Shiba Inus are a beautiful dog breed originating from Japan. While they are almost as old as the Japanese culture itself, they spread to North American and European shores some 65 years ago. Shiba Inus stand out for their awesome coloring enhanced with beautiful white markings. They are famed for their sturdy built, foxlike appearance and bold temperament.
Far back in ancient Japan, Shiba Inus were bred for hunting. This reputation has followed them to the modern day, where they are generally seen as native Japanese hunting dogs. Shiba Inus are relatively independent and very instinctive dogs. This sense of independence and instinctiveness, when enhanced with training, make Shiba Inus good hunters. They are also fun to be with, as they need minimal grooming or care. They can pretty take care of their stuff.
Shiba Inus are lovely to breed. Their stunning elegance makes them one of the beautiful dog breeds ever. Nonetheless, you could be frustrated by their relative boldness (which you can easily mistake as stubbornness). More than this, you would want to know how you can use Shiba Inu for hunting, maximizing their natural instincts. Also, how are Shiba Inus bred? Can Shiba Inus be used as service dogs? All these we will learn in this session.
What Were Shiba Inus Originally Bred For?
Shiba Inus were typically bred for hunting. These dogs have a penchant for hunting small games. Therefore, you can expect your Shiba Inu to be an excellent predator of rabbits and birds.
In ancient Japan, hunting was the predominant employment of Shiba Inus. However, across time, they have been increasingly adapted as pets as most homeowners across the world are in love with these beautiful dogs.
It is hard to see the pure breed of Japanese Shiba Inus that was before now dedicated to hunting. Western dogs across the Meji Restoration were imported and mixed with the Japanese breed.
Ancient History of Shiba Inus
There is evidence that Shiba Inus have been in Japan as early as 300BC. Then they had distinguished curved tails and were small. Ancient Japanese drawings show Japanese Shiba Inus pursuing games.
Across the Kamakura Shogunate – which spanned 1190 – 1603 – Japanese Samurai were known to deploy Shiba Inus for hunting small games and even bigger ones like board and deer. These Shiba Inus were handy hunting companions for their remarkable speed and agileness. Out there in the wild, they had strong guts that were beloved by hunters.
Across time, the pure breed of Shiba Inus was in a rapid decline. During the late 1920s, there was a dedicated effort on the part of Japanese authorities and intellectuals to protect the dying pure Shiba breed.
Unfortunately, World War II struck, and Shiba Inus paid a heavy price for Allied Military actions. Allied bombings substantially slashed the population of the indigenous Japanese Inu. By the end of the war, the distemper epidemic (which prowled Japan) and starvation almost combined to wipe off the remaining population of the Japanese Shiba Inu.
Only three bloodlines survived, which are the ancestors of all modern Shiba Inus you see today. These are the Mino Shiba originating from the previous Mino Province (located today in the Gifu Prefecture), Shinshu Shiba originating from the Nagano Prefecture, and the San’in Shiba coming from the Shimane and Tottori Prefectures.
Modern History of Shiba Inus
While pure Shiba Inus flourished in the ancient BCs, World War II radically changed the breed and history of Shiba Inus. Devoted preservation and breeding effort saved the modern Shiba Inu from extinction.
Most of the few remaining Shiba Inus were picked from remote Japanese communities that didn’t feel the direct brunt of the war.
In a bid to revive the Shiba Inu breed, 1948 saw the formation of the Japanese Kennel Club.
This club played a fundamental role in breeding other dogs with the surviving Shiba Inus. Across the 1950s, the West started developing an enormous love for the Shiba Inu.
By 1954, the Shiba Inu had landed in the US. The Shiba Inu spread across America after this, although the first US-born litter was only documented in 1979. In 1992, the Shiba Inu bagged formal recognition from the American Kennel Club (AKC).
There you have it. The modern Shiba Inu you see today was a concerted mix of several strains of other small Japanese dogs. While Shiba Inus originally thrived in mountainous regions with a unique love for the outdoor and wildlife (where it could exercise its freedom), Shiba Inus have increasingly found use today as family companions, domesticated and even used as small guard dogs.
Despite this, the innate hunting ability of the Shiba Inu has remained to this day. Regardless of the level of civilization you try to impact on your Shiba Inu, the chances are high that it will remain a very impulsive animal. They will always love catching preys!
How Does Breeding Affect Your Shiba Inu Today?
Shiba Inus have changed drastically today when compared to the original breed. The Shiba Inus we have now come in several colors. Red is the most prevalent color; hence, Shiba Inus are informally referred to as the “red dog”.
The Shiba Inus we have nowadays are the results of selective breeding of several strains of dogs. The three major strains were the San’in in Shiba, Shinshu Shiba, and the Mino Shiba. The San’in comes from the Imba and Sekishu breeds.
Compared to your typical Shiba this day, they are quite bigger. They were peculiar for their mottled black color, although they don’t have the present white cheeks we see in Shibas in the present day.
The Shiba Inus, we have now, take more after the San’in Shiba. They retain its boldness and sense of autonomy. The San’in was not the most emotional dog you could have.
