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Phew, this website is a labor of love and largely a one-woman show so unless indicated, all articles written by J.Tsukamoto

Due to their foxy looks, Shiba Inu are sometimes mistaken for foxes and even wolves!

Others ask if Shiba Inus are part wolf, or a wolf dog hybrid.

In short, no the Shiba Inu is not a wolf or a wolf dog hybrid.

beautiful sesame dog in japan Shiba Inu

Sesame Shiba Inu

However, the Shiba Inu is currently the dog breed that is the closest “descendent” of the wolf - more specifically, the Grey Wolf. 

This could probably explain a lot of Shibas wolf-like behaviors such as howling, screaming, and being sort of “shifty / cautious-like” 

And that’s so cool!

Those that have Shiba Inus are able to have a glimpse of how a once wild wolf eventually morphed into the captive canine we enjoy now - attitude and all.

beautiful red shiba inu on the mountain

Shiba Inu and Wolf  - You know which is which right?


Are Shiba Inus Related To Wolves?

All dogs are descendents of the Grey Wolf, and most likely the Asian Wolf - though research is still ongoing - and contentious at times.

Currently, Shiba Inus are one of the dog breeds that have the closest genetic relationship to the grey wolf.

According to a 2004 study, Genetic Structure of the Purebred Domestic Dog, the four dog breeds closest to the wolf are Shiba Inus, Chows, Akitas, and Alaskan Malamutes.

These are some of the breeds that are the best living representatives of the ancestral dog gene pool.

This canine genome project is growing each year with the continued collaboration between researchers, dog breeders, and scientists. 

stunning gray wolf

Stunning Gray Wolf

Are Shiba Inu Related to Foxes?

Both Shiba Inu and foxes belong to the same animal family - canidae.

But that’s where the relationship ends.

While Shiba Inus and all domesticated dogs are members of the canis genus, foxes belong to distinctly different, non-canis genera with the genus Vulpes being the most common.

So while Shiba Inus definitely “look” like foxes they’re actually quite different in anatomical features.

For example, most foxes are smaller in size and have flatter skulls than dogs

Additionally while Shiba Inus are quite easy to potty train, foxes can’t reliably be potty trained due to their wild instincts to want to mark.

red fox

Red Fox

And those that have raised foxes describe fox urine as the one of the worst smells on living earth. 

In the wild, foxes only live to about four years of age on average while domesticated dogs have a much longer lifespan. 

And no, dogs and foxes cannot be cross bred. They’re chromosomes are just too different due to their ancestral roots diverging from each other roughly 10 million years ago.

difference between shiba inu and fox

Are Shiba Inus a Dog - Wolf Hybrid?

Shiba Inus are definitely not a wolf hybrid but pure Canis Familiaris - a domesticated “dog”.

Unlike foxes, wolves and dogs share enough similar chromosomes that make it possible for them to cross breed.

So a Shiba Inu and a wolf could technically breed to bring forth a Shiba Inu - Wolf hybrid.

But naturally, there’s absolutely no reason for this.

It’s an absolute myth that wolf-dog hybrids might make a better guard dog. Wolves are shy by nature and do not make good guard dogs.

wolf dog hybrid

Wolf-dog hybrid

Wolf-dog hybrids are also illegal in many areas, and for good reason - they can be dangerous.

Wolves, even bred in captivity are basically still “wild” animals so breeding one with a domestic dog still produces an animal that will retain a certain amount of wild characteristics - many of which could be dangerous to humans.

Learn more about wolf-dog hybrids here.

The Shikoku - An Ancient Dog Breed That Looks More “Wolfy” Than a Shiba

Shikoku Japanese dog breed

Shikoku Japanese Dogs

Shikoku Japanese dog breed

 The Shikoku Inu is another one of the six native ancient dog breeds.

This lesser known Japanese dog breed is rarely found across North America and even Japan.

 Taller and larger than a Shiba Inu - this wilder looking Japanese dog breed looks so much more like a wolf than a Shiba - from the colors to the size / proportion.

Even in temperament, the Shikoku dog has a more wolf-like personality than Shibas.

Shikoku Inu Japanese Dog

Shikoku Inu dog

Shikoku’s are active, rambunctious, bold, and mischievous. 

Yet, they are more biddable and obedient towards their master.

And naturally due to their size, speed, and strength - the Shikoku is a better hunter than Shibas - all wolf-like strengths.

Final Thoughts

Learning about the evolution of dogs is fascinating on so many levels.

Understanding how closely related Shiba Inus are to their wild ancestral counterparts helps to explain a lot.

The aloofness, the untrusting nature, the screaming!

This understanding also will hopefully educate people interested in Shibas that they may not be a good fit for families that don't have the skills and tools to tame a bit "wilder" type dog breed.

And hopefully this will result in less Shiba Inus being unfairly surrended to shelters across the nation.

If you're not set to handle a mini 'wolf-like' dog - please don't get a Shiba. Because some, not all - can be a bit "wolfy".

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