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.
Thanks great, we also loving being able to walk dusty of the lead its so much nicer!
well done you for being willing to give it a go.
Hey Brendan – good to see you! Send us more pictures of Dusty – we all miss her. How is your super Shiba doing?
I had to post and let you all know that I took my dog Moksha to the beach today and can you believe it…I LET HIM OFF LEASH!!!! He did incredible for about forty-five minutes and then started to become a little aloof so I decided to put him back on before he decided to take off entirely. It was so wonderful, because as you all know shibas are notorious for getting distracted and its not usually recommended to let them off leash. I was sooo excited. For the forty five minutes he was great… he mainly just followed me as I walked and when he would get distracted I would call him and can you believe it? HE CAME. He came when he was called! I had to pinch myself to make sure what I was seeing was my dog and not a mirage. I was just so ecstatic that I had to share it with all of you.
That is amazing Meg! Sign of a great and strong bond.
Loved your pictures of Moksha. Send us more when you get the chance.
Haha im very stubborn too xD i felt like a shiba would be a good dog for me but maybe a different breed is better. do you have any suggestions for what kind of dog i should get instead? im sort of looking for a dog that doesnt shed too much,isnt too big,and is all right with being left alone for a while. Thanks for the information about your shiba inu though.
Hmmm, I don’t have much experience with smaller dogs. One small dog breed that seems to behave very well is the Pug. From what I can tell, they are friendly, not very high energy, and are loyal. Here is a pretty good summary of their origins and characteristics –
I would get on some pug message boards to get more details on the breed. Breed specific message boards usually have a lot of very knowledgeable people.
Good luck and let us know what you decide. 🙂
such a helpful site! is the shiba inu good for me? im in middle school and i think having a dog would help me deal with my depresssion. what if i were to leave it in a roomy cage for about 6 hours because of school? and is the shiba inu good for 1st time owners?? D:
Very nice to meet you.
Shibas can be very difficult dogs to manage – they are stubborn, dominant, sneaky, and did I mention stubborn? 😀 The stubbornness is really the worst. As a result they are usually not recommended for 1st time owners.
When my Shiba was young, I took him to a variety of trainers and even some trainers had problems with him. The dog walker couldn’t handle him and didn’t want to walk him anymore, and several daycare centers could not handle him.
Shibas can be very feisty and even experienced dog people can have trouble handling them.
Shibas are also very intelligent and need a lot of mental and physical stimulation. Shiba Sephy works for all of his food, he gets to play with Shania, he gets walked > 1 hour every day, there are play sessions, etc. and he still has the energy to get up to no good. Such a character he is!
If left alone for too long, Shibas will become unhappy and destructive. They are very good at escaping from crates and even enclosed backyards. When bored, they will escape to find adventure outside – then neighborhood beware! 😀
Another thing to consider is that Shibas really are quite aloof dogs. If you are looking for companionship and a loving dog, you will probably be disappointed in a Shiba. Most of the time, my Shiba likes being by himself and he dislikes getting too much human affection. He only wants to be loved on his own schedule and will walk away otherwise.
Let me know if I can be of more help, and happy summer holidays!
WOW! you have THE BEST site! wonderful and very detailed info! i want a shibu sooooooo bad! but my dad would never let me :/ He likes big, well behaved dogs. such as great danes. don’t get me wrong, i love my gus(my gret dane) but i want a cute, small dog i can cuddle up with and just… idk… not have him squash me every time he moves! but i’m going to try REALLY hard to talk my dad into getting me this dog. so i have a few questions:
1.are they good with cats? cuz i have like 20 cats.
2.are they good most-of-the-time out side dog? cuz i live out in the country so i have lots of open space for him to roam, but i can’t have him inside to much because two reasons:my dad doesnt like inside dogs;and i have school so he would be un supervised inside,and with my past experiences,thats not a good thing.
3.do they need some kind of special food? cuz we get the genaric stuff.
thank you!i really do love yout site. it’s amazing!
