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Red Shiba Inu: Pictures, Facts & History

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Red Shiba Inu

The Red Shiba Inu is a medium-sized breed of Japanese Spitz dog that was developed in the mountains of Japan. It is known for its distinctive red coat, which can come in either a light or dark variety. The Red Shiba Inu has been used as an all-purpose hunting and watchdog by Japanese farmers for centuries and, more recently, as a companion animal. They are loyal, brave, intelligent, and active dogs who need regular exercise and mental stimulation.

Height: 14–17 inches tall at the shoulder.
Weight: 18–22 pounds
Lifespan: 12–15 years
Colors: Red, red sesame, black and tan
Suitable for: Apartment living, active families
Temperament: Alert, loyal, brave and curious

The red coloring of the Red Shiba Inu is a result of the melanin gene, which produces black or dark brown pigment. The coat may range from a deep mahogany to a light tan color, with white markings often seen on the muzzle and chest. Some individuals have cream-colored fur, while others display small patches of black or gray. Despite their name, not all Red Shiba Inus will be pure red; many display shades of sesame or brindle as well. It’s important for potential owners to research the breed before purchasing a pup to ensure that they are getting an animal that matches their expectations in terms of coat color and size.

Red Shiba Inu Breed Characteristics


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The Earliest Records of Red Shiba Inu in History

The Red Shiba Inu is believed to have descended from the ancient Ainu dog, a primitive breed that was used by the Ainu people of Japan. The breed’s red coloring is thought to be the result of crosses between wild boars and other native Japanese breeds. In 1908, the first official Red Shiba Inu was registered with The Nippo (Nihon Ken Hozonkai), an organization dedicated to preserving traditional Japanese dog breeds. By the 1920s, they had become popular throughout Japan as all-purpose hunting dogs. By 1934, they were recognized as a national treasure in their home country and today are considered one of the most beloved breeds in Japan.

red shiba inu sitting near the sea
Image Credit: Lim_as_333, Shutterstock

How the Red Shiba Inu Gained Popularity

In the early 1990s, a handful of Red Shiba Inus were imported to the United States, and they quickly gained popularity. Today, they are one of the most popular Japanese breeds in North America. In the past, Red Shiba Inus were primarily used as all-purpose hunting and watchdogs. They would guard farms and hunt small game such as rabbits, birds, and rodents. As their popularity grew in Japan during the early 20th century, they began to be bred for show dogs rather than for their working ability. Today, many of them are kept as loyal companions and family pets throughout the world. But they remain popular among Japanese farmers due to their intelligence, loyalty, and strength.

Formal Recognition of the Red Shiba Inu

The Red Shiba Inu is recognized by numerous kennel clubs throughout Europe and the United States, including AKC (American Kennel Club), UKC (United Kennel Club), CKC (Canadian Kennel Club), FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale) and NZKC (New Zealand Kennel Club). The Red Shiba Inu is also recognized as an official breed by all major international canine registries.

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Top 3 Unique Facts About Red Shiba Inus

1. In Japanese, the Red Shiba Inu is also called a Sashige Shiba Inu.

When translated, “sashige” means “dirty red” in English. However, the “dirty” was dropped from their name and is more commonly called Red Shiba Inus.

2. A vibrant red coat is a sign of strong lineage.

When Red Shiba Inus are examined at competitions, judges look for a strong red color in the coat. Any lightening or discoloration is deemed that the genetics are weakened. 

3. Red Shiba Inus are often mistaken for Sesame Shiba Inus.

To the untrained eye, Red and Sesame Shiba Inus look similar. However, Red Shiba Inus will not have black fur on their heads, whereas Sesame Shiba Inus will have some black fur spread out all over their body, head included.

Shiba Inu in winter
Image Credit: Petra Göschel, Pixabay

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Does the Red Shiba Inu Make a Good Pet?

Red Shiba Inus are known to be intelligent, loyal, and courageous. These dogs have an impressively strong work ethic and are always eager to work in order to please their owners. They make first-rate guard dogs due to their alertness and loyalty and can be trained for agility activities, obedience competitions, or even as therapy dogs. The breed’s compact size also makes them an ideal choice for small apartment dwellers or those with limited outdoor space. Red Shiba Inus are active yet gentle animals that thrive in loving homes where they receive lots of attention from their owners.

The Red Shiba Inu is an active breed that loves to explore the outdoors. They have a moderate exercise requirement and require regular mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy. They are one of the hardest breeds to train, but with consistent reward-based training methods, they can learn quickly and easily become great family pets. Additionally, they are relatively low maintenance when it comes to grooming and shed only moderately throughout the year. All in all, these traits make them an excellent pick for families looking for a loyal companion dog.

shiba inu sitting in the grass with his owner
Image Credit: MENG-KONGSAK, Shutterstock


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The Red Shiba Inu is an active, intelligent breed that loves to explore the outdoors with its owners. They are loyal, loving, playful, and protective companions who form strong bonds with their owners and require regular exercise and mental stimulation in order to stay healthy and happy. With consistent reward-based training methods, they can learn quickly and become wonderful family pets. Additionally, they are relatively low maintenance when it comes to grooming and shedding. All in all, the Red Shiba Inu is an excellent choice for families looking for a loyal companion dog.

Featured Image Credit: Spencer-Xu-Shutterstock

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