Shiba Inu Personality –
Good, Bad, & Quirky

The Shiba Inu is a beautiful Spitz dog. You will get many compliments and turn many heads, while walking next to a Shiba.

A Shiba can get you a lot of attention, and open doors to many social encounters. Get used to hearing, “He looks just like a fox!”.

In fact, it is this foxy look that often gets Shibas into trouble.

Many people fall in love with the ‘Shiba look’, but are not equipped to handle his larger than life personality.

If you like the Spitz look, there are many other breeds that fall into this group, that may better suit your lifestyle.

The Good

1. A dog that is more like a cat

A Shiba Inu is independent and very clean.

My Shiba Sephy, spends a fair amount of time not just grooming himself, but also helping to groom my Siberian Husky.

Their inborn cleanliness make them generally easy to potty train.

Sephy only had potty mistakes on the first day that we brought him home (10 weeks old). After that, he has always let me know when he needs to go outside. In fact, he naturally dislikes soiling his living space, and even prefers not to go in our backyard.

Shiba Inus like having their humans around, in the general vicinity. However, they are aloof like cats, and do not need or want human affection, much of the time.

2. A good watch dog

A Shiba Inu is not a noisy dog. However, when there are strange people or strange noises around the house, Sephy will bark to alert me. Once I go and check things out, he stops barking.

Sephy also has a great memory, and will alert me if anything is out of place around the house, or in a familiar neighborhood. One day, he started barking at the fence, because somebody had put a piece of wood on top of it – amazing!

3. Graceful, agile, and high energy

A Shiba Inu is graceful and agile.

He can leap tall fences in a single bound, and can scale walls like Spiderman. If properly directed, his super powers can be used for good. However, when left on his own, the Shiba will likely turn towards the Dark Side.

Sephy is a great hiking buddy, and is always up for a new challenge. He can easily learn and conquer an agility course, but he will only do it, if I make it worth his while.

A Shiba running is a sight to behold, and a Shiba at play is poetry in motion.

4. A doggy Einstein

A Shiba Inu can learn many dog obedience commands, and he can learn them very quickly. He also thinks that he is much smarter than you, and will only obey you when it suits him.

Sephy can quickly solve complex interactive dog toys and puzzles. I am always trying out new ways to deploy his food in toys, because he figures things out so quickly.

A Shiba will challenge us and keep us sharp and on our toes!

5. A larger than life personality

No great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness.
~~[ Aristotle ]

A Shiba Inu may be small in body, but he has a ginormous personality. If a Shiba were a person, he would either be an extremely successful egomaniac or in prison!

Sephy always surprises me and makes me laugh; at least when he is not making me cry.

He has this one move, where he puts his head down on the ground, with his butt sticking up in the air – it is just too precious.

The Bad

1. Bold, strong willed, and stubborn

A Shiba Inu has a “Never give up, Never surrender” attitude.

He will not back down from a challenge, and will often fight back when he perceives a threat. Because of this, many Shiba owners face aggression issues with their dog, including food aggression, dog to dog aggression, and people aggression.

To successfully live with a Shiba, we must be extremely patient, and have a good sense of humor.

Turn a Shiba’s annoying habits against him.

For example, a Shiba gets bored easily. If we ignore him and give him nothing to react to, he will quickly lose interest, and move on to something else.

Sephy can also be very competitive. If he sees another dog getting praise and rewards, he will want to strut his stuff and show that he is better.

Work with a Shiba’s innate personality, and use it motivate him in the right direction. Passive resistance and reward obedience training, work best with my Shiba.

A Shiba will hand you many lemons, which is good if you like lemonade. Otherwise, just cut one up and squirt it on his muzzle.
~~[ just kidding! ShibaShake ]

2. A sly, rougish intelligence

A Shiba Inu is super intelligent. He will most often use his brain power to “push your buttons“, and get what he wants.

Sephy is always trying to figure out how he can outsmart me, and all the humans around him. A trainer once told me that Sephy was spending the weekends, “Devising new strategies to defeat her”.

In another life, my Shiba was probably a Catholic priest. He can guilt me into doing almost anything for him.

Beware the Shiba look – it is one of his most powerful weapons, and he will use it to great effect, if he senses any weakness in you. Before you know it, your Shiba will have gotten you trained to fetch, stay, and rub tummy.

  • Remember that a Shiba will do whatever he wants, if he can get away with it.
  • If he cannot get away with it, he will figure out another way to get what he wants.
  • When he gets caught with his nose in the cookie jar, he will give you the innocent, “What did I do?” look, and then come over to lick your hand.

As soon as you turn away, he is back in the cookie jar!

3. Like the evil, black Spiderman

A Shiba Inu is capable of great feats of agility. However, if left untrained, he will use his powers to destroy and cause great havoc in the household.

If bored and lonely, he will escape by jumping over or burrowing under your fence. He can squeeze through small holes, bite through leashes, and achieve amazing great escapes, that will make Houdini proud.

If not properly supervised, Sephy will pull down items from counters, and shred them to pieces. He may even eat some of those pieces. Once, I left him unsupervised for about 10 minutes. In that time, he pulled down a phone headset, dismantled it into little pieces, and arranged them in a strategic pattern all over the floor. Luckily, he did not swallow anything.

