Shiba Inu Breed Magazine - Showsight

Shiba Inu Breed Magazine features information, expert articles, and stunning photos from AKC judges, breeders, and owners.


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Official Standard of the Shiba Inu General Appearance: The Shiba is the smallest of the Japanese native breeds of dog and was originally developed for hunting by sight and scent in the dense undergrowth of Japan's mountainous areas. Alert and agile with keen senses, he is also an excellent watchdog and companion. His frame is compact with well-developed muscles. Males and females are distinctly different in appearance: males are masculine without coarseness, females are feminine without weakness of structure. Size, Proportion, Substance: Males 14½ to 16½ inches at withers. Females 13½ to 15½ inches. The preferred size is the middle of the range for each sex. Average weight at preferred size is approximately 23 pounds for males, 17 pounds for females. Males have a height to length ratio of 10 to 11, females slightly longer. Bone is moderate. Disqualification - Males over 16½ inches and under 14½ inches. Females over 15½ inches and under 13½ inches . Head : Expression is good natured with a strong and confident gaze. Eyes are somewhat triangular in shape, deep set, and upward slanting toward the outside base of the ear. Iris is dark brown. Eye rims are black. Ears are triangular in shape, firmly pricked and small, but in proportion to head and body size. Ears are set well apart and tilt directly forward with the slant of the back of the ear following the arch of the neck. Skull size is moderate and in proportion to the body. Forehead is broad and flat with a slight furrow. Stop is moderate. Muzzle is firm, full, and round with a stronger lower jaw projecting from full cheeks . The bridge of the muzzle is straight. Muzzle tapers slightly from stop to nose tip. Muzzle length is 40 percent of the total head length from occiput to nose tip. It is preferred that whiskers remain intact. Lips are tight and black. Nose is black. Bite is scissors, with a full complement of strong, substantial, evenly aligned teeth. Serious Fault - Five or more missing teeth is a very serious fault and must be penalized. Disqualification - Overshot or undershot bite. Neck, Topline and Body: Neck is thick, sturdy, and of moderate length. Topline is straight and level to the base of the tail. Body is dry and well muscled without the appearance of sluggishness or coarseness. Forechest is well developed. Chest depth measured from the withers to the lowest point of the sternum is one-half or slightly less than the total height from withers to ground. Ribs are moderately sprung. Abdomen is firm and well tucked-up. Back is firm. Loins are strong. Tail is thick and powerful and is carried over the back in a sickle or curled position. A loose single curl or sickle tail pointing vigorously toward the neck and nearly parallel to the back is preferred. A double curl or sickle tail pointing upward is acceptable. In length the tail reaches nearly to the hock joint when extended. Tail is set high. Forequarters : Shoulder blade and upper arm are moderately angulated and approximately equal in length. Elbows are set close to the body and turn neither in nor out. Forelegs and feet are moderately spaced, straight, and parallel. Pasterns are slightly inclined. Removal of front dewclaws is optional. Feet are catlike with well-arched toes fitting tightly together. Pads are thick. Hindquarters : The angulation of the hindquarters is moderate and in balance with the angulation of the forequarters. Hind legs are strong with a wide natural stance. The hock joint is strong, turning neither in nor out. Upper thighs are long and the second thighs short but well developed. No dewclaws. Feet as in forequarters. Coat: Double coated with the outer coat being stiff and straight and the undercoat soft and thick. Fur is short and even on face, ears, and legs. Guard hairs stand off the body are about 1½ to 2

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inches in length at the withers. Tail hair is slightly longer and stands open in a brush. It is preferred that the Shiba be presented in a natural state. Trimming of the coat must be severely penalized. Serious Fault - Long or woolly coat. Color: Coat color is as specified herein, with the three allowed colors given equal consideration. All colors are clear and intense. The undercoat is cream, buff or gray. Urajiro (cream to white ventral color) is required in the following areas on all coat colors: on the sides of the muzzle, on the cheeks, inside the ears, on the underjaw and upper throat inside of legs, on the abdomen, around the vent and the ventral side of the tail. On reds : commonly on the throat, forechest, and chest. On blacks and sesames : commonly as a triangular mark on both sides of the forechest. White spots above the eyes permitted on all colors but not required. Bright orange-red with urajiro lending a foxlike appearance to dogs of this color. Clear red preferred but a very slight dash of black tipping is permitted on the back and tail. Black with tan points and urajiro. Black hairs have a brownish cast, not blue. The undercoat is buff or gray. The borderline between black and tan areas is clearly defined. Tan points are located as follows: two oval spots over the eyes: on the sides of the muzzle between the black bridge of the muzzle and the white cheeks; on the outside of the forelegs from the carpus, or a little above, downward to the toes; on the outside of the hind legs down the front of the stifle broadening from hock joint to toes, but not completely eliminating black from rear of pasterns. Black penciling on toes permitted. Tan hairs may also be found on the inside of the ear and on the underside of the tail. Sesame (black-tipped hairs on a rich red background) with urajiro. Tipping is light and even on the body and head with no concentration of black in any area. Sesame areas appear at least one-half red. Sesame may end in a widow's peak on the forehead, leaving the bridge and sides of the muzzle red. Eye spots and lower legs are also red. Clearly delineated white markings are permitted but not required on the tip of the tail and in the form of socks on the forelegs to the elbow joint, hind legs to the knee joint. A patch of blaze is permitted on the throat, forechest, or chest in addition to urajiro. Serious fault - Cream, white, pinto, or any other color or marking not specified is a very serious fault and must be penalized. Gait: Movement is nimble, light, and elastic. At the trot, the legs angle in towards a center line while the topline remains level and firm. forward reach and rear extension are moderate and efficient. In the show ring, the Shiba is gaited on a loose lead at a brisk trot. Temperament : A spirited boldness, a good nature, and an unaffected forthrightness, which together yield dignity and natural beauty. The Shiba has an independent nature and can be reserved toward strangers but is loyal and affectionate to those who earn his respect. At times aggressive toward other dogs, the Shiba is always under the control of his handler. Any aggression toward handler or judge or any overt shyness must be severely penalized. Summary : The foregoing is a description of the ideal Shiba. Any deviation from the above standard is to be considered a fault and must be penalized. The severity of the fault is equal to the extent of the deviation. A harmonious balance of form, color, movement, and temperament is more critical than any one feature. Disqualifications : Males over 16½ and under 14½ inches. Females over 15½ and under 13½ inches. Overshot or undershot bite.

