The Shiba Inu is an athletic little dog. They can excel in many activities – the trick is getting them to cooperate with you. A Shiba’s motto seems to be “I can and I will, but in my own way”. You have to find the right motivation for a Shiba in order for them to put in the energy for you. Sometimes dog treats don’t make the cut but a yummy mozzarella cheese stick may be up their alley instead. Since most sports don’t allow food in the ring (conformation being the exception) it’s your goal as a Shiba owner to get your dog to work with you, minus the yummy goodies.

I’ve only competed in a handful of sports with my Shiba. She taught me very quickly that ‘oh this is easy’ is never ‘oh this is easy’ because I have a Shiba and not a Border Collie. She does everything her way and honestly she probably doesn’t want to do what I’m asking her to do because running around the Barn Hunt ring is way more fun that finding pampered, domestic rats.

Here are some canine sports for you to compete in with your Shiba:

Lure Coursing: Fast CATS and CATS

Fast CATS are a timed 100 yard dash; the dog chases a lure (plastic bags on a string pulley system). To figure out your dog’s speed you take 204.545 divided by your dog’s time. That will leave you with the dog’s mph. Once you have the mph you can convert those into points which get added up to titles. There’s also a handicap depending on the size of the dog. Dogs below 12 inches have a handicap of 2. So you would multiple the mph by the handicap to get your dog’s points.

Brooksville - Nekora 1
Nekora running a Fast CAT. Photo by Mark Baer.
Height in inches Handicap
Below 12 2.0
12 inches, less than 18 1.5
18+ 1.0
Astrid running a Fast CAT. Photo by Connie Fore.
Title Points
BCAT 150
DCAT 500
FCAT 1,000
FCAT (followed by a number) Each additional 500

CATS (Coursing Ability Test) are either a 300 or 600 yard run, dogs pass or fail depending if the follow the lure throughout the course. Veteran dogs (7+ years old) can run 200 yards (for the 300 yard run) or 400 yards (6oo yard run) at the owner’s discretion.

The 300 yard course is for dogs that are shorter than 12 inches at the withers or brachycephalic dogs. This course must be completed in less than a minute and a half.

The 600 yard course is for all dogs that can’t run the 300 yard course. This must be completed in less than 2 minutes.

Brooksville - Nekora 9
Nekora attempting a CAT. She’s qualified once. She runs about 100 yards before she turns around and runs back to me, she apparently thinks 6oo yards is too much work. Photo by Mark Baer
Title Passing runs
Coursing Ability (CA) 3 times under 2 different judges
Coursing Ability Advanced (CAA) 10 times
Coursing Ability Excellent (CAX) 25 times
Coursing Ability Excellent 2 (CAX2) 50 times

A higher number title will be awarded for every additional 25 passes.

Dogs should be physically fit and structurally sound before competing. Please have your vet check your dog to make sure they can safely compete. Recall is definitely recommended for Fast CATS/CATS.

For more information visit: Lure Coursing Rulebook

Delilah. Photo by C4 Pet Photography
Astrid. Photo by C4 Pet Photography


Barn Hunt

Barn Hunt is fun activity that isn’t as physically straining (in the beginning levels) and allows a dog to ‘hunt’ without harming any animals. The objective for Barn Hunt is to have your dog locate and correctly distinguish the tube with the rat in it. It’s a great scent exercise for the dog.

There are multiple levels to Barn Hunt, each level of course getting progressively more difficult. Each level has a time limit of when all requirements must be completed.

Barn Hunt is a separate registry – in order to compete your dog must be registered with the Barn Hunt Association. (Barnhunt – register)

Titles can be recorded with AKC via this form: AKC Barn Hunt title application

Barn Hunt - Nekora, Novice
Photo by Kimberly Norman Photography, LLC
Class (title) Requirements Passes Time
Instinct (RATI) Dog must correctly indicate the tube with the rat 1 One minute
Novice (RATN) Dog must correctly indicate the tube with the rat.

