American Shiba's VS Import Shibas
  • I've been looking into Shibas more for the wife. I know of course the difference between a JA and a AA but is there a different between Shiba's here in the states or outside of Japan? Is there a difference in appearance or personality? I'm wondering if I should just buy an AKC Shiba or should I be looking for an import or one with import bloodlines?

  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 3449
    I would go with an AKC (show) breeder dog as my first choice if you want to hedge your bets. I would discourage you from buying an import directly from Japan as your first pick unless you are very familiar with the process and understand you won't be getting any type of temperament or health guarantee with an import.

    It's the same breed regardless of being imported or American bred, and the type here from US bred dogs "should" not differ from Nippo dogs. That said, there are a lot of dogs here with obvious poor breeding (like the kind in pet stores), so if you are comparing a mill rescue Shiba to a Nippo grand National winner, yes, there will be a night and day difference. Also, the Japanese breeders don't tend to let their best dogs come here in the first place, so that will limit some of the quality of type.

    There are multiple breeders in the US that use a mix of Nippo registered dogs and JKC registered dogs to breed into their AKC stuff as "outcrosses" and to improve type. Usually those dogs brought here to breed to other Nippo registered dogs are dual registered with AKC, as there is only one US event just for Nippo registered Shibas. I think breeding only certain registries (Nippo to Nippo, only AKC to AKC) to one another and excluding the others is a recipe for an even more closed gene pool, which is why imported dogs need to be brought in and not only bred to other Nippo dogs in the US.

    Visually, the biggest difference I notice between Nippo winners and AKC champions is bad angulation and bad rears in the imported dogs, compared to the AKC show type which tends to emphasize better movement. Imported dogs often look like tables to me (straight up and down legs), but that is more inline with the ideal type in Japan. In exchange, the AKC show dogs often lack good coat quality and head type, but the well bred dogs do have a lot of health testing behind them and there is usually some idea of any inherited health conditions or temperament issues they go on to produce.

    Imported dogs can have sharper temperaments and be very dog aggressive, so "they' say, but can produce really great dogs with sweet and loving personalities. It really really depends on how the dogs are raised and kept imo, with the understanding that there is going to be a baseline genetic disposition they inherit. Most imported dogs are kept in kennels away from direct contact with other dogs except for breeding and showing, and not raised indoors at all. You would probably get a better idea of a future puppies personality by visiting the breeder to meet the parents, which would be hard to do if the parents are in Japan.
    Hokusei Kashinoki Hokkaido and Shiba Inu

    @asgardfox - I have to say I'm a little surprised. I would seriously slow things down a bit and actually meet and get to know the individual breeds. There are a ton more considerations than just the ability to be a good alert dog and you really need to investigate which breed would best suit your lifestyle.

    I also wanted to note that of the two shibas I mentioned in your earlier post about alarm barking, both have one AKC parent and one Japanese import parent. In fact they are a full sibling pair from different litters, and even then their temperament ranges quite a bit, though they bear a strong physical resemblance to one another. The alarm barker is much much sharper and higher drive than her brother.

    If you were to ask my amateur assessment, I would say that my girl is a better representative of the shiba temperament than my boy. If you were to ask my partner, as much as he loves both dogs, he would take another dog with the temperament of my boy, but not with the sharp temperament of my girl. She is incredibly charming but a more difficult dog than many want to handle, including quite a few dog sitters. You haven't posted many details about what makes you desire a nihonken (just generalities) and what you hope to do with your future dog. This would probably be helpful.
  • haha. Yes I'm sure if you have read all of my sporadic posts it would seem as if I couldn't make up my mind or I was in a hurry or something probably or asking too many questions or maybe just plain confusing. My wife has been around many Shibas in her life time and she has always wanted to adopt one, that's why I ask questions about Shibas, I think Shibas are nice dogs myself, however when I am looking for a dog I like the idea of a watch dog and I actually like bigger dogs. My family has a Boxer that I like very much. As far as my interest in Japanese Dogs...I lived in Japan for 3 years, I speak the language and appreciate the culture. I have always had a fascination there, I used to work a block from the Hachiko Statue in Downtown Tokyo Shibuya. I like the way the JA's look, and everything that I have read about their temperament, history etc...We will be settled into a house soon, I have a 4 year old daughter and I'm hoping to have a nice backyard. I like to go on runs, I like to hang out in the yard and grill out, just a normal guy, whatever dog we choose must be good with kids and even though I don't depend on a dog for protection I like an extra set of ears and I don't always hear so well myself to be honest. I don't plan on getting more than one dog, I don't plan on getting either breed of dog that we choose in a hurry. I plan on researching more, bugging people on the forum and yes meeting some more breeds outside of the Shibas that I have met would most certainly be useful. I do not know however anyone near Tallahassee FL where I live that has a JA. I have had to settle with movies, youtube, basically the internet. Jon
  • ShikokuShikoku
    Posts: 264


    I will only caution as I personally do not think shiba's and kids mix. Especially if you get a young puppy. They are very intolerant, and aren't afraid to use their teeth even against family. They are known to correct anyone and everyone.


