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Shiba Inu Fun Facts: The Shiba Inu is a fastidious breed and cat-like in terms of cleaning themselves. They’ll avoid stepping in puddles, mud and dirt. Snarky means short or testy — displayed to Shiba Inu owners like this:
It’s all about the Foxy Inus


Meet Snickers born on Thanksgiving Day, 2003. He’s everything Shiba Inu and like his namesake Sweet 'N Nutty. Jenna Gates, Snickers’ owner, is Shiba Inu tested. Her purebred passion defines stewardship for her breed bias. Respect and trust is given to Gates from other owners and more importantly from Snickers because she does her homework. She’s patient, dedicated, aware, humbled and totally in love with the breed. Jenna is also the founder of NYC Shiba Rescue, Inc. She also started NYC Shiba Inus and their Human Companions.

Height: Males - 14 ½ inches to 16 ½ inches at withers. Females – 13 ½ to 15 ½ inches at withers.

Average Weight: 23 pounds for males and 17 pounds for females.

Temperament: Shiba Inus are independent to the bone with an “unaffected forthrightness” (boldness), plenty of spirit, courage and distinguished natural beauty. They have a dignity that is unsurpassable and they can act reserved toward strangers. This breed thrives on interaction and mental stimulation and can be possessive and manipulative when presented with the opportunity to do so. Early and consistent socialization grounded with positive and gentle — though firm training is key. Leashes are a necessity with a Shiba Inu, not an accessory. Their natural inclination is to run and with a deaf ear towards the word: come. The Shiba Inu tends to get along with respectful children, though the breed doesn’t respond well toward rough handling or teasing. Aggressiveness around the same sex dog and a high prey drive needs to be noted. A Shiba Inu in the hands of a committed owner can make a loyal and loving companion. *Snickers and Jenna are registered Delta Pet Partners and while living in New York actively participated in the pet therapy program a The Gillen Brewer School.

Member: AKC Non-Sporting Group; AKC recognized in 1992

First Entered in Westminster Kennel Club: 1994

Distinctive Character: Unique to the Shiba Inu is their yodel-scream. See for yourself: Shiba Inu Yodel

Nicknames for breed: Little Brushwood Dog. Boss is also sometimes coined and in the case of Snickers he’s called “Puppet Master” but only behind his back. Snickers is known to have pulled the strings that helped to orchestrate both the NYC Shiba Meetup and NYC Shiba Rescue.

Major Disqualification for Breed at Shows: Height over the limits and overshot or undershot bite.

WOOF Patrol: How would you describe the Shiba Inu personality and temperament?

Jenna Gates, founder of NYC Shiba Rescue, Inc.: The short answer is: intelligent, stubborn, independent, loyal and sensitive. The long answer is: read as much as you can about the breed online and in books and talk to Shiba Inu owners. This is a breed that is probably smarter than you are. Our site has a comprehensive link about Inus:

When Jaqi, Jenna’s daughter, wanted a dog Jaqi’s grandmother gave her a copy of Dogalog by Bruce Fogle, a reference book that is an in-depth guide to a variety of dog breeds.

J.G.: Jaqi picked out 20 breeds she though were “cute”. Then she eliminated breeds that (1) wouldn't do well in the city, (2) couldn't stand the summer heat or winter cold of NYC, (3) required a lot of grooming, or (4) wouldn't do well in a small apartment.

That narrowed the list to about six breeds. So we went online and did more in-depth research on those. She managed to cut the six down to two: the Cairn Terrier and the Shiba Inu - two very different breeds. I don't really remember what she specifically liked about the two breeds. She couldn't decide and wasn't sure what to do next. I have always had a strong preference for Spitz-type breeds and I particularly like independent-minded dogs, so I asked her if I could make the tie-breaking decision. She said yes and I chose the Shiba.

That process of choosing a breed took several months. We spent several more months after that searching for a reputable breeder in the northeast who was expecting to have a litter of black and tan pups at some time in the near future. The waiting was difficult but worth it because we ended up with a wonderful, wonderful dog!

W.P.: Can you tell us how Snickers got his name?

J.G.: Snickers’ coloring is tan and black. He’s got a nutty personality. Sandra Krupski, his breeder said, “He was always the most social of the boys. Every time I reached down to pick up a puppy, it was always Snickers. He’s always been that special dark sweet treat.”

W.P.: What was he like as a puppy?

J.G.: Snickers was 9 weeks old when he came to live with us. He was a TERROR as a puppy. He chewed everything he could get in his mouth (including the walls and the baby gates) whenever he wasn't in this crate. He played too rough with my daughter. He kept me awake at night. He was bossy and dominant as a pup, but also incredibly smart and eager to learn. He was definitely all Shiba. Sometimes I'm amazed that he and I both survived his puppyhood!

Case #: 3248

Because Jenna organized NYC Shiba Meetup, an email was forwarded to her. It would become the catalyst for her forming NYC Shiba Rescue, Inc. She didn’t intend to form a rescue organization but she was determined to save Suzie, a red colored female Shiba Inu. This dog was a runner-not spayed-healthy and a couple of years old. Her owners showed up at a Long Island shelter to identify her but then left her there. It was a high kill shelter and the clock was ticking.

J.G.: They said she wasn’t housebroken because they were never home to train her and that they didn’t have time for her. They couldn’t be bothered. I sent an email to members in our Meetup group that looked for volunteers to help transport and foster Shibas in need. I was thrilled by the response.

W.P.: Is there a need for Shiba Inus to be rescued?

Jenna and Snickers have their own website. They’ve worked together in booths at AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day and at Super Pet Expo to increase education and awareness about the human/canine relationship and about purebred rescue. Check out and learn more about this dynamite duo!

