A lot of people fall for the looks of a Shiba, they look so very cuddly. ‘They’re just like little foxes’ I hear people say and that is kind of true. However, in choosing a Shiba you should be aware of the fact that they have a mind of their own, in principle not a great will to please (they’d rather do what they want themselves!) and choose not to hear from time to time. But at the first squeak of the fridge door or slightest rustle of a wrapper, they get up from their lazy ass in the living room and stand right next to you in the kitchen, expecting something good to come their way. Don’t ever think they will become your slave, that is so beneath their dignity. But if you handle it well, invest in a consistent upbringing, then you will be rewarded with trust and loyalty.
Are you envisioning long walks alongside the beach or in the forest, where your dog is running free and does his thing, then I hope you will have trained him well and that he actually listens to your command ‘heel!’, because Shiba’s are and will remain hunters and my experience is that when they get wind of anything, you can all out as much as you want. They will only return when it suits them and for all you know that will only be in a couple of hours. That is why I keep my dogs on a leash, where I give them enough freedom to play and do stuff, but where I am always in control of their actions.
With a Shiba you have a dog with a dignified nature, they radiate some kind of assertiveness, which will not go unnoticed by other dogs. Because of their pricked ears and curly tail they make an alert impression and you will see that other dogs will react to that by barking at them. A Shiba will very rarely bark at another dog for no reason, my experience is that it is usually the other dog that starts. I see our Shiba get that look of ‘Really? What is your problem?’. And that makes me fall in love all over again with my own dogs, I just love that attitude!
By the way, you will have to be able to cope with a little hair: while shedding the undercoat will come out and you will be astonished at the quantity of hair that is produced! You can stuff pillows with it, knit sweaters etc. If you are sensitive to these kind of things, then the sensible thing to do is to investigate if this will not lead to any insurmountable issues. Because even though a Shiba is catlike and very clean on itself, and don’t have that typical dog smell, you cannot avoid the loss of hair!
And don’t kid yourself in thinking, ooh well, it is only a middle sized dog…… we can handle that easily. A Shiba (and especially a male!) is as strong as a bear and once he sets his mind on something, it’s set for good. So, as an owner you will have to, literally, stand firm, otherwise they will be playing games with you.
A Shiba is a great dog for the right person, I could not imagine another breed in my life. But if the characteristics of the Shiba do not suit you, please do not let yourself be tempted by their appearance, but just go for another breed. It is in nobody’s interest if owning a Shiba is not quite what you thought it would be. And then 15 years (the average age of a healthy Shiba) is quite a long time.