A young Shiba Inu has a lot of energy.

It takes a lot to keep him occupied, and away from trouble. Supervised play sessions with friendly dogs can help. Another alternative is to put him in dog daycare, or to employ the services of a dog walker.

4. A Drama Queen

My Shiba will whine, mope, and act like it is the end of the world, when he is unhappy about something (e.g. wearing a harness).

Woe be to you if your Shiba gets hurt, or even just thinks that he is hurt.

Sephy acts like he is close to death’s door, even for small things like getting grass stuck between his teeth.

Woe be to you, woe be to your vet, and woe be to anyone who tries to help.

Shibas are extremely touchy when in this state, and may snap or bite at anyone who comes near them.

In addition, Sephy is extremely sensitive to the energy of the people and dogs around him. If I am scared or stressed-out, he picks up on that immediately, and gets that way too – except with a thousand times more gusto!

5. An accomplished singer

A Shiba Inu does not bark much, but he has a wide range of vocal stylings.

The most well known is the Shiba-scream, which is a high pitched, loud scream, that will make your blood curdle. Your neighbors will think you are torturing your poor little ball of fur.

A Shiba will quickly learn to use his Shiba-scream against you, if you let him.

Do not get embarrassed, and do not give him a reaction during a Shiba-scream. I just ignore Sephy and go about my business. He quickly learned that screaming is not very effective at getting him what he wants, and he stopped doing it. Remember that a Shiba can see your outward appearance, as well as sense your inner energy.

6. Dog royalty

A Shiba Inu does not like being touched or handled.

Cutting nails, bathing, or a vet examination, is never fun for any breed of dog. However, with a Shiba, it can be total hell.

After a lot of desensitization work and management, Sephy still protests to some of these activities. He sometimes throws a fit when I pick him up, and he only likes human contact when the mood suits him.

A Shiba is like dog royalty. He wants his subjects close enough to serve him, but not too close as to sully his royal person.

7. Pretends not to understand ‘Obedience’

Obedience? What’s that?

Shibas Inus think that you should be obedient to them and not the other way around. If you want a Shiba to do something for you, you had better make him a good offer. Sometimes, Sephy bargains with me. He will sit there and wait until I have the acceptable number of dog treats in my hand, before going into his crate.

A Shiba can be a good citizen at home, but he must be properly managed.

Shibas are strong willed, independent, and bred to hunt. Aversive training does not work well on them. Shiba owners need to be creative and flexible when interacting with their dog.

A Shiba is not to be trusted off-leash, unless in a fully enclosed area.

8. Nasty, wicked teeth

For a small dog, a Shiba Inu has very large teeth, and he is not afraid to use them.

Shibas can be very mouthy; more so than many other dog breeds. When I first got Sephy at 10 weeks old, his mouth was all over me. Now, it is in control, but his instinct is still to bite.

Shibas are a primitive breed, and they lose control more easily than other more domesticated dog breeds.

The Quirky

A grass connoisseur

Sephy likes grazing, but he is picky about what grass he will eat. Dogs may sometimes graze when their stomachs are upset, to clear their digestive systems. However, my Shiba just enjoys eating grass, provided it is the right kind of grass.

I recently found an article suggesting that there might be something to this grass connoisseur business after all.

“We at Green Foods believe that dogs and many other carnivores, including cats and bears, eat cereal grasses because cereal grasses contain nutrients not found in meat that are essential for the animals’ good health.”
~~[ Green Foods web site ]

Thanks to all the posters at Shibatalk and ShibaInuInfo for their many humorous Shiba stories that inspired this article.

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  1. Bob B. says

    Our 2 year old Shiba named Aiko is an amazing creature. I can verify that it has super powers. I kid you not, but this dog somehow got up on the flat roof to the back stairs of our house which is 8 feet above the ground. There was a picnic table next to the house Aiko must have used as a spring board. A ladder was required to get her down and we think she was chasing some wild animal. She is a very dedicated and fearless hunter and has killed 2 rats and 1 squirrel in our back yard. She has even cornered a raccoon and held at bay until we figured out what all the commotion was about and allowed this victim to escape. Our backyard is fenced and has many bushes for Aiko to patrol. The squirrels have wised up to her wicked ways and give her a wide berth. This is her nature when outside but inside she is more of a cat. She gets along with our cat and they even take naps together. She has steady supply of chew toys that she rips apart with a strong neck shaking action to liberate the squeaker inside. If you should fall asleep on the living room couch Aiko will curl up next to you. Not exactly cuddling but more like she is guarding you while you sleep. When Aiko wants something she will get your attention by poking you with her front claws. Just like the book says, do not let The Shiba of it’s leash. Last week she unlatched the front gate by pushing down on the lever and got out on the street and just took off. I was barefoot so I grabbed my keys and hopped in the car and hauled after her. Some six blocks away I overtook her and gangster parked the car and hopped out. Luckily at that moment she stopped to pee. With the command to stop, stop, stop, Akio froze and I picked her up like lawn ornament and took her home much to the amusement of our postman who witnessed these shenanigans. There that unpredictability about this dog but also an intelligence too.

