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How To Understand The Shiba Inu Temperament

Updated on March 7, 2014

The Little Dog with a Gigantic Personality

What a complex, yet delightful dog. This breed that grows in popularity by leaps and bounds, overflows with personality. Much of this personality is positive, yet a clear understanding of the complex Shiba Inu temperament will go a long way towards ensuring a successful relationship with your canine BFF.

Here you will discover, understand and learn how to manage the perplexing temperament of the Shiba Inu.

What Have I Got Myself Into?

Learning To Understand The Shiba Inu Temperament Is Challenging

You thought you had researched well and I'm certain you did. You undoubtedly read up on the breed, their personality, the long history of the Shiba Inu. Perhaps you visited a breeder, and discovered all the enduring qualities this enchanting dog brings to the table.

You fell forever in love and brought your little angel home.

Now that you have had your canine BFF for a period of time, the honeymoon just might be wearing off a bit.

Or maybe a lot. You may have already discovered your enchanting angel is extremely complex. In fact so complex you are wondering if you adopted a dog.... or a cat. Or wait....maybe a long lost relative of Houdini. Perhaps when your Shiba stares at you after some misdeed, you wonder if there could be a connection between your Shiba to a rebellious teenager.

Yes adopting a Shiba Inu and then realizing maybe you didn't adopt a dog after all can be quite unsettling. You are left wondering: "What exactly have I got myself into?"

Look Deep Into My Eyes

Have You Entered The Shiba Zone Yet??

The Shiba Zone, while not anything official, can apply to many different scenarios, however I think virtually all Shiba parents would agree that they have experienced a moment with their Shiba that they would easily coin the phrase "Shiba Zone."

The Shiba Zone and it's myriad of scenarios are endless, the common thread? They leave you wondering if you will ever understand the Shiba Inu temperament.

Here are a few examples of some very frustrating moments that I have experienced first hand.

When you give a simple command and your Shiba looks at you as if to say: "Surely you must be talking to another dog..."

Your Shiba slips out the front door and trots off never looking back as if you never existed. Attempts to return your Shiba safely home are met with a look that labels you a complete stranger while slipping deftly away again and again, always staying just out of your reach.

When you get the snooty stare, head turning away and your beloved Shiba looks past or even worse right through if you no longer exist.

You tirelessly attempt to train your Shiba dog to fetch; only to have your Shiba watch the ball and give you "The Look." You know, the one that says: "Aren't you going to get that?"

Shiba Inu Secrets: How to Raise Happy and Healthy Shiba Inus
Shiba Inu Secrets: How to Raise Happy and Healthy Shiba Inus

I learned the hard way when my Shiba Inu was a puppy. You don't have to with a good reference guide to help you along the way.


The Shiba 500

You Haven't Lived Until You Have Experienced This...

A common term known among Shiba parents. I understand the route varies, but it usually plays out very similar from Shiba to Shiba. It usually goes something like this:

Shiba flying through the door and leaping onto the sofa.

Frantically runs back and forth across the sofa about four times, leaps off the sofa and...

Runs around the dining room table approximately three times then....

Runs up the stairs, through a couple of bedrooms, leaping onto a bed then off a bed and dashing off to the next bedroom to repeat the bed leaping, comes flying down the stairs only to.....

Dash across the sofa once more and then a little slower around the dining room table for a Shiba 500 victory lap.....

This usually ends with a little skip before whoever might be watching. Unfortunately if the person who is presented with the skip reacts in any way, the race is on again. It's better to just kind of nod a little or maybe raise your eyebrows.

Of course this version of the 500 is my Shiba, Tess, who is only 16 years old. We hope she might slow down one know, when she gets a little older.

See The Shiba 500 For Yourself - Just A Little Taste Of Living With A Shiba Inu

Unable to discover that perfect video to demonstrate the ideal Shiba 500, I brought you a variety to view. Keep in mind, seeing a video and experiencing this in "real life" doesn't begin to compare!

So Why Do They Act Like That?

Shiba Inu Information To Help You Understand

Much of a dog's temperament is the result of what they were originally bred for. Back in the day dogs were bred to do a job or accomplish a task. There were guard dogs, hunting breeds for large game and different breeds for small game. They were breeds that were designated to herd livestock like sheep or cattle.