J.G.: There are sooooo many dogs needing rescue at any given time in this country - mixed, purebred, everything. Purebred dogs get dumped at shelters, abandoned at vet's offices and dumped by the side of the road, just like mixes. Others run away without IDs and then aren't claimed at the shelter. Many purebreds are dumped because people buy them as at pet stores on impulse and then decide they don't have the time or patience to care for a dog. Others are dumped because people don't take the time to research and select a dog that fits their lifestyle and activity level.

When a dog arrives at a shelter, whether or not it becomes available for adoption by the public depends on several factors, including: the dog's health, it's temperament, and how much space and time the shelter has available for dogs that need medical care or behavioral training. Dogs who are not available for adoption to the public may in many circumstances be released to rescue organizations. Shibas are often high-strung, emotional dogs and generally have a tendency to fail the standard temperament test given in shelters. This means they can't be made available for adoption and MUST be rescued or they will be euthanized.

W.P.: What are the top 3 reasons Shiba's end up in shelters?

J.G.: 1. Unrealistic Expectations. People don’t do the research. Shibas are incredibly cute puppies, like little stuffed animals. Many people buy them without knowing what their personalities are like. Shibas don't normally like to be held, hugged or handled excessively. They are high energy and therefore need a lot of exercise or they get into mischief. They are also VERY smart, so training them can be quite challenging for novice dog owners.

2. They Are Runners. Having been bred to hunt for thousands of years, Shibas have a high prey drive and will chase anything that runs. They are known escape artists - they bolt through doors, climb fences, slip collars - and then they're off and running. By the time they stop, they're usually far from home. They end up at a vet, having been hit by a car, or in a shelter as a stray. If they don't have ID, sometimes the owner never finds them.

3. "Having A Baby" This applies to all breeds and mixes: way too many young people get a dog for companionship and/or to keep them busy. Then when they start a family, they dump the dog instead of investing some time into integrating the family.

W.P.: Is it true that Suzie’s foster parent failed “Fostering 101”?

J.G.: It’s great to have a happy ending. Suzie went from “foster” to “adoption” without having to change her address. She went from being Case #3248 to Suzie and that’s what we wish for all of our rescues. Fostering a Shiba Inu might make sense for those considering the breed though you’ll need to fill out an comprehensive application. Our foster process is done with great care to protect our rescues and to ensure their welfare both physically and emotionally.

Considering fostering or adopting?

W.P.: How do you match up prospective individuals or families with Shiba Inus you rescue?

J.G.: The process starts when an applicant completes our adoption application. Applications are reviewed in chronological order based on date received. Depending on the initial review, we check references - 2 personal and 1 veterinarian if possible and conduct a home visit. After the home visit, if we have a dog we think is a good match for the applicant, we set up a time and place for them to meet. If the first meeting goes well and the applicant has a resident dog, we set up a second meeting for the dogs. Following the meetings, there is a 24-hour waiting period during which all parties decide if the adoption should move forward.

Matching up the right dog with the right applicant is very important to us. Our dogs are living in foster homes, so we really get to know them - what they like, don't like, their energy level, behavior or training issues, fears, health issues, etc. We want to be as sure as possible that each and every dog is placed with a person or family that is right for him or her. The better the match, the higher the possibility that the adoption is forever.

Shiba Inu owners can often be overheard talking about their dog’s unique antics and attributes. Quotes ranged the gambit. Here are a few favorites:

“Want a Shiba Inu? Prepare to be humbled as this dog, without effort, can make you look challenged taking an I.Q. test with the answers in front of you.”

“Nothing like being greeted effusively when you get home from work. Then when you start to tell your Inu about your day, they turn and walk way. It prepares one for marriage.”

“My son’s room prior to getting a Shiba was always a mess. That changed. At first I thought having a dog made him more responsible. But that wasn’t the whole story. Kitsune, our Inu, adored our son but hated his messy room. One day we found her putting his sneakers in the closet and picking the clothes off the floor and placing them on his bed. We wish she’d consider cleaning the rest of the house”

“Naughty but very nice.”

The Shiba Inu is the smallest of six original and distinct breeds of dogs from Japan. In 1936 via the Cultural Properties Act, the breed was designated as a precious natural product of the Japanese nation. It’s also one of 15 breeds out of 85 classified as ancient meaning its “genetic fingerprint” has considerable similarity to the wolf. In 1954 the Inu was introduced to the States and is gaining what many hope will be thoughtful popularity.

This purebred is generally not recommended for a first time dog owner. On an online forum a Shiba Inu owner wrote, “My pup is headstrong. If she’s not supposed to be doing something she does it. This puppy tests my patience.” The reality is that the breed is independent, strong willed and hardworking. They aren’t clingy or overly demanding but can be willful and stubborn. Their adorable looks are hard to resist but shouldn’t be confused with predictable lap dogs. That’s not typical Shiba Inu behavior. Instead these are dogs driven by the need to control situations. In the hands of experienced owners they can provide rewarding, loyal and comical bonds.

The pros of the Shiba Inu rest with their intelligence, independence, and alertness to their surroundings. Firm yet positive training and socialization is recommended. With committed owners willing to meet their needs, they can become devoted and faithful companions. We’re talking CEO material, pure Canine Executive Officer. The kind of dog that with encouragement will file your taxes, restructure your stock portfolio and not ask for a bonus. (Okay this isn’t a substantiated fact.) Did I mention that no words properly describe the breed’s puppy canine cuteness?

Photographs courtesy of Jenna Gates & NYC Shiba Rescue
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