Shiba Inu: Act Like A Cat, Look & Think Like A Fox [Ultimate Guide]

Shiba Inu

You are probably here because you saw a picture of a Shiba Inu, a cute dog that looks like a fox and acts like a cat; and now, you are in love. You want to get one, too.

It is probably your first time, and you think that a small dog is exactly the right one to get for a first-time dog owner.

Well, you are not just wrong. You are DEAD wrong!

The Shiba Inu Dog Breed is not any regular breed. These dogs are extremely intelligent and stubborn small alphas. Don’t let the cute fox look fool you!

Here is everything you need to know about the Shiba Inu dog breed.

The Shiba Inu comes originally from Japan. In fact, he is the smallest and the oldest dog in Japan. The dog breed has been walking and running around the country since the Stone Age. Just like their bigger breed siblings, the Shibas have always been bred as hunting dogs.

However, they were almost extinct.

As the 17th century came by, the westerners were highly respected in Asia, and their dog breeds were highly valued, too. Thus began a nationwide breed mixing of all Japanese dog breeds. This continued up until the early 20th century when the Education Ministry realized that they might lose the Shiba Inu dog breed, as well as other breeds, forever. Hence, they declared them as a Japanese National Monument, which helped keep the Shiba Inu dog breed alive up until now.

Shiba Inu is often calm and quiet that's why they are good family dogs

A sad Shiba Inu because he learned about the history of his breed...

They were almost lost in World War II.

During the times of the war, the Shiba Inu numbers decreased dramatically close to the extinction point. A plan to rescue them was put into action. That is why, today, the Shibas all over the world come from three different bloodlines.

Shiba Inus Bloodlines

After the WWII, many rushed to save the Shiba Inu dog breed from extinction due to a shortage of food and post-war epidemics.

Fortunately, three bloodlines survived the war, and the Shiba Inu was rescued once again.

The San’in Shibas

These were larger than the standard Shiba Inu that we know today. They were a medium size dog, black coated without the preferred white cheeks on the Shiba. The San’in Shibas were pretty independent dogs with a bold attitude. Their most known characteristic, however, was their lack of affection.

The Mino Shibas

These were smaller than the San’in in size but bigger in heart. They had a fiery-red color, closer to the one mostly seen on the Shiba Inu today. The Mino Shiba had, also, an extended tail rather than the short one found on the other bloodlines. Their eyes had the triangle shape and the deep-brown color.

The Shinshu Shibas

These were also a small ancient breed of the Shibas. They had, to some extent, similar coat color to the Mino Shibas and today’s Shiba Inu. However, this bloodline’s weaknesses are their round-shaped eyes and the black mask that is found on adult dogs.

Read more on the Shiba Inu dog breed origins.

Shiba Inu Characteristics

Understanding your Shibas characteristics is necessary. You CANNOT just assume that he is easy to handle because of his small size.


Experts will probably say that the smaller the dog, the harder it is to handle him. Just like little humans (babies); the smaller their size, the more trouble they get into and the more mess they make.

So, let’s find out what the Shiba Inu characteristics are:

Family Friendliness

The Shibas were originally bred as watchdogs and small game hunters. Therefore, their friendliness is always a question of training. In normal circumstances, the Shiba Inu wouldn’t share his space with other small dogs and kids. He is very protective of its belongings, and your house is his house now.

Shiba Inu is a good house dog

Look at how cute that is!

Photo credit: SalCC BY-NC-ND

But there is good news!

A well-trained and socialized Shiba tend to be more welcoming and friendly with everyone. Their energy and readiness to hunt converts into playfulness and willingness to entertain.

Therefore, it is a MUST to socialize your Shiba puppy so he can learn to be kind to others.

Though you should be careful.

As part of his hunter and watchdog nature, the Shiba Inu’s teeth are very sharp. They will hurt when applied with force. Dog experts advise that teaching your puppy not to be rough is necessary. They will want to play with your kids, but they might leave a mark on them with their sharp teeth.

Shiba Inu can be aggressive sometimes

It may be cute, but you can see the danger, can’t you?

Photo credit: Shiba Inu HawaiiCC BY-NC-ND

Living with Shibas

There are a few things to consider before welcoming a new Shiba Inu puppy inside your home. One of them is that they take immediate ownership of the house.


As soon as Shibas understand that this new house is their new home, it becomes THEIR new home. And you are a guest that is staying for a long, long time.