The modern-day Shiba also borrow some traits from the ancient Mino Shiba breed. This breed has beautiful deep-brown eyes that were quite triangular. The Mino had a sharp red color. They also had the triangular ears (which were prevalently erect) you will see in most Shibas of today.
The last breed is the Shinshu Shiba, which has bristle hair and smaller stature. They had a soft undercoat that is denser. Opposed to the traditional triangular eyes, the Shinshu have rounder eyes.
While the black mask of your regular Shiba Inu will disappear within 12-24 months, the black mask of the Shinshu will last even up to their adult life.
The triangular nature of the present-day Shiba has been mostly retained even in the face of comprehensive inter breeding. They have a unique attraction.
Shiba Inus and Hunting
You have heard it before, Shiba Inus are spectacular hunters. They have an uncommon speed and are agile as well. They excel at hunting small games and flushing birds. Interestingly, Shiba Inus can also be used in hunting deer and boars.
Shiba Inus have exceptional levels of tolerance. They can survive tougher living conditions and, in the time past, could survive extended hunting expeditions in the cold mountains of Japan.
Shiba Inus are not very good social dogs. They are very protective of their stuff and have a strong tendency to do things on their own – independently and reflexively. Therefore if you want to deploy your Shiba in coordinated hunting with other dogs in a combined hunting party, you need to train it better.
Agreed, being instinctive, your Shiba Inu can be readily distracted, but you can enhance its reliability in hunting by training it to religiously follow your directives in picking out and tracing game trails.
This can be achieved by rewarding your Shiba with a treat anytime they keep to the script when hunting. Such a treat can be a tasty portion of the butchered game.
With such repeated rewards, the hunting collaboration between you and your Shiba will be consolidated. They will better develop impressive hunting behaviors and reliability when outdoors.
Here is something the Shiba Inu never jokes with: its natural instincts. Compared to other modern dog breeds, the Shiba Inu has a relatively primitive demeanor. It is markedly spontaneous and easily driven by its guts. This makes the Shiba Inu more individualistic as it prefers a solo life, fixing its own stuff.
Shiba Inus are diligent, like cats. They are not the most playful and affectionate dogs you can get. Of course, they are not perpetually sober, but the typical Shiba Inu is reserved, preferring the company of its family rather than strangers.
They are not very sociable and tend to concentrate their loyalty and affection on one person. Don’t get it wrong, this doesn’t mean it would be aggressive or uncaring to others, but it will strongly bond with one member of the family – sort of its favorite person.
Shiba Inus are almost apathetic to strangers.
Although with training, you can get your Shiba Inu to be polite with new people. Also, note that that bonding with new people for your Shiba Inu isn’t necessarily as quick as other pets.
They don’t readily accept your authority as they have an innate sense of self-dependence. Agreed, you can mistake for stubbornness. Nevertheless, once you come to understand your Shiba Inu and it accepts your lead, it can be one of the loveliest pets you can have.
What Makes Shiba Inus Such Great Hunters?
A great deal of the innate hunting capacity of Shiba Inus can be attributed to their speed, agility, and instinctiveness. An intact Shiba Inu is incredibly intuitive with a remarkable ability to catch preys. Once a Shiba Inu classifies an animal as prey, it will exert itself in chasing it to the end – or the end of its leash.
How are Shiba Inus Used today?
Most Shiba Inus are used as family pets today. Another chunk of Shiba Inus is yet employed as small guard dogs or outdoor hunting companions.
A trained Shiba Inu is an excellent addition to your home for their enthusiasm, neatness, and courtesy. A hunting Shiba is a beauty for its capacities to trace and chase down prey.
Why People Love to Have a Shiba Inu?
Shiba Inus are amazingly clean pets. They take care of themselves and need minimal grooming. This means you wouldn’t always be worrying about fixing the mess of your dog or bathing it. Shiba Inus are tolerant too and can live in rugged conditions.
Winter is no worry for your Shiba Inu. It has an outer coat of about 3.0 cm, which is waterproof. Its undercoat is reasonably thick, equipping the Shiba to survive below-freezing temperatures naturally.
Homeowners also love the courage and proud nature of the Shiba Inu. These dogs are swift and alert. They move with quick and elastic steps.
Why Shiba Inus are Not Bred as Service Animals?
Shiba Inus are not good service animals. Service animals need a level of civilization and composure aside from hunting intelligence. The highly spontaneous nature of the Shiba Inu makes it unfit for service duties, especially for covert operations.
Being self-governing and impulsive, the Shiba Inu is not very reliable for such duties. A small animal like chicken, frog, or bird can spark a frenzy in your Shiba Inu, causing it to chase down the animal, possibly breaking its leash – or getting the handler falling flat on his backside.
It is also crazy that your Shiba Inu can also interpret leaves and feathers as preys and would readily jump at them. Being energetic as well, it is not easy to restrain your Shiba Inu when outdoors. Also, when a Shiba Inu finally catches the prey it goes after, it is hard to take it from it.
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