    Location:MD/VA/DC. Pets: Athena- Shikoku and Hades- Shiba Inu
  • You are halfway between two of my JA pups from my last litter - one went to Miami, FL the other went to Hunstville, AL. I know there is a tweenie breeder in FL that claims to be breeding JAs but does have some imports, and I could probably find some other actual JAs in the state for you if pressed...
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
  • LosechLosech
    Posts: 2082


    I will only caution as I personally do not think shiba's and kids mix. Especially if you get a young puppy. They are very intolerant, and aren't afraid to use their teeth even against family. They are known to correct anyone and everyone.


    Some Shibas are great with kids. My Shiba is a bit odd about them, but he was not exposed to children (or people in general) much as a pup due to where he came from. Strange kids are a huge NO, but my younger brother? I honestly think Conker likes Teddy more than me. Conker just ADORES him and would me far more excited when Teddy came home from school than me from work. Conker was always hanging out with Teddy and playing with him. He liked a few of Teddy's friends, but others, not so much.

    A Shiba with a more stable temperament, that was socialized well with children as a pup, would be totally fine with kids. You just need to teach the pup (like all pups) not to use teeth, and teach the kid to respect the dog. No dog, not even a great family dog, is "safe" around kids who do not understand that you can't go screaming and whacking and yanking on the dog.
  • NavyDogNavyDog
    Posts: 388
    any breed could be good with kids if they were socialized enough with them
  • sjp051993sjp051993
    Posts: 1605
    My dogs were not raised around kids, but are great with them none the less. At a show, Kuma often seeks out small kids and lets them hug him. So again, every dog is different.
    Stacey living with Tora, Kazue, Ritsu and Kuma the Shiba

    DSCF0686IMG_0940 - Version 2DSCF0714IMG_1151

  • ShikokuShikoku
    Posts: 264
    Yes every dog is different. My dog is great around kids, but shibas have been labeled as generally not good around kids. Thats what I was saying. So I wouldn't recommend it around kids as it is not considered a Family dogs such as A GSD etc.

    Sorry to confuse you OP. Now the rest of you , calm down lol I know your shibas are great.

    Location:MD/VA/DC. Pets: Athena- Shikoku and Hades- Shiba Inu
  • Plenty of people on the Shiba forum have kids and Shibas. They're pretty mouth as puppies, of course, but so are other breeds. As long as kids are taught to interact well with the dogs, and interactions are supervised, they'd probably be fine. But that's true of any breed.

    You do have to be very careful in getting a Shiba, though. Unfortunately, the breed has been hurt by popularity and there a lot of puppy mills producing dogs with all sorts of health/temperament issues, as well as a lot of backyard breeders. If you think you'd like a Shiba, I'd strongly suggest joining the Shiba forum and checking out the members only threads on how to choose a good breeder, how to spot a puppy mill, etc, as it will help you avoid mistakes.

    And yeah, Lindsay is spot on, of course, in her Shiba advice!
    Lisa, Toby (Shiba), Oskar and Zora (American Akita), and Leo (Kai Ken)
  • rikumomrikumom
    Posts: 438
    IMHO as an owner of an import shiba, you risk temperament issues (dog aggression) and OFA/CERF issues with imports since Japanese breeders don't value those. Weak knee caps and hocks are a common prob with certain lines of Shibas.

