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Shiba Inu – Characteristics Unique to the Smallest Japanese Dog


It might be safe to assume that some of the thousands of viewers of the Shiba Inu Puppy Cam on Ustream in 2008 might decide to purchase a Shiba, but what are they really getting?

The Shiba Inu belongs to original 14 ancient dog breeds, which means he has the fewest genetic variations from wolves. It is the smallest of the six Japanese dog breeds, generally weighing between 17 and 22 pounds. He is sturdy, healthy, and adaptable to most climates and spaces. However, all dog breeds have certain qualities that might make them good or bad for certain prospective owners. Here are some things to expect from a Shiba:

The Shiba Scream

This is a very unique characteristic to the breed. When a Shiba feels threatened, endangered or scared, he will let out a shrill, ear-splitting scream rather than a whimper or bark as expected from dogs. Most Shibas will especially vocalize their displeasure when receiving a bath. Luckily for owners, the Shiba is a clean breed and will rarely need bathing.

The Shiba’s “Spirited Boldness” and Independence

Shibas form a strong bond with their masters, but they are often standoffish and would prefer a game of “chase” than a belly rub. They’re playful, but they are happy to entertain themselves with their toys if no one can pay attention from time to time. That is not to say they prefer to be alone; quite the contrary, they want to be close at all times, just on their terms. They will not sit in laps or cuddle, which is difficult for some to understand because they are “just so cute.”

The “Houdini” of the Dog World

Shibas are known for escaping pens, crates, leashes, harnesses, collars, yards, houses, everywhere. While it is possible to train a Shiba to walk nicely without a leash or wait by an open door, there is always a possibility that he will run.

Shiba Inu needs to be socialized early to be trained easilyGeneral Difficulty in Training

Shibas are very intelligent, but they are difficult to train because their inborn attitude is, “what’s in it for me?” rather than, “how can I please you?” Training must be done in short bursts, because the Shiba will become bored quickly and move on to something more entertaining, like that stuffing that’s beginning to leak from his toy. These dogs will also need to be socialized early, and their strong will is sometimes just enough to earn a one-way ticket to the shelter.

The Surprising Shiba 500

Whether excited, rebellious or just wet from the rain, the Shiba will spontaneously burst into an all-out sprint throughout the home or yard. These dizzying episodes might last 30 seconds or five minutes, but they are perfectly normal to the breed.

It’s important to remember that while certain breeds offer certain behaviors, there are still exceptions to the rules. Some Shibas are perfectly happy to learn every trick in the book, and others that will want to cuddle. Overall, the Shiba Inu can be a great companion for an owner with diligence and patience.