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Approved February 7, 1997 Effective March 31, 1997



By Laura Payton

he Shiba Inu is one of the more primitive breeds in the AKC fam- ily of dogs. Japanese skeletal remains date the early ancestors of

the Shiba Inu at over 10,000 years old. Th e domestic dog is a descendant of the Asian Gray Wolf. A study of the DNA of 85 purebred dog breeds published in the March 2012 issue of the National Geo- graphic cites the Shiba Inu as the breed most closely aligned genetically with the Asian Gray Wolf. Th e Shiba has remained relatively unchanged and the primitive nature of the breed is an important ele- ment of understanding the breed. Th e Shiba Inu along with five other native Japanese breeds evolved over time from the original descendants of the Asian Gray Wolf. Most of the type characteristics are common among these six breeds with size and color as the primary traits that dis- tinguish the individual breeds. Th e Shiba is the smallest of the native Japanese breeds. Th e traits that define the Shiba are a combi- nation of form, function and temperament. Form Characteristics Th e three areas of form that receive the most attention from breeders are the head, size and coat color. Th ese traits are often the most di ffi cult to achieve and retain. Th e head combines the muzzle, the skull shape, the eye, the ear and cheeks. t ɨFNV[[MFJTmSNXJUIBSPVOEBQQFBS - ance viewed from the front. Th e full underjaw is the trait that contributes to the round appearance of the muzzle. Th e lip line is firm and straight and the pigment of the lips is black. t ɨFTIBQFPGUIFTLVMMJTEFmOFECZB moderate stop, a defined upward slop- ing back skull, and a broad flat fore- head that may contain a slight furrow. Th e muzzle is roughly 40% of the skull measured from the tip of the nose to the occiput.

t ɨFFZFJTEFFQMZTFUBOESJTFTVQXBSE toward the base of the ear. Th e upper lid is somewhat triangular in shape and the lower lid is slightly rounded. Th e eye color is deep brown and the pigment of the eye rim is black. t ɨFFBSTBSFXFMMTFUBQBSUBOEUJMUGPS - ward slightly flowing forward in the line formed by the arch of the neck. Th e ear is firmly pricked and triangular in shape. Viewed from the front, the pitch of the ear creates a somewhat triangular shape where the outer edge of the ear is slightly curved and the inner edge of the ears is straighter. t ɨF DIFFLT BSF GVMM BOE QSPQPSUJPOBM with the other components of the head. Balance is important when viewing the head as a whole. Th ere is room for variance

in the individual elements; however the overall impression of the head is one where all of the components are proportional, balanced and in harmony. Th e acceptable height range is impor- tant enough to merit disqualification. Th e Shiba Inu is not a toy dog and the undersize disqualification exists to empha- size the importance of the lower range of the acceptable height. Th e top end of the height range separates the Shiba Inu from the other native Japanese breeds identified as larger in size. Judges that question the height of a Shiba in the ring are encour- aged to use the wicket to determine if the exhibit is within acceptable limits. Th e three accepted colors of the Shiba Inu are: Red, Red Sesame and Black with Tan Points. Th e under coat is soft and

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dense and may be white, bu ff , cream, tan or gray in color. Urajiro is required for all colors and is white, cream or bu ff . Urajiro is required: on the sides of the muzzle, on the cheeks, inside the ears, on the underjaw and upper throat, the inside of legs, on the abdomen, around the vent and the ventral side of the tail. Th e urajiro is distinct from the coat color with a graduated blending of the urajiro into the colored coat. Th e red is vibrant and closer to a vivid orange than red. Th e color is not muted appearing fawn or brownish red. Th e cor- rect red sesame is one of the hardest colors to obtain. Th e combination of black tipped hairs on vivid red background is distrib- uted evenly throughout the coat and does not appear in patches or patterned. Th is even distribution should be present on the head and may form a widow’s peak on the forehead. Th e black with tan points is comprised of black guard hair contain- ing brown or red tints. Th e black is not a blue black. Th e tan points are located as oval spots over the eyes; on the sides of the muzzle between the black bridge of the muzzle and the white cheeks; on the out- side of the forelegs from the carpus, or a little above, downward to the toes; on the outside of the hind legs down the front of the stifle broadening from hock joint to toes. Tan points may also be found on the inside of the ear and underside of the tail. While other colors or color patterns may occur within the breed, these repre- sent coloration patterns more appropriate to the other native Japanese breeds and are serious faults that must be penalized. In addition, the cream or white Shiba will not display the required contrast between coat color and the urajiro pattern required for all Shibas. Function Characteristics Th e Shiba has been utilized through- out its early history as a hunting dog. Th e Shiba travels a variety of terrain from high mountainous regions to open fields. Th e Shiba is sturdy without appearing heavy