Shiba Inu in one of the dogs that are good with kids

Good morning to you too!

Photo credit: Kristen Adams / CC BY-ND

Shiba Inus Shedding

The Shibas are double-coated, with the outer coat being straight and stiff, and the undercoat thick and soft. They shed moderately throughout the year, which makes it a clean dog breed.

However, twice a year, a Shiba will blow their coat, and that is when you start to have a problem. In those two times, it is a storm of hair that hits the inside of your house - I’m sorry, the Shiba’s house.

Does Your Shiba Inu Bark?

Well, of course, he does. But does he bark too much? No! He does not.

Actually, the Shiba Inus are very alert and intelligent breed. If they see anything out of place in their -your- house or the neighborhood or sense the presence of a stranger, they will bark to get your attention.

If anything out of the ordinary, at least for them, happens, they are not shy to let you know. Otherwise, they are a pretty much shy dog singer with excellent vocal abilities.

They will use these abilities to protest during training and when they want something from you. Ignoring their barking at an early age means that their barking do not move you and they will stop it later.

Shiba Inu Appearance

Among the many ways a Shiba Inu betrays people is thanks to his cute and calm appearance. He just makes you fall in love with the fox look he has.

They have a triangle-shaped eye with a deep-brown color that, when you look right at it, it stares back at your soul.

Shiba Inu is a dog that look like foxes

It is the art of nature.

Photo credit: janeannv / CC BY-NC-ND

That appearance is a pure creation of nature, and you can feel it with every move your Shiba makes. The dog breed has successfully managed to stay away from human messing them up with modifications and remained true to their beautiful nature.

However, that nature is also highly active and not so much affectionate. So, don’t you EVER judge a Shiba Inu by its appearance!

Shiba Inus Colors

The Shiba Inu is famous for the orange-red color that perfects the Fox appearance he has. However, there are other colors to expect on a Shiba.

Shiba Inu rare colors

A black Shiba Inu with white cheeks.

Photo credit: kayo ya / CC BY-NC

There is also black and tan coat color that comes with white cheeks. There is a full red Shiba, as well as a red sesame. You can find black Shibas and their black sesames counterparts.

The coat colors do not say anything about a Shiba except how cute you find him and how much he will use his appearance to manipulate you.

Shiba Inu VS Akita Inu

You may find yourself asking “what is the difference between a Shiba Inu and an Akita Inu?”

Rest assured, there are not many differences.

Shibas and Akitas are both Japanese Spitz dogs that are almost identical, except that Akita Inu is the larger dog breed in the group while Shiba Inu is the smallest.

Both the dog breeds share the same features, origins, temperament and other personality traits and characteristics.

Shiba Inu Dog Breed Facts

  • The lifespan of a Shiba Inu is between 12 and 15 years.
  • The males are 14 to 17 inches in height, while the female Shiba Inus are 13 to 16 in.
  • The male Shibas weigh, in their preferred size, 22 lb (10 kg) and the females 18 lb (8kg).
  • They are NOT hypoallergenic. Actually, there is no dog breed that is 100% hypoallergenic.

Other Shiba Inu Dog Breed Characteristics to Consider

I’ll be positive and start with the good. So, don’t get too excited.

The Good Side of a Shiba Inu

First and foremost, his appearance is most likely to get you more friends on the streets. The Fox look, especially with an orange-red coat, makes the Shiba a very attractive walking dog. Many dog owners refer to the Shibas as “Cat Dogs”.

Why is that?

Easy! They are dogs that act like cats, most of the time.

They are clean dogs by nature and will easily be potty trained. They won’t require as much affection from you as they are independent dogs.

They have an incredible memory as they notice the smallest changes in their environment.

Shiba Inu temperament and personality

How can you not smile when looking at this?

They can put a smile on your face in the saddest moments. Shiba Inus personality makes them happy dogs that can work as house clowns sometimes. They are not shy about showing off their crazy behavior when they are in the mood. But that’s enough for the good.

The Dark Side of a Shiba Inu

Remember when I said their appearance is a betrayal?

I meant it!

Shiba Inus are adored for the foxy playful look, but sooner you realize you have played yourself.

They are stubborn dogs that won’t do anything unless they feel like it. (Cats, remember?)

A Shiba assumes that you will do what he wants and not the other way around.

Shiba Inu behavior

You can see the devil planning something in his head.

