Shiba Inu – A Dog that is More Like a Cat

People always say that

the Shiba Inu is a dog that is more like a cat.

Therefore, I thought it would be fun to look at –

  • How Shiba Inus got their cat like status, and
  • How they are similar to as well as different from cats.

Shiba Neko 1 – Independent, Aloof, and Stubborn

Probably the most important way in which a Shiba Inu resembles a cat is in his independence, aloofness, and stubbornness. Like cats, Shibas enjoy their own company and are usually not interested in too much human attention.

Unlike some of their dog brothers and sisters, a Shiba will pretend not to hear you and may not even deign to look at you, unless you have something he really wants – then Watch Out!

Shiba Inus like playing hard to get, and are not afraid to give you the Shiba Snub.

Shiba Neko 2 – Very Much into Personal Hygiene

Like cats, Shiba Inus are extremely clean and will spend a significant amount of time grooming themselves. Frequently, my Shiba Sephy will not only groom himself, but also help clean my Siberian Husky.

Clearly, Husky Shania does not meet the Shiba standards of cleanliness!

With a Shiba, there will be no slobber, and potty training is often a breeze. Even the way a Shiba drinks water is very dainty and clean; no driblets flying all over the place.

Sephy will also avoid rain puddles and mud. I think he expects me to wear a cape, so that I may drape it upon the ground and protect his dainty Shiba-feet from coming in contact with hideous slimy mud.

However, if there are playful dogs around, the mud puddle rule goes out the window.

Shiba Neko 3 – No Touchy. No Touch!

Like cats, Shiba Inus will only allow human handling when it is done according to their schedule, and according to their rules. The No-Touch rule goes into high gear when a Shiba is in distress, which can make examination and treatment extremely difficult.

I suppose in this, they are more like feral cats.

There is definitely more than a little bit of the Wild in a Shiba Inu, or should I say Shiba Neko.

How Is a Shiba Inu More Like a Dog?

It is also interesting to consider which Shiba traits are more dog-like in nature.

  • Good Guard Dog
  • Shiba Inus are good at guarding the house and will always alert you when something is out of place.

  • A Closet Homebody
  • Shibas like to put on a show that they are extremely self-sufficient, but in reality, they really like being in the house and somewhat close to their people.

    Sephy likes staying in the house with me most of the day, whereas Husky Shania is always out in the backyard doing her own thing.

    Sephy gets more anxious when he is alone, whereas Shania is happy to keep herself occupied, and then give us a very wet greeting when we come home.

  • A Loyal Companion
  • This seems like a strange property when combined with their apparent independence and aloofness, but Shiba Inus are really quite loyal.

    My Siberian Husky is a very friendly dog, who loves to meet people and get affection. However, she will probably go home with the first person who gives her some pieces of sausage.

    Sephy on the other hand, will only go home with his family. I have no doubt that he will also do all that he can to protect us if the need ever arose.

    Whether more like a cat or a dog, a Shiba Inu has a truly special and indomitable spirit.

    Related Articles


  1. Tina T. says

    For Christmas, my boyfriend surprised me with a Shiba and I was SUPER excited. ( my first dog, and i’m a little nervous that it’s a Shiba) It is very true, they are super easy to potty train. There were a few accidents here and there, but nothing major. I was very impressed when we came home from work to a clean house. He barks when he gets too excited and cry a little when he’s not being played with or when he’s seeking for attention. These articles has really helped me try to train him to the best of my abilities.

  2. Theresa says

    Recent interest in a Shiba Ainu made me think I might like to purchase one I’m at work 3days per week is there any history of them turning on their owners they look great I’m looking for a companion as well as a watchdog but I do not want a large dog and how do I prepare for this dog as you see I have lots of questions

    • OfraHaza says

      No history of turning on their owners. They DO have to stay on a leash when out and about, that stubborn aloof streak in them causes them to run after whatever fancies them: BUT they will return home, when ready… just hope they don’t get hit by a car, picked up by animal control, et all.

