NIPPO Seminar Notes 2018

I had the awesome opportunity to attend not only the Shiba InuNationals where I showed Nekora, but also the NIPPO Classic East where I showed the new puppy Astrid in sweepstakes (we got 2nd in our class of 5 bitches). Most importantly, I attended the NIPPO seminar held in conjunction with the Classic. I’m publishing the notes I took in the seminar and will try my best to present them according to judge Kazuaki Iwasa’s intended contexts. Towards that objective, I have reordered some of his words to provide better flow, but I did not add my thoughts to these notes. Everything is transcribed or paraphrased.

The judge’s main goal is to select “the true Shiba” – which is the reason why the Nihonken Hozonkai was founded. During WW2 most Japanese dogs were killed or bred with dogs of different breeds. NIPPO’s goal is to keep breeds pure – to preserve the original breed before the breed was crossed with outside breeds and to exclude genes that were introduced by this cross breeding.
Until about 40 years ago NIPPO allowed cross breeding between the breeds to fix issues such as detintion. Shibas were crossed with Hokkaidos to fix the detention issue (to show in NIPPO your dog must have full detintion). Originally NIPPO was strongly against tongues spots in the Shiba Inu (a Hokkaido influence), but in the recent years they compromised to allow a tongue spot up to the size of a pinky to appear. (Now I’m assuming this means pinky tip & on the back of the tongue. I didn’t catch if this was specified or not.) There has been two schools of thought regarding tongue spots – one is indifferent to the spot while the other considers the spot negatively as a sign of crossbreeding.


Japanese dogs are judged on these characteristics:

  • Face (eyes and ears)
  • Coat (color and texture)
  • Spirit*

These are some of the most important qualities when judging Shibas.

*No tail wagging or dropping of the tail. Shibas should have a strong, high carried tail.

Body structure is also important but mixed breed dogs might also have good structure.


When the Nihonken Hozonkai was first founded, dogs were selected based on facial features and the coat. They felt these were distinguishing features of a Japanese dog. Iwasa san described the Shiba as “small dog, small body, big spirit.”

A Shiba’s eye (assuming eye ball) will look rounder up close but at a distance more triangular.

A Shiba should retain a good expression even as they get older.

Shibas should have a good stout muzzle – gives a strong impression. The nose should slightly curve up.




Ears out to the side (low set ears) do not give up a strong expression while ears set higher up (than the ones mentioned before) give a stronger impression.



Smaller ears and shorter tails may be a sign of inbreeding in a dog. Smaller ears are not the best, they are better than large ears but ears should be in balance with the face/expression.

NIPPO wants to eliminate long hair in the ears – the thought is the gene came from the Japanese Spitz. Same with fluffy tails.

Guard hairs should be hard and spikes up. No spikes in a coat means the coat is too soft which isn’t good.  Soft coated dogs should not be used in breeding. Guard hairs go from light (tip) to dark (end).

Coat color must be clear. Urajiro on the tail is usually a sign of a clear red.

Red Shibas should have a white undercoat. Black and tans light grey.

Red Shibas shouldn’t be red and white – the red should fade into white. Reds also must have red under their eyes

Too many black hairs on a red dog is not preferred. This can confuse a red dog with a sesame dog, leading to the judge to ask ‘is this a sesame?’ Red dogs should not have a saddle of black hairs.

No high white socks or a thick white stripe on the tail.

White from the bow tie is spilling out into the shoulders – becoming a problem.

Too much white - shoulder
Sorry for the horrendous computer drawings

Eye dots should be dots, color shouldn’t spread.

White on face should be age appropriate (unlike a Japanese Akita).

The prime minster award is awarded to adult dogs due to the fact that young dogs might develop a white face as they reach maturity. NIPPO doesn’t want to award young dogs with high awards due to the fact they might not mature into good specimens.

Shibas take small steps – they don’t have much reach and drive because they are mountain dogs.

Longer hocks tend to create an unlevel topline.

High hocks


Cream Shibas

  • The color is recessive – can only produce the cream (shiro) color. NIPPO wants to prevent what happened in the Kishu (popular sire syndrome, breed is almost exclusively white – know as cream in Shibas) from happening in Shibas



  • A famous sesame – Masumaru. Was considered ugly as he was very dark. At 8 years old he was a red sesame. He won a lot of awards as an older dog because of this.
  • Some sesame’s color matures when they are older. Usually the older the better the color the dog has. Around 4 or 5 years old a sesame’s coat is mature and will be beautiful.
  • What makes a red sesame or black sesame – varies by breeder, judge, and exhibitors, each can have their own definition. Sesames should be even mixed with red and black hairs.

2 thoughts on “NIPPO Seminar Notes 2018

  1. Thank you Alexis, this answered a couple questions I have been asking for years! Love your articles.

    From: Boomlay Shiba Inus
    Reply-To: Boomlay Shiba Inus
    Date: Wednesday, October 3, 2018 at 5:06 AM
    To: Rex Gaylord
    Subject: [New post] NIPPO Seminar Notes 2018

    boomlayshibas posted: “The judge’s main goal is to select “the true Shiba” – which is the reason why the Nihonken Hozonkai was founded. During WW2 most Japanese dogs were killed or bred with dogs of different breeds. NIPPO’s goal is to keep breeds pure – to preserve the origina”


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