Should You Get a Shiba?

You would make a great owner for a Shiba if you:

* enjoy running, walking, hiking and crawling through brambles while yelling your dog’s name at the top of your lungs

* picture the ideal mate as someone who greets you effusively when you get home from work, asks you about your day and then walks away and falls asleep on the couch

* like cats. Cats with curly tails and screams that can shatter glass

* have a fenced yard that could safely contain the inmates of a maximum-security prison

* have a high tolerance for humiliation, because at one point of your life or another, your Shiba will contrive to make you look like the world’s biggest idiot

Are You Prepared For A Shiba?

The goal of this page… well, it’s not to prevent you from getting a dog that screws up your life. It’s to prevent you from screwing up the life of a dog that has no control over where it goes or how it’s brought up.

Thou shalt not screw up the life of a member of my chosen breed.

You would think that people who agonize over buying a house or a car would exhaustively research the dog that they plan to add to their lives for roughly 15 years. As we all (should) know, the number of animals in SPCAs, animal shelters and rescues is evidence that this is not happening.

The Shiba is often underestimated, since it is a small, often cute, often charming breed of dog. The same characteristics that make it endlessly amusing when playing with a ball or other toys make it hell on earth for the unprepared owner.

Who is the ideal Shiba owner? All sorts of people, with different schedules, lifestyles, and levels of physical fitness own happy Shibas. If an owner is dedicated to their dog’s welfare, I think it’s possible to make a Shiba work out in most situations.

What I can definitely state is that the ideal owner for a Shiba inu is assertive, realistic, and educated about their chosen breed of dog. I would generally not recommend this for the first-time dog owner and would have reservations about a family with small children choosing a Shiba for their family pet.


  1. I laughed at all the comments you have posted above, but I think only an owner of a Shiba would really “get” that these facts are real and true about a Shiba. I have never had such an arrogant, strongheaded, focus minded, untrainable, me,me,mine,mine,mine,wantyours,want yours and mine too, loveable, clean, loyal, dog. I just happen to love all animals, and when my Shiba insists on doing what he wants, which is all of the time, he just makes me laugh. I realize it is not his fault, it is the way his breed is, and I love him for it.

  2. I find your website extremely amusing! I’m the owner of a 4 year old Shiba Inu. She’s the sweetest, most loving creature in the world. She’s also psychotic and I swear, the definition ADHD!

    We got her when she was only 6 weeks old and she’s friendly and very playful with kids. (Our kids, the neighbor’s kids.) She doesn’t bark. She’s not agressive. She’s just the best!

    Of course, I could never let her off the leash… and she does need supervision or she will get herself into trouble. But it doesn’t matter! In my eyes, she’s still perfect. She’s a great running partner, too.

    We had a male Shiba a couple years ago, before we owned our current dog. Unfortunately, he was already grown when we got him and completely untrainable. He had a lot of bad habits and though he was a lovable dog, we just couldn’t keep him under control and had to release him to a rescue organization.

    It really is all about the training! Shibas are very intelligent dogs and with a little time and patience, the best pest in the world. πŸ™‚

    I’m so happy I found this website! Thank you!!