  2. Kelly says

    It’s quite fascinating to read this description of Shibas. I live in Japan and Shibas are obviously common…so much so that little of the advice given here really applies to the breed and many of these traits don’t seem to be an issue.

    Most people live in small apartments or homes without yards, and there are very few homes with yards which would be considered big enough for the breed (though mkstbhomes, yard or no, are surrounded by 3-5 foot privacy wallstatement with open drives). Many of these dogs roam the neighborhood, much like the elementary school kids do, without incident. You frequently see owners with their Shibas out for walks, though dog parks and socialization really aren’t a thing where we live. Many people adopt them from local shelters as they are the most common breed available. I won’t say that I’ve never seen a Shiba that wasn’t outgoing…we have one little high strung Shiba in our neighborhood…but for the most part they are pretty even tempered and we’ll mannered.

    I have to wonder if this is a difference in cultural norms (as in, are we as Americans that much more stressed than our Japanese counterparts that we are stressing out the breed?) OR is there that much more of a difference in early obedience training?

    Looks like I have something new to research here!

    • Pedro de Bono says

      As an owner of a Shiba living in Japan – I can attest to the accuracy of the article. Our Shiba now is our 2nd (my father in law is a breeder) and the 1st was about the most handsome dog you’d ever seen – but so independent. Truly the lone wolf. Shibas are not that common here or nowhere near as common as you’d think. In fact they were almost extinct post war and only saved through energetic programs. The dogs you see walking with their owners are generally well behaved as they can be trained very easily for basic commands. Unfortunately many spend their lives chained or caged as they cannot be left to roam freely or play freely (with a ball or frisbee etc) as they will just run away.

      Re the point about stress – that would just be a casual observation as Shibas can be easily stressed (esp males) by cramped conditions and lack of walking / sniffing for imagined prey. Definitely not a human cultural thing. In fact some of the Shiba breeders here deny their dogs dna and keep them in extremely stressful situations. Sad to see. I’m glad I live in a semi-rural environment and our lovely little girl (8yrs) seems to enjoy her life – but we gotta work on it.

  3. Paola Nogueras says

    I am fostering a 7 month old Shiba Inu. It is my first time housing this breed and while she is very affectionate and playful I have noticed that she likes to run in circles around me and my dogs. Is that obsessive behavior and should I be doing something specific to counter-act this behavior.

    • Stephanie Marshall says

      If your foster puppy is anything like my Shiba- this is what I call the Shiba 500 or Shiba 800. Sometimes Reggie just wants to run, but often he is trying to get me to play or chase him!

  4. Lisa S says

    I have a Shiba Inu/Jack Russell mix. He is beyond adorable and looks like a little red Jack Russell, but his personality is ALL Shiba. He is the biggest drama queen brat, but I love this little dog beyond words. He keeps life interesting!

  5. Shibalover says

    My female Shiba Inu is so affectionate, loves going to the vet, and loves to be held, go for car rides, gives kisses, and opposite of everything mentioned above. I have had her since a puppy no accidents never created indoors. Do watch them off the leash. She is not big on socializing with other animals but when walking gets offended if a human ignores her.

    I wouldn’t trade her for anything…….She trained herself so even though I have experience with dogs I didn’t need it.

    This is one amazing breed.

  6. SaraiRae says

    We have had 2 Shiba’s Milli and Rocky. They were awesome, albeit trying at times. They each lived to be 17 years old so I think we all got on pretty well together! Just before our Rocky boy passed we got a new puppy, a welsh corgi, Chewbacca (although he shaped more like an ewok). I will tell you what, we have discovered that we are Shiba people. Love Chewbacca but the guy is high maintenance and always mouthing (I think it’s a herder thing). We are considering adopting another Shiba in a few years when my youngest son is a bit older. I can’t wait to see Chewie try to herd a Shiba, we better stick with a puppy and save some drama.

    • SaraiRae says

      Question, both Milli and Rocky had seizures. Rocky’s were pretty rare (like once a year) but Milli’s were fairly regular (about monthly). Is this pretty comment with Shiba’s?

    • Karen Levine says

      Did your SHIBA INU have health issues mine gas been totally healthy except for her 2 hind legs, some days she can walk better t han others now she has a peeing issue pering on her self when she takes a nap and at Nite in her sleep. She also has DEMENTIA,are on pills for that though Neutricks Senior and on Dasuquin, and a catalyst soft chews,. I love my ROJEE she has given so much UNCONDITIONAL LOVE I LOVE HER SO MUCH , BUT I CAN SEE THE WRITING ON THE WALL, I WANT HER FOREVER I WILL MISS HER SO MUCH I AM CRYING WHILE I AM WRITING THIS. We gave her a Wonderful life SHE WAS MY PRINCESS. When I took her to this a Very Exclusive Shopping Area in TUCSON everyone stopped OH MY GOD SHE IS BEAUTIFUL, SONE INE OFFER ME FUVE THOUSAND TO BUY HER I WOULDN’T EVER SELL HER EVEN FIOR A MILLION DOLLARS,! She LOVED TO GO TO THE GROOMER, SHE WAS SO PROUD, HER COAT EVERYTHING FROM HER BIW TO HER COLOGNE, SHE SMELLED ALWAYS SOO GOOD, SHE NEVER EVER SMELLED LIKE A DOG! Whenever you come into our house there is no SMELLAT ALL I WILL NEVER RELACE ROJA! I KNIW IT WILL BE SOON JUST CANT LET HER GO, BUT I FEEL SHE WANTS TO GO WITH DIGNITY. LIKE I WOULD ! I WILL NEVER GET OVER THE LOSS. I HAVE AN OIL IN MY DEN OF HER! If you go on my timeline there us many pictures if BEAUTIFUL ROJA