Photo credit: Toshihiro Gamo / CC BY-NC-SA

Their intelligence does not stop at being alert watchdogs, but it exceeds it to finding ways to push your buttons. Your Shiba will learn how to irritate you and find a way to get away with it. He will find a way to manipulate you to give him what he wants. [The cuter your Shiba Inu, the more trouble you have.]

A Shiba's active nature will go beyond jumping rocks on a hike. If not properly trained, your Shiba will start jumping up on counters, breaking anything within his reach, escaping the house in so many different ways.

One last thing:

The Shiba Inus are very sensitive dogs. If they are, or just feel, hurt, they will make a full scene out of it. Even expert vets find it troubling to handle a screaming Shiba.

You can teach him to be less sensitive, but there is a limit to what you can do in that department.

When that happens, it is hard to control your dog. He becomes highly defensive and ready to bite. Many dog owners remember the first time they tried to rationalize with a defensive Shiba. And if they forget, bite marks will remind them.

Read more about the Shiba Inu characteristics on DogTime. And be sure to check more about this cute Shiba Inu named Sephy.

Training Your Shiba Inu Puppy

The Shiba Inu is a very independent and intelligent breed. The Japanese Kennel Club, as well as other Shiba Inu experts, describes the breed’s temperament as bold, strong willed, and alert. This is a unique mix of characteristics that is found in one soul. Therefore, training your small Shiba is definitely not as easy as you think.

Outsmart Your Dog

This may sound cheesy, but Shibas actually believe that they are stronger and smarter than anyone and anything else. You can try to prove your higher IQ to your dog, but you will only be making his point then. However, you can always outsmart your Shiba Inu by making him think that the training is his idea. That way, he does exactly what you want him to do, and everyone is happy.

Among other things that actually work during a Shiba training is passive resistance.

What is Passive Resistance?

It is just ignoring, to some extent, and with caution, your Shiba when he is on bad behavior.

For example, a Shiba loves to take walks but on their own schedule. If, however, you decide to take him on a walk and he refuses, just leave him there. Later, they learn to adapt to your schedule.

Beware of the Begging Technique!

Cute Shiba Inu

If your Shiba gives you this look, RESIST!

This goes both ways:

Do not beg your dog to do something; otherwise, he will always show dominance over you.

Do not adhere to your dog’s begging. They are cute and will look so innocent. But stay sharp; they know your soft spot.

Rules Matter!

Train your dog to follow the rules.

They have a “Never Give Up, Never Back Down” attitude most of the time. Therefore, it is good to use positive reinforcement techniques to prevent such attitude later in their adulthood.

You should definitely train your Shiba not to bite with his sharp teeth. Teach him that people are friendly and he shouldn’t guard his food and toys as aggressively as they do.

Socialize Your Shiba as Much as Possible

Shiba Inu is one of the dogs that are good with cats

A well-trained Shiba wouldn’t mind a cat sharing his bed.

Photo credit: Dung Lai / CC BY-NC-SA

Your Shiba may be aggressive if he does not get enough socialization from a young age. He needs to be comfortable around other dogs, pets, and humans. Not that he fears others, but a Shiba Inu is aggressive with anything else other than himself. If he understands that the others do not wish him any harm, your Shiba will be an awesome walking companion.

Read more about training your Shiba Inu on ShibaShake, and watch this video down below.

Shiba Inu Health and Nutrition

If you love your dog, you care for your dog. If you want to increase the longevity of your best bud, you must make sure that they are healthy at all times and getting all the nutritious elements they need to grow.

What to Feed Your Shiba Puppy?

Being a small dog breed, Shiba puppies need a lot of protein and fat in their food so that they can be as energetic as they are meant to be. Therefore, if you are looking for dog food products for you Shiba puppy, keep an eye for those that have a high protein and fat levels for their products.

Keep in mind that your puppy’s mouth is pretty small. Therefore, he is not going to be taking big bites and can only eat relatively easy-to-digest food.

What to Feed Your Adult Shiba?

As Shiba Inus grow old, their teeth crowd their mouths and make it harder for them to eat comfortably. Therefore, you should be looking for dog food products that have a balanced level of protein and fat in their food and take into consideration the small mouth your Shiba has.

It is highly advised to brush your Shiba Inu’s teeth regularly. Also, a check-up once a year at vet would take much of the stress out of your mind. The Shiba Inu dog breed tends to have dental problems as they grow older.

