The mini Shiba Inu is a smaller version of the ancient Japanese Shiba Inu breed.
Although relatively small, these sturdy, well-muscled dogs were originally used as hunters.
The breed is commonly found with red with white markings.
This coloring, combined with their long snout, erect, triangular ears, and cunning grin, give them a distinctively fox-like appearance.
The Shiba Inu also bears a striking resemblance to their larger cousin, the Akita.
However, Shiba Inus are much smaller – males can be anywhere from 14.5 to 16.5 inches and weigh around 23 lbs.
Females range in height from 13.5 to 15.5 inches and weigh about 17 lbs.
But some people want an even smaller dog.
In this article, we’ll take a look at how breeders make a mini Shiba Inu and what it means for this increasingly popular dog.
What is a Mini Shiba Inu?
The mini Shiba Inu is not a separate breed.
They’re not bred to any standard and breeding is not regulated.
It’s believed that the mini Shiba Inu was first intentionally bred to be smaller in their native Japan where very small dogs are extremely popular.
The Japanese variant of these dogs goes by the name Mame Shiba (pronounced ma-may).
This roughly translates to, “bean-sized” Shiba.
Typically, these dogs are bred to be about 35 to 50% smaller than the standard.
This means a full grown male Mame Shiba will weigh between 10 and 14 lbs and stand about 11 inches.
Females will be slightly smaller still.
The Appeal of the Mini Shiba Inu
Shiba Inus are beautiful, eye-catching dogs.
In addition to red, their thick, double coat also comes in sesame, black and tan, and cream.
Loyal, obedient, and highly intelligent, Shiba Inus can also be quite strong-willed.
Their hunting background means they can have a compelling prey drive and some are known to be aggressive.
In fact, one 2009 study suggests the breed possesses a gene that is associated with some types of aggressive behavior.
A smaller version of this dog is likely to be easier for most people to handle.
They take up less space and fit easily in your lap on public transport.
Their bed at home can be smaller, and they’ll need less to eat.
Then, of course, there’s the cuteness factor.
Small dogs have an undeniable adorableness that lasts.
Where Does the Mini Shiba Inu Come From?
Essentially, there are three ways that breeders create a miniature dog.
Mixing a standard Shiba Inu with a smaller or toy breed is one way to potentially create a
Introducing the gene for dwarfism is another way some breeders attempt to create a smaller dog.
Finally, breeding two very small Shiba Inus together is likely to produce smaller than average puppies.
However, each of these methods comes with its own problems, which we’ll take a closer look at.
Mixing with a Smaller Breed
When two different dogs are crossbred, there’s no way to know if the offspring will resemble a Shiba Inu at all.
There’s also a possibility that the dog may not be any smaller.
Here are some Shibu Inu crossbreeds that could potentially create a smaller Shiba Inu.
The Pom Shi is a hybrid of the Pomeranian and the Shiba Inu.
In terms of appearance, both of these dogs share an abundant coat and fox-like features.
Both breeds are also alert and intelligent.
But while the Shibu Inu can be quite aloof, the Pomeranian has a friendly, vivacious personality.
However, since both of these breeds are known to show stranger-related aggression, these dogs need to be well socialized.
The Pom Shi can measure anywhere from 6 to 17 inches and weigh 3 to 23 lbs.
But on average they stand about 15 inches and weigh around 15 lbs.
Sporting either a long wavy or curly coat, the Miniature Poodle-Shiba Inu hybrid can vary quite a bit in appearance.
Some will have the pointed Shiba Inu features, others the more rounded Poodle face.
Ears can be erect or hang beside the face.
Although this dog may have a stubborn streak, their keen intelligence makes them highly trainable.
The Poo Shi will bond very closely with their family and will not like to be left alone for long periods.
These dogs typically stand from 8 to 13 inches and weigh between 13 and 20 pounds.
Combining the Shiba Inu with the much smaller Chihuahua gives you a dog that stands from 9 to 12 inches and weighs between 8 and 12 lbs.
In terms of both appearance and temperament, these two breeds are quite dissimilar, so it’s hard to predict exactly what kind of dog you’ll get.
While they’re sure to be spirited and confident, the Shiba Chi can be high strung like the Chihuahua or calm like the Shiba Inu.
This mix may also be prone to aggression and biting.
It’s important to remember that personality can also be greatly influenced by the parents and by how well they’ve been nurtured.
Like temperament, physical characteristics are quite varied, and often the Shiba Chi has a mixed terrier appearance.
Introducing the Dwarfism Gene
There are different types of dwarfism genes, which are generally a random mutation.
However, some breeders will cross two dogs who possess dwarfism genes to create miniaturized puppies.