  7. Bulletproof says

    Your site has helped us out for 2 1/2 years of Shiba-ness from our Shiba/Eskimo mix. When we first got Kuma I thought she hated me. She screamed at me, bit, stood in the corner and sulked, you name it. It took patience and about 3 months before she trusted us enough to be her family. Now she lays her head in my lap, screams at people for love and is even helpful with our chickens!

    We call her the Sheriff. She likes to think she’s in charge and will even boss our old Husky around if she feels she isn’t following the rules. She’s even become very patient and kind with our young kids-putting up with silly games because she’s learned to trust them too. I think that’s the key with Shibas. You have to give them lots of time to trust you and earn that trust with strong leadership and love. But WHEW those first few months were not for the faint of heart.

    • shibashake says

      lol, the Sheriff! That is perfect.

      Thank you so much for sharing Kuma’s wonderful story with us. It always cheers me up to read about happy dogs and their great family. Big hugs to Kuma and a tummy rub when she wants it. 😀

    • SaraiRae says

      Agreed. We were okay when we just had our female, Milli. But when we brought Rocky (a 2 yr old male at the time) into the picture… whew… did we learn a lot. Once we all settled down, after A LOT of leash time we all came to an accord… Milli was in charge of everything under 2 feet and Rocky the escape artist turned out to be a pretty mellow dog.

  8. Maureen says

    My shiba is 5 and has many of these traits. The best thing that happened to her was the introduction of her pal the Aussie-Labrador Brody. Because she is so competitive, she didn’t appreciate all the attention he got for coming when called. Thank heaven he is consistent so she developed a strong sense of pack mentality and the expectations of it. I am able to let her off leash at times where she can run. I had to do intensive dog training with her but soon realized I had to modify it to suit her quirkiness. Lucky for me she was intensely socialized from birth so she is wonderful around other dogs, cats, people, and the vet. She is the demonstration dog for our local humane society and often visits school to show children how to approach a dog.

  9. Tina says

    Wow that was most helpful which totally describes my Shibanu. I was most concerned about her shaking so much, she just started really doing that recently. We’ve had her for about 5 years now and strangely enough she gets along and plays with our cats. We recently had to put our older dog down due to age and cancer and there was a time of sadness for her. She seems to be coming around but I have notice a slight change in her personality. Shes our little girl and I love this breed. Shes about 7 yrs. Old and would purchase another in a second. Love to all the Shibas out there.

  10. Debra says

    I have owned two Shibas. One a former show prospect which I purchased and still own (he’s 12 and 1/2 now) and a rescue who recently passed away at approximately age 14. BOTH of my Shibas have been wonderful pets, each in their own ways. My male is a typical Shiba, except for the biting, which I would never tolerate in any dog, large or small. He knows absolutely that biting will not be tolerated. The female was not well socialized at age 7 when I got her, and had to be taught acceptable behavior, and she blossomed into a wonderful, uncomplicated, funny, sweet and non-aggressive girl. If you are to own a Shiba, you need to be a good, strong, reliable pack leader. These dogs are not for people with young children, nor people who are not willing to make them behave themselves.

  11. john mathioudakis says

    Question please how often do i have to my shiba innu a bath she is 18 wreaks old thank you

    • Aj says

      Good luck!
      Mine screamed full pitch and took 2 of us to bath him or a trip to a very,very patient Shiba aware groomer.
      I did find climbing in with him and holding him alower me to get him thoroughly wet and then putting him between my ankles while I stood over him, calmed him down and allowed a quick scrub

    • Shibalover says

      I bathe my 2 xs a year you don’t want to strip their oils. Give them Salmon they love it and coat looks great.

  12. annie pell says

    thank you ! were into our 2nd month with our Shiba and i was soooo happy and relieved to find your site . i seriously thought we made a mistake in agreeing to take in my new daughter in laws Shiba , not knowing his quirky traits , the cat like stand offish behavior , the shaking , the constant rumbling like talking, the eating grass : ) , the yelping in pain were there was none seen . thinking maybe he had rabies when we visited the vet and he lunged and howled , and yelped in unforeseen pain , what a night mare ! we hung in there , and I’m so very glad. this little 20 lb wonder has become so much a part of our family in just 6 weeks . now that i know what to expect from him , and can read his body language , every day is a new learning experience , i wouldn’t trade for anything. hes loving and affectionate , when hes ready , hes calm and sweet , and so very smart , and i swear he has a sense of humor . your site has taught me so much , and i thank you !

