Originally from Japan, the Shiba Inu has exploded in popularity in recent years. They’ve made it into pop culture – most notably with huge influences in social media and the cryptocurrency space.
However, there’s a lot about the Shiba that you didn’t know. For example, did you know that these dogs are one of the most ancient breeds ever? Interested in knowing why Shibas tend to get along with cats? Or how World War almost wiped out this entire breed?
Well, stick around! In today’s article, we’re counting down the 10 most interesting Shiba Inu facts that you probably didn’t know. And that all starts right now on The Smart Canine, the only site that explores the most interesting stories and facts behind dogs.
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10. Shibas are ancient dogs.
The Shiba Inu is one of the oldest of all dog breeds in the world. In fact, the ancestors of these Japanese dogs can be traced all the way back to the year 7000 BC. That makes them at least 9 thousand years old!
According to Japanese archaeologists, remains of dogs similar in size to the Shibas were found at an excavation site inhabited by the Jomon-jin people.
The ancient Japanese tribe lived in Japan from 14,500 B.C. to 300 A.D, which suggests that the Shiba Inu could be much older. Even DNA tests have confirmed that the discovered dog remains are indeed genetically related to the modern Shiba Inu we have today.
And while there may be disputes on where the Shiba Inu originated from in Asia, most historians can agree that they did come from companion dogs that arrived during the first or second major migration of Japan.
Another fun fact: Out of all dogs, Shibas are most genetically similar to prehistoric wolves, which only strengthens the idea that they’re among the most ancient dog breeds.
9. No one knows why they’re called Shiba Inus.
Ever wonder why they’re called the Shiba Inu? Well, so have a lot of people. “Inu” is the Japanese word for “dog.” However, no one knows for sure where the name “shiba” actually originated from.
There are some theories though. For example, “Shiba” in Japanese means “brushwood,” which may be because of the terrain that these dogs frequently hunted in. Another possible explanation is that the Shiba’s coat bears a resemblance to the autumn brushwood color.
And finally, it could also be because of the Shiba’s small size. In the old Japanese language, the word “shiba” actually meant “little” or “tiny.” But regardless of how the dog got its name, I think we can all agree that the Shiba Inu name caught on.
8. Shiba Inus have one of the longest life spans.
The average lifespan of the Shiba Inu is between 12 to 16 years! This makes them one of the longest living dog breeds in the canine kingdom.
In fact, according to the Guinness book of world records, one of the world’s oldest dogs was a Shiba Inu named Pusuke. He was 26 years old, though just three months away from his 27th year. For perspective, that’s like being 125 years old in human years!
According to Pusuke’s owner, the Shiba was quite active and energetic up to her last day. The loyal Shiba Inu passed away just 5 minutes after the owner came back home from her walk. She believed that Pusuke waited for her return before passing away.
7. There were four types of Shibas.
Here in the west, we only know of the Shiba Inu. However, did you know that there are actually four types of Shibas?Of course there’s the Shiba Inu, which also happens to be by far the most popular. But there’s also the Mino Shiba, which comes from the Gifu prefecture.
This Shiba tends to be smaller, though they still retain the spirited and bold nature of the Shiba dogs. The most striking difference in the Mino Shiba is the deep mahogany coat color. They’re completely devoid of any of the cream colors we often associate with Shiba Inus.
Another is the San’in Shiba, which originates from the north-east region of mainland Japan. According to DNA testing, San’in Shibas have genetic similarities to that of the Korean Jindo dog, which leads some to believe that Shibas actually migrated from Korea.
And finally we have the Shinshu Shiba from the Nagano prefecture. Known for their smaller frames, rounded eyes and a dense coat with a curled tail, Shinshu Shibas may be the rarest of them all.
There’s a camp that doesn’t believe these dogs feel like a Japanese breed, which may actually explain why they’re losing popularity in Japan.
6. These dogs are known to “scream.”
Dogs growl, dogs whine, and dogs certainly bark. But did you know that Shiba Inus can… “scream?” Well, not exactly.