Shiba Inu Genetic Health Problems

Like any dog breed, or any living thing for that matter, a Shiba Inu is not safe from inheriting health problems. Therefore, it is a MUST to ask the dog breeder to provide you with health information on the puppy’s parents.

It is also advised to demand different test results. That way, it is easy to expect what kind of allergies or health problems that your Shiba Inu might have in the future.

Generally, the Shiba Inu is a healthy dog breed. However, some of the health issues it may suffer include hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, and eye problems. If your Shiba Inu has any allergies, you will easily detect them when you see too much itching, redness, or hair loss.

More about nutrition and health of your Shiba Inu on American Kennel Club.

Getting Your Shiba Inu

Now that you almost know everything there is to know about the Shiba Inu dog breed, it is time to get yours.

Of course, only do that if you are up to the challenge.

Adopting a Shiba Inu

So, by now, we are sure you have your heart on owning (being owned by) a Shiba Inu dog. But have you considered rescuing one?

Why Rescue an Adult Shiba Inu?

As stated above, training your Shiba Inu is hard. It takes a lot of time and attention to make sure your puppy does not break the rule you have set for him. However, when rescuing an adult Shiba Inu, you know exactly what you are getting. The Shiba Inu’s personality has already developed by the time you are looking to rescue him.

Shiba Inu rescue

An adult Shiba Inu is way less work and much more love.

More to the point, a puppy is not easy to handle at all. If you are looking for a family loving dog that will play with your kids, a puppy Shiba will bite most of everything he comes in contact with, including human flesh.

An adult Shiba is usually already familiar with the basic ground rules of a family dog. He’ll act accordingly, with love, car, and most importantly, appreciation.

Even more importantly, demand on Shiba Inu newly born puppies is increasing, which makes it harder for the homeless Shibas around the world. Rescuing a Shiba is not only saving you time and energy, but it is saving the Shiba Inu dog breed itself.

Where to Rescue a Shiba Inu?

I am hoping that I have convinced you to rescue a Shiba Inu. In which case, you are probably wondering how you can do that.

It is easy!

There are many dog shelters in your area that have adult Shiba Inus ready to be adopted and loved by new families. Contacting the shelter and scheduling a few visits to get familiarized with the dog you fell in love with is your next step.

What’s the next step, I hear you ask?

Get ready for a ball of fluffy cuteness to be walking by your side every day.

Find and rescue a Shiba Inu on DCSIR and ShibaRescue.

Buying a Shiba Inu Puppy

If you are still not sure about adopting, please reconsider that. Otherwise, you can always buy a new Shiba pup.

Shiba Inu puppy

Well, hello there, puppy!

Photo credit: Toshihiro Gamo / CC BY

It is necessary to make sure that the Shiba is from healthy parents and the breeder you purchase your Shiba Inu from is legitimate and knows what they are doing.

A Shiba puppy needs a lot of attention during the first weeks. You need to start training your puppy at an early age, making sure that he is socialized enough and is on good behavior most of the time. Naturally, your Shiba will make a mess every time you don’t stop him. They will bite everyone and everything in the house, including your kids. When yours start teething, he will use anything as a chew toy.

Shiba Inu intelligence training

Everything is a chew toy.

Photo credit: kayo yaCC BY-NC

Therefore, I cannot emphasize enough on the attention and care you need to provide to your new puppy when you first get it.

Read this article to make sure that you really, really, want a Shiba Inu.

How Much Does a Shiba Inu Cost?

A general rule of thumb says that the younger the puppy, the more money it costs. This also goes for the Shiba Inu dog breed.

Due to the increase in demand for new Shiba Inu puppies (mostly because of the internet exposure #DogeMeme), the prices skyrocketed in the last few years. Today, a Shiba Inu for sale costs around $1500, with the price increasing depending on the breeder you are getting yours from.

Find Shiba Inu puppies for sale on American Kennel Marketplace and PuppyFind.

Shiba Inu Breed Mixes

When you mix two dog breeds, it is usually to boost the pros and minimize the cons of said breed. Therefore, it is understandable to want to have a Shiba Inu dog breed mix to fit your need.

Although there is really no telling how your dog will turn out to be, there is no harm in finding out more about these dog breed mixes.

So, let’s begin.