Dog must put all 4 feet on hay bale – Climb

Dog must go through the straight tunnel – Tunnel

3 Two minutes
Open (RATO) Dog must correctly indicate the two tubes with a rat.

Dog must put all 4 feet on hay bale – Climb

Dog must go through the straight tunnel – Tunnel

3 Two minutes and 30 seconds
Senior (RATS) Dog must correctly indicate the four tubes with a rat.

Dog must put all 4 feet on hay bale – Climb

Dog must go through the straight tunnel – Tunnel

3 3 minutes and 30 seconds
Master (RATM) Dog must correctly indicate the tubes with a rat. (one – five tubes will have rats)

Dog must put all 4 feet on hay bale – Climb

Dog must go through the straight tunnel – Tunnel

Handler must indicate when all the rats have been found

5 – under 2 or more judges 4 minutes and 30 seconds
Barn Hunt - Nekora, Instinct
Even bitches in season can compete – but they must wear panties at all times. Photo by Kimberly Norman Photography, LLC

For more information visit:

About Barn Hunt

Barn Hunt rules


A conformation dog show is where a dog is judged by a judge based on how well the individual dog fits the breed standard. Breed standards are written by the national club of the breed. Breed standards include a breed’s structure (how the dog’s skeleton is formed – it’s in charge of movement) & type (how the dog of said breed should look.) Other things included in standards are coat colors allowed and not allowed, eye shape/color, and disqualifying and/or severely penalized faults. For the Shiba Inu standard please visit : Shiba Inu standard

This is written for AKC shows, other registries have different regulations/requirements.

Title Requirements
Championship (CH) A total of 15 points including 2 majors (minimum 3 point win) won under 2 different judges
Grand Championship (GCH) A total of 25 points won including 3 majors under 3 different judges. At least one champion of record was defeated a 3 shows.

Bronze Grand Champion: 100 points

Silver Grand Champion: 200 points

Gold Grand Champion: 400 points

Platinum Grand Champion: 800 points

  • The number of points awarded depends on how many dogs are entered in an event. The number of dogs needed for a major depends on the area of the show. To check point schedules visit: AKC Conformation point schedule


Trick Dog

As the name applies AKC’s trick dog title is about showing off your dog’s tricks. There are 4 titles – Novice Trick Dog (TKN), Intermediate Trick Dog (TKI), Advance Trick Dog (TKA), and Performer Trick Dog (TKP). Each level has a list of tricks to choose from.

Please check this link to see what is required for each level:

About Trick Dog

I would also recommend you check out the trick Dog Evaluator Guide for more in depth explanation of tricks/requirements:

Trick Dog Evaluator guide


Agility is an awesome sport to teach your dog, it helps with discipline as it mentally and physically wears out your dog. During competitions treats and toys cannot be used so sometimes it can be a challenge to compete with a Shiba. I would recommend agility training for all physically and structurally sound Shibas as they enjoy it so much. (Mine just loves the contact obstacles). A naturally agile breed they really take off with this training. AKC also introduced a new program called Agility Course Test (ACT). With two passing runs your dog can have either an ACT1 title and/or ACT2 title. This is only available if your dog hasn’t already gained an agility title.

For more information on Agility please check this link (this covers the AKC ACT program as well):

AKC Agility rulebook



Probably one of the harder sports to compete in, especially with a Shiba. Off leash, no treats, and obeying commands the first time -a difficult feat for any dog! This is why I haven’t competed in Obedience. It’s not impossible – it’s just more of a challenge with a primitive, hard headed dog!

For more information on Obedience:

AKC Obedience rulebook


It’s a more ‘relaxed’ form of obedience, the dog and owner go through different stations and it’s the dog and owner’s job to perform these tasks with a sense of team work. According to the AKC website “The main objective of rally is to produce dogs that have been trained to behave in the home, in public places, and in the presence of other dogs, in a manner that will reflect positively on the sport of rally at all times and under all conditions.”

For more information on Rally:

AKC Rally information