For example, a Doberman was bred to be aggressive and protective, a Jack Russell was bred to burrow after small game and a Border Collie was bred to herd sheep and cattle. Well the same holds true for a Shiba Inu.

Shiba's are one of the oldest Japanese dog breeds. They were raised to flush small game out of undergrowth and brush. Their name actually translates to; Shiba - brush colored, and Inu - dog. Their colors were bred to blend into the brush. They were trained to go ahead in hot pursuit after game and to never, ever give up. They were raised to be fearless and work independently. One could say they were taught to be self thinkers.

So that's what you get, an agile, tenacious, courageous, intelligent, "I'll do it myself, thank you very much" kind of dog. Well that was great for the ancient Japanese, but I don't know about you, but I kind of like to be in charge in my home. Especially when it comes to the kids and the pets.

I Own A Shiba Who Once Owned Me.....

OK, May She Still Does A Little Bit

Life, however, is much easier now. I just wish I had learned that this complex creature I call my dog was actually relatively easy to understand once I got a little help. Really.

When I adopted my Shiba almost seventeen years ago, I brought her home and assumed she would settle in with us like every other puppy we had adopted. Turns out the joke was on me....I didn't realize I was entering the Shiba Zone. Unfortunately I was stubborn and slow to admit I needed a little help.

If you are currently experiencing a Shiba or entertaining thoughts of adopting one, here's a little something that will guide you each and every step of the way......

Sit Down With A Good Book - Shiba Style

The Canine Version Of "The Gifted Child"

Are They Too Smart For Their Own Good?

You have probably encountered a gifted child at some point, an extremely intelligent, high achiever, constantly in motion to do "more" creature. Occasionally some gifted children can present prima donna like qualities as a result of their extreme talents. Well the Shiba can sometimes be likened to the gifted child.

This breed requires a firm hand and is not usually recommended for the inexperienced dog owner, however with some inside knowledge helping you along with some good training techniques, this dog is a delight to own. You will soon be in the company of a well balanced gifted child......OK, dog!

Living In A Shiba Inu's House - Someone Has To Set The Rules...

Will it be you setting those rules, or perhaps your Shiba??

Get Cool Stuff, Shiba Style

From Puppy To All Grown Up - The Life Of A Shiba

See a Shiba Inu from tiny puppy to full grown dog. This owner captures much of the Shiba Inu temperament and personality.

The Most Important Thing About Adopting A Dog

Whether adopting a Shiba Inu or any dog breed, please, please, please do your research before bringing the wrong dog home. There are far too many dogs in shelters abandoned by those who didn't research properly before adopting.

By researching before adopting the right dog for you, you are part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

The Blessing Of A Shiba

I hope you enjoyed your little Shiba journey and take away something positive from your visit here. If you are struggling with a Shiba or thinking of adopting one, I can assure you with the right training and learning to understand the Shiba Inu temperament you will realize you have adopted a pet who will bring you joy for a lifetime.

I have had the blessing of a Shiba Inu, Tess, in our lives for over seventeen years. I would not hesitate to adopt another, in fact maybe next time I will adopt a pair of Shiba's!

**Edited 2013**

After more than seventeen years of life with Tess, my beloved Shiba, she suddenly passed away on February 13, 2013. Because of her age, I truly thought I was somewhat prepared for her leaving only to learn I wasn't the least bit ready at all. She drastically slowed down her last several months. Instead of leaping onto the bed while running "The Shiba 500", I had to lift her off and on each time. While her diva disposition mellowed considerably in her golden years, during those last few months of tending to her frailness, I do believe I detected a twinkle in her eye that spoke of how she enjoyed having me cater to her every beck and call.

The photo here was taken a few months before she passed. That's my son with her who was just three years old when she came into our lives. We were on the way to the park for a walk. He carried her much of the way.

I so miss her and always will.

Do You Know A Shiba Inu? - Do You "Get" The Shiba Inu Temperament?

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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Haha yes I know a Shiba Inu, I have one! :D Her name is Ayo :) she's exactly like this description!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      @anonymous: Hachiko is an Japanese Akita. Bigger version of the Shiba.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Is the famous hachiko is a shiba inu?