  3. Pam says

    I have a shiba/chow mix, she looks pretty much like a shiba inu, but she has a purple tongue, and extra fur padding on her hips, looks like she’s wearing knickers! My question is this: she likes to wind her way through my legs, leaning on my legs and rubbing her face/eyes against my jeans. Is this behavior typical for a shiba inu (it’s definitely cat-like!) or just a lucky fluke? She can be aloof, but not for long, and competes for attention with our lab/collie mix.

    • shibashake says

      she likes to wind her way through my legs, leaning on my legs and rubbing her face/eyes against my jeans.

      Haha, yeah one of my Sibes loves doing this. It is too adorable! My Shiba is not really into this, so I think you got one of those awesome affectionate Shibas. πŸ˜€

    • Anonymous says

      My Shiba does the same! He stuffs
      His face between lower legs and loves to be scratched on his back. It’s so cute!!!

  4. Kobie says

    We’re picking up our Kobie by the end of this month, and I’m very anxious about this. We visited the breeder when Kobie was only 6 days old to see his parents. The dad is a very calm, gentle, friendly, and well-behaved show dog. The mom is a bit energetic, super friendly, and loves to jump on people. We picked him out that day, then visited him again at 1 month old. He is chubby, smart, and calm. However, he refused to be petted and picked up by us after a couple of times. He did not want to play either after about 5 minutes and tried to get back in with his other siblings. Two of his other siblings, on the other hand, were very energetic and friendly. One of them barked and followed my finance around. I don’t know what to expect from Kobie. Is he going to be a very independent pup, much like a cat? He does not like nibbling like his siblings. Is he going to be an playful pup? The breeder said his personalities will change once he gets older and we really hope he will be attached to us, playful and love hanging out with us.

    What should we prepare before having him home? I already bought crate, leash, collar/harness, toys, water&food feeders, and treats. I’m still doing some research about his food. Can you recommend some? Can I fee him vegetable? Thanks

    • shibashake says

      With Sephy, I helped him be more comfortable with other dogs, people, and new things, by doing positive socialization exercises.
      ASPCA article on puppy socialization.
      More on dog socialization.

      My Shiba is very loyal, but he is also more aloof than my other dogs. He will sometimes ask for affection by coming over and rolling onto his back. However, he is much less affectionate compared to my two Huskies.

      In terms of food, I am currently using Wellness brand. I usually use puppy food until about 10-12 months, then I switch to adult, grain-free kibble. More on how I pick my dog’s food.

      In general, I do not give my dogs table scraps, which may contain ingredients (e.g. onions) or spices that are bad for their digestive system. My Shiba is allergic to wheat and both my Huskies have very sensitive stomachs, so I limit what I give my dogs. If I am thinking of giving them something new, I make sure to research it thoroughly first.
      List of people food that are hazardous to dogs.

      The Shiba Inu Forum is also a good place to visit, to get insight from other Shiba owners.

      Congratulations on your upcoming Shiba puppy! Most of all, remember to have fun and take lots of pictures. πŸ˜€

  5. Lollie Beck says

    We just adopted a mixed breed last week. I am convinced that a large portion of his genetics is Shiba Inu. The first afternoon we had him, he jumped up on the couch and my husband got up and said, “no” in an angry voice, he then zipped and zapped all over the room, faster than a speeding bullet. I;d never seen anything like it. He’s done that 3 times so far. One of the times my husband tried to tell him to get off the couch, he was just like a kid talking back to a parent, barking back at my husband. His other issue so far is lunging at things on the leash. For the first few days he was pulling like crazy, but he very quickly learned to walk at a heel, with a few correction tugs here and there. But if he sees a cat, or if there’s another dog walking, he about dislocates my arm. I guess a question I have , especially after reading comments of people who’s Shiba Inu’s like being in high places, is it a losing battle to try to keep him off the furniture? My husband is more the stickler about this than I am. I am also concerned about how he’ll do when I have to go back to teaching in the fall and he has to be alone during the day. I wish there was a way to know what you’re getting into before you rescue a mixed breed! In his favor, he is super friendly and treats everyone like they are his best friend.

