.

Are Shiba Inus qualified guard dogs?

Shiba Inus are not qualified guard dogs due to their moderate size and lightweight. Even though they are alert, bold, assertive, and aggressive when necessary, their build is not suitable to confront intruders.

Since they were always used for hunting small pests and animals, anything that’s bigger is too much of a challenge for the Shiba Inu. Nonetheless, they are good watchdogs since they are alert and always suspicious of strangers. Also, they can respond quickly to changes in the environment.


Are Shiba Inus suitable for novice owners?

Shiba Inus are not a good choice for novice owners because they have a challenging temperament. Since they are independent, aloof, dominant and manipulative, they need strict and consistent training, along with the imposition of an alpha owner in the household.

Therefore, you should own a Shiba Inu if you have some degree of experience, or alternatively, you can hire a professional dog trainer to assist you.

Are Shiba Inu dogs excessive barkers?

No, Shiba Inus are not excessive barkers since they only bark to alert or warn you. Since they are independent, and therefore not needy or clingy, they will not use barking to demand your attention.

To limit it even further, proper training and early socialization will help to keep barking to a bare minimum in Shiba Inus.

Are Shiba Inus dangerous?

Shiba Inus can be dangerous when they do not receive proper training. Therefore, this breed is better suited for experienced owners, since they need firm training and the presence of an assertive owner.

On top of having a strong prey drive, they are independent, willful, dominant and manipulative, which makes them dangerous when not socialized and trained properly. Nonetheless, with the proper training, they are excellent companions.

Now you know how to breed Shiba Inus. As you can see, they are a wonderful breed with a unique set of challenges. Therefore, they are not ideal for everyone. But if you meet the profile of an ideal Shiba Inu owner, then, by all means, go ahead and buy this wonderful dog breed.

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