Showsight Presents the Shiba Inu

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

258 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , F EBRUARY 2018

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