How many Shiba Inu colors can you name?
Do all members of this unusual breed have the same beautiful coat color of a red fox or are there variations?
In this article, we take a closer look at the surprisingly wide range of Shiba Inu colors.
But first, let’s find out a little more about this gorgeous breed.
The Shiba Inu
The Shiba Inu originates from Japan.
To look at, the Shiba Inu resembles a huge fox. This unusual, exotic pup typically has a fluffy red coat and a mouth that appears to be permanently smiling.
These pups usually grow to be around 16.5 inches tall and weigh about 23 pounds.
Socialize and train your dog as early as possible. Shiba Inu dogs are very strong-willed.
Shiba Inu History
The Japanese Shiba Inu was originally bred as far back as 300 B.C. The breed was used as a hunting dog in the mountainous regions of his home country.
The Shiba Inu color is named after a reddish shade of mountain brushwood. And the word, “Inu” means dog in Japanese.
The Shiba Inu first arrived on U.S. shores around 60 years ago and is now recognized by the American Kennel Club.
Shiba Inu Color and Temperament
There is no evidence to suggest that Shiba Inu colors influence individual dogs’ temperaments.
In general, the Shiba Inu makes a great companion and family pet.
Feisty and alert, the breed is a very efficient watchdog.
Although affectionate and friendly with those he knows, the Shiba Inu can be shy and even aggressive around strangers. That’s why early socialization is so important.
The Shiba Inu’s Classic Tail
Although Shiba Inu colors do not indicate their temperament or personality, their characteristic tail does!
The Shiba Inu has a curly-cue tail that’s usually carried high over their back.
How your dog is carrying his tail can tell you much about how he’s feeling.
A Shiba Inu carrying his tail high and fluffed up wants you to know he is happy, confident, and ready to take on the world.
If the dog’s tail is only half-way up, he could be slightly uneasy.
A Shiba Inu with his tail down and tucked between his legs signifies an unhappy dog with the worries of the world on his shoulders.
Shiba Inu Coat
The Shiba Inu has a double coat. That means he has a layer of long, coarse guard hairs on top protecting another layer of shorter, fluffy undercoat beneath.
The coat feels silky to the touch and is similar to that of a Siberian Husky, although the breeds are not related.
The Shiba Inu’s coat does not tangle or become matted, but these pups do shed frequently!
You can control shedding by brushing your pup frequently, ideally every few days. You can even use a blow-dryer to blast away excess hair, as recommended by the American Kennel Club.
Some Shiba Inus have a long-haired coat. This looks impressive. However, it’s quite rare and is considered to be a significant flaw in the show ring.
Shiba Inu Colors – Fox-Red and More
The Shiba Inu’s natural color is reddish brown on top with cream markings underneath.
However, the Shiba Inu comes in many other shades too, including:
- black sesame
- black and tan
Do Shiba Inu Colors Have a Hidden Meaning?
If you’re considering welcoming a Shiba Inu puppy into your home, you’ll be wondering whether the different coat colors mean that your pup will have a particular type of personality, depending on his color.
You may also be concerned that some colors might indicate particular health problems.
And how about physical characteristics? Will these differ between dogs of different colors?
Let’s find out!
Shiba Inu Colors – Red
Red is the most commonly found of the Shiba Inu colors.
Red is probably the original color of the breed, and it’s this that gives them their trademark foxy appearance.
This is the preferred Shiba Inu color for the show ring and is the most popular color out of the five listed above.
Shiba Inu Colors – Black and Tan
As we mentioned earlier in this guide, the Shiba Inu has a double coat. Stiff, straight hairs make up the outer coat. The underfur is soft, plush, and fluffy.
A black and tan Shiba Inu has a tri-colored coat. The coat has a black, rusty colored base, tan points, and the typical white Urajiro area.
Did you know that a single strand of hair from a black and tan Shiba Inu should contain all three colors, starting with light cream or white, to reddish tan, finishing with a rusty black tip?
The black and tan Shiba Inu has very vibrant, distinct coloring. The black hairs have a bronze tinge, and the underfur is either gray or buff.
Although the Urajiro markings of a black and tan dog are the same as for the other Shiba Inu colors, these pups also sport a very fetching, trademark white bow tie!