boned or refined. Th e Shiba is built to work tirelessly for extended periods with balanced structure critical to performance. Th e Shiba possesses e ff ortless movement allowing for bursts of speed and quick course corrections. Th e Shiba thrives in extreme ranges of temperature. A trait that allows the Shiba to function in extreme weather is the coat. Th e Shiba carries a double coat where the guard or outer coat is coarse, sti ff and straight and the undercoat is soft and dense. A long, wooly or soft coat is faulted and it is preferred that the Shiba is presented in a natural state. Trimming or sculpting of the coat must be severely penalized. Th ese carnivorous dogs easily adapted to the requirements of the Japanese hunt- er throughout early history. Full denti- tion and the alignment of the teeth is an important consideration for these hunting dogs. Th e Shiba throughout history has been utilized as a hunter of game ranging in size from small birds to boar. Th e job of the Shiba when hunting boar was to contain the boar until the hunter arrived with spears. Th e Shiba would circle the boar attacking from the rear at the ham- strings to slow down or immobilize. Th e full-compliment of correctly aligned teeth was critical to the Shiba’s survival. Several of the early Shibas in the foun- dation stock comprising the gene pool in the US had missing teeth. Th e version of the Standard adopted by AKC when the breed entered the Non-Sporting Group in June 1993 simply stated “full dentition preferred.” Unfortunately, several of the early AKC champions had missing teeth; some in significant numbers. Th e NSCA members understood the importance of honoring the judging requirements in the country of origin as well as the heritage of the breed and felt that dentition required emphasis from breeders and judges alike. Th e members of NSCA felt that breed- ers needed time to reduce the number of missing teeth and in 1997 the Standard was modified to specify that more than

4 missing teeth are a serious fault. In time the Standard may be revised in steps to specify more than two missing teeth as a serious fault, with the ultimate goal of full dentition as a requirement. Temperament Characteristics Th e Shiba Inu should carry himself with a “spirited boldness” and dignity. Th e Shiba Inu does not understand that he is not the biggest dog in the crowd and firm- ly believes that he is the most important dog in area where he is present. Th e quiet confidence of the Shiba is manifested by a dog that is secure in his environment and under the control of his owner or handler. While puppies may exhibit enthusiasm for greeting any stranger, adults are often more reserved and aloof. When greeting a stranger, the adult Shiba has yet to deter- mine if it is worth his while to expend any e ff ort on the newcomer to his world. Judges should not be expected to toler- ate aggressive behavior from a Shiba and AKC has procedures for dogs that display aggressive behavior in the ring. Shy dogs raise a bigger question and the key element in the Standard is the word overt. A Shiba may be unsure of herself the first few times she shows and will gain confidence with each show experience. However, the Shiba that displays overt shyness with behaviors such as trembling, cringing or low crawl- ing should be excused. Fear based aggres- sion may be a factor in the show ring more often than dominance aggression. Th e judge or the exhibitor should not push a Shiba into a fear aggression response. Th e National Shiba Club of America has developed a program for educating judges that places emphasis on judging the overall dog and discourages fault judging. Th e “perfect” Shiba does not exist and in most circumstances the strengths of the dog will o ff set any minor faults possessed by the dog. Th e Standard states “A harmo- nious balance of form, color, movement, and temperament is more critical than any one feature.”


