Written by Vet Tech

Shiba Inu: Is This The Stubbornest Dog Breed Alive?

Amber LaRock
Written by: Amber LaRock, Vet Tech
The most honest overall dog breed review, you will ever find about incredible Shiba Inu. Read on and see if this breed is for you.
Dog Breed Group:
Companion Dogs
13 to 17 inches tall at the shoulder
17 to 23 pounds
Life Span:
12 to 16 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

The Shiba Inu is quite possibly the oldest of the 6 Spitz breeds from ancient Japan. With a fascinating history and an adorable fox-like appearance, it’s no wonder this breed has become a treasured member of so many families.

In this article, we’ll discuss the unique details of the Shiba Inu, and dive into why they make such wonderful additions to any home.

History Of The Shiba Inu

The Shiba Inu is one of the few breeds that originated from Japan. The Shiba Inu was primarily bred as a hunting dog, where they were used to hunt small game and birds.

Though this breed was well-loved in Japan when they first gained popularity, they almost met their demise during World War 2.

Many dogs perished due to the nationwide bombings, while others were victim to infectious disease and distemper that spread across the country post-war.

It wasn’t until the war ended that the Shiba Inu presence began to grow again with breeding programs. The Shiba Inu we know today is a result of these breeding programs.

It’s believed that the Shiba Inu made its way to America through a service family in 1954. The progression of the Shiba Inu breed is a bit hazy until the 1990’s, when they were finally recognized by the AKC.

Today the Shiba Inu is found in homes across the world due to their small stature and unique personality.

Appearance Of The Shiba Inu

Though the Shiba Inu looks like a tiny teddy bear, this breed demands respect. Their small frame gives them the ability to hunt small game, and easily show off their agility.

Their thick double coat creates the ability to withstand any climate, and their plush undercoat helps them stand against cold winters.

Their comparison to the fox is often due to their pointy ears, and their coat colors that resemble common fox colors.

Shiba Inus are often tan, cream, tan and white, red, red and white, and sesame with black-tipped ears.

Their compact size makes them a perfect companion for home life, usually standing at a maximum of 16 inches in height. Depending on whether they are male or female, the Shiba Inu can weigh anywhere from 16-25 pounds.

Personality Of The Shiba Inu

The Shiba Inu is known for their fearless and bold attitude. They are confident, strong-willed, and often have their own ideas about things! Though this breed can be a bit stubborn, a well-raised Shiba Inu can be a treasure.

Since they were originally bred to hunt small game, this breed does have a high chase drive. Though they can mesh well with smaller pets when introduced at a young age, this breed is known for chasing down small animals.

Due to the Shiba Inu having their own ideas about things, it’s important to socialize them and train them from a young age.

This breed is known to be a bit territorial with their family and other treasured items (such as food and toys), so it’s important to teach them from the start that aggressive responses are not okay.

Although this breed can be a bit of a challenge, they can be wonderful pets when they are raised in an environment that addresses their challenging traits.

Overall Health Of The Shiba Inu

While the Shiba Inu can live a general life of up to 15 years on average, there are some medical conditions you should be aware of when bringing a Shiba Inu into your life.

1. Luxating Patellas

Luxating patella refers to the dislocation of the knee joint. This condition refers to the sliding of the knee joint, which often results in pain and possible lameness.

While most dogs can lead generally normal lives with this condition, it can lead to severe pain and lameness in some dogs. Due to the possibility of this condition, it’s best to keep your Shiba Inu at a healthy weight.

2. Allergies

Allergies are quite common in the dog world, as they can be a result of their food, allergens in the environment around them, or due to an allergy to contact.

Allergies can lead to skin irritation, itchy skin, skin inflammation, secondary skin infections, and gastrointestinal upset if it’s diet-related.

3. Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a seizure disorder that leads to neurological behavior in dogs. While epilepsy can range in severity, it can cause seizures, twitching, abnormal behavior, and other neurological episodes.

Though epilepsy can be scary for a dog owner, this condition has a good prognosis when properly managed by a veterinarian. This condition is often treated by daily medication.

4. Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is an inherited condition that refers to the improper alignment of the hip joint. Since this condition is a result of breeding, there is no set time that a dog will begin to display symptoms.

Dogs with hip dysplasia can have pain, limping, difficulty getting up and down, slow down with time, experience lameness, and other pain-related symptoms.

Since this is a genetic condition, it’s important to have medical records on each parent when purchasing a Shiba Inu puppy.

5. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a disease of the eye that refers to high pressure in the eye. This condition can lead to pain and vision loss and can vary depending on the cause.

Luckily this condition can be treated with the use of daily eye drops or surgical repair.

6. Cancer

Though each breed can have a run-in with cancer, Shiba Inus are more prone to this deadly condition.

Make sure to keep up with your yearly veterinary exams to stay on top of any changes in your Shiba Inu’s health.

Training Your Shiba Inu

Training your Shiba Inu can be a bit of a challenge, so this breed is only recommended for dedicated dog owners. Due to their feisty personality and dislike of being on a leash, you will need to be committed to the cause!

The Shiba Inu is a free spirit that is often independent, so you will need to start this training process from the start. Group obedience classes are recommended for Shiba Inu puppies, as they can struggle a bit with socialization when not introduced to other dogs from the start. It’s important to start the socialization process from the second they enter your home, as this breed is known to be feisty with other dogs and strangers.

The Shiba Inu is actually quite smart and will pick up commands easily if your training method is effective and catches their attention. This breed thrives on positive reinforcement, so make sure to offer plenty of rewards during your training process.

Your training process is made easier the earlier you start, so make sure to start training and socializing from the second they enter your home.

Exercise And Your Shiba Inu

The Shiba Inu is considered an active breed and loves to go outside and explore their surroundings. Due to this factor alone, it’s recommended to have a Shiba Inu in a home with a yard.

When left alone, make sure that you provide enough toys and indoor entertainment on rainy days.

Since the Shiba Inu loves to explore, try your best to factor in at least 20-30 minutes out outdoor fun each day that weather permits.

The Shiba Inu typically requires 20-30 minutes of daily exercise and is less likely to turn to undesirable behavioral habits when their exercise needs are met.

Shiba Inu’s love to play fetch, loves to go on walks, love to accompany their owners on outdoor adventures, and love to spend their time sniffing around their yard.

Important Tips For Owning A Shiba Inu

If you are planning to bring a Shiba Inu into your home, make sure to remember these helpful tips!

  • This breed is extremely independent.
  • They are known to be feisty with other dogs and strangers, so it’s important to start the socialization process early.
  • The Shiba Inu can shed a bit, but grooming needs are minimal.
  • This breed has a high chase drive, so it’s important to introduce them to new pets carefully.
  • This breed can be possessive with food and toys, so it’s important to watch this closely from the start.
  • This breed loves to be outside and participate in outdoor adventures.
  • This breed is prone to luxating patellas and hip dysplasia, so make sure to get medical records for each parent when purchasing a Shiba Inu.
  • This breed learns quickly but requires an experienced dog owner due to their stubbornness.

Shiba Inu – Summary

The Shiba Inu is a unique breed that comes with their own set of quirks. As long as you are ready to work with their independent personality, a well trained Shiba Inu can be a wonderful companion.

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