Thank you for dropping by Maggie. Great Danes are very awesome. My Shiba loved playing with them whenever he met them at the dog park. It is funny watching him play with such a large dog because he will be trying out all his Shiba moves to no avail – lol.
Shibas are bred to hunt so they have a high prey drive. While they can be trained to accept cats (if brought up from puppyhood), their instinct will be to hunt them.
Shiba Sephy is definitely an inside dog. He doesn’t like being outside for too long, and if the grass is wet, he doesn’t like stepping on it. 😀 He is such an interesting fellow.
Shibas also like having their people around – not too close – but around to serve them. My Shiba spends most of the day inside the house with me while my Siberian mostly likes being outside.
Shibas may be allergic to certain ingredients. For example Shiba Sephy is allergic to wheat and all wheat products so I have to get him special grain-free kibble.
Hope this helps. Let me know if you have more questions.
I am so glad I found this webiste! It is sooo helpful! My Shiba Inu, who we named Django, arrived at our home after someone apparently abandoned him in the countryside. We had no intention of owning a dog, but after two months no one had claimed him at the pound(we had been temporarily housing him for this time) we were in love and decided to give it a go.
The honeymoon is over. I can’t believe the first day he showed up we left him out front tied with only a little rope in case his owners came by! As he becomes more comfortable, he reveals his strength, independence, and affection… yes, affection. I have so many stories to tell, but right now we are concerned about how exactly we should house this guy. Inside, outside, indoors a crate while we are at work or in his large roomy outdoor pen(with couch and doghouse)… where he screams and yelps and causes us much concern. We can’t have him run loose in the house because of the cats, except for limited times, when they are upstairs. Somtimes I worry he needs a better home. But who could love him more? We just want to create the right environment. Any advice? And how to stop this screaming when he is left outside!
Two paws up and a BIG WOOF for taking in a Shiba in need.
Yeah my Shiba was like that too. He generally likes being in the house. Is is possible to set up the pen in the house? or perhaps set up a safe area/room for him to stay in? When Sephy was young, I set up a gate to block off my kitchen area and let him stay in there. The kitchen is nice because of the tiled floor (can’t chew on carpets), there are no electrical outlets he can get to, and the counters are too high for him to steal stuff off.
Another thing I tried with Sephy is to let him go to dog daycare for a couple of days per week. I also tried group dog walking. There are now many dog walkers who will take a group of dogs for a nice off-leash romp in a nearby hiking park. They come to pick up your dog and will drop him off after the hike. I actually liked the group dog walk more than the daycare, but it was difficult to find a walker who could handle Sephy 😀
He is a terror that flaps in the night!
Let us know how things go with Django. Would love to hear his stories.
Hello Shiba Loving Friends,
It has been a while since I posted so I wanted to give you a little update. I am the owner of a beautiful black and tan shiba named Moksha. I am happy to report that I lived through the first year of my Shiba’s life. He was a year old on March 14th. He had a big birthday party and I spoiled him rotten. He probably couldn’t have cared less he just looked at me like, “now this is the way I’m supposed to be treated, why are you making such a big deal out of this?” In the afternoon he took the longest royal nap I’ve ever seen him take. He is such a PRINCE! So I lived through the first year, but there are still quite a few challenges with his royal highness. I am still working on a little mouthing when he is not getting his own way, He is still jumping on people and he is still soooo excited all the time. I am working with a personal trainer on some of his issues, but I highly recommend working one on one with a trainer especially with a shiba, it is much easier to get him to focus with just me and the trainer and not a ton of dogs around. Anyways, I just wanted to give you an update, because I have found a tremendous amount of support here on this site. Support that is truly necessary when raising a shiba. It has been amazing for me when I am talking with other dog owners how incredibly different shibas are from the rest of the dog population. It really takes saint like patience to live with a shiba, but for some of us it’s the only way to live…I don’t think i’ll ever own anything but a shiba at this point. Anyways thank you so much for all of your support throughout this last year and I’m sure that I will continue to post and chat with shiba lovers like myself. Could you tell me where I can send some pictures. I think if you could see him you will understand the “prince” comments. And to be totally honest, I love to show off my little shiba. Thanks again, you all are great!!!