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E ver since the first draft of the canine genome was released in 2004 using a Boxer named Sasha, a few tests for different traits, both desirable and unwanted, as well as tests for various hereditary dis- eases have become available to the public through several laborato- ries specializing in animal genetics. Everyone realizes that genetics is an extremely complex science and that the majority of characteristics and conditions breeders attempt to manage in their dogs are produced by multiple genes and modifying factors that are extremely difficult to identify genetically. This, compounded by the diversity in structure and outward appearance of the many dog breeds plus conditions that are specific to one or a certain group of breeds, further complicates geneti- cists’ ability to isolate the genes that produce a certain characteristic. “46% of genetic diseases reported in dogs are believed to occur predominantly or exclusively in one or a few breeds.” (Patterson, D.F. 2000 Canine genetic disease information system: A computerized knowledge base of genetic diseases in the dog. Mosby-Harcourt, St. Louis, Missouri.) “However, the variation between dog breeds is much greater than the varia- tion between human populations (27.5% versus 5.4%). Conversely, the degree of genetic homogeneity is much greater within individual dog breeds than within distinct human populations (94.6% versus 72.5%). Furthermore, in some breeds, genetic variation has been additionally reduced by bottlenecks associated with catastrophic events such as war and economic depression.” (Ostrander, Elaine A. and Robert K. Wayne. 2005. The canine genome. Canine Genome. Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory Press) In other words, what is geneti- cally accurate in one breed, or many breeds, may not be true in all breeds but, because of controlled breeding, individuals within a breed are much more genetically uniform than humans from a specific region. Thus, each breed must be studied individually. Once specific genes known to cause a certain characteristic or condition have been isolated, it is another step to offer testing for those genes to the general public. Genes affecting coat color and length are some of the easiest to quantify. It appears that most breeds have the recessive gene for long-coats. A long-coated Rottweiler may not be a fluffy dog like a long-coated Shiba, but the identified gene is the same in both (it appears that another gene may be involved in long-coated Siberians and Akitas, but it was not seen in Shibas) and several animal genetics laboratories offer tests for this gene. If a dog does not carry the long-coat gene, it is labeled LL where L is the dominant form of the gene. If it is a carrier but does not exhibit the long-coat, the dog is Ll where l is the recessive gene version. If the dog has a long-coat, the genes are ll . If an LL is bred to another LL , no long-coats and no carriers, Ll , will be produced. If LL is bred to Ll , no long-coats will be produced, but half, on average, will be Ll long-coat carriers. If Ll is bred to Ll (again extrapolated out over the popu- lation), out of four puppies, one puppy will be LL and not a carrier, two will be Ll carriers, and one will be an ll long-coat. The ratio of genes L or l that goes

Long-Coat Cream (photo courtesy of Lori Pendergast)

Cream puppies never have a black hair from birth. (photo courtesy of Susanne Ozasa)



This Japanese import puppy, living in France, tested “aw/at” at UC Davis.

Typical markings seen on an ay/at sesame.



and Akitas. Dogs carrying the ee have no black hairs anywhere on their bodies, ever, but have black pigment elsewhere as seen in Irish Setters and Golden Retrievers. The intensity of pigment can range from Irish Setter red to Shiba cream. Theories have been put forth, especially by Clarence C. Little (1957) in his book, The Inheritance of Coat Color in Dogs , regard- ing the genes that may influence the intensity of red pigment, but there are no tests available to determine this—yet. It is interesting to note, though, that Shar-Peis have both the dark red ee pigment as well as the cream variation with no intermediate shades like the Golden Retriever or Chow. Shibas do not appear to have the dark red ee , as they would have to be born red with not even one black hair, and only the creams do that. The ee red or cream color in dogs is not to be confused with the liver-pigmented red found in Dobermans and Vizslas. That gene does not appear to occur in Shibas, and always has brown points (nose, lips, etc.). All Shibas have at least one black hair, except creams. The other gene series expressed in the Shiba is the Agouti caused by the Agouti Signaling Protein (ASIP). The ASIP interacts with MCIR to create all the colors that we see in the breed, from red through black & tan. Although there are four known variants of the Agouti gene, recent tests by UC Davis Laboratories have shown only three in the Shiba. The most dominant is for the sable (Shiba people call it red) which is Ay . Shibas not carrying the black & tan recessive are Ay/Ay. It is common knowledge that black & tan is recessive to red, and it is designated at/at . Red and sesame dogs carrying the black & tan recessive are most frequently Ay/at , but the recent development of a definitive test for the black & tan recessive has allowed geneticists to determine if a dog has the wild, aw , gene by default. There is no definitive test for the aw gene and it is determined by process of elimination.

into a breeding is the ratio that comes out with approximately one in four expressing the recessive gene when both parents are carriers. If both parents are long-coats, ll , all offspring will be long-coated. It is easy to see how the long-coat gene can be passed down for generations and never be expressed; especially when many more offspring than any combination would ever produce is necessary to get the balanced ratios. For additional information on how this works, type “Punnett Square” into a search engine. Space does not permit a discussion of all the tests available that influence canine coat color, so only those that affect the Shiba will be noted. A basic discussion of all the coat colors for which there are tests may be seen on the University of California at Davis’ website. Actually, Shiba coat color is fairly simple compared to the vast array of possibilities for the Afghan Hound or Great Dane. Mam- mals really only have two coat color pigments, black and red/yel- low. Everything in the Shiba, from red to sesame to black & tan to cream, is a variation on a theme. There are now tests available for what causes white socks or “pinto” markings in the dog, and these may even be a by-product of domestication, but that is a whole other article. The black pigment in dogs is created by the Melanocortin 1 Receptor (MC1R) which in its dominant form, E , allows for black hairs on a dog, at least at some point in their lives, even if it’s just one black whisker. All Shibas have this except for the cream. In its recessive form, e , all black pigment is restricted. If a Shiba has two copies of the gene, ee , it becomes cream. Recent test samples on Shibas that are cream or cream producers show that Shibas that do not carry the recessive for cream are EE , those that are colored and have produced cream are Ee , and cream is ee . These findings are concurrent with a similar expression of the ee gene in Shar-Peis



