What is Shiba Inu (SHIB)? Your complete guide to the meme-inspired project

Memecoins might be one of crypto's most curious things. These playful tokens usually arrive to provide light relief — welcome to many in an industry sometimes dominated by periods of fear, uncertainty, and doubt — AKA FUD. Shiba Inu (SHIB) is among them. Inspired by the Shiba Inu internet meme (but not to be confused with Dogecoin (DOGE), which is inspired by the same meme), SHIB has gathered a loyal following since its August 2020 arrival.

So what's it all about? In this article we'll explore the nuances of Shiba Inu, its origins, and the project's underlying technology, providing a comprehensive look at the token's place in the crypto world.


  • Shiba Inu is a meme-inspired cryptocurrency that launched in August 2020 and quickly attracted a strong following. It's based on the internet meme of the Shiba Inu dog, just like competing project Dogecoin (DOGE)

  • Although SHIB began life as a joke, its community and ecosystem has grown and evolved to encompass various projects. Additional tokens of BONE and LEASH have been launched to support the ecosystem through governance and incentivize participation by rewarding loyalty. The project operates on the Ethereum blockchain and uses the ERC-20 token standard.

  • The project has also launched a range of NFTs, a card game, a metaverse experience, and — most significantly — a layer-2 blockchain that invites innovation on the network. The development team has also hinted at further development in the near future, suggesting SHIB is here to stay.

  • Like most memecoins, SHIB is a volatile asset, which presents a great deal of risk to traders. However, many see this volatility as an opportunity to time the market and make gains. At the end of 2023, SHIB stood among the top 20 crypto tokens by market cap.

Shiba Inu (SHIB): the Doge-inspired crypto phenomenon

Shiba Inu (SHIB) was launched in 2020 by an anonymous individual or group known only as "Ryoshi." Initially created as a meme token, SHIB quickly gained popularity, helped by the already established fame of Dogecoin. Like DOGE, SHIB centered its branding on the Shiba Inu dog breed — popularized by an internet meme. However, the latter aimed to differentiate itself through its tokenomics and community-focused approach.

One of the defining aspects of Shiba Inu is its passionate and active following. Often called the "Shib Army," the community plays a crucial role in the token's popularity and adoption. Social media platforms, particularly X and Reddit, have been instrumental in rallying support, creating awareness, and driving adoption.

The technology behind SHIB

The token may be a joke, but SHIB's technical underpinnings are serious business. It operates on the Ethereum blockchain and adopts the ERC-20 token standard. As such, the project benefits from Ethereum's robust security and decentralized infrastructure. What's more, as an ERC-20 token, SHIB can be easily integrated into the existing Ethereum ecosystem, including decentralized exchanges (DEXs), wallets, and other decentralized Finance (DeFi) applications.

Tokenomics and distribution

SHIB launched with an initial total supply of one quadrillion tokens. In a strategic move to create scarcity, generate hype, and boost the token's value, the developers sent 50% of the total supply to Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin. Not wanting "to be a locus of power of that kind", Buterin burned more than 90% (410 trillion) of the tokens received, worth $6.7 billion at the time. Buterin donated the remaining 10% of the tokens to charity.

At the end of 2023, SHIB was among the top 20 cryptocurrencies by market cap and had a circulating supply of around 589 trillion.

Projects in the SHIB ecosystem

Rather than being a fad, the SHIB ecosystem has grown to encompass various crypto and Web3 projects.

ShibaSwap decentralized exchange

One major component in the SHIB ecosystem is ShibaSwap, a decentralized exchange (DEX). ShibaSwap provides a platform for SHIB holders to trade, stake, and participate in liquidity pools. The introduction of ShibaSwap marked a significant step in moving SHIB beyond just a meme token, offering real utility and fostering a more robust DeFi environment within its ecosystem.

LEASH and BONE tokens

Alongside SHIB, the ecosystem includes two other tokens: LEASH and BONE.

LEASH was originally conceived as a rebase token — a token with a circulating supply that adjusts automatically to control its price. The asset was later transformed into a standard ERC-20 token with a limited supply, making it scarce and valuable. Today, LEASH is a special token for loyal supporters of the network, allowing holders to benefit from exclusive perks and access. The asset was deliberately designed with opposite tokenomics to SHIB. Where SHIB has a huge supply of 1 quadrillion tokens, LEASH's supply sits at a little over 107,000.

