Shibas, the Breed Known as "Dog Cats"

Huggable, soft and loving, Shibas are a very special breed of dog. They also have one very individual characteristic - they are known as the "dog-cat".
Shibas, the Breed Known as "Dog Cats"

Last update: 22 August, 2019

Shibas are frequently confused with Akitas, although they don’t share the same characteristics. Firstly, Shibas are smaller in size and are the smallest Japanese dog breed. This article will explain all you need to know about this dog breed and why they’re known as “dog cats”.

All you need to know about Shibas, the “dog cats”


Shibas are one of the oldest dog breeds. They first appeared in Japan in 2000 B.C and are thought to be descendants of Chinese wild dogs. It’s therefore certain that they originated from Asia.

Their main role was as hunting dogs in mountainous areas, due to their elegant build and strong physique. They used to hunt pheasants and other birds, or small mammals that inhabited the area.

When hunting became a sport, other dog breeds considered to be more attractive were introduced to Asia, which was a threat to the Shiba. These other dogs began to interbreed with Shibas, putting both the breed’s pedigree and its existence at risk.

Thanks to a group of hunters and researchers who worked to ensure that this didn’t happen, we can still appreciate the individual beauty of this animal today.

However, the Second World War posed a further threat to the breed. Three species of Shiba survived the war, from which the breed we know today emerged.

Physical characteristics

Shibas are a small dog breed with mid-length fur, and a lot of it. As mentioned, we commonly confuse them with Akitas, which is perhaps because they look like a miniature version of them.

Their body is robust and strong from head to tail, with a pronounced forehead and small eyes.

Dogs of this special breed can be red, black or amber in coloring, although you do also see some white dogs. However, experts don’t consider white Shibas to be of pure pedigree and competitions don’t accept them.


Image of a shiba, known as a dog cat

Shibas are good with children and as guard dogs. Despite their large size, they can easily adapt to living in an apartment or a small flat.

However, their great strength often means that Shibas run on a lot of adrenaline, so they do need a lot of exercise.

Why are Shibas called “dog cats”?

Everyone knows that dogs and cats are different in more ways than one. However, this dog has one special characteristic: they find it very easy to ignore commands, even when these are given directly by their owner.

This is because of their independent nature. Shibas can be very caring and playful, but only when they want to be. In other words, despite their cuddly appearance that’ll make you never want to let them go, they don’t always feel like a hug.

Shibas are free spirits. If they don’t want to come when you call, they might just give you a sideways glance or ignore you completely. If you want to pet them, but they’re not in the mood, then they’ll just run away. You might go to give them a kiss, but they’ll pull away.

It’s true that Shibas are loving dogs, but, just like cats, it’s best to show them your care and love only when they’re in the mood for it.

This can be frustrating for those who would like an affectionate dog and to always be with them. Shibas are just not like that.

Having said that, they deal well with solitude, given their independent nature. If you need to spend time away from home, then Shibas could be the dog for you.

Physically, you could describe a Shiba like a big teddy bear. They’re lovely, huggable and soft, but have a strong character. Shibas are dogs who need to be sure who’s boss from day one.

It might interest you...
Why Are There So Many Dog Breeds?
My AnimalsRead it in My Animals
Why Are There So Many Dog Breeds?

Currently, there are many dog ​​breeds on the planet. The various global institutions have recognized over 500 and each one of them is unique.