Shiba Inu Breed Mixes List

Husky Inu

I understand it is hard to guess which dog breeds are mixed here. Just kidding. Of course, it is a Husky and a Shiba Inu mix. Therefore, you can expect a very fun and playful puppy that grows up to remain such a cute dog. It loves the family and has an instinct to protect it, although it is small in size.

Shiba Inu Husky mix

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Imo Inu

Shiba Inu American Eskimo mix

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The American Eskimo and the Shiba Inu mix produces a medium size dog that loves to be your companion. It is a highly active and fun-seeking dog, which means it is pretty a handful. It will love your family but will love to play with them more.

Pom Shi

This is one of the smallest dogs that result of a breed mix between a Shiba Inu and a Pomeranian. However, as with most small size dogs, they can be pretty strong for their size. The Pom-Shi is an intelligent dog that will bark at the instant it senses an intruder in your home.

Shiba Inu Pomeranian mix

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Shiba Inu Poodle mix

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The mix between a Poodle and a Shiba Inu produces an even more independent dog that its purebred parents. It is a pretty vocal dog that will want your attention when you are there but won’t care that much when you aren’t. It will play with your family to keep itself entertained most of the time.


One of the most stubborn dogs is the Schnu, a mix between a Shiba Inu and a Miniature Schnauzer. It only does what it wants and learns what it wants. However, it is also playful and loves to socialize with other family members, including kids, and other dogs

Schnauzer Miniature Shiba Inu mix

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Cairn Terrier Shiba Inu mix

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A mix between a Cairn-Terrier and a Shiba Inu produces a Shairn-Inu, a rare dog mix with very few information available about it. Therefore, the best way to determine the characteristics of such dog is by checking the characteristics of its purebred parents.


Another small size dog mix between a Shiba Inu and a Miniature Pinscher gives us the Shi-Pin. Pretty sharp teeth and a playful attitude are the best way to describe this dog mix. It is a loyal dog, but not strong enough to defend you. Those teeth are scary, though.

Shiba Inu Miniature Pinscher mix

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Shiba Inu Dachshund mix

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The Schibadox is a mix between a Shiba Inu and a Dachshund that is rare to see in the real world. Characteristics of this mix remain unknown for now, but you can easily assume the loyalty of this dog as its purebred parents are also loyal.


The mix between a Boston Terrier and a Shiba Inu produces one of the smallest watchdogs in the world. The Shibo tends to be protective and alert, energetic and playful, which makes a great companion.

Boston Terrier Shiba Inu Mix

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Cocker Spaniel Shiba Inu mix

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One of the coolest name ever given to a dog breed! The Shocker is a mix between a Cocker Spaniel and a Shiba Inu. It has the temperament of the first and the agility of the latter. Pretty loyal and strong, and very energetic and playful.

Shiba Inu Dog Breed: The Pros and Cons

So, now that we know more about the Shiba Inu dog breed, let’s recapitulate everything we’ve learned so far.


  • Triple-A: alert, attractive, active
  • Clean and healthy breed
  • Smart and lovely
  • Puts a smile on anyone’s face
  • Gets you a lot of attention


  • Stubborn and not easy to train
  • Always looking for causing a mess
  • Highly sensitive and independent
  • Sharp teeth
  • Too intelligent for its own good

Final Words on the Shiba Inu Dog Breed

I cannot deny how aggressively cute these dogs are. And I do not blame anyone for falling for this centuries old trick.

However, it is always good to train your Shiba, or any dog breed, to behave well. Any dog misbehavior is entirely the owner’s fault, no matter how smart or stubborn the dog is.

And finally, as it is customary in my dog breed guide articles, I always end with two name suggestions.

Here are two name suggestions for a Shiba Inu dog name:

  • Toshi: this is an ideal name for a male Shiba Inu. It is Japanese for “alert, intelligent son”.
  • Kami: it is Japanese for “daughter with a long life”.

Let us know in the comment section what your favorite Doge meme is. Also, let us know if you are considering getting your own. We'll be happy to help out if we can!

About the Author Youness Bermime

Hi, there! My name is Youness, a professional content writer and marketer. I love dogs, and I think Huskies are, for most of the time, better than humans. I am, also, the owner and editor of WritersDo. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post because I enjoyed writing it. Don't forget to share it with your friends!

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1 comment
diegogrit says May 16, 2018

Akita Inu and Shiba Inu are the somehow related breeds. Akita Inu is included in the 10 most dangerous dog breeds in the world.

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