Shiba Inu Temperament and Personality

Shiba Inu Temperament And Personality

Being an ancient dog breed, the Shiba Inu possesses remarkable traits that set them apart from the newer generations of dog breeds. black and tan shiba inu giving paw

A distinguishing trait that is indelibly Shiba Inu is their aloofness. Shiba Inus were bred to be serious and independent dogs.

Shiba Inus do not need nor crave excessive attention or coddling like other “friendlier” breeds such as Labs.

Shiba Inu’s are not the most playful of dog breeds, though of course with any breed, there are exceptions.

Shibas have a remarkably keen perception and can pick up your mood easily. These intelligent dogs will use this often to their own
advantage. They always seem to know when they can or cannot get away with things. 

The Shiba Inu is a sophisticated, serious, and sometimes difficult breed to “figure out”.

Some describe Shiba Inus as aggressive and hard to handle. While this is true in some cases, properly bred and reared Shiba Inus as a whole should not show excessive aggression.

two shiba inus playing rougly

However, because Shiba Inus are an ancient dog breed, they do have a predisposition to be more “wild” than more domesticated dogs. Ancient dog breeds, that include Chow-Chow’s and Sharpeis retain more of their wild instincts than other dogs. For this reason, most do not recommend these types of dogs to new or inexperienced dog owners.

Shiba Inu’s are one of the few ancient breeds of dogs – along with Chow-Chow, Shar-pei, and others. Ancient breeds are less domesticated than other breeds are are thus, naturally retain more of their wild instincts than other domesticated dogs.

Proper breeding and rearing should always produce a Shiba Inu of stable and refined character.

Improper Shiba Inu breeding and rearing could very well produce Shiba Inus that exhibit more of their wild ancestral traits like aggression and dominance.

regal adult shiba inu

As Julia Cadwell, a noted Shiba Inu expert, states: “The characters of these dogs suggest ancient Japanese people–austere, valiant, faithful, good-natured and gentle, highly affectionate and sensitive to the kindness of their masters.

So in general, what kind of personality does a typical Shiba Inu have?

In terms of overall personality, a typical adult Shiba Inu is independent, calm, confident, and loyal to it’s masters.

Shiba Inus tend to be aloof dogs and are not especially friendly to strangers or other dogs. Many Shiba Inu owners notice that they do tend to assimilate better with their own breed.

Shiba Inu’s are not in general, overly affectionate dogs. They will be excited and happy to see you when you get home – but after a while they tend to let you know that “had enough” of your presence.

shiba inu with young child in winter

Younger Shiba Inus enjoy play and frolic but this enthusiasm will usually wane when they start getting older. Sometimes, even walking Shibas can be difficult. They likely just don’t see the point of doing the same route over and over.

The Shiba-Ken (as the Japanese call them) will surely love you with all their heart, but they simply won’t show it to you as other dogs typically would.


Are Shiba Inus Aggressive?

growl_kitsu copyIn terms of both human and dog aggression, a well-bred and reared Shiba Inu is generally not overtly aggressive.

Just as with all dog breeds, the manner in which the pup was reared can influence aggression levels greatly.

However, being that a Shiba is an ancient breed, the puppy rearing factor weighs in more heavily with Shibas than other, more domesticated breeds.

To make this easier to understand if one were to compare two puppies (Shiba Inu Puppy, Golden Retriever Puppy)  that had minimal social interaction, training and affection during the first 6 months of puppyhood, it is highly likely that the Golden will still be a loving, affectionate dog.

On the other hand, the Shiba puppy will likely display wilder characteristics like aggression and mistrust.

So depending on hereditary factors and upbringing, temperament of a Shiba Inu can vary. However, quality breeders will always aim to breed Shiba Inus that are calm and confident – but not aggressive.


How The Japanese Describe The Shiba Inu Dog Breed

In Japan, the NIPPO, or Japanese kennel club, have a very unique way of describing the Shiba Inu temperament with three words: kan-i, ryosei, and sobuku.

Kan-i: This describes the Shiba Inu’s confidence, bravery, and boldness that is subsequently balanced with composure and mental fortitude. Shiba Inu’s therefore may be fierce and fearless without being unnecessarily reckless and violent.

Ryosei: Ryosei, which is the opposite of Kan-i means good natured, loyal, and charming. Shiba Inus should have total trust and attachment to it’s owner. The bond between a Shiba Inu and it’s owner is a very special partnership that will last for the Shiba’s lifetime. Many have said that Shiba Inus will only take one master in his or her lifetime.

Sobuku: The final element of a Shiba Inus essence, sobuku, means simplicity with an open and modest spirit. The Shiba Inu is an elegant dog that has no need to be flashy or loud. A Shiba Inus physical beauty combined with its refined character allows the essence of Shiba Inu to shine through.

shiba inu in japanese samurai design

Typically, a Shiba Inu is very analytical and will decide for itself if it wants to engage in an activity. If you enjoy a dog that loves fetching things over and over again – a Shiba Inu is most likely not for you.

Do not mistake their unwillingness to perform silly tricks for you as a sign of low intelligence. They understand exactly what you want them to do – they just don’t see the point of doing it over and over again.

Shiba Inus were bred to be active small game hunters and they still have much of their hunting instinct. Thus they will take to activities such as barn hunts and the like.

Do Shiba Inus Bark?

Yes, Shiba Inus definitely do bark.

Some people inadvertently mistake Shiba Inus for Basenji’s which is a true barkless dog.

Shiba Inus are not excessive barkers and they choose to bark mainly to warn or alert you of something amiss. Many Shiba Inus also howl like Huskies and other more primitive and wild dog breeds.

The Infamous Shiba Scream

Shiba Inus are known to be vocal when they want to be.

Very vocal.

A Shiba scream is a loud, high-pitched cry usually accompanied by howling and whimpering.

It’s basically a way of your Shiba Inu letting you know that he or she is pretty upset.

Shiba screams are commonly heard when you subject your Shiba to things Shiba Inus are known to detest – like bathing or nail clipping.

Because Shiba Inus are ancient dog breeds that are more closely related to wolves than domesticated dog breeds, the Shiba scream / howl is a likely a trait passed down from their wolves ancestors.

Because Shiba Inus are less domesticated than most other dog breeds, their DNA is not quite hardwired to excessive handling and grooming rituals.


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