(photos from NSCA website at

There is another gene in the agouti series for recessive black labeled “ a ” which is recessive to black & tan. This is not the dominant black seen in most breeds like the Labrador or Chow, but is the black of the uncommon black German Shepherd, black & white Sheltie, or the very rare black Samoyed or American Eskimo. The Shiba does not appear to carry the reces- sive a . The lab will test for the A series and look for the three things that are known, Ay sable, at black & tan, and a recessive black. If the dog only has one of these, then it is assumed that the other is aw , the wild color. Very few Shibas have been test- ed that are suspected of carrying the aw gene, but those that have been tested are aw/at sesames. By appearance, the aw/at sesames have a wider distribution of dark hair than the ay/at sesame, the dark hair extending down the bridge of the nose without a widow’s peak. It is also possible for a Shiba to be aw/aw , but no dog that has been tested has had that color. It is possible for a Shiba to appear to be sesame but actually not carry the at gene, as Ay/ Ay , the gene for sable, allows for black hairs. Of course, if a dog has a black & tan parent, it will carry the at recessive. Four cheek swabs were submitted to VetGen for testing, with the following results: • Dog A was a red with no known black & tan in his pedigree and never known to have produced one, and his test results came back EE , Ay/Ay , and negative for a . • Dog B was a sesame and his test results showed him to be EE , with only one copy of Ay , and negative for a , so he was Ay/at by process of elimination. At the time of submis- sion, there was no test for aw , and at was done by a process of elimina- tion. Since then, the test for at has become definitive. • Dog C was a red known to have produced cream, and his test results were Ee , Ay/Ay , and negative for a . • Dog D was a cream and her test results were ee , Ay/at , and negative for a . Although this is a small sampling, the genetics bear out what is seen in the Shiba breed. These basic coat colors and modify- ing factors that cannot be identified genet- ically at this time influence the expression of the genes. Nowhere is this more appar- ent than in the urajiro on the Shiba.




The lightened color on the undersides of many breeds is influenced by the Agouti ( A ) gene series and especially noticeable in those of red/sable coloring with a longer, double coat such as the Sheltie, Corgi, and Chow. It has been taken to a new level by selective breeding in the Shiba. The desire for a clear, almost white urajiro has created a look that is almost indistinguishable from the white markings found on a Siberian Husky and some Malamutes. The most obvious difference is that Shibas are not born with those markings but transition into them as a puppy matures, just as many wild animals, including coyotes, cotton- tails, and mountain lions have undersides that lighten with maturity. The agouti gene series, influenced by modifying factors both known and unknown, produces some of the widest variations in canine color. A couple other things are worthy of note. There have not been enough tests done on Shibas to determine how many carry the aw gene, but it is probably not very many. So far, those that do carry the gene are descending from just a few dogs. At this time, there is no genetic evidence showing that black & tan Shibas would be more likely to carry the cream gene than the red ones. Fortunately, for Shiba breeders, coat color genetics is easy, especially when compared to their cousin, the Akita (Greater Japanese Dog). With testing for the long-coat and cream genes readily available, people can test before breeding, to eliminate these faults, if desired, or even test puppies at just a few days of age. The use of the long-coat carrier to boost the thickness of offsprings’ coats (prob- ably already being done inadvertently) or the cream to possibly intensify the red in sable offspring are controversial subjects and better addressed in open forums rather than in national publications. How breeders choose to manage these things are individual decisions, but at least the tools are now available for everyone. “FORTUNATELY, FOR SHIBA BREEDERS, COAT COLOR GENETICS IS EASY, ESPECIALLY WHEN COMPARED TO THEIR COUSIN, THE AKITA (GREATER JAPANESE DOG). WITH TESTING FOR THE LONG-COAT AND CREAM GENES READILY AVAILABLE, PEOPLE CAN TEST BEFORE BREEDING, TO ELIMINATE THESE FAULTS, IF DESIRED, OR EVEN TEST PUPPIES AT JUST A FEW DAYS OF AGE.”

photo courtesy of Johnny Szary

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Since joining the NSCA in 1989, Jacey Holden has been an Officer or Board Member for the majority of those years, including five years as President and all other offices except Treasurer. Serving on the Public Education Committee for the past several years made it abundantly clear to Jacey that the greatest challenge facing the Shiba, and probably all purebred dogs, is not the hyperbole surrounding dog shows or whether or not we have an Illustrated Standard, but the proliferation of poor-quality dogs being offered to an impulsive public over the Internet. Our only weapon is education, and the club and its members face this greatest challenge by creating informed puppy buyers, for without them our sport and all the noble objectives in our constitution will be moot. Jacey previously wrote the Shiba column for the AKC Gazette . Much of what Jacey has written appeared on the NSCA website or in the E-News, and she hopes that it expresses much of her desire for breed and public education. Jacey’s experience in dog-oriented organizations is extensive and she has served in almost all board positions for the Shiba Inu Fanciers of Northern California, the San Joaquin Kennel Club, the Northern California Siberian Husky Club, and the Sierra Nevada Dog Drivers.