    • shibashake says

      Haha, I am so glad to hear this. Sounds like things are working out very nicely. Yeah, I definitely love a Shiba’s sense of humor. Sephy does way out things that my Sibes would never do. He is a big clown and always has something new up his sleeve. Big hugs to your boy. 😀 If you have online photos, please share some links with us.

    • Anonymous says

      I have a 3 yo shiba/German Shepard mix who displays more shiba traits than GS ones. She is generally very friendly with people and usually obeys commands indoors (always obeys if there is something more than a “good girl” in it for her) – once we are outside all bets are off and she becomes a little she-devil! I was hoping someone might have advice on the best way to handle an upcoming situation. I am having surgery in five weeks and will not be able to care for her for approximately two-three months. I have found her a great home with two women she already knows and seems to like. Any advice on how to make this transition as easy as possible for her? She is the happiest dog I have ever owned and seems to adapt well to new situations but I am worried. Would it be better to not see her at all during those 8-10 weeks? It would make me feel much better to see her, but I worry that it would be too hard/confusing for her to have to leave me again. Any advice/thought would be greatly appreciated!!!

  13. Anonymous says

    My parent friend give to us when she was 2 years old and she is 7 year old now. Her full name is Queen Sheeba but she is queen of the house. We name her Shiba or either Sheeba almost sound same. We love her. She is smart and playful and run a lot too in my backyard.

  14. Chris says

    Last time I was in Tokyo I saw a Shiba sitting outside a little ways away from grocery store, without a leash. It struck me as the most obedient dog imaginable, like it would sooner die than move one single INCH away from where it’s owner told it to stay.

    I’m almost startled to read your description regarding their lack of obedience, it sounds almost opposite of what I saw.

    • irvene says

      I’m also surprised at things in reading! Pretty is sweet,loves her kids and takes plenty from them; yes when baby new she was protective and felt she should watch! But she plays,interacts with no aggression at all! She loves to be loved! Pet,kissed her walks! She is an escape artist though and must have secure yard, and careful about not letting her sneak out, she’s always come back though.even though we went nuts looking for her.doesnt bark a lot, but alerts us to door.she is clean, not major shedding except in season.she loves to play with her toys,tug of war and confused baby stuffies for hers; biggest problem is she’s handst, and her nails scratch, no matter how clipped they are.its her trait, haven’t been able to stop that behavior.she brings toys and shakes goes to bring her toys to u and reaches.all in all, a lovely,sweet breed for our perspective!

  15. Anonymous says

    We bought a Shiba 6 yrs. ago from a breeder. She was two at the time. I just love her but she is not typical of the Shiba breed….she LOOKS like the one pictured but does not act like any other Shiba I’ve read about. It fools people into thinking that the breed is very mellow & gentle. Kids come up to her in the store & pet her, people comment on her gentle nature, & she looks absolutely stunning…BUT I always tell them she is the exception. She is very laid back–I have to get her up & moving otherwise she would spend the day napping!! She is great w/ cats & other dogs, & just wants to snuggle w/ her humans. The breeder said this dog needed a special home because she was very sensitive. She is easily upset by noises which results in quivering & burrowing under my arms so I will hold her. I love her personality but know that there would probably not be another one like her.

    • Diane says

      Wow! You just described my shiba! We received our shiba when he was 9wks old. He’s now 5yrs.

      He also looks exactly like all shibas and has the very independent & stubborn personality. He is mellow but I did ask the breeder to select the non-alpha shiba from the litter. I joke that I’ve overly domesticated him or it’s just part of his personality. He won’t jump our 3ft gate to escape from our backyard. Which he easily could do and did jump when younger. He doesn’t chase rabbits, lizards, birds but occasional snaps at flies. He still does his daily shiba inu crazies and runs through out the house at random times.

      We have a doggie door he begrudgingly uses. Prior to that, he trained us to open the back door when he tapped on it to go outside.

      Our shiba loves to snuggle and get petted by us. He will paw us when he wants attention which is often. He is raised in a household with two young children so he is also great with kids. I made sure to always touch is ears so other kids could pet him. People who know shiba’s say ours is the friendliest one they’ve ever meet. I walk him in very public places and he loves loves attention from people and usually ignores other dogs. I take him to doggie day camp to “play” and socialize with other dogs. He does great with smaller dogs or very mellow larger dogs. I stopped taking him to dog parks because he started marking some dogs and elderly dog owners – yikes!

    • Tom Witteman says

      Our puppy must also be an exception and likes being pet, picked up and sits on our lap when he gets tired. “Tiki” is 7 months old, dangerously intelligent and very well behaved. It is a wonderful bread for those who want not just a pet, but a friend who appears to truly understand what your saying when you talk to him, but independent and not requiring contact attention.

      An amazing breed.

    • Anonymous says

      My brother and sister-in-law have this same personality Shiba and he also fools unsuspecting people into thinking they are and easy breed to have. He has fits of nervous shaking that can only be handled by cuddling and snuggling too.

