Shiba Inu Temperament: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em
Shiba Inu Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2018
People often find themselves drawn to the Shiba Inu because he is conveniently sized, handsome and hardy, easy to groom, and clean and quiet indoors. However.... these interested potential owners must explore this breed in more depth, else they might be making a big mistake.
The Shiba Inu, you see, is very challenging to raise and train. A bold, high-spirited "big dog in a small body," he must always be kept on-leash, for he has a high prey drive and quick reflexes and will pursue anything that moves. He can outrun and outdodge any human....and frequently does, for he has an independent spirit. Shibas are true runners.
Shiba Inu owners need secure fences. Indeed, if you plan of leaving your Shiba outdoors unsupervised, he really should have a covered run (as in chainlink all across the top) if you want to be sure of finding him in the yard where you left him. Otherwise, his ingenuity and agile jumping/climbing/digging skills may send him over or under an ordinary fence. And once he's loose, he's gone.
Dog aggression is a common breed trait. Cats are iffy around many Shibas, and small caged pets will be stalked and probably dispatched with.
You must stay one step ahead of the Shiba Inu, for he is both dominant and clever. He often tries to manipulate through intimidation and when displeased by something can emit a loud scream which may catch you (or your vet) totally unprepared.
With his marked stubborn streak and mischievous sense of humor, the Shiba Inu does best with owners who are firm, confident, and utterly consistent.
Shibas are possessive of their toys and food; it is said that if they could utter one word, it would be "Mine!"
If you want a dog who...
- Is conveniently-sized, sturdy, and strong
- Has a wolf-like (spitz) appearance, with prick ears, foxy face, thick coat, and curled tail
- Is energetic, bold, and spirited -- not a lapdog
- Is smart and clever
- Moves swiftly with light-footed grace
A Shiba Inu may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- Massive destructiveness when bored or left alone too much
- Excessive suspiciousness when not socialized enough
- Aggression toward other dogs and cats -- strong chasing instincts
- Containment difficulties and preventing escape attempts
- Running away, oblivious to your calls, when an interesting sight or scent catches his attention
- Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge
- Heavy shedding
A Shiba Inu may not be right for you.
Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.
- You can avoid some negative traits by choosing an ADULT dog from an animal shelter or rescue group. With an adult dog, you can easily see what you're getting, and plenty of adult Shiba Inus have already proven themselves not to have negative characteristics.
- If you want a puppy, you can avoid some negative traits by choosing the right breeder and the right puppy. Unfortunately, you usually can't tell whether a puppy has inherited temperament or health problems until he grows up.
- Finally, you can avoid some negative traits by training your Shiba Inu to respect you and by following the 11-step care program in my book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy.
More traits and characteristics of the Shiba Inu
If I was considering a Shiba Inu, I would be most concerned about...
- Keeping him busy enough. Shiba Inus are active go-getters who need regular opportunities to vent their energy and to use their busy minds to do interesting things. Otherwise they will become bored, which they usually express by destructive chewing. No breed should be left alone all day, but this breed is especially likely to make you aware of that fact!
- Standoffishness. Shibas need extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds, so that their natural caution doesn't become suspiciousness. Shiba Inus like to approach people on their own terms. They don't like to be grabbed at, or held tightly, so I don't recommend them around young children.
- Animal aggression. The Shiba Inu was bred to hunt other animals. Many Shiba Inus are dominant or aggressive toward other dogs of the same sex. Many have strong instincts to chase and seize small fleeing creatures. This can make for conflict if you own a cat. It may be much worse than that if you own a pet rabbit or hamster!
- Running away from you. Shiba Inus cannot be trusted off-leash. They will take off, oblivious to your frantic shouts, after anything that catches their attention or runs.
- Fence security. Many Shiba Inus are clever escape artists who will go over or under fences in search of adventure. To keep your Shiba Inu in, a 6- to 8-foot fence is recommended, and it should NOT be chain link or anything else climbable. Some Shibas can go over anything and require a covered outdoor pen. You may also need to sink wire into the ground along the fence line to thwart digging. Gates should have the highest quality locks, not a flimsy latch.
- The strong temperament. Shiba Inus are very bright but they have an independent mind of their own and little desire to please you. They can be manipulative, and many are willful and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.
In other words, you must teach your Shiba Inu to respect you. A dog who respects you will do what you say and will stop what he's doing when you tell him "No." Read more about Shiba Inu Training.
- Heavy shedding. The Shiba Inu sheds a little throughout the year and a LOT for three weeks during the spring and three weeks during the fall. Be sure that hair and fur on your clothing and furniture is okay with you.
To help you train and care for your dog
Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.
The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.
To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.