  3. I definately agree… For those ppl that buy a shiba thinking that they are just another dog are about to have a rude awakening. I think they look SOO cute as babies and adults so that you take them home before you realize their true colors! The hardest part in the beginning is the fact that they almost want nothing to do with you. They rather have you do your thing and they do theirs… So if you have your heart set on a cuddle bunny then pick a different breed! Most ppl buy puppies because their SO cute and cuddly looking and they just cant wait to hold and love on the pup. However shiba pups dont have ANY plans on lying in your lap, well at least not quietly! lol
    When it comes to training a shiba I’ve never met a dog that could learn SO fast (my male at least could) he learned over 30 tricks by the age of 4 months! However he’d only preform when I was willing to reward him with his favorite treats. (Anything less then his favorite wasnt good enough!) My female shiba was a different story all together she was almost impossible to train bc she didn’t CARE if I praised her, gave her treats or punished her, she just wanted to do what she wanted to do! (luckily by being super consistent for a yr she finally decided it was in her best interest to follow a couple very basic commands!) I about pulled my hair out with frustration since I’ve trained dogs since I was young both in obedience and agility and no matter what I tried it didnt work and when something seemed to work it wouldnt the next time. Another thing is she acted just like a cat when it came to walking ANYWHERE on a leash. When I first started leash training her I literally had to drag her with me. I even ended up accidently hurting her feet bc she rubbed her pads off on the pavement trying NOT to go anywhere! (I never thought she would take it to THAT level!) Of course when that happened she turned into a super diva and thought she couldnt move at all! You would have thought she’d be run over and was paralysized from the neck down! Vet’s have said shibas are one of the hardest dogs to treat bc even a sliver will make them act like their half dead or dying! Next problem is recall… Shibas dont have any! Well maybe if they feel like it they might come but not close enough for u to catch them! The kicker is you CANT leave your shiba off leash at all! You cant even let them in fenced yard unless you have a yard that is concrete on the bottom with fence literally cemented to the ground AND a roof! They will dig thru almost anything, squeeze under at the smallest place, or literally climb the fence like a rock wall. Doesnt even matter if you have a 6 ft fence they will get over sometimes bc they are constantly trying to figure out how! They are ALWAYS thinking and trying to figure out how to outsmart you! What will work one day will almost NEVER work the next day! Trainers have often said that the shibas will spend their time between training sessions figuring out how to NOT obey!
    Another thing you have to deal with is the shiba “scream”… I actually had the cops called on me once when I was giving the shibas a bath!! My neighbors thought my ex was beating me! (I warned them that my shibas would scream whenever they didnt like exactly how I was treating them. Definately something you should do if living near anyone at all!) Shibas also have their own ideas of being treated bad means… It might be taking a bath, walking in wet grass, picking them up, making them cuddle, going out in the rain or even when they are super happy to see you when you return! The list goes on and on and each shiba has their own ideas (though normally baths are on all shibas list of what is considered good treatment of them!).
    That being said their are definately some great positives to owning a shiba. Shibas are very clean and will actually even clean up after other pets (You’ll have to be super fast to beat them to the punch!) They are very indepedent and not needy at all so being left at home doesnt bother them (though it might bother you bc they definately will get into as much trouble as possible!), they pretty much potty train themselves and will even have great bladder control when they are only 6wks old. Shibas will NEVER urinate in their home unless there is NO other option (or if they are male they my want to mark stuff like you!). This means you dont have to take them outside 6-8 times or more like you do other smaller breeds. Next they really go off of your energy level most the time. If you calm and quiet then they will be too. (unless is Shiba 500 time of the day) If your wanting to play and run around or even take them running, biking, rollerblading, walking then they will ALWAYS outlast you! They will always make you laugh (and probably cry at times!) since they are SO smart and will manipulate other animals around them! My shiba would literally throw a toy for my other dog then while he was fetching it she’d steal whatever the other dog was chewing on! Also she used to frame my pomeranian since my pom was too stupid to run away from the scene of the crime! She’d do this by getting into trouble then when she heard me coming she would run away and lay down and act like she’d be sleeping and didnt know the pom had done something bad! I actually ended up getting rid of my pom bc I thought she was always getting into everything! Another good thing about a shiba is they are SUPER loyal and she loved being wherever I was (though not on my lap). My shiba wouldnt listen to my ex unless she knew I was okay with what she was doing! It used to drive my ex nuts!! Bc no matter what he said or offered she’d always obey my commands first!
    So all in all I think anyone thinking about owning a shiba should do their research with the best research being talking to other people that have actually owned one. I have always loved shibas since I was very very young and I had done tons of research on the breed however that did not prepare me for what owning a shiba really was going to be like! Anyone thats buying a shiba bc they are cute and bc they want a dog will have a rude awakening bc they are anything but like a classic dog. So please know what your really looking for before getting one otherwise you’d be unhappy. Finally if you never owned a dog before don’t start with this breed… Mostly bc you have to be SUPER consistent with training, know what your doing and many way to train AND start from a very young age otherwise it will be nearly impossible… These dogs are not easy in this regard at all and are not the best breed to start learning to train on. Since they will play you for a fool and you’ll be beating your head on the wall!!
    Even with all their faults personally after owning a shiba I could never own just a regular dog again… Shiba’s are addictive! lol They are SO unique and different from other dogs that they really should almost have their own catagory! After owning one its hard to go back to the slow, hyper, yippy, weeing animals that most dogs are! After owning one I will NEVER pick another breed before a shiba… I might get a shiba AND a different breed but I’d NEVER pick a different breed before buying another shiba! I’m definately hooked on Shibas for life!!!