    • irvene says

      We have another sweet, mellow,loving shiba! Yes, escape artist if not watched, smart,loves her kids, her toys, and to be walked played with and loved! Have never seen any aggression at all! Sleeps with the kids! So, I’m thinking there may be many sweetly bred shiba out there! Spend time with one you’re choosing to adopt!

  16. James says

    We have had a sheba for nearly 14 years. We have a runtish female (SHEBA). They are independent dogs and don’t require a lot of attention. She loves to lay out on the back deck and “keep watch”. I’m also the only one who can pick her up but, I do it carefully. She grew up along side a poodle/jack russel terrier mix(Chester). …that dog has since passed on…and sheba waited a good 3 months on the deck waiting for Chester to come home. Kinda sad. Those 2 dogs got along pretty well….and Sheba also gets along with our current 4 year old poodle named Charlie. Those 2 like to play together…and Sheba also gets along great with our cat MEOW-MEOW. We got meow meow as a stray kitten and her and Sheba were instant buds…..Sheba would act like her mother and the 2 would curl up together….my sheeba does pretty well with other animals. She also knows from early on that we would not tolerate aggressive behavior for no reason…..and the dog caught on quick. The older these dogs get…the better they get…..and to you’re surprise the most excited when picked up from the kennel. The do love their owners but are shy about showing it…..sometimes I have to go over and rub her belly…to let her know. Shebas are great dogs and I hope mine stays around for as long as possible…I love my SHEEEEEB!

  17. Kelly says

    Thank you for the excellent advice about Shiba Inus! Your advice about putting a Shiba in time out has been very important and helpful in training our female Shiba puppy. They CANNOT be dominated/made submissive like other dogs, including my Airedale Terriers who are clearly way more domesticated! Your advice about making it worth her while to go outside has helped- she’s fully housetrained, but meh, it’s easier to do it in the room farthest from where she sleeps. My great big Airedale is an excellent alpha- gentle, ultra playful and ready to snap her back in line when needed. The airedale found an injured bird and sniffed it- the Shiba charged in and killed it immediately. These are not lightweights.

  18. Carol says

    Hmmm…I found this website because I searched “shiba inu aggression.” In my neighbourhood, there are at least 4 of these dogs. One is sort of okay, for now–but she’s young and might change. Another would’ve killed my Havanese at the dog park, if I hadn’t interceded. A third wanted to attack my previous dog, when she was dying. This dog’s owner was embarrassed by her dog’s violence. A fourth didn’t like me walking on the road in front of his house. His owner made excuses (I had my walking poles, which I don’t use around any dog, and which I hold down so they don’t look like weapons).

    This blog does show me why an owner might want to keep her shibu inu rather than euthanize it. But for me to write this–and I’m a dog lover–shows to what extent I’ve become leery of these animals.

    I urge any owner to keep her dog muzzled if necessary, and always on a leash. This dog doesn’t belong in a dog park with smaller dogs. Nor does this dog belong unchained in its front yard.

    Cuteness doesn’t count in a court case.

    • Kelly says

      I think Shibas can really surprise people- so very cute, so very intense. Most people are prepared to understand that a Pittie requires excellent training to be the sweetheart they can be- its a big, tough looking dog. Many people who would get a Shiba would never get a Pittie- so as you say, they are surprised when their untrained little ball of fluff has a serious aggressive streak.

    • James says

      Correct Carol. These dogs must be leashed at all times…..unless you have a very tall fence….and not the chainlink type. I show my Sheeba affection everyday and always have. My Sheeba is also a VERY good walker and loves to go for walks with her brother Charlie (poodle). Charlie is the trouble maker on the walks and barks at most other dogs…..Sheeba seems to sophisticated to do any of that. Sheeba has 1 toy that she plays with…a small moose head…Charlie has 10 toys he plays with. Sheeba is the mellow one…lol Charlie sleeps under the covers with us….and Sheeba is alond side the bed on the floor……Charlie is actually the better watchdog……and barks way more. sheebas only bark when necessary.

    • Richele says

      I do agree with your comment only, don’t let those other Shibas scare you away from the breed. Shibas need to be trained right and most owners are lazy and don’t take enough time to train them. A Shiba is a great dog after it is properly trained. (By the way I do own a Shiba so I’m not just randomly writing this)

    • gunya says

      You must of meet bad owners cause my shiba loves other dogs, if a dog acts aggressive she’ll put them in thier place, or protect another dog,.. before you judge on shibas you should know your information or rather yet every dog can act that way regardless, I’m assuming you think pits are aggressive too.. no matter what breed it is it can be aggressive or passive, I believe it’s all on the trainer.

    • Anonymous says

      That’s completely the owners fault and not the shiba. Her dogs have not been trained well or socialized. Mine lives with 3 other non shibas and gets along with strange dogs as long as they too are polite. This breed can have a really amazing and loving personality if they are raised and trained correctly.

    • Stacey says


      I have to disagree with you in all your points. We have had our shiba Inu for 8 years. We have 2 children and let her run in our yard unchain all the time (supervised). Our neighbors are not afraid of her nor anyone!! She had never been aggressive with anyone. I believe it is how they are raised.