While this method will ensure that the dogs possess Shiba Inu characteristics, it can cause structural deformities.
Typically these dogs have very short legs, long bodies, and oversized heads.
This can cause serious spinal problems.
Life-threatening health conditions, such as heart abnormalities, are also associated with the dwarf genes, as is increased aggression.
Breeding From Runts
The term runt typically refers to the smallest puppy in a litter.
Sometimes these dogs grow to be perfectly healthy.
However, some breeders will selectively breed two of these tiny pups with the intention of creating the smallest possible mini Shiba Inus.
While this method ensures that the unique traits of the breed are intact, it can also cause a lot of problems for the dog.
They’re often small and weak due to an underlying congenital abnormality.
Parasites, liver shunts, and infections are just some of the problems associated with smaller than average puppies.
Shiba Inu Health
Overall, the Shiba Inu is a healthy breed with an average lifespan of 13 to 16 years.
The most common health condition in the breed is allergies.
Atopic dermatitis is a genetic skin condition that causes excessive skin itching and irritation.
The breed is also prone to two hereditary joint conditions.
Patellar luxation occurs when the dog’s kneecap is dislocated from the groove of the thigh bone.
Although it’s more common in larger breeds, hip dysplasia also affects the Shiba Inu. This abnormal formation of the hip socket can lead to lameness and painful arthritis.
Eye disorders are also a problem.
In this Japanese study, Shiba Inus were found to be affected by glaucoma more than any other breed.
This can cause damage to the optic nerve that results in blindness.
Canine GM1 gangliosidosis is a fatal disease that affects the brain and multiple systemic organs.
Symptoms include difficulty walking, loss of vision, weight loss, and head tremors.
Luckily, genetic testing can determine whether a dog is a genetic carrier of this deadly disease.
Is a Mini Shiba Inu Right For Me?
The Shiba Inu is the most popular companion dog in their native Japan.
Although the breed was only brought to America about 60 years ago, these spirited and attentive dogs are becoming more commonplace in the west.
Shiba Inus possess an independent nature.
This, combined with a very high prey drive and innate alertness, can make the Shiba Inu extremely difficult to train.
Therefore, these dogs aren’t the best choice for first-time dog owners and homes with young children and other pets.
If you’re interested in a mini Shiba Inu, it’s best to choose a mixed breed rather than a dog who has the dwarf gene or been bred from extremely small parents.
When you choose a hybrid, remember that the dog is at risk for health problems that affect the parent breeds.
Doing research on both dogs is key.
Finding a Mini Shiba Inu
Unfortunately, miniaturized dogs like the mini Shiba Inu are often created by disreputable backyard breeders and the unconscionable breeding facilities known as puppy mills.
A reputable breeder always puts the health and welfare of their dogs over profit.
They will have health tested their breeding stock and will be happy to let you meet the puppy’s parents.
This article will give you a lot more detailed information about what to look for when selecting a breeder.
Alternatively, you might find the pet you’re looking for in an animal shelter. Here, you’ll find no shortage of loving dogs just waiting for a forever home.
Is the mini Shiba Inu the dog of your dreams?
Let us know in the comments.
References and Further Reading
Takeuchi Y et al. 2009. Association analysis between canine behavioural traits and genetic polymorphisms in the Shiba Inu breed. Animal Genetics. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2052.2009.01888.x
Flint H. 2017. Understanding Fear and Stranger-Directed Aggression in Companion Dogs University of Guelph thesis.
Duffy DL et al. 2008. Breed differences in canine aggression. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2008.04.006
Boyko AR. 2011. The domestic dog: man’s best friend in the genomic era. Genome Biology. https://doi.org/10.1186/gb-2011-12-2-216
Verheijen J et al. 2011. Canine intervertebral disc disease: A review of etiologic and predisposing factors. Veterinary Quarterly. https://doi.org/10.1080/01652176.1982.9693852
Ogbu KI et al. 2016. A review of Neonatal mortality in Dogs. International Journal of Life Sciences,
Wood SH et al. 2009. Genome-wide association analysis of canine atopic dermatitis and identification of disease-related SNPs. Immunogenetics. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00251-009-0402-y
Su L et al. 2015. Comparison of tibial plateau angles in small and large breed dogs. The Canadian Veterinary Journal. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4431160/
Kato K et al. 2006. Incidence of Canine Glaucoma with Goniodysplasia in Japan: A Retrospective Study. Journal of Veterinary Medical Science. https://doi.org/10.1292/jvms.68.853
Uddin MM et al. 2013. Molecular epidemiology of canine GM1 gangliosidosis in the Shiba Inu breed in Japan: relationship between regional prevalence and carrier frequency. BMC Veterinary Research. https://doi.org/10.1186/1746-6148-9-132