Have you seen a dog whose breed is Shiba Inu? If you have seen the movie entitled ‘Hachiko,’ then that is what it looks like. From the clues of the way it is named, Shiba Inu is a breed of a dog that originated in Japan and was meant to be a hunting dog.
Hunting dogs are trained to locate animals being hunted and chase them so that the hunter can pinpoint and catch them easily. The Shiba Inu, although categorized as a hunting dog, looks the opposite. It is such a good-looking, medium-sized dog, with features similar to a fox and a fur that is so appealing to the eyes.
Theories are surrounding the origin of the name Shiba Inu. Shiba means brushwood, so, in a sense, the name came from its hunting abilities by being in the brush woods.
Also, the color of brushwood, which can be reddish at times, is attributed to the dog naming. Another theory is that the old translation for the term Shiba is small, and it fits well since Shiba Inu are little in size.
There are historical traces in Japanese documents that depict the use of Shiba Inu dogs as hunting dogs. There are pieces of evidence as old as 300 BC; wherein Japanese families were living with dogs described as similar to the features of Shiba Inu. Although the dog breed we have come to know is native to Japan, it is said that it is a product from selective breeding and preservation.
During the Medieval ages or around the years 1000 onwards before the rise of industrialization, Japan entered the age of the samurais or the counterpart of ‘knights’ in Europe. Also, at this time, many civil wars were going on, so survival situations like food hunting are critical.
The samurais not only used the dogs as companions, but they are also used for hunting prey to be turned into food. The most common are rabbits and wild rodents, but the dogs can go hunting as large as a wild boar or deer.
Also, in this period, Japan was isolated from the world. As the warring of each province continued, the dog breed became domesticated or nurtured and trained exclusively in one particular place. There would be a Shiba Inu that appears to be different from a Shiba Inu of another place but only limited to fur colors.
As the civil war toned down, Japan became more united under the Meiji Restoration. The country’s borders were opened, and other dog breeds were being imported. In the period from 1912 to 1926, the idea of crossbreeding was trendy, and that became a threat for extinction to the purest of Shiba Inu breed.
When Japan became one of the primary ‘opponents’ in World War 2, this brought more threat to the dog breed’s survival. With the constant bombings, there were lots of casualties, and fortunately, after the war, there were still left. The defeat of Japan had opened the possibilities of exporting the dog breed to other countries like the United States.
During the crisis of the Shiba Inu pure breed, Japan had taken actions to preserve them. Scholars and other experts were invited to devise ways to protect them and secure future reproductions.
The Shiba Inu is known today as a result of their three ancestor bloodlines being merged. The said breeds are still surviving to this day, and they are the Nagano Prefecture’s Shinshu Shiba Inu, the Gifu Prefecture’s Mino Shiba Inu, and the Shimane and Tottori Prefecture’s San’in Shiba Inu. Each of them has few but noticeable differences from each other.
The Shiba Inu is one of the six main dog breeds being categorized by Japan as a ‘national’ level. It means that the dog breed symbolizes Japan.
They may be hunting dogs before, but currently, they are tamed down, mainly because the world entered a global peace after the World Wars. Still, they retain the qualities of a hunter, like being able to track someone and being loyal to the owner.
Migration from East to West
In 1959, it was the first-ever recording that the Shiba Inu was brought to US soil. And In 1979, the first appearance of Shiba Inu puppies was documented. This means that Shiba Inu became popular in the United States to the point that how many years have passed by, people learned to breed their Shiba Inu dogs locally.
In 1992, the American Kennel Club, or AKC, recognized the breed, due to being famous that it ranks 44th most popular breed of dog in the United States. Meanwhile, to this day, Shiba Inu remains the most popular dog breed in Japan.
I find Shiba Inus a fascinating breed. A dog with hunting abilities on its DNA is something a pet owner will find very convenient.
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Why do I love Shiba Inus? Shiba Inu are bear-like dogs that are extremely adorable—with human-like mimics, amazing charisma and overflowing cuteness.