    • Carol says

      If you read and understand; Shiba’s are protective, and do not shrink from anyone, or any dog. They closest genetically to a wolf, along with the Akita, (largest Shiba)….think about it…don’t blame the dog for its genetics…get over it. What cat do you know will come play with a strange cat walking the neighborhood? They run them off their territory. These are cats in dog’s clothing… Shiba’s aren’t for everyone. Jasmine would take on the biggest dog, she kills everything that moves, including mice. She is fearless.
      She has never snapped, and loves people and attention. The best dog
      I have ever had.

    • Raj says


      They say that if you don’t train your dog, it will train you. This is especially true of Shibas. I’ve had my Shiba for 7+ years and got him when he was just 8 weeks old. A lot of people don’t realize that Shibas are a handful. If you put in the time from the start, are consistent with them, and ensure they get enough exercise, then you’ll most likely have a great experience.

      As you mentioned, Shibas shouldn’t be off leash, and they can be aggressive towards other dogs. Most Shiba owners should know this.

    • TREE says

      I agree, I’ve just inherited my parents Shiba she is 7yrs old now. She’s been at my home since December and I am so ready to take her to the pound. I didn’t want to take her as I know how she is with other pets..and I was right. I have a stray cat that hangs out on my back deck and every time I go to feed the cat Reba goes aggressively crazy to the point of snipping at me. I’ve been wanting a puppy of my own for years just hasn’t been the right time…but I know if I was to get a puppy now it would not go well if she’s acting this way towards a cat only makes me think what she would do to a puppy. I do know that she gets very aggressive with other dogs but loves strangers. She’s very stubborn, and does not listen well…and good luck trying to clean her paws after a muddy walk. As cute as they are I don’t recommend this breed.

  19. RainyRamone says

    ShibaShake, thank you for such an entertaining and informative post! When you mentioned that your dog enjoys grass as a snack, it made me think of how my mom’s Shiba used to mirthfully eat an amazing variety of non-food items (miraculously, never making him sick!). At five years old, he’s doing it less frequently. But it makes me wonder, are Shibas prone to pica disorder? Thanks!

    • Anonymous says

      Thank you for the informative article, ShibaShake. It says that boredom can contribute to pica. Exactly… My mom plays with her dog, but I can see that he should ideally be getting more exercise than he does. I think she should hire a walker (or a runner, lol). Hana, I agree that cucumber leaves are a weird choice to munch on; they’re like sandpaper – blech! Maybe edible, but not very palatable.

  20. JMK says

    I have a 16 year old shiba that acts like a puppy. She was given to me when she was four yrs. old. I didn’t know she was not socialize until I got her home. She was wild and wanted nothing to do with people. I put her in a 60′ x 160′ pen and she loved it. Also she made a good watch dog. After ten yrs. she will let me pet her some, but only on her terms. I would never recommend this breed for a family pet.

    • Hana says

      Actually, my parents raised two shibas from puppies and they made excellent companions for kids. I’d come home from college for the winter holidays missing the family shiba and be like, “hey , where’s Kuro?” only to find out that Kuro the shiba had been invited to a playdate with the seven year olds across the street. Or that my mom’s friends family had asked to borrow Kuro for the day.

      But I can’t stress enough the importance of early socialization with kids and dogs. A four year old shiba is hard to train.

  21. BECKY says

    I have always loved Shiba Inu’s and wanted to own one for years! because I work an 8 hour day + commute time I fear it would be grossly unfair to leave it alone in the house all day. I was thinking maybe I could pay for a dog walker ? and just spend all weekend with it but I worry it is just not fair if there is nobody at home with it unless of course I do use a dog minder?

    Advice welcome please

  22. Irene says

    I don’t understand the mentally of some people why adopting a dog if all his/her needs are not going to be taken care of it is inhuman and not acceptable if you are not going to treat your dog like a family member don’t get one especially rescued dogs they have been through a lot they need special treatment… it breaks my heart the some people are towards animals.

  23. Felicia says

    I own my little girl Shiba for 14 years. She was the mos sweet natured dog, very catlike but so funny. I own a Canaan Dog and she spent her time dominating him. She never bit him, but it was not unusual to see his foot or tail in her mouth. He would take it for so long, then he would stand over her with HER head in his mouth. She had a look that said, “Oh, I forgot you were bigger.” I loved her dearly and someday I will get another Shiba girl.

  24. Nicole says

    I’d like ao.e advice on my young Shibas behavior. He’s only agressive towards one of my dogs and just randomly goes up to him and attacks him
    We first thought the problem was because it was near his room. But he just attacked him outside as well.. I don’t know if it’s because before I let him outside he was barking at something andy other boy was there.. i have been bitten trying to get him off the other dog.. please help! Any advice would be helpful

    • shibashake says

      How many dogs do you have? What kind, what ages, and what temperament? How is the dog that gets attacked different? Is he older? Is he neutered? Is he nervous? How old is the Shiba? How long have you had him? When did this behavior start? What training has he had?