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I have a 6 year old Shiba and you just described her to a T. I literally LOL because I have experienced all of the same things with her. They are definitely different than most dogs but she is the best dog that I have ever had. I would highly recommend the breed. They have a special way of touching your heart.

    • flycatcherrr profile image


      6 years ago

      Anyone who has owned a Shiba - excuse me, been owned by a Shiba! - will smile and nod knowingly when they read your lens. :) I had the pleasure and challenge of living with a "little black monster" of a Shiba Inu who came to me as a 6-year-old rescue dog with (big surprise) some dog-dog aggression issues. Oddly enough, it was my Shiba who led to my adoption of an ex-racing greyhound... because couch-potato Casey was just about the only other dog that Mr. Too-Big-for-His-Britches would allow in the house! Yes, I'd have another Shiba Inu in a heartbeat, if Fate sent one my way. :)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      didn't know these types of things about this breed of a dog, gave your lens a 'thumbs up'.

    • ShariBerry profile image

      Sharon Berry 

      7 years ago from Michigan

      You made me fall in love with the Shiba Inu breed, what a great dog. We have 2 German Wirehaired Pointers that have that kind of energy so I know about the "500" as our boys run it when we get home after being gone for an hour. I can't wait to read your other lenses.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Oh my, I am not sure I have enough energy to get this dog... wow, that is one energetic dog breed!! Would make me laugh for days I am sure.... after I got done chasing it around the neighborhood!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I am beginning to love this dog.

    • kimark421 profile image


      7 years ago

      We groom a few Shibas and they are a gorgeous breed. And scary smart. The Mrs. and I own a female German Shorthaired Pointer, and at times she has what I like to call a "feline temperament". If she could speak human, i am sure we would hear... "Are you talking to me?", "Yeah, right." and "Sure, that's gonna happen."

      Great lens and a great read. Thanks.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I mom (Ravko) got me hook on shiba's Yes I have two of them and soon we will be having baby's.... Both them are my life and they are a powerful breed and they make me smile every time I see them...

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I used to have Shiba's they are a great breed, my daughter now has two and me I went with a more powerful breed the Presa Canario...Just love your lens and I emailed it to my daughter...

    • Shibamom LM profile imageAUTHOR

      Shibamom LM 

      8 years ago

      @indigoj: I so appreciate your blessing. Thank you!

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 

      8 years ago from UK

      What a beautiful breed of dog. They sound like a lot of fun too! I think you've done a wonderful job with this lens and can't resist leaving an ~*~* Angel Blessing *~*~

    • WildFacesGallery profile image


      8 years ago from Iowa

      No Shiba in my life but I had a greyhound who did the Shiba 500 thing. We called in "psycho dog" though. :)

    • callinsky lm profile image

      callinsky lm 

      8 years ago

      This is very interesting. I don't have any dogs because I'm gone too much. That being said, if I was looking to get a dog this breed would interest me greatly. I stumbled it!

    • ElizaRayner profile image

      Eliza Rayner 

      8 years ago from Boulder, Colorado

      We have a Shiba as well and i loved this page and your others on the Shiba! Great pictures and great information. I am concerned now that I read about your 13 year old Shiba not slowing down though...ours is only 3 and I was hoping he would start to relax...seems no such luck! thanks for visiting my captive wildlife crisis page as well.

    • SoyCandleLover profile image

      BW Duerr 

      8 years ago from Henrietta, New York

      I was lucky enough to have a Shiba long before much was known about them in the U.S. and not recognized by the A.K.C until 5+ years later. Even the breeder did not give me the correct spelling of the breed. The Shiba 500 sounds all too familiar. :D Fabulous lens on this wonderful dog. Lensrolled to my Choc lab lens.

    • wilddove6 profile image


      8 years ago

      Oh my goodness!

      The puppies look like Red Pandas :)

      What a gorgeous dog, and obviously with attitude to boot.

      I like attitude in my companions!

      Thank you for the wonderful insight into this breed!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      8 years ago from United States

      Yes, I can see how she would win your heart instantly, with only one look. She is beautiful and I love your description of the Shiba 500! Angel Blessed and add to my Squid Angel Mouse Tracks lens.

    • Shibamom LM profile imageAUTHOR

      Shibamom LM 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for visiting!


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