Shiba Inu Colors – Black Sesame
Another recognized Shiba Inu color is black sesame. Sesame is the rarest of the breed’s coat colors.
Sesame Shiba Inu coats always have a red base with a percentage of black running throughout.
The Japanese name for the black sesame Shiba Inu is, “Goma.” That means “sesame” in Japanese.
A pure-bred black sesame Shiba Inu cannot have more than 50% black in his coat to be recognized by official showing organizations.
Shiba Inu Colors – Cream
Cream is the most unusual and rarest of the Shiba Inu coat colors.
Although these are beautiful dogs to look at, regarding AKC judging standards, the color cream is a very serious fault. That’s because the breed’s trademark white “Urajiro” is not clearly discernible on a pale-colored coat.
The Urajiro, as described by the National Shiba Club of America, is a Japanese word that’s used to describe the unique white markings of the Shiba Inu.
The Urajiro should be seen on the chest, cheeks, neck, and belly of the dog.
This is a genetic quirk of the Shiba Inu. The gene responsible is linked to the dog’s red coat color and always ensures that the coat shades to a lighter color on the belly of an adult dog.
The Genetics of the Cream Shiba Inu Coat Color
A cream coat is the result of two recessive “e” genes. Coat color genetics can be very detailed and complex. You can find out more about the genetics of Shiba Inu coat colors in the fascinating article at this link.
The gene that gives the cream colored Shiba Inu his unusual coat color has no bearing on the dog’s health. It is not the same as the Merle gene that can cause vision and hearing problems in some breeds.
Shiba Inu Colors – Color Change
Sometimes Shiba Inu puppies are born with white markings on their face such as a blaze down the muzzle.
These markings are not classed as Urajiro and usually fade away as the dog matures.
Also, many Shiba Inu puppies can appear to have a black sesame color coat. However, many times these colors change as the dog matures.
Shiba Inu Colors – Color Variations
So, you can see that the Shiba Inu breed comes in a coat of many colors!
The coat colors we’ve discussed in this article are the shades that are recognized by official Shiba Inu societies and by the American Kennel Club.
You may well meet a Shiba Inu litter with colors not listed here.
Be wary of unofficial colors being described as “rare” or somehow special.
The most common reason for unusual colors is outcrossing with a different dog breed somewhere in a puppy’s family tree.
That doesn’t mean they can’t be wonderful pets, but a good breeder wouldn’t use it as a reason to charge an inflated price for a non-standard coat color.
What to Remember When Choosing a Shiba Inu Puppy
When choosing a perfect Shiba Inu puppy, we advise our readers to steer clear of pet stores, backyard breeders, and puppy mills.
That’s because the puppy you’re buying may not be a pure-bred Shiba Inu but a mixed breed. That could impact on the health of your dog, as well as his coat color.
Remember that, if you want to show your Shiba Inu, his coat color must conform to the shades that are recognized by the AKC and other official dog showing organizations.
Also, unofficial breeders often keep their breeding dogs in unsanitary, cramped conditions, which could mean you buy a sick puppy that hasn’t been properly cared for or vaccinated.
The best way to put puppy mills out of business is not to buy from them!
Instead, contact one of the U.S. Shiba Inu societies or clubs for details on reputable breeders. The AKC has lists of breeders on their website too.
How much does a Shiba Inu Puppy Cost?
The Shiba Inu is an unusual breed in the U.S. that’s rapidly gaining popularity. For that reason, you can expect to pay anywhere from $1,400 to £2,200 for a limited registration puppy from a reputable breeder.
The more unusual the Shiba Inu coat color, the more you can expect to pay for your puppy. Pups with parents who are successful in the show ring can fetch anything up to $3,500.
Of course, you could find your perfect canine companion in a Shiba Inu rescue center.
That’s great, but always remember that this breed can be feisty and aggressive with strangers.
Check that your new furry friend is socialized and calm before you take him home, especially if you have children or other pets.
We hope you found our article on Shiba Inu coat colors interesting. There are more colors available than some people realize.
Are you the proud owner of a Shiba Inu? If you are, we’d love to know more about your pup, especially what color he is.
Tell us more in the comments box below.
Schmutz and Berryere. “Genes Affecting Coat Color and Pattern in Domestic Dogs: A Review, Animal Genetics“