History and Origins
Country of Origin: Japan
Believed to be one of Japan’s most ancient breeds, bones matching the modern Shiba Inu dog have been found at an archaeological site dating from the Jōmon period, at least 500 BC. It is thought that later, around the 3rd century AD, these dogs were refined by mating with spitz type immigrant dogs, bringing in the pricked ears and curly tail.
This is one of the most popular companion breeds in Japan, established as part of Japanese culture by the 7th century, and used for hunting both small ground-breeding birds and even bigger game such as wild boar.
Due to the popularity of importing foreign breeds, the Shiba Inu became extremely rare by the 1920’s, so hunters started a preservation programme in 1928. By 1934 the breed standard had been fixed, and by 1937 the Shiba Inu was declared a National Monument, which saw the breed rise steadily in number.
Although they suffered during the Second World War, and subsequent to that a distemper outbreak reduced numbers even further, the breed has risen again in number and popularity, becoming the most numerous of all the native Japanese breeds and now popular outside Japan, particularly in Europe, Australia, and North America.