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. Anonymous says

    I have been trying to persuade my parents to get a shiba inu for a while now. I have a younger brother and sister ( 6 and 4 respectively) and we own a very mellow four year old golden Labrador called jasper if I were to get a shiba would your recommend adopting a shiba or raising one from a puppy? I do realise how much of a handful these dogs can be but I am completely prepared to spend the time to properly train one if get one.

  2. BruceB says

    I posted here last year, about my two Shibas, Sebastian and Copper, and my Siberians. I don’t have any photos online of the gang, but 8 Siberians ( I am in a Siberian Rescue—reason for having many), and 2 Shibas keep me busy.

    This is a great informative, and humorous website about the little Shiba alligators!

    Very interesting too, reading all the Shiba owners comments, I was very lucky, the family that had Sebastian and Copper socialized them well….but the “Real” Shiba Inu comes out in them from time to time! Haha

    Best to you and all the Shiba fans out there!

  3. nick marak says

    My shiba inu mix is like living with a small devil in dog form. He bites everyone I have ever met. your better off with a hamster.

  4. nick marak says

    my shiba inu mix is awful. He scratches up every door i own. he always poops in the house and bites anyone one he doesnt know…dont get one

  5. Anavi says

    We love our puppy Nyko to death. He has the best personality with other dogs as well as humans. I walk him twice a day for about two hours and we often visit dog parks or go hiking. His high energy levels never got to me but I do think that people who are looking for a calm companion should either adopt older Shiba or look into other breeds.

  6. Snickitty says

    OMG are shibas as bad as all the above comments? I thought I wanted a shiba but now I’m not so sure. I located a 5 year old male retired breeder & fell in love with his picture. He’s black & tan and looks like a miniature husky.
    The breeder said he is a sweet boy who loves everyone. But he has been raised in a kennel and she says has a “strong prey drive”. I have a cat & she said she didn’t think he would be very nice to a cat. She said they are very independent, stubborn dogs. I have a 3 year old female rhodesian ridgeback that I wanted to find her a friend. She is very independent, strong willed & stubborn, but she doesn’t sound as bad as a shiba. She is very destructive, even at 3 years old. Has been to 2 obedience classes and the only thing she can do is “sit” if I have a treat to give her, So I’m very discouraged, maybe a shiba is not the breed for me. Any comments or suggestions will be appreciated. I haven’t met the shiba, he is about 800 miles away from me.
    Thank you.

    • shibashake says

      Sephy is very strong-willed and stubborn. He prefers playing and interacting with easy-going dogs who just like to play. He will not back down from a challenge, so he does not get along with dominant dogs. For a second dog, I was very careful to pick one that is more easy-going and submissive in nature.

      What kind of dogs does your Ridgeback enjoy playing with? What energy level? What type of temperament? What size?

      The Shiba Inu Forum is also a good place to visit for a look at what various people think of their Shiba.

    • Erika says

      No, really they’re not. As with any dog, shibas have general “breed trends” but are all their individual being as well. I was concerned when I got my Shiba, Sabrina, but I talked to the breeder previously about my concerns and she suggested the perfect dog for our family! Sabrina was 4 years old when we got her, which may have had something to do with it, and the breeder told us that her personality was calm and extremely mellow. We thought she was exaggerating, but that wasn’t the case at all! Sabrina is active, but if we don’t take her out on walks because we’re too busy, she just sleeps around the house. We don’t give her too many toys (just regular bones and balls) and she plays with them when she’s in the mood. She’s very cuddly – she likes being picked up and handled, and she’ll sit on our feet until we pet her. She’s very clean, and very independent when she sees that we’re too busy. She’ll occasionally show her attitude by sitting with her back turned towards us, but if you punish bad behavior by ignoring them, Shibas are such attention-loving dogs that they’ll learn very quickly. She trots perfectly by our side on walks after several times training her to do so. The cons are that 1) she’s VERY stubborn – it’s difficult to get her to do something she’s set against doing. But if you assert your dominance, she’ll listen. 2) she’s a very picky eater, and doesn’t eat a lot, so we’re constantly thinking of new things to mix in with the dog food to make her eat it. Mind you, this is for Sabrina in particular, but it should comfort you that I have experienced NONE of the horrors that shibashake has. All dogs are different, just like people, so you should state your needs to the breeder and enquire about your dog’s personality, and meet him/her prior to purchasing. Good luck!

  7. Alison Camon says

    I just rescued (at Christmas) a Shiba mix, and I love her to death. She is so agile I hope to teach her to catch a frisbee if this winter ever ends. She loves to walk on her hind legs so much, that she is almost a bi-ped. I am not sure what she is mixed with, but the quirks listed above, definitely fit her personality.

    Pula Kulay is a happy little girl !!

    • shibashake says

      I am glad you both found each other! It is always great to hear happy dog stories, and doubly so for rescue dogs. :D Big hugs to your Shiba girl!

  8. Phyllis says

    Just found your website. It’s wonderful. Great Articles. I’ve just taken on a Shiba inu mix(?) around 31/2. Her paperwork states shepard mix but I don’t see it. Two people have told me she is shiba inu so the jury is out on that. I knew she was stubborn and but very smart. Had her crate trained in 3 days. As I read your article on the good, bad and quirky I made so many connections. She is a cuddler but doesn’t like me grooming her. She really has been a delight. I also have a male german shepard and a male Rottweiler much older than her. Only problem I’ve encountered is she was an only dog in former home and now has to share me, so we’ve had a few instances of growling when the boys are getting attention from me, overall she appears to like the boys.