      Dog behavior is very context dependent so the temperaments, routine, past experiences, training, and more of the dogs will all play a role. When there are multiple dogs involved, things become even more complex. Therefore, especially in cases of aggression, it is best and safest to get help from a good professional trainer. When I was having troubles with my Shiba, I visited with several trainers, and I also read up a lot on dog behavior.

      With my dogs, I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules, and I supervise them to make sure that everybody is following the rules. As soon as I notice the start of any undesirable behavior, I call and redirect my dog. For my in-training dog, I put a flat collar and light leash on her (only under supervision and absolutely no aversive collars). In this way, I can easily control my dog if need be, and I stop things before they escalate. Prevention is best.

      With rules, routine, and supervision, my dogs know exactly what to expect from each other, what to expect from me, and what I expect from them in return. This creates certainty, and certainty helps to reduce stress and conflicts.

      I try to manage my dog’s environment so that I always set her up for success. Calm, supervised, and successful experiences with each other, help my dogs to build confidence, trust, and positive associations. Similarly, negative experiences or reactive events will undermine that trust, set back my training, create negative associations, and result in more stress and conflicts down the road.

      More on how I help my dogs get along.

      I do not leave my dogs alone unsupervised until I am very very sure that there will be absolutely no issues. If I am unable to supervise, then I keep my in-training dog separated. I use leashes, gates, enclosures, and other equipment to keep everyone safe. Given what you describe, I would contact a good trainer as soon as possible.

    • Anonymous says

      My shiba does this to one of my pugs. It’s because they are a dominate dog and if they sense the other dog is passive they will attack. I have 4 dogs and the shiba only has issues with the pug. I use a spray bottle now and when she attacks the pug, I spray her. Stops her immediately and it’s cut down on the frequency. Just be careful not to spray in the face.

  25. LP says

    I agree with SQ that it is uncaring and harmful to care for a dog that you know needs surgery that you refuse to provide out of fear of some future costs related to aggression. I have a five year old Shiba female and while she always shows aggression on leash, and won’t back down from a fight, she is the smartest, most soulful and most loyal of all my dogs (others being Goldens and yellow labs). Please consider the bounty of joy this dog will bring to your life and be patient.

  26. Mariann says

    I rescued a 3 year-old Shiba and he attacks me and my other dog. I thought at first he was protecting his chew toys, but the other night I went to pet him and he started growling without a chew toy. I thought my other dog was walking into the room. Thankfully I pulled away in time before he got me. He needs both rear knees operated on (luxing) and I just don’t see putting that much money into the surgery if I’m going to get sued later on by someone else for his aggression or spending a lot of time in the Vet ER because he hurt my other dog. When he is good he is fantastic but this all of the sudden no reason of attacks has me freaked out.

    • shibashake says

      When he is good he is fantastic but this all of the sudden no reason of attacks has me freaked out.

      How long have you had him? What was his previous environment? When did the aggressive behavior start? When did his knees start having issues? Pain and physical issues can cause a dog to feel more vulnerable, and cause changes in behavior, including aggression.

      My Shiba is also very sensitive to the energy of the dogs and people around him. If I am stressed, frustrated, or fearful, he will pick up on my energy, get more stressed himself, and his behavior will worsen. I need to control my own energy first, before I can help my dog control his.

      With my dog, I always take care of physical issues first. After the physical issues are resolved, then I can focus on retraining. I have a three legged Husky, and when there are physical issues, I keep her separated from my other dogs. In this way, she can rest, my other dogs do not bother her, and she can feel safe. I also use leashes, gates, basket muzzle, and other management equipment, as necessary, to keep everyone safe and calm.

      For retraining my Shiba Inu, I consulted with several professional trainers to identify the source of his reactive behavior, and together, we developed an appropriate plan for rehabilitation.

    • SQ says

      why would you rescue a dog who needed surgery and then be unwilling to provide it? If you are not going to provide for the dog you need to give it back to a rescue. I have no experience with shibas but ANY animal becomes cranky and will start acting out when they are in pain. It’s often the first sign something is wrong!!

  27. jessie says

    i love all dogs and they do look like a huskey but people say that they don’t listen sometimes i took one for a walk today and we went into a fenced in park but they can still get out and we let it off leash and he would come back for me but not for his owners cause i did work with my moms friend at her dog training place and she is a dog trainer and she is good and i know how to train dogs and if you ever need to find a dog trainer search up animal crackers and look for danielle best and she does begginer classes and obedience classes and she is also on facebook and if you want if you find her phone number please call her and she also does private lessons. 🙂 🙂

  28. CamW says

    I just finished reading your article (which was great btw)… but I have one MAJOR question, how hard is it to train a 3 year old Shiba that was used for breeding? I just rescued her from an adoption center. I get to take her home on Thursday August 6, 2015. I have been visiting her everyday for 2 weeks and playing with her. The workers at the adoption center said that she is very shy and scared but seems to have taken a liking to me. I was worried that this could’ve just been a selling point but I knew I had to save her. I have been researching shibas for a few years now and am very excited to rescue her and raise her. But I have been having problems finding anything about training a 3 year old shiba. Any advice?? Please help!

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