BONE, meanwhile, is the governance token for the ShibaSwap platform. With a total supply of 250 million, BONE allows the Shib Army to vote on proposals via the 'Doggy DAO' (decentralized autonomous organization). BONE and the move towards a DAO is significant for the community. Aligned to the ethos of DeFi, this approach deepens the involvement of the SHIB community through a more democratized financial system.

The Shiboshi NFT collection

In October 2021, the Shiba Inu ecosystem grew to include a collection of non-fungible tokens (NFT) with the launch of the Shiboshi collection. The NFTs featured unique Shiba Inu-themed digital artworks. Such was their appeal, after a silent launch, the entire collection of 10,000 digital collectibles sold out in just 34 minutes. The NFTs serve as more than collectibles but play a role in the SHIB ecosystem. Owners of Shiboshi NFTs enjoy certain privileges within the ecosystem, including membership of the Shiboshi Social Club and access to exclusive land plots in SHIB: The Metaverse.

Shiba Eternity card game

Shiba Eternity is a free-to-play collectable card game where players are tasked with gathering cards portraying Shiboshis — a special race of Shiba Inu dogs. There are 500 unique cards to collect and 10,000 different Shiboshi characters, allowing you to curate your own deck based on the unique traits of your Shiboshis and six distinct characteristics.

The future for Shiba Inu

The Shiba Inu team is actively developing the project with a view to legitimizing the ecosystem and attracting the involvement of a wider active audience. Key to these plans is the development of the Shibarium layer-2 blockchain. According to the project website, at the end of 2023, the Shibarium network was at the BETA stage. Future plans include tying digital identity services to all applications on the network to build trust among potential users. Self-sovereign identity will reportedly be used to give community members greater control over their personal data and how it's distributed online.

The project's website also hints at a potential new token for the ecosystem. A mysterious blurred-out description can be seen alongside introductions to the SHIB, BONE, and LEASH assets.

SHIB future teaser

Source: shibatoken.com

Challenges and criticisms

Despite its success and popularity, SHIB faces several challenges. Early critics pointed to a lack of real utility and longevity — a common issue for meme tokens that arrive quickly and often, disappear just as fast. That's why doing your own thorough research before getting involved in a project is important. However, SHIB's future plans and adoption of advanced token standards suggest a stronger commitment from the development team when compared to competing projects.

Should I trade SHIB? Price volatility and market dynamics

SHIB faces extreme price volatility — like most cryptocurrencies, but especially memecoins, which typically have no utility and are traded speculatively. This volatility can lead to extreme price fluctuations driven by breaking news, speculation, changing sentiment, and the opinion of influencers. Many traders are drawn to these swings in price, seeing it as an opportunity to capitalize for their own gain. Although volatility does bring opportunity for savvy traders, it also comes with major risk. It's therefore crucial to always do your research before trading SHIB or similar assets and to never trade more than you can afford to lose.

For those looking to include SHIB in their trading portfolio, risk management strategies are crucial. Always do your own research before committing funds, and never trade more than you can afford to lose. If you do decide to trade SHIB, it's wise to understand and apply the fundamentals of technical analysis as a bare minimum. Trading cryptocurrencies can be extremely risky, and you may lose your funds.

The final word

Shiba Inu has won plenty of hearts in crypto for its light-hearted nature and the strength of its community. What started as a fun addition to the space has evolved into a project with a loyal following and a growing purpose.

Community participants can trade Shiba Inu NFTs, explore the SHIB metaverse, play games, and innovate on the layer-2 blockchain. Further developments to the ecosystem are expected through 2024, making SHIB an interesting prospect for developers and traders alike. However, market volatility remains. The unpredictability of memcoins means SHIB's price can fluctuate massively, creating a great deal of risk for those looking to trade the asset.

Regardless of what the future holds for SHIB, many believe it represents the power of community and shared purpose in the crypto space, and the growing possibilities and use cases being seen across Web3.

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