    • shibashake says

      Four paws up for helping out a dog in need! She sounds like a very interesting and lovely girl. I am glad she has found such a happy home. :D

      In terms of sharing, what has helped with my dogs is to set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules. I supervise them during play, meals, and more, and make sure that everyone follows the rules. One important rule is “no stealing”, and that includes affection from people as well.

      My Husky will sometimes try to push Shiba aside to get more affection, and if she does that I no-mark and give her an alternate command, e.g. Down (in a specific location). If she does it, then I reward her by giving them both affection and some kibble. If she ignores me and continues to push others aside, then I body block her away from Shiba and she does not get anything. If she persists and keeps pushing, then I say “Timeout” and put her temporarily in a safe timeout area.

      In this way, she learns that she gets what she wants (affection) by following commands and *not* by pushing. If she pushes, she doesn’t get any affection and may also end up temporarily losing her freedom.

      I also try to reward them more and with better stuff when they are calm together. I find group obedience training to be useful with my dogs because they are together around me, and working together for food, affection, and more. I try to create as many positive together-experiences as I can, while at the same time minimizing conflicts.

      Here is more on what I do with my dogs.

      I also follow the Nothing in Life is Free program with all my dogs. It is useful for my Shiba because it provides him with a certain amount of structure, and he learns that he has to work for the things that he wants.

      Big hugs to your furry gang!

  9. Lindsey Crummett says

    Hi there, I live in New Zealand and my fiance and I have a beautiful 2 year old shiba girl. She absolutely lights up our lives. We had her in puppy classes as early as we could, and have been consistent with training. She is such a good girl in almost every way- she never destroys anything in our house, never has accidents inside, and is even pretty darn good (for a shiba) at coming back when called at the beach where we let her off leash regularly.

    So her one major problem…. she is extremely anxious (verging on agressive if approached) with children. We don’t have children, but she’s been regularly exposed to my niece who was a baby when we first got her. She’s ok with my niece, but still not very tolerant. She is extremely (unusually for a shiba) affectionate and cuddly most of the time with my fiance and I. Sorry, I didn’t know where else to go, but I thought I might ask here and get advice from other shiba owners. I really want to help her become less anxious around children, especially since we might be having one of our own in the not too distant future.

    Thank you in advance for any and all advice. So far we’ve tried giving her treats and having children give her treats… she seems to forget quickly. I’m getting so worried! We would never in a million years give her away, so we have to find a solution! Thank you!

    • shibashake says

      With my Shiba, desensitization exercises helped him to be more calm around people. I start small, go very slowly, and make sure to always keep things positive and safe.

      Here is an article from the ASPCA on dogs and children-

      You may also want to post your question in the Shiba Inu Forum. There are many veteran Shiba Inu lovers there.

    • Chrissy says

      I also have a Shiba bitch who though fine with adults was terribly fearful of children but I worked on persistent and most importantly ‘regular’ desensitisation with children to good effect. My neighbour has three children aged four, seven and ten and having explained my situation enlisted their help. EVERY day after school they would come into the house and completely ignore Ila. After about fifteen minutes I’d put the dogs on leads and we’d go out around the block for a walk passing Ila’s lead to the eldest child as soon as she was relaxed. She didn’t even notice then we’d come home and the kids would all give a treat to Ila before leaving. After about three weeks, she would greet their arrival and though still wary of noisy children, she’s a million times better and now I deliberately sit opposite a school playground for over ten mins every day during playtime so she’s not so anxious about their noises. It’s the regularity that’s important. Hope this helps.

    • shibashake says

      Great story Chrissy. I am also a big fan of desensitization, and you are absolutely right, regularity is key.

    • shibashake says

      I think it will depend a lot on you, your sapiens, and the temperament of your new Shiba sister.

      Shibas can be very stubborn and strong willed, so you may have to be more tolerant and accommodating. ;)

      What is your play style? What types of dogs do you currently like playing with? Are you ok with sharing your toys, treats, bed? What is the personality of your current favorite dog friends?

      When we were thinking of adding to the family, here are some of the things that we considered-

  10. Sarah says

    At first, when I read your story before getting our pup, I was kind of nervous; we read a lot about shibas, we knew how stubborn they can be (even a guy on the street with his own shiba told me :”you know they’re really stubborn, right”?), difficult even, and I wasn’t quite sure of how I would handle his peculiar personality.

    Then we met Mikko. When we left the breeder, who’s been breeding shibas for a long time, she told us that we had “a nice little dog”. Even the dog trainer said we had no major issues with the puppy, besides being uncomfortable around other dogs (in dog parks, when you are not quite aware of other dog’s behavior), whining for attention in the middle of the night, or bitting me all the time over its first 4 months. He then lost his teeth and the situation got a little better. He got clean very soon, never broke anything (yet, fingers crossed, but he chewed a step of our stairs, nothing that a children safety gate can’t handle), is really sociable with other people (in his first months, we were told that a puppy needed to see at least 100 people to be comfortable around them; we did so with Mikko, bringing him to my family gatherings with more than 70 people; everyone loved him and was very surprise by how little he would bark). He is now in his teenager phase and challenges a bit more our authority (he is not accepting our commands very often, but when calm and submissive, everything is a bit easier)

    My point was, and the trainer told us, that yes there are a few characteristics that are mostly common with a specific breed, but never forget the personality of your own dog. In our case, knowing what shibas are known for, and their personality gave us additional tools on understanding our puppy, and eventually training him the right way. We don’t have a problematic dog, but we know that we should never loose our temper with him, and repeat everything until he understands that we are the ones in control, not him.