Links Offering Testing:

Learn More: - The Genetics of Cream - Lots of Pictures and Colors to Boggle the Mind - Good Basic Under- standing of the Tests - Good Basics with Photos - For the Scientist - A Link with Many More Links


by JACEY HOLDEN THE SHIBA INU W hen Archer escaped from a backyard in Stockton, California, he didn’t resurface until a

Scientists analyzed the DNA of 85 dog breeds and found the Shiba’s genetic profile was the closest to that of the wolf and, not surprisingly, immediately fol- lowed by the Chow, Akita, Alaskan Mala- mute, Basenji, Shar Pei and Siberian Hus- ky. With their roots in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, this suggests that these are the oldest, yet most primitive-acting, domesticated breeds. This primal nature was allowed to flourish at the inception of the Japa- nese native dog. The breed’s history is explained in this excerpt taken from the Introduction To The Shiba Inu on the National Shiba Club of America website: “Originally, Shibas were bred to flush birds and small game and were occa- sionally used to hunt wild boar. Around 7,000 BC the ancestors of today’s Shiba may have accompanied the earliest immigrants to Japan. Archaeological excavations of the shell-mounds left by the Jomonjin, or Rope-Pattern People (a name derived from the pattern found on their earthenware), show that they had small dogs in the 14 ½ to 19 ½ inch range. In the third century BC, a new group of immigrants brought their dogs to Japan. These dogs then interbred with the descendants of the Jomonjin dogs and produced canines known to have pointed, erect ears and curly or sickle tails.

In the seventh century AD, the Yamato Court established a dogkeep- er’s office that helped maintain the Japanese native breeds as an integral part of Japanese culture. Originally there were three main varieties of Shiba; each named for its region of ori- gin. Although similar, the Shibas from each area contributed to differences in breed type seen today. From the origi- nal Japanese native dogs, six distinct “breeds,” in three different sizes and colors developed. They are: • Large Size – The Akita – any color • Medium Size – The Kishu – primarily white The Hokkaido – red, white, sesa- me, black & tan, brindle, black The Shikoku – primarily sesame The Kai – brindle • Small Size – The Shiba – red, sesame, black and tan, cream The small size dog has been called the Shiba since ancient times, with several theories surrounding the development of that name. One popu- lar explanation is that the word Shiba means “brushwood,” and the dogs were named for the brushwood bushes where they hunted. Another theory is that the fiery red color of the Shiba is the same as the autumn color of the brushwood leaves. A third conjecture

month later, 50 miles away and across three major rivers. Fortunately, sharp- eyed and caring Shiba lovers recog- nized him from his photo in the “lost dog” section of Craigslist and pulled him from the brink of euthanasia at a shelter. After much maneuvering, he was reunited with his young owner who had given up all hope of finding her beloved pet. Archer did not find his way through San Joaquin Delta by him- self. Someone drove him there and then lost him—again. The above story combines both the greatest positive and the greatest nega- tive of the delightful little Shiba Inu. Their universal appeal of small (but not tiny) size, charming fox-like appear- ance and friendly nature makes anyone finding such a dog reluctant to give it up, but the Shiba’s wanderlust makes it difficult to confine and even harder to retrieve once an escape is made. It is easy to understand the inde- pendent nature of this breed when the findings of the National Human Genome Research Institute and National Institutes of Health were reported in the February 2012 issue of National Geographic Magazine.

Early Japanese picture scroll

An early Shiba in modern Japan


is related to an obsolete meaning of the word ‘shiba’ referring to its small size. These explanations are often combined and the Shiba is referred to as the ‘little brushwood dog.’ World War II nearly spelled disaster for the Shiba. After the war, Shibas were brought from the remote countryside, and breeding programs were estab- lished. The remnants of the various bloodlines were combined to produce the breed as it is known today.” In contrast to the independent nature is the delightful side of Shi- bas that makes them irresistible to so many people. The Japanese describe this personality with three words: “kan-i” which is bravery and boldness combined with composure and mental strength. The opposite side of “kan-i” is “ryosei” which means good nature with a gentle disposition. One cannot exist without the other. The charming side of the Shiba is “soboku” which is artless- ness with a refined and open spirit. This delightful personality, the easy- care coat and balanced 15 to 25 pound size, combine to make an almost ideal breed that is small enough to be picked

up yet rugged enough for outdoor liv- ing. Shibas are not plagued by condi- tions common to breeds of distorted proportions and extreme ranges in size. Responsible breeders screen their breeding stock for hip dysplasia, patel- lar luxation, heart murmurs and heri- table eye defects. The most common health problem in the breed is also the most common in other breeds as well as humans and that is allergies. Attempt- ing to find the causes of the allergies, treating the itching and scratching and not breeding affected animals are the only weapons against this universal problem. As Shibas have increased in popular- ity, breeders have been cognizant of the necessity for good temperaments and the nature of the breed has softened over the years, although some, espe- cially in-tact males, may not get along with all other dogs. Today’s Shibas have come to appreciate the comforts of a soft bed, a well-stocked kitchen and daily walks in the park. This is not to say that they wouldn’t give it all up for a taste of freedom if given the opportunity. With this in mind, careful

consideration must be given when con- sidering bringing a Shiba into a house- hold with small children who may not be good about keeping doors closed. With this surge in popularity has come the problem of an inadequate supply of quality dogs from responsible breeders and the rush to fill that gap by those seeking only to make a profit from the dogs and breeding large quantities of sub-standard Shibas. Good breeders, especially in heavy population centers, may receive more than a phone call or email every day from someone wanting a puppy. Since the average Shiba litter is only three pups, excellent breeders may have just a few pups a year and the impatient buyer has nowhere to turn but to the internet and the plethora of cute, but not necessarily good quality, puppies offered there. In the 24 years since the Shiba was recognized by the AKC, it has made excellent strides in quality, largely due to conscientious breeders and the judi- cious importation of good dogs from Japan. Some of the dogs that placed in group in the early years might have a difficult time finishing now. Prior to



