You can’t just ignore the beauty of one of Japan’s native dog breeds: the good-natured Shiba Inu. They appear almost like a stuffed Fox, and they come with four distinct coat colors: red, cream, black and tan, and sesame.
Despite the standards set by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) which recognize only the four coats mentioned above, many pet enthusiasts wonder whether a solid black Shiba Inu exists.
The answer to that is discussed in detail in this guide, so if you want to learn more, I suggest you take time to pore over the following sections.
What Is a Black Shiba Inu? Do They Really Exist?
A solid black Shiba Inu does not exist. Both the AKC and the FCI only recognize the black and tan coat and a variation of the sesame coloration called black sesame Shiba. Both varieties have two or more tones and a whitish marking which the Japanese refer to as Urajiro.
In the context of this article, I am going to refer to the black and tan Shiba and the black sesame Shiba as types of the black Shiba Inu. I do not want to give you false hope and claim that an all-black Shiba exists when they clearly don’t.
History of the Black Shiba Inu
The black Shiba Inu has a rich history just like its different colored cousins. They are believed to be an ancient breed from Japan who has been around since 300 B.C. Their primary task was to hunt bears and boars in rugged mountains and to help hunters flush out birds.
The name Shiba means ‘brushwood’ which can refer to the breed’s reddish color or the bushes in the mountains they usually hunt. ‘Inu,’ on the other hand, is the Japanese word for dog.
Just like the other native breeds from Japan, they almost reached extinction at the end of World War II, but it’s a good thing that they survived and was brought to the United States in 1954 by a military family.
Today, they are considered Japan’s number one companion animal, and they have been growing in popularity in the U.S. for the past 50 years.
What Does the Black Shiba Inu Look Like?
The only difference between the black and tan Shiba Inu and the black sesame Shiba Inu is their coat color. All of their other physical features are essentially the same and can be described through the following:
- Head: Their head is composed of a broad forehead, well developed-cheeks and jaw, and a moderately thick muzzle.
- Eyes: Their eyes are a bit triangular in shape, and the outer corners are slightly upturned. Brown is the only acceptable color for their pupils.
- Ears: Their ears are triangular, small, and appear to be firmly pricked. They are also noticeably inclining forward.
- Neck: Their neck is thick and strong.
- Body: They have deep ribs and a tucked up belly.
- Tail: Their tail is thick and set high, which can be curled or curved.
- Coat: Their undercoat is soft while their outer coat is straight and harsh. Usually, the hair on their tail is a bit longer and standing off.
Here are some of the differences in coat coloring between the two varieties of the black Shiba Inu:
Black and Tan Shiba Inu
Black and Tan Shiba Inus are sought after because of their unique coat. They have black hairs that possess a brownish overcast, and their undercoat is usually buff or gray.
Their tan points are located on the oval spots above their eyes, on the sides of their muzzles, and on the outer sides of their forelegs and hind legs.
They also have an urajiro or a white or cream marking that is scattered all over their body.
Black Sesame Shiba Inu
The black sesame Shiba Inu is distinct for their coat that has more black than white hairs. For you to visualize, the usual sesame Shiba has an equal mixture of red, black, and white.
The black sesame Shibas are called as such because they are tri-color, but the black is more dominant.
Do Kennel Clubs Recognize Black Shiba Inus?
The two variations of the black Shiba Inus I am discussing in this article are both recognized by the FCI. Meanwhile, the AKC only acknowledges the black and tan Shiba Inus.
Refer to the table below for the specific list of colors included on these kennel clubs’ breed standards for the Shiba Inu.
|Shiba Inu Colors Recognized by the AKC||Shiba Inu Colors Recognized by the FCI|
|Black and Tan||Black and Tan|
|Red Sesame||Black Sesame|
Are Black Shiba Inus Rare?
If you are pertaining to an all-black Shiba Inu, well, they are tagged as beyond rare because they are simply nonexistent.
In terms of the black varieties including black and tan Shiba Inu and black sesame Shiba Inu, the latter is considered rare, while the former is not.
You’ll learn about why black sesame Shibas aren’t that easy to find as you read the following section on genetics.
Black Shiba Inu Genetics
I decided to divide this section into two: the black and tan Shiba genetics and the black sesame Shiba genetics. This is to show the dissimilarities between the two varieties that have a black tone on their coat.
Black and Tan Shiba Inu
The black and tan Shiba Inu showcases a double coloring. Its coat is black and yellowish, which is highly influenced by the alleles or pairs of genes responsible for determining a dog’s coat color.
The black-yellow coat we see is actually caused by the last of the alleles in the agouti genes series called “at.” The Agouti gene controls the distribution of the black pigment on a dog’s coat.
Black Sesame Shiba Inu
Genetic wise, the sesame coloring of Shiba Inus are elusive. This is also the reason why this variety is quite rare. Not many breeders know how to develop this type of coat color, and some even resort to calling close shades as black sesame.
The few pieces of literature on the black sesame Shiba genetics reveals that this dog has been carrying the aw/at or the ay/at genes. These genes from the Agouti series determine the distribution of the dark hair on Shibas as formerly mentioned on the black and tan coat genetics.
Further genetic evaluation for this dog is needed in order to identify what causes its color. What we are only aware of is that through genetic manipulation, it is possible to produce a sesame Shiba Inu with dominant black coat color.
How Big Does a Black Shiba Inu Get When Fully Grown?