    Don’t get discouraged: shibas may be a handful, but nothing that time, patience (A LOT OF PATIENCE) and attention can’t cure! Make sure to ALWAYS keep your pup in check in his first months, letting him know what he can and cannot chew on, and setting strict boundaries. And before getting a shiba, know that he will never be as easygoing and soft as, let say, a Golden Retriever or a Labrador, and be ok with it. If not, shibas may not be the right dogs for you.

  11. says

    Hello Shiba Inu lovers, could you please help me find a home for this beautiful Shina Ibu/Wesh Corgi Cagney. He is very beautiful, playful in this video when the shelter first took him in. Now a month later, he is unhappy, not well treated, andhe is at defense. The shelter did not pass him on his temp test,saying he is aggressive. Please see this video, and this portrait when he first arrived, so beuautiful and happy, and then the most recent is the very sad eyes… they reach into your soul,.so nigh after night, I am looking for a good home for him…a forever home, where he will need to be kept in a separated area, for a while, until he was comfortable…in his enviorment. You can see his previous link here:
    He only has until next Monday, or he will be put to sleep. I am networking him on facebook, follow that link w his sad eyes, click on the photo, and you can see we raised $200.00 in pledges for this handsome boy…if you can adopt him, we will be looking for a rescue or if you know a rescue, a 105c rescue, they can pull from this shelter, if you are not in this area, this boy CAGNEY can fly across the country to find his forever family, person or persons..if you love animals and understand the countless hours, networking,,then you wont let him die…please pass the word, and network..lets not let him be killed.
    They will put him to sleep at the shelter, if he can not be rescued.

  12. Jerry says

    Hello and thank you for the very informative site and continued upkeep. I have grown up w/ dogs my entire life (probably had 7 different total from early childhood to high school graduation). For some reason also, animals seem naturally drawn to me and always seem to interact w/ me very well. Even my girlfriend’s dog hated every single male she was around and sometimes for weeks. When we first met, the dog wouldn’t come near me and barked nonstop until I left. The second time, about 5 minutes of barking, a couple treats, and I was teaching her how to give high fives. I have rarely seen a shiba but we both decided we wanted one. We have no animals except a fish which is easy to relocate ( : ) ) and we are a normal, work for a living couple. As a result, we will not be home many hours of the day during the week. I have thought about getting a 4×4 ft pen or maybe even bigger to keep the dog in when not home. How do they generally handle those?? I feel I could train this animal well as I’ve always had pretty good luck in doing this.

    I don’t feel like there’s much else I could ask as I’ve read a lot of these comments and they’ve pretty much answered all questions. Basically, what I can see is, when you get this dog, expect it to have the personality of a spoiled teenage girl and handle it accordingly LOL. Would that be accurate? These dogs just intrigued me. Probably b/c I enjoy challenges and this seems like it may be one. I see things about all dogs being this way or that way but I feel that training is absolutely crucial throughout a dog’s life, especially younger. If you train it well, then it shouldn’t be as much of a problem.

    Sorry for my rambling LOL. Any additional comments, info, etc would be appreciated.

    • Vic says

      We used to crate our shiba when she was a puppy. one day, my wife came home and found the puppy roaming around the living room. apparently she had climbed to the top of the crate, pushed the top open and climbed out. we still crated her after than but eventually we let her roam the house when we are at work and for the most part, she just sleeps and waits for us to get home before she starts up her antics. one long walk and some play time usually takes care of a her energy.

      just an fyi:
      did not have a dog growing up, my wife did, but i really love having our shiba around (eventho the dog probably views my wife as alpha, then herself as beta, then me as omega)

    • shibashake says

      Hello Jerry,

      Yeah, Shibas can be really wonderful dogs and they are very loyal.

      I have thought about getting a 4×4 ft pen or maybe even bigger to keep the dog in when not home. How do they generally handle those??

      When Sephy was a puppy, he had some separation anxiety. He had two siblings, and lived with his mother and uncle, so being alone in a new home, was somewhat stressful for him. In the beginning, what seemed to work best for Sephy was to *very slowly* get him used to alone time.

      I would start with very short periods of alone time (seconds) and practice that many times throughout the day. Then, I would slowly build up from there. Otherwise, there would be Shiba screaming and the neighbors would not be very happy. :D

      I also slowly desensitized him to his crate and pen, so he would learn to view them as positive places where he could relax and rest.

      I have found that a new puppy needs *a lot* of attention, supervision, and training. My partner took time off work to help with puppy Sephy, and we also got help from trainers and a dog walker (after Sephy was fully vaccinated). As Sephy got older, he became more independent and together with training, is now ok with longer periods of alone time. However, he still likes having a very fixed routine and a consistent set of rules. Daily exercise and structured activity are also very important for him.

