Featuring bright eyes, a thick, plush coat and a curled, brush-like tail, the Shiba Inu is one of the oldest breeds originating from Japan. This small to medium-sized companion weighs in at about 25 pounds. Although charming and affectionate, the Shiba Inu has an independent attitude all his own. The most popular dog in Japan, its name means “brushwood dog” in Japanese. The Shiba Inu was originally bred to hunt birds, boars and bears in the country’s mountainous regions. In 1936, Japan declared the Shiba Inu to be a national treasure. The Shiba Inu knows how to navigate rugged terrain, is a great watchdog and is tenacious and courageous. These active dogs enjoy hiking, walking and running with their pet parents. Be aware that Shibas tend to be escape artists, so make sure the yard is securely fenced with a traditional or electric dog fence. Very attached to his human family, the Shiba Inu makes a loyal and loving companion. However, most of them are not warm and welcoming to strangers. A Shiba Inu belongs inside of the house. If confined to a garage or kept in the backyard, they can become noisy and destructive. They are well-suited for any indoor environment, including an apartment. The way that the Shiba Inu looks makes some people believe he is a fox. Wild in appearance, the Shiba Inu has triangular ears, a compact muscular physique, and a wedge-shaped head. Wearing a good-natured expression, the Shiba Inu stands proud and confident. In regards to the color, a Shiba Inu can be red, black and tan or red sesame. However, with any color, its muzzle, cheeks, legs and underside are either cream or white. Their thick, double coat naturally repels dirt. Though the coat never needs trimming and is easy to care for, shedding is inevitable. In the spring and fall, they will shed heavily for a few weeks. Brushing the coat weekly with a slicker brush will help. Bold and good-natured, the Shiba Inu can be quite demanding at times, wanting lots of affection and attention. This is why it is important to set some boundaries for him during puppyhood, so he won’t try to rule the roost. Because Shibas are so independent they are not easily trained. This means they are not ideal for first-time dog owners. This is why it is important to start training your puppy the day you bring them home. He requires a lot of socialization, so a puppy training class will help out. When a Shiba wants your attention, you may hear him “yodel.” They tend to be vocal at times such as when you come home from work, or when you haven’t given them their food quickly enough. A healthy breed, the Shiba Inu has a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years. If you can handle their stubborn and independent nature, the Shiba Inu will make a beautiful companion.