Japanese Shiba Inu

Last updated November 2015

A breed standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance including the correct colour of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function. Absolute soundness is essential. Breeders and judges should at all times be careful to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed.

From time to time certain conditions or exaggerations may be considered to have the potential to affect dogs in some breeds adversely, and judges and breeders are requested to refer to the Breed Watch information related to this breed for details of any such current issues. If a feature or quality is desirable it should only be present in the right measure. However, if a dog possesses a feature, characteristic or colour described as highly undesirable, it must not be rewarded in the show ring.

General appearance

Small, well-balanced, sturdy dog of Spitz type. Very slightly longer than height at withers.


Lively and friendly.

Bright, active, keen and alert.

Head and skull

Head appears as a blunt triangle when viewed from above. Broad flat skull, cheeks well developed. Definite stop with slight furrow. Muzzle straight, of good depth, tapering gradually. Lips tight. Black nose preferred but flesh coloured acceptable in white dogs.


Relatively small, almond, obliquely set, well apart and dark brown.


Small, triangular, pricked and inclining slightly forward.


Jaws strong with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws.


Slightly arched, medium length, thick and muscular.


Shoulders moderately sloping. Elbows set close to the body. Forechest well developed. Forearms straight. Pasterns slightly sloping.


Withers high and well developed. Short loin, level back. Deep chest. Moderate spring of rib. Belly moderate tuck up.


Long upper thigh; short, strong second thigh. Hocks strong and parallel when seen from rear, turning neither in nor out. Well developed. Slight but definite bend of stifle.


Cat-like with firm, tight, well-knuckled toes. Pads firm and elastic. Dark nails preferred.


Set on high. Thick and carried curled or curved as a sickle.


Light, quick and energetic.


Hard, straight outer coat with soft dense undercoat. Hair on tail slightly longer.


Red: Intense, clear red. White markings restricted to eye spots, cheeks, under jaw, forechest, underparts and underside of tail and legs. No white above elbows or hock. Red Sesame: Red with an even overlay of black guard hairs; black to be not less than 25%, or more than 50% of normal red area. White markings in Red and Red Sesame restricted to eye spots, cheeks, under jaw, forechest, underparts, and underside of tail and legs. No white above elbows or hock. The white marking on the forechest resembling the shape of a bow-tie. Colour Eye spots in Red Sesame may be tan.

Black and Tan: Dull black with a bronze cast. Tan markings restricted to eye spots, cheeks, inside of ears, legs and tail. White markings as in Red and Red Sesame. Tan markings only occur between black and white areas.

White: White coat with red or grey tinges. White undercoat.


Height dogs 39.5 cms (15½ ins); bitches 36.5 cms (14½ ins) with allowance of 2 cms (¾ in) either way.


Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.


Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

*Note for prospective puppy buyers

Size – The Kennel Club breed standard is a guide and description of the ideal for the breed; the size as described does not imply that a dog will match the measurements given (height or weight). A dog might be larger or smaller than the size measurements stated in the breed standard.