      Some Shiba breeders will also place adult dogs who are done with showing in homes. That sometimes can work out very well, and the puppy stage is already taken care of.

      Hope this helps and good luck with your upcoming puppy!

  13. Julia says

    As mentioned previously, shibas are cat-like. They like people, but they don’t want to be told what to do directly. To get a shiba to behave, its all about setting the routine and norm – and not challenging them directly all the time. Same thing with physical contact – it has to be mutually agreed to, you can’t just pick up a shibe & cuddle. Avoid the direct challenge.

    That said, my shibas love people – they watch people more than other dogs. Shibas like to hang out with their owners & do thing outdoors ( hiking is their ultimate dream activity). They are often dog aggresive – i think.more often than people aggressive.

    That said, they are dogs and not cats, so obedience training works. Find a trainer that likes primitive breeds. My shibas are much more responsive to verbal requests than the cats ever were.

    One quality that hasn’t been mentioned is that a shiba may have incredible prey drive. One of my two shibas has caught three small animals while on a six foot leash.- shrew, grey sqirrel, and a rat This dog is extremely fast going after a target.

    If you want a strictly obedient dog, a shiba is not the dog for you. If you want a baby, again not a shiba. But if you want a dog that fits into your routine, and your routine includes some walks and outdoor time, a shiba can be superb!

  14. Chrissy says

    If you google the words trendy shiba inu and click on images – that’s my boy!! The handsome little chap in a bow tie on my garden table is Arthur!!! :0)

    • shibashake says

      Haha – I love the bow-tie! Arthur looks very classy, proud, and distinguished! I really want to add in a monocle and a hat. :D

  15. Poppa Bear says

    Love your insights, we got Kage at 17 months from a breeder that was hoping to show him. He could not as Kage had one ball fall to drop and can not be shown or bred. We had Kage fixed 5 weeks ago. We have seen marked improvement in his tendency to try and dominate everything and he will now accept being around other dogs although not too close. Kage loves people, all people, little people big people just kisses everyone. Just a happy little guy that has lots of energy. We are retired so we are home a lot but we do leave him every day for up to 2 to 4 hours, he has the run of the house and has never been bad. We have cameras watching him and he either plays with his toys or lays on the sofa waiting for us to come home. He was fully housebroken when we got him and he sleeps in the living room all night and never makes a sound. The only quirky thing we have seen is everyday about 4pm he starts with a fast pace around the house and starts to cry, we ignore him and he stops after about 2 to 5 minutes…… There is one other thing we see, we call it the berserk mode, a couple of times a week he will just start to run really fast up and down the hallway for about 5 minutes, then he just lays down and goes to sleep… He is a joy to have, much like our Akitas of past but different in some ways. He is every bit a BIG dog in a small package.

  16. Chrissy says

    Have you heard of the ‘Yellow Ribbon’ scheme for space dogs in the UK ie my dog needs a bit of space from your dog?
    It’s just about to go National and is a great idea. All you do is tie a yellow ribbon to your dogs collar and that tells other dog owners to control their dogs and give your dog a bit of space. See:

    • shibashake says

      That is interesting and a good idea. Over in my neighborhood though, it would be a great improvement if people would just keep unsupervised dogs and dogs with no-recall, on-leash or properly secured. There are leash laws, but some people feel that they are above such things.

      Today, we got charged by a Pit Bull. He was a very friendly dog, and luckily, a couple of people were out and came over to help and secure the dog. The owner, however, was nowhere in sight.

  17. Chrissy says

    I loved reading this as it made me laugh and rang soooo many bells! I live with two beautiful Shiba’s. Ila; a beautiful, sensitive, gentle little girl of four who doesn’t have a bad bone in her body but is a consummate thief of anything that is mine and Arthur, whose official title is “Arthur of Arrogant”(also four). He’s incredibly handsome and though soft as butter with me and loves people, he’s a little monster with other dogs, vets, groomers or anybody who thinks they can impose anything on him he hasn’t asked for! An open door is a personal invitation and getting his own way is in the contract. I’ve worked with rescue dogs all my life, mostly German Shepherds and Leonbergers so ‘know’ dogs but Arthur has been by far my most challenging housemate ever, not least because I have never met a dog as intelligent as him. He has an enormous vocabulary, which means he understands general conversation and can ‘read’ people/situations with ease, always one step ahead of everybody e.g. if I’m looking for my glasses, he runs and fetches them without my ever having said a word :0) Once he screamed the whole park down because he stepped in another dogs poo and he wouldn’t take another step until I’d cleaned his foot for him!
    I love both my Shiba’s to death but they certainly aren’t for the fainthearted or inexperienced dog owners. A woman once said of Arthur; “Good job he’s attached to you or I’d take him home” to which I replied, “That’s Ok, tomorrow you’d be looking for me to give him back!!” lol

    • shibashake says

      Once he screamed the whole park down because he stepped in another dogs poo and he wouldn’t take another step until I’d cleaned his foot for him!

      LOL! Gotta love Shibas! Sephy did the same thing when he stubbed his toe on a small hole in the park grounds. They have such a unique and special personality.

      A woman once said of Arthur; “Good job he’s attached to you or I’d take him home” to which I replied, “That’s Ok, tomorrow you’d be looking for me to give him back!!”