  6. says

    I work at a doggie daycare and got to see shiba inus up close for the first time. Neat and cat-like sums them up perfectly.

    This one female shiba would not drink water that other dogs got their drool in, so whenever I changed the water bowl she would get excited and call dibs on drinking first. When I let her into the outside area (she thought it was time to go home, I thought she had to do her business), she stepped into a puddle and jerked her paw up and shook it in obvious disgust and horror. I couldn’t help laughing out loud and saying, “You’re such a cat!”

    This other shiba was a male who would jump on me, but then run away whenever I tried to pet him. He seemed content just being next to a human, and maybe he just wanted to be the one petting me.

  7. Rhonda says

    This is the second time having Shebas. My first beloved Keoshi passes away two years ago of cancer. I still miss him so. We got our second sheba- Kuma a year ago and his Kennel sister shortly After. I thought people were crazy to have two dogs but I have since changed my tune. I don’t regret one day with Kuma and Dandelion, they are like Bonnie and Clyde most days and are I separable.
    One issue that has just started.. Or I have just noticed is Kuma starting to pee in the house. They have a doggie door so being left in the house is not the issue. I have taken the last week off for Christmas vacation and have been organizing the house and decorating. I first noticed he started to pee on a bag I had in the basement, second time was he was getting ready to pee on the corner of my duvet then he owed on a Garland I had just prepares to put up.
    Is this his way of saying he is not liking the change up in the house or could there be something deeper?

    • shibashake says

      Sephy showed similar behavior when we got a second dog. He started pee-ing on bedding and also on a chair cushion. I think the changes in his environment and routine made him a bit anxious/unsure and he started to mark on certain objects.

      Sephy really likes certainty and routine, so when I introduce new things, I now try to do it gradually. The more certainty I can re-establish in a time of change, the better Sephy handles things.

      Big hugs to your two and Happy Holidays! πŸ˜€

  8. mich says

    hi…i loved your website so so much i got a sibe husky and a shiba inu…we rehomed the shiba inu from a breeder a lovely lovely dog but no longer withus…thats how my obession started..and i will never regret it…we are now rehoming anogher sibe husky and may be getting a puppy shiba…thank you for the inspiration…michele surrey UK

  9. nnua says

    This article is hilarious. I got to know about the Shiba Inu on Animal Planet’s Dogs 101. While watching the segment, I thought to myself…”hmmm this dog behaves like a cat!”. I am a big cat fan.

    On a completely different note I was goggling “are cats more stubborn than dogs” when I came across your article. Lo and behold, Shiba Inu – a dog that is more like a cat ^-^

    • shibashake says


      Your comment inspired me to search for “cats that are more like dogs”. I found this –

      Savannahs are much more social than typical domestic cats, and they are often compared to dogs in their loyalty. They can be trained to walk on a leash and even taught to play fetch.

      Very beautiful looking too. πŸ˜€

  10. shibashake says

    It does drive him crazy that the cat can go places he can’t, so this week he decided he could go where the cat goes. I walked into the living room to find him sitting on the top edge of the couch, quite pleased with himself.

    LOL – that is too funny. My Shiba used to so that as well, sometimes he would even sleep on the top edge of the couch.

    He also likes playing king of the chair where he will jump onto the garden bench and my other dog tries to pull him off – rinse and repeat. It is fun to watch.

    As you say, Shibas like elevated surfaces just like cats.

    Lucky you – to have a non-aloof Shiba. Sephy is better now that he is older but he is still quite aloof by dog standards.

  11. Eric says

    Having a cat in the house, I can easily compare my shiba to a cat. He is smart and clean like a cat, but I don’t experience much of the aloofness others describe, but that may be coming. It may be because of our other dog, but he likes to follow me around and be right there in whatever I’m doing, or have me in sight if we’re outside. If we’re playing they will compete for my attention, so I usually have to have 2 toys to play with.

    It does drive him crazy that the cat can go places he can’t, so this week he decided he could go where the cat goes. I walked into the living room to find him sitting on the top edge of the couch, quite pleased with himself. He’s started climbing around on the furniture like the cat, and that will have to end.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.