    • You are so right about ‘mind of their own. Now I will always have one or two SHIBAs with other breeds.
      I lost my two border terriers and while looking on internet came across Shiba Inu ‘blowin the wind’ video. Oh boy, was I hooked or what? I searched high and low in UK to get a pup.
      She destroyed wall furniture and numerous shoes but she is so loving. Always wants a cuddle but on her terms. I walk her without a lead but only in the woods. One day she just disappeared. after 3 hrs no sign of Shiba ‘Michi’ I decided to take border home and then start a search again. As I opened the gate, she just ran past me into the house. Crossed two busy roads. She has done this twice now. I am weary of leaving her off the lead but just gives me a look and lead comes off. Oh and another thing, she does not like men-I think you will agree that she got the good taste and right ideas!!!!LOL

  4. I am an experienced dog owner and am thinking of taking on a Shiba! I want an independent dog that is good in apartments and cities (AKA always on a leash, likes to run and doesn’t need to worry about climbing gates and fences), can be trained well and is loyal. I also want it to be small (it is hard to find smaller dogs that like to run and exercise!).

    That being said, I love to adopt dogs. I have felt terribly about the thought of buying a dog when there are so many in need.

    Everything I have read about the Shiba makes me feel like the only way I can go about owning one is to buy a pup. I need my dog to be comfortable around other dogs and I want to train it and not have it be completely independent/know some commands and run with me on a leash. I am not sure if adopting an older Shiba is an option because everywhere I read it sounds like the older, fostered Shiba will be aloof and coexist with me rather than be my friend. I want more than just a roommate!

    Should I give up hope on adopting a slightly older Shiba?

    • I don’t think you should give up hope, but be very careful about the older Shiba you do adopt. One option is to go through a reputable rescue that can guide you to a dog with a demonstrated temperament that you can work with. Another option is to contact show kennels and see if they have older dogs who have finished their show careers. Some kennels do this to provide the dogs with a more one-on-one home life after their show career is done. That might be an option for you.

      Also keep in mind that older dogs can be trained – in fact when adopting a rescue, it is my opinion that training is imperative to cement the bond between new owner/new dog. Seek out mainly positive-based trainers and remember that, no matter what, your Shiba will humiliate you in some entertaining fashion at some point in your life together.

  5. I had the priviledge of being able to live with and care for two of the most
    beautiful creatures God ever put on this earth. The female was named
    Ginger Mae and Her male partner was named Gunner. Ginger lived to
    the age of 15 and passed away with my loving hand petting her. Gunner
    had health problems and died in my arms at the age of 12. They both
    are final resting in a special place near the forest they both loved in the
    foothills of the Golden Pond country of western Maine. There is not a day
    that goes by that I do not miss their love and presence in my life. Looking
    back I can say that if I only made one decision in my life that was correct
    it was when I brought those two dear hearts into my life.