      Hahaha, we say the same thing about Sephy. In truth tho, most Shibas *demand* love and devotion from their owners, and they get it! :D

      Big hugs to your furry pair.

  18. Shiba Clan says

    We have three Shiba’s two male one female. Best companions we have ever had. They do have there moments and are unbelievably smart.

    Great article about a wonderful breed.

  19. stephanie says

    Thank you so much this website and how much time it must have taken to do! We adopted our shiba at 6 months old after the original owner (who had purchased her from a breeder) decided she couldn’t handle the biting and the struggles that came with a shiba puppy. It’s been a LOT of work taking a puppy that bit with extreme aggression if she didn’t like you adjusting her leash or being touched at all, let alone handled. But with many hours with our trainer, and with the help of your site, I can say that now, six months later, she is a very good dog, and we enjoy having her very much. :) For any future owners- you get back what you put into it! Thank you!

  20. David says

    We have an 18 month old female and an 11 week old male. Most of this article is right on the money with my female. She is a princess. BUT, such a joy and a doll! She is not a cuddling dog, but since we got the new puppy, she has become more of a cuddling dog. They are easy to potty train. We went one step further and we have bell trained our dogs. They ring a bell hanging from our door handle when they need to go potty. Easier to hear and better than listening to them yap. They were also immediate best friends! She loves the little guy. He is really does exhibit food aggression at times, and he is getting better. Best dogs I have ever owned. We walk them A LOT! I dont believe in a fenced in yard and just letting them out. They will find a way to escape. And Sachi (female) is extremely smart and she knows it! She brings a lot of joy to our household and I am sure Niko (puppy) will do the same.

    • Jenn Gurney says

      Mine isn’t really, no. But this article is completely true that he is like dog royalty. In a good way. When he IS in a cuddling mood I feel like the gods are smiling down upon me. It is such a magical moment. They don’t love ANYONE like they love their owners. Not one person. They are the most wonderful dogs if you are extremely serious about training(i.e. consistent – don’t tell them the same command 50 times and then reward them otherwise that is how many times they will need to be told before they do what they’re told.) Otherwise, they will run your household into the ground. They have very smooshy fur on their heads, and mine doesn’t seem to mine too much when I hold his face and smoosh his fur for a bit before we go outside in the mornings :)

    • stephanie says

      You know, my shiba is very cuddly. At this second she is literally cuddled in my lap and very content. She started as a biter. You touched her and she would bite- so I believe it depends on an individual dogs temperament, and the training you put into them. My cousin has a shiba as well, and though he’s an extremely good dog, very calm and sweet- he is not a cuddler. So I believe it’s a combination of genetics and training.

    • Chrissy says

      They can be cuddly but really only with their own families. As a breed they tend to be quite aloof but are incredibly loyal and protective.

  21. Nathan says

    thanks for this. I ran across your page by accident and it is delightful. you have truly captured the “shiba” essence. and oh, that deadly stare.

  22. Bill Campbell says

    Back again, with more questions. We have been looking at Shiba adoption sites as well as breeders. My question is this: With two 6+ Poms, male and female would it be better to introduce a puppy, rather than an older Bhiba?


    • Jennifer says

      Hey Bill,
      I’d say you would be safe with an older shiba that is well domesticated. Shibas are very smart and learn quickly, they can become tolerant of other dogs or animals fairly easily. Puppies are always a lot of work, and can easily cause stress to older dogs. Especially of the smaller variety. My mom has a 5 year old pom chi who gets easily annoyed with my 5 month old Shiba. I know there are a lot of adoption and rescue agencies with avaliable adoptees! However, whichever way you chose to go, a shiba is a great addition to your family. Best wishes.

  23. Bill Campbell says

    We are looking at getting a Shiba Inu. We have done quite a bit of research on them. Seems like they have much the same behaviour at an Akita, as far as being independent and strong willed. We have had several dogs. An Akita, two Shetland Sheepdogs, a Finnish Spitz and now two Pomeranians. Of al the dogs, the Akita is the one that gave us the most trouble. Could not net him off his lead, or he would be gone, coming back only when he was ready.

    I’m not too concerned with most of what I read here, not to sound over-confident. My concern is this While our male is fairly reserved, our female thinks she runs the house. She is pushy and when she wants something will not let up until she gets it. For instance, if she wants outside, she will start by licking. If that doesn’t work, she will lay on the floor and start kicking and growling. That is followed by jumping and bouncing on either me or my wife until one of us gets up and lets her out.

    So, we have a little dog with a big personality. Would it be a bad idea to introduce a Shiba into the mix? It was suggested by a breeder we contacted that it might be better to get a female.

    One other thing. I’ve read that the Shibas do well in colder temperature. I live in the Yukon. It sometimes get very cold here. Our Poms can’t stay out for more than a few minutes, but they don’t need to get that much exercise. How would a Shiba fare when it gets too cold to take them out?

    So, thanks for giving me a place to ask these things.


    • shibashake says

      My Shiba (Sephy) has medium energy. He really needs his daily walks because he prefers to do his business outside (not in the backyard). He will try to hold all his pee in until walk time. I have talked to other Shiba owners who have observed similar behaviors in their dog.

