It seems that this Japanese dog arrived from China with the first human occupants, as the archaeological finds, dating back between 6000 and 300 before Christ, demonstrate. He was considerably different from the European dogs of the same period: his size was small and he could be identified, thanks to the particular shape of his skull, as a dog of the "Spitz" type. Immigrations during the YAYOI period (three centuries B.C.) contributed to introduce other peculiarities: dogs arriving during that age fixed a precise type with sharpened ears and a rolled up tail. They were used for hunting; deer, bears, small game and birds were their prey. The hunt and the game varied according to the regions, so did the size of the dogs, but their general feautures didn't. In spite of a curiously scanty iconography for Japan, the dog accompanied man's course through history. The darkest hours began with the end of Japan's isolation; the import of foreign breeds in the XIXth century was frequent and the local dog was seriously threatened with extinction. The reaction was to take place at the beginning of the XXth century. With the growth of a nationalist movement of conservation of the Japanese identity, some cynophilists carried out a meticolous census of the native dogs (JI-NU). The geographic classification of the different breeds of Japanese dogs dates back to that period: the dog of Akita, the Shikoku, the Hokkaido, etc... The Shiba was not connected to a region; depending on the interpretations, Shiba meant small size or dog of the wood. The contemporary Shiba finds his origins in the reunification of several ancient breeds, which varied considerably, inside different regions, in size, color and morphology. These small-sized native breeds were grouped together under the name of Shiba by Doctor Saito. The creation in 1932 of "NIHON KEN HOZONKAI" called also "NIPPO" (Association for the conservation of the Japanese dog) led the Japanese government to recognize the SHIBA as a "National Monument " in 1936. Thanks to this acknowledgment, the breed seemed to be finally out of danger, but the Second World War and its horrors almost extinguished it once again. Since 1948, with the resumption of NIPPO activities, Japanese breeders have collected the surviving bloodlines in order to restore and save the breed. Date of publication of the valid original standard: 16th June 1992. Use: dog for hunting birds and small game, dog for company. Finally, in 1934 the breed standard was unified. After being declared a national monument in 1936, the Shiba has been carefully bred and improved till it has become the superb breed known today. The Shiba Inu (the name comes from a dialect phrase of the NAGURO province, meaning "small dog") is at the same time the smallest and the oldest of the Japanese Spitz dogs. His origin is between 6000 and 300 before Christ. The breed we know today is the fruit of a selection of all the small Japanese dogs that came from the mountainous regions of the country. Strong subjects, tempered by harsh climates, freezing winters and yet fond of life in the open air, they were present in many prefectures, as FUKUSHIMA, NIIGATA, GUMMA, YAMANASHI, NAGANO and GIFU. Traditionally used as company dogs, Shibas were nonetheless appreciated as auxiliaries by hunters, above all in cashing small deer, but they were sometimes employed (not unlike their stronger Akita cousins) even to face the bear! Their past origins include the SAN' IN, the MINO, and the SHINSHU. The SAN' IN is in his turn the descendant of even more ancient breeds, the SEKISHU and the IMBA, from the provinces of SHIMAN and TOTTORI. The MINO originated from the province of GIFU, while the SHINKU came from NAGANO, as a descendant of the MIKAWA. They were dogs with sometimes remarkable differences: for example, the former were bigger than present-day Shibas, the latter were considerably smaller and were characterized by the SASKI-O (hanging tail). The favourite color in a Shiba is red, even though SAN'INs had speckled coats, with or without white socks. The stop is a typical feature of the SAN' IN's and the ears and the eyes of the MINO's. The main colors of the Shiba are: Red (Aka-Inu), Sesame (Aka-goma), Black-Red, which allows for white spots on the feet, chest and tail, Black, and Black-Sesame, resulting from the mixture of Red, Black, and White (Kuro-goma). The least appreciated colour, even in shows, but nonetheless admitted, is White. All in all, this dog must look like a fox.
Currently, the Shiba continues to be one of the favourite dogs in Japan; he is present in the city as well as in the country and he is commonly considered a pet dog.
The traditionalism, the ultra-nationalism of some breeders are as many obstacles to overcome in order to import a Shiba of good selection. However, a patient weaving of relationships and acquaintances enables the stubborn breeder to obtain subjects of good quality.
In the United States, in Great Britain and Australia, the Shiba is one of the most successful breeds and its increasing popularity is multiplying the happy owners of this born seducer.
Not so on the European continent: little by little the Shiba timidly aims its snout under our skies. Scandinavia, Belgium, Holland and Germany have an increasing capital at their disposal, but it is imperative for them to diversify the original lines. Serious breeders of these countries work to that end, importing and exchanging new bloodlines.
On their tracks Italy, Spain and France are making a remarkable entrance into this group of fans. It is beneficial for the breed that things should not develop too swiftly, but it must be recognized that this dog has manifold qualities and doubtless charm.