So glad to hear from you and Moksha. I am happy to hear that all is going well.
That is so true. Also, not many people know the Shiba breed, so it was difficult for me to find trainers for Sephy. Many of the initial trainers told me he was a really extreme Shiba – which I later learned was not true at all. It turns out that he was and is just a typical Shiba – lol.
Oh – I love Shiba pictures! 😛 Please send me a mail through –
Thanks and Happy Easter! Hugs to Moksha – hope he finds lots of Easter eggs 😀
It is very clear to me after browsing this website that you guys know exactly what you are talking about, when it comes to Shiba’s.
My Shiba Inu Kenji is Nuts and does everything you say on this website. Other readers comments are killing me as well. Obviously it is the breed unlike any other that makes these dogs so amazing! My Golden Samantha-Jo never did half the crazy things Kenji has already pulled off.
I am still finding myself telling him that he’s very lucky he is so cute or he would be elsewhere…..lol
Good information and a Great Website! 🙂
Hahaha – yeah, good-looking dogs can get away with so much more, just like good-looking people! I guess good-looking people tend to be more on the high-maintenance side as well 😀
Thanks for your great website. I looked at it soon after I got my puppy, Monty, and am now looking at it again.
Monty is a great dog. He is incredibly friendly towards people and other dogs and very well-behaved at home. I’ve also used reward training as I got the sense, as you have, that my shiba could get aggressive with me if I used force or aversion training. Besides being terrible at recall, things have, for the mostpart, gone very well.
Now that he is 9 months old, however, he is developing some aggressive behaviour and more stubbornness. He has never bitten me but now becomes completely crazed when it comes to trimming his nails whereas he was fine before (perhaps it’s because he had his nails trimmed at the vets after a very traumatizing neutering experience(?)). He plays well with almost any dog but he has also started becoming aggressive with them over food and even over (their) toys or sticks. When I take him to the dog beach, this has become a particular problem. Today he snarled and snapped at one dog over a stick (when Monty was trying to steal it) and stole another dog’s ball (he has no interest in playing fetch with me). Where before he would eventually stop when I went to get him, today he ran away from me and I spent a good 15 minutes chasing him with the annoyed dog owner and dog following us around for the ball. I am concerned that someday he will be severely put in his place by another dog or run off and be hurt.
I have a groomer come in to do his nails now but Monty is used to getting a lot of exercise and loves going off-leash at the beach (which is very far from any road and the only time he is off) and I would prefer not to stop doing this. I often leave a leash trailing so that I can catch him more easily. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can curb the aggression and get him to be a bit more obedient?
LOL Montasaurus, I like that!
That is amazing – my Shiba was exactly like that when I took him to the dog park. He would pretty much steal all the balls and the poor other dogs got alpha rolled by their owners when they rightly got annoyed with Shiba and attempted to correct him.
I think Shibas quickly learn that if they steal balls etc., that is the quickest way to get attention and to start a game of chase with other dogs or with people. In this way they get two of their most favorite things – “eyes on them” and a fun chase game.
This is one of the main reasons why I stopped taking Shiba Sephy to dog-parks. The environment there is just too unstructured for him, and he was also starting to pick up bad habits from the other dogs.
Instead, I took him to the SPCA nearby. They have a nice enclosed grass area and I let him play with the SPCA dogs on a one-on-one basis. I also take him hiking on trails (on leash) and he really enjoys that. I have tried taking him on off-leash hiking trails and he has done well on-leash even with the other off-leash dogs. I find that the owners in hiking trails are better at supervising their dogs and really have good off-leash control over them.
Before I moved, I also had a great neighbor with a very friendly young dog named Kai. I would bring her over to my house several times a week for supervised play sessions with Sephy. That worked out really well.