The “shiba scream,” as it’s called, is a form of communication that’s exclusive to this dog breed. However, it’s not really a scream – like what you would imagine with an upset child. Rather, it’s a unique vocalization that’s somewhere between a loud bark, howl and whine.
Shiba Inus can produce this sound on a wide variety of occasions. They’ll scream when they’re scared or anxious, but also when they’re happy and excited too. So, it’s somewhat a guessing game with the Shiba scream.
5. Shibas were used to hunt rabbits and hares.
Ever wonder what Shibas were originally bred for? Though loving companion dogs today, Shiba Inus were some of the best hunting dogs that Asia had to offer – especially for small game.
That said, Shibas were famously bred to hunt rabbits, foxes, hares and in some cases, wild birds, boar and deer too!
Shibas are well-equipped with their heavy coat and sturdy frame, so that they’re able to hunt in the mountainous regions of Japan. When hunting, Shibas had to swiftly move through dense forests, which meant they needed the extra layer of fur to protect their skin.
Now, doesn’t that make you feel better about all that shedding?
4. Some of the most famous dogs on the internet are Shibas.
Social media and the internet are no strangers to famous dogs. For example, there’s Maru the Shiba Inu – with over 2 million followers on Instagram. In fact, as of 2021 – Maru is the third most followed dog on the social media platform!
This Shiba is so famous that he’s locked plenty of endorsement deals from international brands such as Coach, Purina and many more.
And then there’s Kabosu the Shiba – famously known as “doge.” By now, most people have already heard of Dogecoin – the Elon Musk-endorsed cryptocurrency meme coin. Well, the infamous logo of the coin is actually of Kabosu – which initially went viral in 2013!
Another fun fact: Kabosu’s owner said that he named her after the fruit called kabosu because of the Shiba’s similar round face.
3. Shiba Inus are similar to cats.
What makes a Shiba cat-like? No – it’s not because they look like cats. When it comes to personality, plenty of owners have claimed that the Shiba is actually more like a cat.
Most notably, Shibas are independent, aloof and stubborn – all of which are frequently seen in most cats. And like cats, these dogs aren’t always begging for human attention.
They enjoy being alone at times, and will only approach humans when they feel like it. Plus – Shibas like playing hard to get. Some owners have claimed that their Shibas will even rub up on their legs like a cat would do!
And plenty of anecdotes say Shibas enjoy being perched on higher grounds to observe and survey their space and surroundings – just like how cats do it!
So is this the reason why Shiba Inus tend to get along well with cats? Well, quite possibly.
2. Scientists don’t know what causes the “cream” color in Shibas.
Shiba Inus comes in four colors: Sesame, Black and Tan, Red and Cream. But no matter what color coat, the cream is required on the Shiba’s muzzle, cheeks, jaw, throat, stomach and the bottom of the tail.
However, there is a name for this unique cream and white color. We call it the “Urajiro” color. And while this color is without a doubt gorgeous and stunning, researchers still don’t understand what causes this color in these dogs.
To this day, the Urajiro color remains a genetic mystery among scientists. However, some speculate that the color may be linked to the C or I series color gene, causing restrictions of pigment to the upper body of the dog.
And it’s worth noting that this color isn’t specific to the Shiba Inu, as it’s commonly seen in Akita Inus as well.
1. World War II almost completely wiped out the Shiba Inu.
Can you imagine a world without the Shiba Inu? We certainly can’t! But in the past, the reality was that this Japanese breed was on the brink of extinction.
Before World War II, the Shiba Inu was a thriving dog breed in Japan. Though unfortunately, a significant number of them passed during the bombing raids of the war.
The Shibas that were left had to battle through a post-war distemper epidemic that took the lives of many more Shiba Inus. What’s even worse was the food shortages that followed the war.
The people of Japan had to save themselves first, which left very little food for their dogs. And because of this, even more Shibas died. However after the worst had passed, the breed was revived from the only three surviving bloodlines left.
The good news is that Shibas are now one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. And in Japan, they’re recognized as a national treasure of the country. I think it’s safe to say that Shiba Inus won’t be dying out anytime soon.
So what was your favorite Shiba Inu Fact? Did we leave out anything that deserves to be in the top 10?
Let us know in the comments section below!