Early Shibas in the US


AKC recognition, many breeders feared that the Shiba might go the way of the Akita which had become an entirely different breed here in the US, but the AKC and the Japan Kennel Club formed a reciprocal agreement in 1992 and the Shiba avoided that pitfall. Now the Shi- ba is a universal breed that can compete anywhere in the world. The disqualify- ing height range of 14 ½ '' to 16 ½ '' for males and 13 ½ '' to 15 ½ '' for females has kept the size uniform not allowing it to become a Toy dog or a miniature Akita. It has remained a moderate breed. For more information, see the illustrated standard at judgesed/seminar/index.htm. Although Shiba temperaments have improved, the stigma of aggressiveness has followed them into the ring. Shi- bas often jerk their heads back when teeth are being examined. Early on, I had a young bitch do that and the judge jumped back like she had been bitten. Then she stood about four feet away and asked me to show the bite saying “I can see it from here.” Times have changed but Shibas still do their best to embarrass their han- dlers including screaming, bailing off the table and doing the “Shiba shake” several times during the out and back. The epitome of embarrassment was the

bitch that started a “humping” action when a judge went over her rear end and wouldn’t stop until put on the floor. Of course, much laughter ensued and there was always a crowd gathered when she was being shown as she often repeated the performance. Most judges were amused but a few were not. Although they prefer the company of their family and close friends, their devotion often extends primarily to whoever has the best bait-pocket. As purebred kitchen hounds, Shibas remain loyal to their one true love— food. They are best trained with rewards rather than punishment and compliance is not to be expected once they realize a reward will not be forth- coming. This lack of compliance also seems to extend to anytime there is an audience, a distraction and most cer- tainly, in the obedience ring. Even though Shibas frequently act- out in the conformation and obedience rings, many seem to enjoy Agility and especially, the new Barn Hunt event available to the breed. Event enthusiast Michelle Hacker states, “Called the new ‘It’ dog in Barn Hunt, the Shiba Inu is uniquely equipped for this sport with his strong prey drive and light, quick movements. They are very determined hunters that work the entire course,

leaving no hay untouched until they find their prey, a triple threat to the rats indeed!” Fast Cat was started in March of 2016 and has caught on with many fan- ciers who want to do something with their Shibas besides conformation. This seems to fit right with the Shiba prey drive, just like Barn Hunt. The prob- lem with either of those events is the frequent lack of secure fencing. The fear that the dog will just run off is always there. Scent work trials started just last October and some Shiba fanciers are interested as they may keep their dogs on leash. It will be interesting to see how they perform in the future. Like all breeds, Shibas have both positive and negative traits to be care- fully considered by those contemplating Shiba ownership. Much detailed infor- mation can be obtained by thoroughly reading the material on the Parent Club website at which con- tains extensive breed information on health, care, temperament, activities, events, breeders and the entire National Shiba Club of America’s Judge’s Educa- tion seminar and handouts. Absorption of these materials should prepare most anyone for living with kan-i, ryosei and soboku.


Barn hunt

This group placing/top 10 Shiba in ‘93/94 was undersized and had a high white sock. He might not finish today.




By Frederick Duane

hiba Inu is the smallest of the six related Nippon Inu (Japanese dogs) of which the shiba is the smallest and aki- ta is the largest. Th e ances- tors of these little treasures

are believed to be the oldest as skeletal remains have been found dating back to the Joman Era (8000 B.C. or earlier). Th e Shiba as well as all the Nippon Inus were originally bred for hunting. Th ey were used on small game and some shibas have been used to hunt boar, deer, and bear. Th ey are very popular dog in Japan shows, having as many as 800 in a Nippon show. Colors are red, sesame, black, tan & cream. Th ey stand 14-16 inches at the shoulder and weigh 18-23 pounds. Th eir natural stand up (slightly tilted forward) ears and curled tail along with their short double coat they make an all around beau- tiful, attractive little dog that can go any- where with you. Th is fox-like look, cat-like cleanliness, their courageous, dignified and obedient way are what endeared them to the Japa- nese all these years. Th ey are a real fam- ily house dog and a good kid’s dog. Shibas originate from land-locked mountainous parts of Japan where they thrive on cold weather. Th ey are very adaptable; we are in South Carolina and the heat doesn’t bother them, they race around when it is so hot you don’t want to move to do anything. Our line of Shibas don’t have canine health problems of a lot of other breeds. Also, they are not hyper like many of the small breeds. Th ey rarely bark unless it is for a good reason. Th ey are so intelligent you only have to show them

Ch Frerose Good Time Charlie—6 Months Old— with Frederick Duane and Diane Murphy.

“...THEIR COURAGEOUS, DIGNIFIED AND OBEDIENT WAY are what endeared them to the Japanese all these years.”