  6. Someone who likes Shibas go get this pup in San Bernardino CA? Fast!
    Rescue Village ID#A448343
    “I am a white American Eskimo mix. My age is unknown.
    I have been at the shelter since Jun 16, 2013.”
    San Bernardino City Animal Control
    (I wanted to write in and say your website is hilarious! I’ve owned Samoyeds and it’s the same deal if they are smart. Good description of “no recall”. But what an amazing experience knowing them!!)

  7. I think the Shiba gets better as they age. My female is close to 7 years of age and just getting better and more amazing. Very intelligent and not only knows what she can get away with but also knows where she can’t. I would say for me its a perfect dog. A nice size, not big yet not to small. Can take care of herself in most situations. Very independant yet very respectfull at he same time.

  8. I just lost my best friend last October. He was a constant companion for 16 years. Kenji a purebred Tri-color Shiba didn’t trust adults but loved children. He also got along with other dogs after he got to be 8 years old. His favorite stunt was to walk up to a baby in a stroller and lick their feet to make the baby laugh. He was always on the leash and a couple of times he chewed through his leash wile on a walk. But I wouldn’t have any other friend.

    • I also had a purebred Shiba named Kenji. He was a red. I lost him to cancer when he was 11. Life has never been the same. I miss him dearly.

    • My 18 months shiba MICHI with the help form Lady a border terrier chewed 5 pairs of shoes, made holes in wall chewed furniture and striped wallpaper together. I was watching through the glass window I wished I had a camera. they were holding the paper and moving backwards. Whole paper came off then they started on the ncxt strip
      But I can not shout at them as they are so adorable.

    • I understand your pain. They come in you life give joy and leave void. I still cry silently as two yeas ago I lost two borders mother and son within 18 months of each other. Mother Jasmine was hit by car and Lucion could not live without her.
      I did not want another dog thereafter but house was so empty without the dogs.
      While looking for another border, came across Shiba and it was love at first sight. Both are so attention seeking lovable rogues, Ah!!

  9. Omg, are Shibas as bad as all the comments above? i was thinking about a 5 yr old male retired show dog. But, I’m not sure now, I have a 3 yr old Rhodesian Ridgeback female that needs a friend. I also would like another smaller dog that will be affectionate, sit on my lap, etc. This dog would be from a breeder who has too many dogs. He is a beautiful black & tan dog that looks like a miniature husky, I fell in love with his picture. He is also located 800 miles from me. I actually thought of driving to meet him. I talked to the breeder and she said Shibas are independent, can’t be off leash, strong willed, etc. I also have a friend who has a Shiba and she said the same thing, not a cuddler. So maybe a Shiba is not for me, I also have cats. Although my Ridgeback is stubborn, headstrong, hard to train, but loves everyone, other dogs, people and is very sweet. Any comments would be appreciated. Thanks.

    • I talk about that with my friend in this blog post. Shibas are everything the breeder said. It’s funny, because I find my Shiba to be really easy to live with, but I’ve absorbed his temperament and his boundaries into my daily life. Not everyone has the convenience of doing so – I have a job where I can bring Tierce, I don’t have children, I don’t have other pets. It’s what gives me pause when recommending this breed to people without experience in the Northern breeds or perhaps terriers.

      Tierce is not a cuddler. He likes being in the same room as us and lying against us on the bed, but he’s not snuggly. Shibas are their own dogs. They may deign to sit beside you, but mostly they feel that to offer you unbridled affection will spoil you.

      • I have had three shibas in the past 15 years. Our first red shiba was anti getting dirty, aloof, not food motivated, play motivated, quiet, never chewed anything, controllable, never poorly gorgeous boy. He sadly passed away in March this year and we went back to the breeder and took two white shibas. The dog is the total opposite – he chews everything, he loves water, getting dirty, digging holes, food motivated, not interested in playing, cuddly, sits on the sofa or your lap, opens the bin, steals toys from the children……. I cannot tell you how opposite he is. But OMG he is such fun and I love him soooooo much πŸ’™πŸ• and his sister – she is a real sweetie πŸ’—πŸ•

        • I started reading this and thought oh this sounds just like Lisa…then realised it was you lol xx

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