The Shiba Inu is one of the "primitive" breeds, meaning they still resemble the original ancestor primal dog or wolf from long ago. The Shiba Inu originates from the mountains of Japan where they grew accustomed to the cold weather and snow. The Shiba Inu, in Japanese, is the tiniest of the six main Japanese breeds of dog. It has a storied and revered past and present in Japan.
The Shiba Inu was bred by past matagi, or Japanese hunters, for the purpose of assisting them in the searching and finding of food. They were created in hopes that they were brave and obedient and they are still that way in the present, except for the extra time that may have to be spent in training and disciplining them. Their energy has to be harnessed and directed into other activities than the scratching of furniture and such.
The 1920s nearly brought the extinction of the Shiba Inu but instead three varieties of the breed were aggressively crossbred to save it. World War II brought on an epidemic of fever and illness for the Shiba Inu, but it was resilient enough to replenish the breed. And at least twenty years earlier in 1936, the Shiba Inu breed was dubbed Japan's National Treasure. Thus, the reason why it was able to make such a comeback is because of the country's time and effort investment.
The Shiba Inu's wolf origin is part of the reason for its being held in such high esteem in Japan. Unlike the wolf legends of the Western Hemisphere, the wolf mythology of Japan depicts them as guardians and helpers of people during natural catastrophes. There are standard criteria that dog breeders and dog show judges follow that was created in Japan for the Shiba Inu, but these Japanese stress three traits before the rest because of the significance of the Shiba Inu to their culture.
The three key features the Japanese look for in a Shiba Inu are referred to with the Japanese e terms Ryosei, Kan'i, and Soboku. Ryosei is the devotion and obedience that a Shiba Inu displays towards his owner. A Shiba Inu with a strong sense of Ryosei make great guard dogs. Kan'i is sometimes considered the most significant quality. It is the courage and self-esteem a Shiba Inu may possess. And finally, Soboku references the innocent, high spirit that a Shiba Inu usually have. They are normally highly energetic and curious and a Shiba Inu who has these traits is considered at the top of his breed. The Japanese revere these dogs, and who can blame them as they are such strikingly beautiful and gifted animals.