    Re: socialization with kids, I think if the kid was around first and shiba second, the shiba has a chance of being socialized. The other way around doesn't work in the Shibas favor, so many young Shibas looking for new homes when their humans decide to breed and the shiba aren't safe for children play date. Kid's high pitched voices can trigger prey drive, there was a baby in Ohio who was killed by the family's shiba last December
  • KoyukiKoyuki
    Posts: 199
    I have a 3 yr old daughter, 8 yr old stepson and lots of younger family members and 4 Shibas of different ages. They are all great with kids. More so than my father in laws GSD. So i think the generalization of Shibas not being good with kids is inaccurate.
  • @Asgardfox あなたのコメントに基づいて、私はあなたが柴犬にご満足いただけることでしょうとは思わない。大きな犬が良くなると思います。IMHO :(|)
  • ありがとう Rikachan! It's funny, I can still speak descent conversational Japanese but my reading is horrible, I think reading and writing is maybe the first things you forget?
  • @Asgardfox : I understand. In any language, I think listening comprehension comes first, then speaking, then reading, then finally writing. Three years seems like a long time, but it's really short when compared to the rest of our lives, no matter how much impact it may have had. I have the same problem with Arabic.

    I think, based on all your previous comments, that you would really prefer a larger dog than a Shiba. Or at least one with a bit more "attitude". Of course, I base that on seeing all the "city-fied" Shibas of Minato-ku. It seems that from the posts here that Americans have bigger and more outdoorsy Shiba Inu than the average person in Tokyo.

    I think a larger dog may be to your preference, but perhaps not a large dog like Akita, for family harmony. The medium dogs like Kai, Hokkaido, or Shikoku may perhaps suit all interested parties in your family.

    Please take this as a humble, yet biased opinion. I'm a Kai Ken aficionado to the core. The size, energy, personality, hardiness, etc, etc, etc, defines my ideal in a companion, at home and in the deep outdoors. Your mileage may vary. U^ェ^U
  • I love the Kai Ken! Really easy dogs to live with, and wonderful! I do think Rikachan is right that many of our American Shibas are bigger. Many are Kai sized!

    And in regards to importing or not: probably no reason to import a Shiba when there are very good dogs being produced in the US (as long as you find the right breeder!)

    And that story about the baby and the Shiba? NOT representative of Shibas, and it turns out the baby was premature and could have been injured in the fall. The Shibas are still alive, the story is still being sorted out. The baby did have teeth marks, but was not mauled. Let's not start blaming a whole breed here for ONE incident, which still hasn't even been sorted out yet.

    I'm actually really surprised by the idea that Shibas are known for not being good with kids, which is something I've never come across before, despite my years of Shibas. I mean, yeah, be cautious as with any dog, and they're super mouthy as pups, but I've never heard them labeled that way, and it does seem a bit unfair.
    Lisa, Toby (Shiba), Oskar and Zora (American Akita), and Leo (Kai Ken)
  • NavyDogNavyDog
    Posts: 388
    Sorry i dont have much imput as the only nihon ken Ive owned was AA's when I was younger and the Kai I have now. I think an AA would be ideal for you since they look big and intimidating but are not exactly guard dogs. They will bark and defend your family if they had to but mostly they look scary to anyone who might want to break into your home. The only problem I see is the kid friendly part. Id say about 80% of AAs Ive met were very kid friendly. the other 20% were either not kid friendly, or they were not people friendly at all. I totally believe that any dog of any breed that has been properly socialized can be good with kids but Akita's are large breed dogs and they can sometimes play too rough or can become pushy towards children smaller then them. As long as you take special care to always watch the pup around kids and correct him when he plays too rough it should be fine. I wouldnt rule out the other breeds though. Our Kai is learning how to be a watch dog from our Amstaff If you are willing to look at non-japanese breeds, I would highly recommend an Amstaff. They are natural born watch dogs and also naturally great with kids, even babies. They look intimidating and will defend your home but at the same time, they are the sweetest dogs who will love anyone they meet.
  • Hinata23Hinata23
    Posts: 1444
    Oh Hey! You moved! No wonder i haven't seen you guys around Champions Gate! :)

    If you're looking for a Shiba I would 300% recommend looking into the breeder and their dogs. Go meet them and the potential puppies' parents. I know lots of people here love their Shiba, but they are not the dogs I would take a risk with a small child (especially one as cute as yours! :) ). I would make sure the parents temperament is one you like... Not all Shiba are the same. Some are nice and playful and some are nasty. Some breeders will tell you anything to sell their dogs, so see them in person. Also making sure the dog gets along with other dogs is important. You don't want it picking a fight with another dog while your wife and daughter are walking it.

    You might not find a breeder near you, so you might have to plan a road trip like a lot of us have. Adding the best dog possible to your family for the next 15 years is that important.

    Even though your wife didn't like the look of the Kai, I still think that if you have your heart set on getting a Nihon Ken, that they are the best choice for your family.

    Good luck with your search! :)
    Post edited by Hinata23 at 2014-02-16 17:09:06

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