      He was very energetic during puppyhood, but he calmed down some after over 1 year, and then some more after 3 years. Now he is 7 years old, and he really only needs 1 walk per day of about 1 hour in length. He also has a pretty intense play session with my Sibes in the mornings and sometimes again in the evenings. The rest of the time he is pretty Zen and happy to sun himself. He does like to wrestle and play pretty rough though, so small dogs don’t really like playing with him.

      Sephy also doesn’t like the cold very much – especially walking on cold surfaces.

      Of my three dogs, Sephy (male) is the most dominant, stubborn, and picky. Therefore, when getting a third dog, I picked a more submissive female. My other Husky (female) is also pretty submissive, so the two girls are pretty laid back and get along well.

      In terms of puppy vs. older Shiba, I think it would depend a lot on the older Shiba. A puppy is very energetic and needs a lot of management and training. An adult dog will have a more established personality, and will likely need less exercise compared to a puppy. However, an adult dog may have behavioral issues carried over from their past.

      Good luck in your Shiba search and Happy Holidays! :D

    • Chrissy says

      I would think in all honesty that it would be a bad idea. For a start they often bully smaller dogs and have such a rough play system that other dogs, even big ones, misread the signals and get upset with them so that it kicks off. Also the Shiba is more like the Akita than any of your other dogs, though with a great deal more intelligence and personality so take the worst aspects and multiply by a hundred! Also they are a complete nightmare off a lead, disappearing for literally hours and only ever doing what they want to do. Brilliant in the house but outside is a different matter!

  24. Amy says

    My 20 year old son brought home an abandoned Shiba from a job site. He couldnt bare to see it go to a shelter. I am a widow and do my best to get by but didnt want a dog due to financial restraints. Once I saw my son with this dog I didnt have the heart to say no. Things went well for some time but now she has developed a skin irritation that she bites at and she has lost a lot of the hair on her backside and tail. I have put her on a grain free diet and add flea treatment to her food and add Vitamin C for immune system. Dont really have the money for vet visit but Im ready to skip Christmas if this means helping this sweet dog. Thoughts? Suggestions?

    • shibashake says

      Hmmm, it could be fleas, which usually causes hair loss at the base of the tail. Fleas are usually visible to the eye, so I would check the area carefully and see if there is anything there.

      If I can’t identify the source, I usually take my dog to the vet to check for mites. There are many possible causes for skin irritation, so identifying the source can sometimes be a challenge.

      With fleas and mites, management of the environment may also be necessary, or the dog will keep getting reinfected. Here is more on my experiences with dog itchy skin.

    • Anonymous says

      Could be dry skin or a food allergy. Try switching the protein source. Fish instead of chicken or turkey.

    • eMac says

      Try eliminating any beef or beef flavored products. Shibas are known for specific food allergys. We are on our third. Shiba and we feed only grain free high protein dog food. Our second shiba had the same problem you described and my wife eliminated the beef and he healed quickly and became a bundle of energy & lovable self.

    • Holly says

      Very possible that your dog has yeast infection on its skin, Try diluting vinegar with water and dab on skin if this doesnt work a trip to vet maybe needed

  25. Lee says

    Appreciate all the comments on here. I too love the look of the Shibas but after reading the posts I should probably get a lab :-). I had dogs growing up but none that were solely my own. I would consider a Shiba in the future but not at this time. Thanks all for the great advice

  26. Christine says

    How can I tell if I have a Fnnish Spitz or a Shiba Inu? The people we got the dogs from say they are part Golden Retriever and Chow Chow but I don’t see any resemblance. I think my one dog is a Finnish Spitz but then looks like a Shiba Inu to. We have had Golden Retreivers and they are so much different than that

  27. Ali says

    We have sibes. One of which came from a home that also produced shibas. I thought they were amazing although I’m a very loyal husky girl. My niece has just bought a shiba though – win win!! Pointed her towards your blog!

  28. Tony says

    I’m looking into getting a 3/4 German Shepard and 1/4 shiba inu, do you think that he will be like the shiba inu because those seem like 2 very different breeds?

    • shibashake says

      Hello Tony,
      It is not possible to tell which traits a puppy will inherit from each of his parents. How old is he? Have you met his parents? If both parents are well temperamented, then their puppy will have a good start.

      As with us though, behavior is based on both genetics and learning/experience (e.g. training, socialization, environment, and more).

  29. Mike DeRose says

    New Shiba acquired at 8 weeks old. Now 12 weeks. Any tips on the biting? Not aggressive but he thinks he’s playing and with the razor sharp puppy teeth, my arms look like they went through a grinder. Every one wants to pet him and he likes it but he thinks he has to gnaw on them and this causes him to be a social turn off. Discipline does not work either.

  30. Beth says

    I’ve been owned by Ciaran nOg for 9.5 years now. My first shiba – I’ve always had Malamutes. (Yes, a big, or rather ‘small’ change. I got him after researching the breed. I wanted the same type of personality that my Mals had, but in a smaller package. I got those traits and then some!!! Holy Moly has he kept me on my toes. Every yard we’ve lived in has had to have landscape cloth (small square wire) taked to the bottom of the fence and buried in the ground. He is definitely NOT an off leash dog, ever. My cat is MUCH more demonstrative, but I love Ciaran dearly and am a complete fan of the breed. However – Ciaran has developed an auto immune disease which is not unknown to spitz type dogs – and I’m wondering if any here have had to deal with it? Pemphigus F is the name. Any feedback is appreciated. After chemo almost killed him, we’ve been treating him with traditional Chinese herbs and prednisone for the past 10 months.

