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.
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.
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.
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.
Barry Beaver says
I am glad to hear all of your comments about the sheba but I feel a little left out. All of your comments are about he does this or he does that.I have a Female Black And tan that is 18 months old and I have seen very few pictures of a female or a black and tan.Don’t mean to be without knowledge but is my female black and tan rare or not as well known.She has all the perfect markings.
Congratulations on getting your black and tan Shiba. There are probably not as many of them around as the reds, but I have also seen a fair number of them around. Cream colored Shibas are probably the most rare.
I only have a red Shiba so he is my freely available photographic subject 🙂 Would love to see your Shiba! Send us a link to some of her pictures.
I have a black and tan male. I am in FL. took me a while to find him as there are not many shibas here. Cream and the black and tan are the hardest to find.
Ana Brito says
I posted a video of my shiba playing with his dad on you tube
Hahaha – That is an awesome video. That pouncing play move is so Shiba! Do you have 5 Shibas? You are very brave 😀
So sad, we were about to adopt one but then we hit the bad of the personality. I’m glad to know that this is not the dog for me, despite how adorable he was.
It is good of you to do your research first. If more people did this, there would be much fewer dogs that need to be rescued or surrendered.
Good luck in your dog search and 2 paws up to you for choosing to adopt a dog in need.
James Hayslip says
I loved reading all the insights and stories. We have two Shibas (they really should come in pairs), Tyler and Tasha. We realized Tyler was getting lonely as he approached two so I told him I would find a little girl named Tasha for him and we did. They are the best of friends, but Tasha rules, she is the Queen of Shiba. Ours defy alot of the negative aspects of Shibas, they are very well behaved. They step aside and sit while on our walks if we encounter oncoming walkers, with or without dogs. When you see two Shibas doing the Shiba 500 it is a hoot. Tyler “munches” on all sorts of soft things, including me when he wants to wake me, but not Tasha. He likes to tuck us in at night and will pull the blankets back. They have a big back yard to run, hunt and play in and don’t try to escape now that they are all grown up. I’m a photographer and they are my main models for cards, posters, ads and such. They are camera hams. I love them more than any other dog I’ve ever had. They go practically everywhere with me (they love going into the Lowe’s store).
Hahaha – you know most people that I talk to with multiple dogs, it is usually a female that rules the pack. I think it is the same with people as well. 😉
Heh – want to exchange Shibas for a few months? Btw. where did you get your Shibas from? It would be great to get breeder names from all the people with good temperamented Shibas. Then we can create a list that people can go to.
That is awesome. Sounds like a great life that you have with your Shibas. Will definitely check FaceBook!
hey there! I was wondering if your dog ever “bites sheets”? We think he does it to clean his teeth but it’s kinda gross and we don’t know how to make him stop! He also will bite the edge of pillows- really not in an aggressive or playful way- more like just a very strange habit. Ever heard of this?
Yeah my Shiba is definitely into biting all kinds of soft bedding. He used to have several soft beds, but he would not stop attacking them. It is a lot better with the durable elevated beds we got him.
As for pillows, sheets, etc. – we have a no furniture rule in the house so he is not allowed on those things. If he gets on furniture, he goes straight to time-out. Nowadays he just tries to crawl under the bed – lol.
I get my Shiba Inu a lot of chew toys for his chewing and teeth cleaning pleasure, but in return he is not allowed to chew on sheets, blankets, pillows, etc.
The time-out works really well for my Shiba –
Let me know how it goes 🙂
Ana Brito says
Hello. My name is Ana and I´m from Brazil!! I googled shiba and checked your website which by the way describes very well our shiba puppy. We´ve had him for only a week and he´s already showed us he´s such a drama queen and I think sometimes our neighbors might think we´re sacrificing the poor puppy! He´s so funny. We´re so in love with him!!!
Anyway… thanks for the tips… if you have more about the breed please send it to my email address!!!
Hello Ana, very nice to meet you.
Re drama queen – yeah Shibas are really funny that way. When mine comes home from the vet he just goes off to the backyard and howls to the moon – as if to say – “Look! Life is so unfair!” – LOL. I have tried desensitizing him to handling and such but it only goes so far with a Shiba …
I would love to visit Brazil someday. When I do, I’ll come visit your Shiba 🙂 What is his name btw?
Ana Brito says
Hi there!!! Our puppy´s name is Kenzo!! If you come to Brazil you´re more than welcome to check out our baby!!!
Last night Kenzo was all crazy for about 10 to 15 minutes, he´d chase his tale nonstop…and then he´d put his ears back and run like a crazy dog sliding through the kitchen! Does yours do that too??We´ve been potty training him for a week now… he seems to have learned exactly where we want him to go… but he seems to insist going potty on the second floor of our house… anyway, we lock him and he will “cry” and whine a lot and then he´ll do the right thing!!!
I will upload a few pics of him on myspace… check it out!!!
Lol Ana – Yeah my Shiba used to do that crazy running around. It is so common among Shibas that many people call it the Shiba 500. If you do a search on “Shiba 500” you will see many humorous stories about it 🙂
Thanks for sharing your pictures of Kenzo. He is a majorly handsome Shiba! Love all those pictures with him under the blanket. I never really gave my Shiba any blankets because he would just shred them all up – lol.
Drop me a note if you load more pictures 🙂
i have a 15-month old shiba. every time i get mad at him i remind him that he’s lucky he’s beautiful, because it’s the only thing keeping him around! i also have a beagle, their interaction is priceless.
LOL! I do the same thing with mine. I think he knows it too because he will give me that deep look – then not 2 minutes later he is off to some mischief again 🙂
How are beagles wrt. temperament compared to the Shiba? I really like the look of beagles as well.
Your Shiba Inu is so cute! I want to get one too!
We get a lot of ‘Wow, she looks like a fox’ comments. The best one I heard was from a little girl, who pointed and said, ‘Hey Mommy, it’s a cat-dog!’ LOL!
Linda! So glad to see you. How are you? How is Mochi?
lol cat-dog. Interesting how kids always notice these things that we adults often miss 🙂
Mochi and I are doing well. 🙂 Thank you for asking. How are you doing?
Yea…I always felt shiba inu is a mix of cat, dog, and fox. 😛
We are all doing well. The dogs are really dead during the day when it is hot, but they rally their strength when the temperature drops 🙂
So I actually have some free time! lol
Ha ha…I think my Shiba is a mix of all the above (at least 1, 2, and 4)! But ultimately, consistent exercise keeps him tame. 1 week ago he had his ‘alteration’ surgery. That messed up the exercise patterns we have established for him and he started ‘acting out.’ He was in too much pain to exercise but still mobile enough to create terror around the house. But, he’s now back on track and is back to himself.
I do find that physical dominance works with Mossi. But, you put it well in an earlier commentary that you need to be very in tune with your dog to make it work.
lol – I *know* what you mean. I was trying to think of all sorts of ways to keep Sephy occupied after his neutering. We did a lot of Kongs, and got him all kinds of chew toys, but he had so much pent him energy it was difficult to keep him from his “bat out of hell” antics. I was so afraid that he would tear his stitches. Everyone was very happy when it was all over with 🙂 And I definitely agree 100% that a busy Shiba is a good Shiba!