If you look at the personality, temperament, or breed descriptions of Shiba Inus, they are always listed as independent dogs.
Are they truly independent? and what does independence mean here?
According to Dictionary.com there are 17 different meanings to ‘independent’. Many of them describe the Shiba Inu well, especially the definitions pertaining to independent thought and action.
Indeed Shiba Inus are not easily influenced or controlled by others – they have a mind of their own and that is why Shiba Inus can be challenging to train and to share your life with.
However, the other key definition of independence has to do with reliance – i.e. whether someone relies on another for their existence, care, and support.
Clearly by this definition, all dogs are somewhat reliant on us and never totally independent. However, I would argue that Shiba Inus are even more reliant on us than many other dog breeds.
In particular –
- Shiba Inus are indoor dogs. My Shiba goes outside sometimes but he prefers being inside the house most of the time, and in the general vicinity of his humans.
- Shiba Inus need to have their people around. If you leave them alone for too long they will become destructive and/or escape.
- Shiba Inus like engaging in activities with others. This is probably true of all dogs because they are pack animals, however, some dog breeds are more ‘independent’ than others.
For example, my Siberian Husky will go hunting and exploring in the backyard on her own. She is good at entertaining herself and always manages to find something interesting to do.
My Shiba Inu on the other hand will only sleep when he is by himself. For any other activity, including working on food toys, playing in the backyard, or playing with toys, he will wait until someone else is there to do the activity together with him.
Are Shiba Inus truly independent?
Not in terms of self-reliance.
If you must be away at work or somewhere else for most of the day, it is best not to get a Shiba Inu. They may be independent when it comes to following commands, but they are extremely reliant on their people.
Owning a Shiba Inu takes a lot of time and patience. Only consider getting a Shiba Inu if you have a lot of time available to spend with your new Shiba Inu puppy – to train him, to play with him, to walk him, and to bond with him – EVERY DAY.
I have a 12 year old female Shiba, Sage, who has been living with me for 5 years now. I’ve known her since she was a puppy, she lived with my son previous to moving in with me.
I’ve only seen her asleep twice. Once while laying on the window seat in the sun, and once after having bladder stone surgery ( I think it was the meds that time :))
I believe she sleeps only when she’s by herself, and also at night after everyone here has gone to bed.
I worry sometimes when she doesn’t have alone time that she must be exhausted.
Paul Spencer says
we have an 8 year old female Shiba, Keiko ( 8 years old) and Male Shiba, Chenko (6 years old). We moved into a new house last July. Since March this year Keiko has started urinating in the spare bedroom ( the bedroom is rarely used). Both dogs have the run of the house. Keiko has never displayed this type of behaviour previously and is well trained. She has been checked out by the VET and has been given a clean bill of health. They are rarely alone for more than 4 hours. Any thoughts on what might be causing this behaviour?
Sadly Keiko was suffering with the Symptoms of SARDS. She went blind almost overnight but is coping well.
Any update on your doggy? Did keiko get her sight back?
Morten Båtbukt says
My girlfriend and I read your site through when we got our black and tan shiba Aiko. I fear we haven’t trained her enough, as she is exceptionally non-obedient. The exception is to the word “no”. There she obeys almost all the time, although I don’t use it if I don’t need to. Mostly it’s used to keep her from doing things indoors that she’s not supposed to. She rarely doesn anything, though, and doesn’t even touch food that is available because she’s learned not to.
When it comes to recall training she is not so well behaved. She comes back to me when I call if there is nothing interesting nearby. I only let her off leash when hiking (or in enclosed spaces with noone else around), so it’s not a bit problem. She can run off chasing an animal, but she always comes back pretty quickly by herself. She’s not too happy to be out of sight. If she meets other dogs, though, she wants to play and nothing else. If she sees them first I always have a hard time getting her to follow me. Meh.
Most of this is in line with your descriptions of Sephy, but the part that doesn’t fit is being able to entertain herself. She has no problems being home alone when we go to work, and never makes a sound. No barking, no gnawing on anything, she just sleeps. If she can look out the window she will just happily watch traffic for a some of the time, entertaining herself like that. She even likes to do this when we’re home. This was, actually, one of the reasons we chose a Shiba. Our breeder (who co-owns her with us and takes her to dog shows) had an interview with us to see if we and our lifestyles suited a shiba and they consider the shibas independent as a general rule when it comes to being alone. So I’m not sure if your Sephy is an exception or a rule (or our Aiko).
Anyhow, I’d like to say I love your site and have found it very useful. It’s been a while since I was last here and it’s been fun to reread some of it now that I have more experience. I think Aiko was 2-4 months last I read here, now she’s 12 🙂
Aiko sounds adorable!
That is really awesome. Sephy was a lot more needy when he was young. He still likes having his people around, just not bothering him with affection. He is ok with being home alone for a few hours, but I think if it is too long he will start to get stressed. He is definitely a house-dog too, preferring to stay inside the house most of the time. My Sibes like being outside a lot more.
In general, Sephy is just a lot more picky and really needs to have things exactly just so, according to the routine that he has grown accustomed to. Maybe it has more to do with inflexibility rather than anything else. Definitely interesting to think about. 😀
Happy 12 months to Aiko. Big hugs to her and thanks for sharing her stories with us.
sarah bush says
i have a 5 year shiba , i rescued him from a dogs home, hes very obedient, loyal and loving, hes very active and alert. hes great with children and loves nothing more than to play ball, hes very fussy in what he eats and will only go to the toilet when i talk him for a walk although ive two gardens, the only downfall is his double coat, hes sheds his fur at twice a year, it takes plenty of grooming.but i wouldnt part with him for the world
Sounds like you have a super-special Shiba!
My Shiba, Sephy is almost 5 years old. He is much better today than he was in the past, but I definitely would not call him obedient. He is loyal and sometimes loving – for some values of loving. 😀
Sephy is also not really into playing Fetch. He may go chase after balls sometimes, but he is most interested in stealing balls and then running off with it so that he can start a game of chase. Chase has got to be his favorite game!
Big hugs to your Shiba. What is his name? Would love to see him, so please share some photo links when you have the time. Thanks!
We also have a 5 year old shiba that we rescued that doesn’t seem to fit many of the descriptions I read. Curly is the most laid back, easy going, kinda lazy, sweet dog imaginable. Never barks or vocalizes at all unless he really needs to go out. Amazing with kids and babies and as docile and patient as can be with tugs and being carted around like a baby. I think he’s smarter than he lets on, but seems like not the brightest bulb in the bunch. Tho he definitely only obeys when he’s in the mood. But for the most part is so gentle and well behaved we don’t think much about it. He sleeps most of the time and doesn’t mind being left alone for many hour stretches. But when we’re home he follows us from room to room underfoot just wanting to be near. Maybe we just got lucky, as he’s our first dog and by and large is a dream-except for the massive fur explosion in our house over the last couple weeks during this whole coat blowing thing. Oy!!!
LOL! Time to knit a Shiba sweater for Christmas. 😀
Big hugs to Curly. He sounds like a Super-Shiba. Hope he is getting something really good from Santa. 😉
I think Sephy needs to learn some new tricks from your Akira 🙂
He really is a big-time home-body. The stars have to be aligned just right for him to go outside – frequently the grass is too wet, or it is too hot, too cold, not sunny enough, too sunny, lol. Sephy is quite a character but I love him to bits! 🙂
My Akira would stay hours on end outside in our backyard, so much so that I had a lot of trouble getting him in for the night 🙂 He will also play on his own most of the time but I agree that he’d rather not be left alone for a lot of time.
I like your blog 🙂