    • Chrissy says

      I’m so sorry for you both. I had a German Shepherd with the same condition and lost him at six. Whilst I cannot suggest any alternative treatments except combining vet care with homeopathy (which ‘helped’ but did not cure or ultimately save Deisel), I can at least say that the disease is not breed specific and not usually associated with Shiba Inu.

  31. BruceB says

    Just returning , and catching up on your website, I posted here a couple of years ago when I adopted Sebastian and Copper, father and son , from a local family, we bonded very quickly, and words cannot describe my respect, devotion and love for them.
    They go with me everywhere, and I enjoy their company , there has never been any serious issues with them , other than encounters with other people’s dogs, when the owners didn’t respect my dogs space, to be honest their aloofness is one of the traits I like, we mutually understand each other. I don’t need them smothering me to know they care about me. Believe me, when they want attention they will come around.
    Do walk your Shibas each and every day, they pout if you miss a walk. I am lucky, I live on a farm, with plenty of open fields with briar patches , which is Shiba heaven!
    Thanks for keeping the website going, I also have 8 Sibes! (I am a volunteer in a Siberian rescue.)

    • shibashake says

      2 Shibas and 8 Sibes – You must drink a lot of Red Bull! :D

      Would love to see your gang. Do you have any pictures online?

  32. Lee says

    I have a shiba inu myself he’s called Reo!

    reading through the shiba shake, I cant believe how alike they are!! I would class ourselves as blessed because he has been an angel, he rarely gets aggressive brilliant off lead (unless there is cattle in the are) we tend to keep him on the lead then, he decided to start playing with sheep and it took me a good hour to get him back on lead!!

    One thing Reo tends to do when playing with other dogs is the as we call it “shiba bum bash”! he will literally throw himself 360 degrees and use his bum as a weapon whilst playing!! is this common play for a Shiba?

    • shibashake says

      we call it “shiba bum bash”!

      LOL! I like that.

      Shania (Husky) loves doing the ‘butt-check’. My Shiba does not do it as much. Maybe it is because he is smaller, so he is just bumping at their legs. :D

      It is very interesting to watch them play. Sometimes, Shiba and Sibe will just stare at each other, like in those Kung-Fu movies where they are playing out the entire battle in their minds. It is hilarious. Sometimes, I do the voice-over for them.

  33. says

    My shiba, Akai, is 10 months old and exactly everything you said. I was quite aware of a lot of the shiba qualities before searching for him, but some took me surprise…he cleans our mastiff’s mouth. He just licks all the water out of her jowls while she lies there sleeping. He also hates grass. Of all types. Will not walk on it unless forced. ;-/ And the shiba scream got animal control called on us, more than once…but he is the greatest, most loving dog. He is not aggressive or shy. He has to be touching myself or my fiancée at all times while he is lying down or he doesn’t feel safe. He will follow me and do anything I say, unless it involves stepping on grass or getting wet. He is the most loving, ponderous dog/cat/fox ever.

  34. Stacie says

    It’s been so long since I’ve visited your page. Salem is now 8 and absolutely awesome (and it took some serious training and patience to get there!) He’s my first dog-yes, I ignored the advice and had a shiba for my first dog Through some serious trials..lots of tears and sweat and yes, blood too, he’s now training to be an Emotional Service Dog for me. We have a bond that’s impossible to describe. If I’m having an off day, he’s there to make it better. If I’m about to have a panic attack, he’s alerting me that it’s coming and soothing me as it happens. It’s amazing to have such a companion.

    I noticed a lot of people say your article is negative. I disagree. Had I known what I was getting myself into, I would have taken him home again. I adore my dog through the bad years and the good. It’s better to be realistic and let potential owners know what they’re getting into than to say “they’re grrrreat!” They’re not for the faint of heart. They need a companion that can direct them in a positive way with patience. Keep up the good work!

  35. Shibaowner says

    Our Shiba is 14 years old (we have her since she was 12 weeks) and she exhibits all the good and bad traits mentioned in your article. Her Shiba scream involved in the bathing process however is really something to behold. The first time we tried to give her a bath our downstairs neighbors came up, pounded on our door and inquired “What the F___ are you doing to your dog”. Subsequently, we tried a very popular dog washing facility in NYC. Our little sweetie is banned except for certain days and hours. The owners provide grooming and have a doggy day care services and did not want passerbys thinking they were hurting the dogs.
    Also, our Shiba is more loyal to me than my wife. I can do things with and to her that she never lets my wife do.

  36. Shiba Lover says

    I LOVE this article–I have a rescue pup that is def a terrier mix, but we were trying to determine Shiba or Canaan dog as primary. We’ve now determined Shiba. He’s getting private training soon–but this describes my baby in a nutshell!

  37. Nina says

    I got a shiba from a foster dad and he didn’t know much about her. I think she was abused cause she is very scared of men, even my husband. She Also seems very bored. I try playing with her but she doesn’t like to play that much. Only for about ten mins at night time does she want to fetch or play with her kong. I have tried everything to get her to have some fun What are some tips?

