Shiba Basics


The Shiba Inu is an attractive breed but do not be deceived by that adorable teddy bear looking face. This breed can be quite a challenge to train, leaving many dog owners frazzled if they are not prepared to deal with its independence, spirit, and energy.

Shibas were bred to hunt and flush prey from bushes and underbrush. As such they are hardy and independent with a tendency to roam if allowed off leash.

They can become bored easily if not given an outlet to exercise and play daily. Given their nature it is important to socialize and train this breed in a firm but gentle manner. It is HIGHLY recommended that positive training and socialization begin soon once a Shiba enters your home.

Home Maintenance

Shibas tend to be tidy and do not typically have “doggie odor.”

They do shed heavily at least twice a year, so a heavy duty vacuum will be your cleaning buddy. If you are allergic to other pets such as cats you may be allergic to a Shiba as well.


Like humans, each Shiba has its own character and peculiarities. Some dogs are sensitive, some are bold and some are extroverts. The degree of independence and sociability varies between individual dogs.

In the case of independent dogs they may be aloof and indifferent to people or other animals, dislike being snuggled & cuddled, and resent extended grooming or bathing. Generally independent dogs can “take us or leave us”. This does not mean they do not love us, just that they have an agenda of their own.

In general Shibas tend to be “busy bees” seeking out new activities on their own if you do not provide interesting diversions and lots of toys.

If raised with pets, some Shibas will get along with other animals but some will not care for other pets in the same household. Given their hunting instincts some Shibas will chase and hunt small animals and no matter what you do, you may not be able to extinguish this behavior.

Energy Requirements & Parenting

Shibas have a natural athletic ability and tend to perch, climb, jump, and “zoom” about. Some love to dig as well. They cannot be left off leash in unsecured areas. If you let go of the leash or they get loose they’ll keep running leaving you calling their name in the wind. Even with extensive training, a Shiba in an open area will be unreliable off lead! (Review Escape Artists)

Most Shibas like new challenges so they generally take well to many outdoor activities with their humans. However, for off-leash play and exercise owners need to have a fully fenced enclosure that is high and secure enough to be escape proof. If living in an apartment, a large fenced park area for them to run around and play in for daily exercise is ideal.

They can be tricky, fleet-footed escape artists and this is how many Shibas end up in rescue.


Shibas aren’t for everyone. If you want a dog who clings to you and is emotionally dependent on you, who you can walk off-leash, who always comes when called, forget the Shiba. They’re independent, headstrong, creative, and extremely inquisitive! However, they do make wonderful companions for those who understand their nature, are willing to patiently train them, socialize them properly, and keep them on leash when out and about.

This intro to the Shiba was originally written by Patrice Grossman for Mid Atlantic Shiba Rescue. Used by permission.