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once or twice what it is you want them to do and they obey. Shibas are easy to train if you do it all with positive training, praise and reward, firm but fair. I find them to be one of smartest and easiest of any breed I know. One of our people has two golden retrievers and she said her Shiba is by far a better retreiver than the Goldens!

All our dogs and our puppies start out as show dogs standing and baiting even at 6 weeks old. We have bred our dogs and kept the look and type we like with the showmanship bred in to them. As one judge said about a puppy that we had at a match show, “He was born on his feet in a show stack.”

This proud little dog is a joy to own and it is a dog anyone from children to senior citizens can handle. After breed- ing show dogs since the 60s and top quality Shibas for the last 33 years we still love them as we did on day one.

“Shibas are easy to train if you do it all with positive training, praise and reward, firm but fair. I FIND THEM TO BE ONE OF SMARTEST AND EASIEST OF ANY BREED I KNOW.”

T his is Little Red Bear; he is a sei- zure alert dog. Kay Murphree did not get Bear until he was almost 6 months old. Right away he attached him- self to Kay. She had him less than 2 weeks and her husband was going to take him out to potty and he just ran over and sat by Kay and within a few minutes she had a seizure. Th is is what Kay wrote to us: “Just wanted you both to know… Bear is still doing an excellent job for me… infact he just gets better and better… Jae- mar Trainers have worked diligently with the both of us on a weekly basis..he has achieved his canine good citizen award… and is doing advanced training in obe- dience. Bear and I have been contacted from newspapers and people all over the country to give information on seizure alert/response dogs. Honestly he is quite a little celebrity and enjoys all the adula- tion. Bear and I are now involved in the therapy dog program and visit the local nursing homes and hospitals where he is quite the hit. Everyone wants to pet Little Red Bear. I could never express how very much this little guy means to me and my family. He is so diligently and lovingly responded in each and every instance. What loyal, obedient and loving compan- ions Shiba Inus are. God bless you both and all your little Shibas.” Namaste, Kay Murphree & Bear

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A Breed in review SHIBA INU:

PAT HASTINGS I live in Aloha, OR and have a fairly full life inside of dogs. With writing, semi- nars, judging and litter evaluation, dogs keep me pretty busy. But I do love garden- ing, movies and spending as much time as possible with my friends and family. I got my first dog, a Toy Poodle, in 1958; which was also the first dog I showed. (I received a ribbon and got hooked for life.) I have been very involved ever since. I was very active in club work, had a 4-H Dog Group for years, breeder/owner/handler for years and became a professional handler when I married Bob in 1977. I retired from all of that in 1990 and started judg- ing and I currently judge 4 groups. CAROLYN HERBEL

a year when we got our first two dogs—a German Shorthair for a hunting dog and a Miniature Schnauzer—and we started showing shortly thereafter. We got our first Shiba in 1988 and I’ve been judging them since 1998. I’ve been judging since 1994 and have the Terrier and Non-Sporting groups; I’m now learning and judging some Sporting breeds in addition to the GSPs which I’ve judged since the beginning. I’ve been JEC for the National Shiba Club of America and was Vice President. I developed their educational PowerPoint in addition to the one for the Hungarian Pumi Club of America, and an educational website on CD for the American Miniature Schnauzer Club. LAURA PERKINSON

I live in Oakville, Washington State. I am retired. I showed my first dog, a GSD, in 1958. I judged from 2004 to 2013. I had Chow Chows for over 20 years and was in Japan showing a Chow in the 90s when I saw my first Shiba. I asked my friend what it was and five months later he sent me one. I never looked back. I love this breed to distraction and with the help of oth-

I live in Oklahoma. Outside of dogs… I do very little, because as a retiree I am indulging myself mostly in many dog- related activities. I’ve been in the dog world since buying our first AKC regis- tered dog in 1956. I entered her in Obe- dience in 1959, at the St. Joseph KC. I’ve been judging since 1983.

© Lynda Beam

ers worked to get it accepted by AKC. I have bred over 55 Shiba Champions as well as a World winner and Champions in Europe, a BOB National Specialty winner and just this last year, showed my Veteran to Select dog at the National under the very respected breed expert Pat Hastings. I judged two AKC Shiba Nationals and one Canadian Shiba Nationals— those truly were the highlights of my judging career as these assignments came from member votes. I retired from judging due to a back injury, but have since found a way to return to the ring to show my dogs. DIANA SMILEY I live in Santa Rosa, CA. I am retired for the last 10 years and I breed and raise and show Shiba Inus. I have a suc- cessful line of dogs called Copperdots Shibas. I have been breeding and showing for 40 years. I started judging about 12 years ago. I judge eight breeds, including a breeder/judge for the Rottweiler, the Akita and the Shiba Inu. I am also a


My husband and I live in Salem, OR. The dogs are our life. We retired a few years ago and I’m enjoying every aspect of dogs, including dog club work, judg- ing (and learning new breeds), showing (we’re getting ready to show our Pumik as a full status breed this July) and per- formance: herding, nose work, obedi- ence and coursing. I’m still trying to get back to my artwork, but not finding the time. This will be our 45th year show- ing dogs. We’d only been married about

A Japanese dog that is one of my ideals and exhibits that “own the ground

you stand on” temperament.

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