The Shiba is a small, compact, nimble, furry dog that looks somewhat like a miniature Akita, with small triangular prick ears. The broad, flat forehead is slightly furrowed in the middle. The eyes are small and dark, and the nose is black. The teeth should form a scissors bite. The high-set, Spitz-like tail curls over the back. Though all colors are acceptable, the plush double coat most often comes in red, sesame (black-tipped hairs on red), or black with tan markings. All colors should have urajiro (cream to white) markings on the cheeks, inside the ears, on the sides, and beneath the muzzle, throat, inside the legs, on the abdomen, and around the vent area. White is also permitted on the legs, tail tip, and in spots above the eyes. History:
The Shiba is an ancient Asian breed whose ancestors were probably brought to Japan by early immigrants thousands of years ago. Six distinct breeds developed from these original dogs, including the Akita and the Shiba. The Shiba is the smallest of the six (some of the other breeds are now extinct). Shibas were originally bred to flush birds and hunt small game. The breed might have been named for the brushwood environment where the dog hunted, for the bright red color of the autumn brushwood leaves that matches the color of some Shibas’ coats, or perhaps just for his size, as the word "shiba" means both "brushwood" and "small." World War II was a difficult time for many dog breeds worldwide, and the Shiba was no exception. Though the breed almost became extinct, breeding programs were established after the war, using individuals from the countryside. The Shiba is now the most popular breed in Japan and in recent years has been gaining popularity in the United States as well, primarily as a companion dog. The Shiba is now in the AKC Non-Sporting Group.