While perusing the classifieds or online postings, it is hard to resist the cute, cuddly photos that accompany ads with titles such as “Shiba Inu Puppies for Sale.” But, what is it like owning a Shiba Inu puppy?  How does raising a Shiba Inu compare to other dog breeds?  If you are asking yourself, “is a Shiba right for me?” the following guide should help answer your questions. 

   Shiba Inus are native to Japan, where they were bred for hunting, and are recognized as the oldest and smallest out of all Japanese dog breeds.  At first glance, a Shiba Inu may be confused for an Akita or Husky puppy.  A fully grown Shiba, however, only weighs approximately 10 kg and stands 43 cm tall.  Despite the Shiba’s popularity in Asia, Shiba Inus have only recently gained widespread popularity worldwide, having not been recognized by the American Kennel Club until 1992.   

   The first question you must ask yourself when considering purchasing a Shiba Inu puppy is whether you are prepared to properly train and socialize your dog.  Unlike a beagle or Labrador retriever, who typically loves all other dogs and humans, Shiba Inus have an independent nature, which can manifest as standoffish and occasionally aggressive.  Without proper socialization from a young age, Shiba Inus do not typically make good family pets.  Shibas also have an incredibly strong prey drive, which means they are prone to chasing small animals.  For this reason, Shiba Inus are not recommended for households who have, or are planning to have, many small children. 

   The next question to answer is whether you are willing to provide your Shiba with the proper amount of exercise.  Shiba Inus are incredibly active and intelligent, and behave their best when regularly taken for long walks, or allowed to participate in vigorous play-sessions.  In this regard, Shiba Inus are most similar to Siberian Huskies, Basenjis, and Akitas.

   Despite the fact that Shiba Inus are small in stature and extraordinarily clean dogs (Shibas have been known to meticulously clean their own coats and even housebreak themselves), they are not good apartment-dwelling dogs.  In addition to their exercise requirements, a distinct trait of the Shiba Inu breed is the “Shiba scream.”  When especially excited, unhappy, or fearful, Shibas emit a high-pitched “scream” that can quickly become an annoyance to your neighbors. 

   The good news for a Shiba Inu owner is that they are a relatively healthy breed, which does not suffer from many of the common ailments known to befall other purebreds, such as cancer.  Typical health issues for Shiba Inus include glaucoma, allergies, and arthritis. 

   When considering purchasing a Shiba Inu, the question to ask may not be “is a Shiba right for me,” but “who is right for a Shiba?”  Try asking yourself, “What makes me happy?” If the answer does not include long hikes or runs, good hygiene, stalking the occasional rabbit, or squealing at the top of your lungs, you and a Shiba are not going to be compatible housemates!