    • shibashake says

      How long have you had her?

      Shibas tend to be aloof dogs. They are loyal but they do not trust very easily. It took time, training, consistency, and patience to gain my Shiba’s trust.

      What I do to help my Shiba stay calm and more relaxed with people.

      In addition, changing homes and being with a new family is a very stressful situation for a dog, so it will take some time to adjust. With Sephy, I set up a fixed schedule and a consistent set of house rules so that he knows what to expect from me, and what I expect from him in return. This creates certainty, which helps to reduce stress and anxiety.

      As for games, Sephy likes playing chasing games most. He is not really into Fetch. I observe each of my dogs carefully, try out a bunch of things, and see which ones appeal to them most. They each have their own favorite activities. :D Here are some games that I play with my dogs.

      Here is more on bonding with my dogs.

  38. Anonymous says

    My neighbor’s shiba inu has attacked two of our cats, completely unprovoked, resulting in the death of one cat and serious injury to the other. Please consider carefully when choosing this breed. They require a great deal of supervision, frequent and rigorous exercise and an environment where they can be adequately maintained.

    • Anon says

      This is true for most dog breeds; the problem may be attributed to your neighbor’s most probably lack of socializing and training his shiba with other animals.

    • says

      My shiba abhors cats. He has never chased, attacked, or not listened…ever. He has never run…until a cat comes around and then it is all bets off…

    • Anonymous says

      NBC in Columbus, Ohio is reporting two Shibas just killed a baby! Sorry to report this, but people need to know (who in the world would put an infant around ANY unmatched dogs?).
      Dog Lover

    • Chrissy says

      Sadly many dogs, if not brought up and socialised with cats specifically, will chase/attack/kill cats so its certainly NOT a breed specific trait. My Shiba’s live with cats as did all my dogs (German Shepherds/Jack russel/Leonberger/Greyhound/lurcher). Though I feel desperately for the cats and the owner when anything like this happens, its about the owners NOT the dogs!!!

  39. Erika says

    I’ve never owned a dog before that was mine and not the whole family’s. We still have our dog, she is now getting old and has always been pretty laid back and well behaved. I’m wanting another dog to be my own. Although it’s quite unlikely that I’ll get one, I’ve been looking at breeds.
    I’m definitely a victim of having fallen in love with the Shiba look. On top of that, a dog that is more independent, clean, and cat-like does sound ideal for me. I’d be pretty excited to have a dog that I can play with and take on walks.
    I’m wondering if it would be a bad idea for me to get a young Shiba (probably not a puppy) since I don’t have experience with more intelligent independent, higher energy dogs. I’m wondering if I could do it if I did lots of learning first and took training classes when I got the dog.
    What do you think?

    • shibashake says

      Shibas can be difficult dogs because they are stubborn, strong-willed, aloof, and usually mouthy. If we put in enough time, effort, and patience, they can be trained to live well with us. However, the initial period will be difficult, especially if we are less experienced with independent and stubborn breeds. In addition, Shibas can be quite aloof, so if we are looking for an affectionate dog or lapdog, we will be disappointed.

      I was not very experienced with dogs when I got Sephy, and we had a very difficult beginning. His natural aloofness made things even more difficult.
      Here is more on my rocky beginning with Sephy.
      Here is more on why Shibas are difficult to train.

      Dealing every day with a mouthy dog that is aloof, doing zoomies around the house, and chewing on books, curtains, and cables, can be very tiring and stressful. I learned a lot from Sephy, but it took a lot of perseverance for the both of us to get to a good place. :D

      Another thing that I learned from Sephy is that it is important to socialize him, and get everyone in the family to participate in his care and training. Shibas who are under-socialized or overly dependent on a single caretaker may develop aggression issues and other unhealthy guarding behavior.

      A balanced and socialized dog can go to many places with us, and when we are busy, we can easily find other trusted caretakers to step in. Sephy is a very loyal dog but he does not trust easily.

  40. Anonymous says

    Hi, I’ve never owned a dog before, and I’ve had a fear of dogs for the majority of my life, (granted I’m not THAT old lol, mid twenties) but a few of my close friends have gotten dogs over the last few years, large and small, and I feel like I’ve come to the point where I’m ok being around dogs now. Looking at the different breeds, I love the shiba for it’s looks, that it’s playful and loyal, and I’m interested in getting one, but I’ve been told its not wise to get a shiba for a first dog, would you agree? Considering my past too, part of me is concerned maybe it would be too much for me, but at the same time I feel like it would be a dog I would grow to bond well with and would be more like a best buddie than a dozzie dog lol if you get what I mean.
    Any thoughts welcome :)

  41. dandyboy says

    Shiba Inus are not easy dogs , they are hunters and chasers by instinct , and they won´t give up easily … they are dominant and stubborn . But they are cute and playful , if you adapt yourself to them . If you want one as your mascot he/she will give you a lot of work !

    • Anonymous says

      My shiba inu is adorable! I had German shepherds in the past. I thought I could never love a dog as much as my dog Xena. I have to say I love my shiba too! She is beautiful, smart, loving and just so adorable. She is happiest when included in everything. Training her involves positive reinforcement. Strong correction is not helpful with my shiba. She needs regular “good girls” and she loves attention! You have to win the love and approval of a shiba.

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