Many know the Shiba Inu as the breed that can come in the solid color similar to that of a red fox or in the swirl of black and white comparable to a marble floor. What most do not know is the name for that particular kind of coloration. It is called Urajiro, a Japanese term that means "underside" when roughly translated into English. The word Urajiro specifically refers to the strips of white that vary on any given Shiba Inu. There are certain criteria that the urajiro on a Shiba Inu has to meet.
Genetics play a huge role in the location and pattern of urajiro as it is not random. Urajiro is supposed to exist on a Shiba Inu on his chest leading up to his shoulder but not on his shoulder. It is also supposed to appear on the cheeks and sides of the mouth on the Shiba Inu. And the undersides of the neck and stomach are supposed to be decorated with urajiro as well. Because of all of the different locations of these white markings, the Japanese term urajiro is used internationally because of it makes it so that one does not have to state the individual limbs and parts of the body the markings are each time they are discussed. Urajiro is an all encompassing term.
Spots on the eyes and ears can also have urajiro, although they are not required. The same set of genes dictates whether or not there are markings there, but they should be small in size. And on a red Shiba Inu, there may be a vague white line down the stomach of the adult, which is also attributed to the urajiro producing genes.
There are other, not required white markings that can appear on a Shiba Inu that are not urajiro yet are. They include white blocks of fur on the legs, the front and rear. And also white can appear on the tip of a tail. White circular spots, on the neck, nose or forehead are not urajiro and neither are they necessarily wanted in a competition setting.
Finally, since it is a Japanese term, it may be a little intimidating in its pronunciation. Urajiro contains e four syllables. The 'u' is pronounced as a long 'u' while the first and second 'r' is trilled like the 'r' in the Spanish language. And finally the 'j' is pronounced like a soft 'g' while the 'i' is a long 'i' .
The Urajiro of each Shiba Inu is what makes him unique. And the white can be in combination with red sesame--a black tipped red fur--, tan, or black. They are stunning in their natural perfection and thanks to the Japanese for the multiple duty term of urajiro. Or else we would have to spend too much time on the description of the Shiba Inu rather than on enjoying its delightful and devoted personality.