Black Shiba Inus may appear gigantic in pictures circulating on the internet, but they are actually medium-sized dogs. Here’s the exact size of the black and tan Shiba according to the AKC:
|Male Shiba Inu||Female Shiba Inu|
|Height||14 ½ to 16 ½ inches||13 ½ to 15 ½ inches|
|Weight||18 to 24 pounds||15 to 20 pounds|
Note that the weight I have included above is the preferred size of the AKC alone. It is possible to own a healthy black and tan Shiba who is slightly heavier or lighter.
In terms of the black sesame Shiba, the FCI only mentioned that the males’ height at withers should be 15 ½ inches, while the females should be 14 inches.
They failed to mention the exact body mass of this dog, but we can assume that it is similar to that of the black and tan Shiba Inu since their height is almost the same.
Black Shiba Inu Temperament: Are They Ideal Family Dogs?
The temperament of the two varieties of the black Shiba Inu is similar to the other colors. Below is a detailed description of their overall behavior:
- Shiba Inus are independent and intelligent dogs. Some of them are even great escape artists just like the Siberian Husky.
- They seem to be standoffish to strangers. They do not easily trust.
- They are very loyal and affectionate not only to their owner but whoever owns their respect.
- There are times that they can be aggressive towards other dogs.
- They are quite alert, so they make excellent watchdogs.
- They love to take off so you should always leash them.
- They are wise; that’s why they can be manipulative at times.
- They are willful and dominant, so you need to be a strong-willed owner.
Just like any other dog breeds, black Shiba Inus can be great family dogs if they are trained and socialized early. It is also suggested that the owner is already an expert on pet handling because they have a strong natural temperament.
This is a video of a black and tan Shiba Inu playing with its owner.
Black Shiba Inu Cost: Are They More Expensive Than the Other Shiba Inu Colors?
Black and tan Shiba Inus cost around 250,000 to 450,000 yen in Japan. Meanwhile, in the U.S., they cost approximately $1,500 to $2,200 from a reputable breeder. This price range may even be higher if you decide to register them fully.
Since black sesame Shibas are very rare, breeders usually sell them at a high price. You may expect that they cost around $2,000 to $5,000 because of the complexity of breeding them. This price is non-inclusive of the initial needs of your dog once you bring them home.
Places to Find a Black Shiba Inu for Sale and Adoption
Here are some of the places where you can purchase your black Shiba Inu:
- American Kennel Club (AKC) Marketplace: AKC Marketplace is perhaps the safest place to look for a black Shiba Inu. Some of the Shibas being sold by the AKC came from bloodlines that won in conformation shows, so you are assured that they are of excellent health and temperament.
- NorCal Shiba: NorCal Shiba operates in Vacaville, California. You can contact them to join their waitlist, and you will be scheduled for a preliminary interview to assess whether you are ready to own a Shiba Inu.
- Greenfield Puppies: Greenfield Puppies advertise reputable Shiba Inu breeders and make sure that they do not promote dogs who came from puppy mills. You can check out their website to see the different black Shibas they are currently selling because they take time to photograph and post them for your viewing.
If you are on a limited budget or you really prefer to rehome neglected black Shiba Inus, you can visit the following rescue shelters:
- Shiba Inu Rescue Association: Shiba Inu Rescue Association is a volunteer organization that is dedicated to save and rehome neglected Shibas. They have a very detailed description of the dogs they have rescued posted on their website.
- NYC Shiba Rescue, Inc.: NYC Shiba Rescue, Inc. is run by volunteers who want to rescue Shibas and other Shiba mixed breeds around New York and the metropolitan. They are also keen on promoting responsible pet ownership to the adoptive parents of their dogs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Black Shiba Inus Suitable for Novice Pet Owners?
I wouldn’t suggest black Shiba Inus or any other color of Shibas for novice pet owners. This dog breed is known for being bold and intelligent, so if the owner is not knowledgeable on pet ownership, they may find it challenging to train.
Are Black Shiba Inus Excessive Barkers?
Black Shibas do not excessively bark, but they know when to alert their owners if someone means harm. They also howl, scream, and make other singing “noises” just like other wild and primitive dog breeds.
Are Black Shiba Inus Excellent Guard Dogs?
Unfortunately, black Shiba Inus aren’t meant to be guard dogs since they are primarily bred to hunt. They also have a small build that is not ideal for scaring possible intruders. What they are good at is serving as watchdogs because they bark when they sense potential threats.
Do Black Shiba Inus Shed a Lot?
Yes. Shiba Inus are heavy shedders. In fact, many pet owners claim that they gave a new definition to the word heavy. Ideally, they only blow their coat twice a year, but the amount of hair they shed during this period makes up for the months that they aren’t shedding that much.
I would suggest that you give your Shiba regular brushing during this period and purchase a good quality vacuum from Amazon because it will save your life.
Final Thoughts: Is the Black Shiba Inu the Right Dog for You?
If you are prepared to own a head-strong and independent pup, then the two varieties of the black Shiba Inu that we discussed in this guide are perfect for you. These are the black and tan Shiba and the black sesame Shiba.
Owning these dogs isn’t cheap, and they can also be a pain in the ass sometimes. However, they can also be very loyal and affectionate to you and your family.
Make sure that before purchasing them, you have carefully observed how they behave in the kennel facility where they are born. This way, you will be able to assess if they are amenable to live with you.