If you truly want to continue trying the beach thing – putting on a really long lead (only on a flat collar) may help. A really long lead (like the ones that people use for recall training) will allow you to stop him before he initiates chase, and put him on a mini time-out. The disadvantage is that it can easily get tangled if he starts wrestling with other dogs. It may also get caught on trees and such.
The important thing is to quickly shut down the chase game as soon as he starts to go after balls. Shibas are really smart and once they learn that they can do whatever they want at the beach or dog-park and you cannot effectively stop them, they will keep doing it, and with great gusto!
Some people use shock collars but that has many risks. In a situation with other dogs, the shocks may just encourage aggression towards the other dogs or worse with people.
Here are some of the things I found when I looked into shock collars –
“The important thing is to quickly shut down the chase game as soon as he starts to go after balls.”
Thanks for your comments. I think you’re definitely right on that one. I try to intercept him immediately now before he steals a ball or stop him as soon as I can. Basically, I call him quite sternly and hold up a finger and, if he chooses to look at me, he will eventually stop. My boyfriend will give him a flick on the nose (I don’t) but just the threat of it seems to let him know I mean it. If he does not look at me, however, he will actually run off the beach up to the path and jump on people as if to show off the ball… arghhh.
I will probably see how it goes. If he continues to do this or has a conflict I will definitely keep him on lead. For now, I just leave a leash on trailing behind him so he will be easier to stop. The threat of going back on the leash may also be helping.
LOL! That is so like a Shiba! They *know* they are God’s gift to humankind 😉
Hi, I had a ? we have a shiba who is 14months old at first she was sweet and kind we have a 2year old rat terrier who dosnt play but now she attacks her all the time if we throw her in the cage she rips at her or even if u yell at the other dog for doing something she attacks her or if u yell at her for doing something she takes it out on her our rat terrier has had her ear torn her leg bit in to her back cut open, Im at my wits end I dont know what too do?? ANy suggestions Ive never had a dog so aggressive and over small things to and yesterday she grabbed my arm tryin to get to the other dog.. She gets loved and played with and treats all the time I dont understand do you think if we get her fixed she’s be more calm?? Please if anyone has any idea let me know …
Shibas tend to be stubborn and bossy when they can get away with it. When I first got Shiba Sephy he was a ball of badness 🙂
It is important, especially for a Shiba, to establish rules in the house and outside the house. Some rules that my Shiba absolutely has to follow include no biting people, no getting on furniture, no humping, no bullying my Siberian, and no guarding of food or toys.
If he breaks any of these rules, I non-mark him, and ask him for an alternate command. If he does not listen, he gets his freedom taken away and he has to go to timeout. In this way he learns that doing certain things = no freedom, but doing what I ask of him = nice rewards.
Another thing that helped me a lot is following the NILIF (Nothing in Life is Free) program. This means Shiba has to do something for me first before he gets anything in return – including food, toys, freedom in the backyard, and *affection*.
Here are some things that really helped me when Shiba Sephy was young-
In the same way it is important to establish boundaries between your two dogs. My Siberian is a three legged dog so in the beginning I always supervised my Shiba very closely while playing with her. No bullying will be tolerated. Whenever he starts any kind of bullying – which includes humping – I will step in, non-mark, and stop play.
In this way he learns that certain behaviors = no play, but playing nice = rewards and lots of fun play.
By controlling a Shiba’s resources (food, treats, affection, freedom), you can teach her what are acceptable behaviors and what are non-desirable behaviors.
Staying calm is also very important when dealing with a Shiba. In the beginning I would get angry and frustrated and that only made things worse with Sephy. Stay calm, and have a plan on how to deal with each bad behavior. Once I did that, things improved significantly with Shiba Sephy.
Here is another article that may be helpful –
It may also be a good idea to get a professional trainer. It is easiest to train a dog when they are young, so now is a great time to start. A good professional trainer will be able to come up with a comprehensive program for you including how to set boundaries for your Shiba, and how to get her to listen and do what you want.