Shiba Inu Puppies from LittleWolf Industries
Frequently Asked Questions  About Shibas:

What are the characteristics and temperament of the Shiba?

Do they get along with cats?

How much space does the Shiba need?

I live in an apartment. Would a Shiba be O.K. for me?

Will a male spray inside?

What about house training?

What about crating a dog?

What about chewing?

Are they good with children?

What are your dogs like?

What personality can I expect from a Shiba?

I heard that Shibas are stubborn. Do you have any training tips?

I live in a cold/hot climate. Can Shibas live here?

What if I have no time for a puppy, but I still want a Shiba?

I already have one Shiba but I want another one. What should I get?

Where can I find more information? 

Question: What are the characteristics and temperament of the Shiba?

We have had and loved Shibas for almost 10 years, now, and find them to be: friendly, affectionate, independent, possessive, intelligent, clever, athletic, very fast (when they don't want you to catch them), in your face when you do anything new or eat anything, close by to find a lap when sleepy, toe lickers, ball chasers, thieves, friends or chasers of cats, depending upon whose cat it is and what time of day it is, sturdy, healthy, a good companion, cute, alert, beautiful show stoppers when you walk them in public and easy to scoop up in your arms when you need to hold them.

Question: Do they get along with cats?

We have several cats. Everyone runs free in the house together, two or three cats and sometimes five dogs at a time, plus a bunch of puppies from time to time, and they get along very well. Sometimes it is 'sitting by the door in the the sun' time, and sometimes it is 'chasing each other all over everywhere' time. Our cats and dogs have been known to actually show affection for each other. Sometimes they even sleep together.  

Question: How much space does the Shiba need?

Many Shibas live in apartment houses in big cities. Ours live in a large R.V. and a small yard. They do fine in small quarters, as long as they get some exercise and have an acceptable place to relieve themselves. We've arranged our yard so they can run from end to end and around a large tree. They also like to jump up on boxes, stumps and flat-topped doghouses.

The biggest cause of Shiba death is a car accident. When walking your Shiba, (because you live in a small apartment or R.V.), the Shiba must always be securely leashed! A secure fence is mandatory if you have a yard. Bolting after cats and other small prey is what a Shiba does. The Shiba was bred for the hunt. He was designed for assisting in small and large game hunts, and more recently, for wild boar. They are doing what comes naturally.

Most of our Shibas are contained by a four foot exercise pen but our large male could vault it in a heart-beat. I've seen him leap four feet STRAIGHT UP! Six feet of non-climbable fence is a minimum for an un-neutered male dog. You can get a portable, six-foot tall chain-link kennel with a roof, at Home Depot. It is great! It comes in 6' x 6' foot sections and is called "Hound Surround". Just an occasional Shiba will be climber, usually an un-neutered male.

Our dogs are securely fenced and never off the leash when walking. They run free in the house and the fenced yard, and spend a lot of their time in our faces, trying to do what we do and eat what we are eating, while we are eating it. They prefer to sleep with us, even if it means sleeping next to the cats. 

Question: We live in an apartment. Would a Shiba be O.K. for us?

We live in a large R.V. because we used to travel a lot. Our Shibas spend the day either in the outdoor portable (somewhat) pen or the house depending on the weather or the dog. They are the national dog of Japan because they are small enough to live in tiny dwellings, but substantial enough to be guard dogs. Just be sure your Shiba will be able to take at least one nice walk each day. You will both be better for it. 

Question: Will a male spray inside?

A whole, un-neutered dog may want to mark his territory, but you can train him to respect your home. If your dog is neutered, your problems will be minimum, inside and out. When he learns your needs and his boundaries, life gets easier, even if it requires some discipline. For a neutered male, marking of territory is not such a serious issue and he will not have the wanderlust. If you want a great companion and do not want to show or breed, you will never have him running away to answer the call of the wild in a neighbor's back yard, to be run over or stolen or worse. He won't want to have "Pee Wars" with other dogs, he will mind his manners when you take him places with other dogs like a dog show, and he will focus on you and your family as the most important things in his life, as he should. The process produces a happier, healthier dog and happier owners. Spaying the female will give you similar benefits. Spaying and neutering

Question: What about house training?

I used to recommend the crate method of house training. There are books and stuff to help you, but simply put, if you manage the puppy within a small area with a crate, it will considers the crate it's den, bed and safe place. Normally, the pup will not want to spoil its bed. When it needs to poop, it will call or cry and you can then take it to where you wish it to do it's thing. When you cannot be home for several hours, confine the pup to a small area that contains i's crate, water and food, and at the other end, newspapers. The pup will use the newspapers 95% of the time and keep the crate clean. We also have used puppy pads during the early months. We had problems with our first pup because we weren't consistent. She is eight years old now and turned out just fine.

Shiba puppies start asking to go out around five weeks of age. If you take them outside to do their business when they ask, it mayrun you a little ragged at first but the puppies develop good habits.

For the almost inevitable accidents, use an enzyme based cleaner. This does a great job of getting rid of both stains and odor. I just found an affordable gallon called "Simple Solution" made by The Bramton Company, P.O. Box 655450, Dallas, TX 75625-5450. You could find a similar product nearly anywhere...perfect for keeping that new carpet new.

Question: What about crating a dog?

Crates can be very useful. We have the Midwest brand of crate, attractively powder coated blue. Sometimes, like when the door is open or several people are going in and out, you need to confine your dog. Always have a chew toy in the crate so it won't be punishment, just a safe "cool-off" area. Also, the crate is useful for cantaining that raw, meaty bone that is so calming to a puppy who is teething. They won't get it all over your rug or full of dirt that way.

When we have several Shibas in the house overnight, like during bad storms, several are crated with their respective toys and blankets. They tend to fall right off to sleep because they know that they will not be disturbed in their own den (crate). Our breeder in Washington, who has a herd, not a pack, crates her dogs every night except for one or two. We usually leave two or three trusted individuals out at night and they find warm places with us and the cats.

Question: What about chewing?

About the chewing... They need to do it. Provide lots of safe (not rawhide) chewing materials during the first year and supervise!!!! Puppies need to chew to develop strong teeth and jaws. A raw, meaty bone is the greatest puppy pacifier known. Provide the pup a safe place to chew, where he won't be interupted or stain the carpet. Use "Bitter Orange" (expensive, but worth it) on items you wish unchewed. We found that the hard, cream colored dinosaur (Dental Dino by Booda) dog chew were the most popular. These little Shiba guys have jaws of iron! Strangely, no dog or puppy has ever chewed any of our computer or electrical cords, just the cats! We never leave any puppy loose in the house when we are gone. They are always in their crate or contained area with water, food and their chew toy while we are away, until they are at least a year old. We supervise all loose play while we are home. This has worked well. Now we have six trusted adult Shibas running rampant across our life.

Question: Are they good with children?

Is your child going to be good to your Shiba? Your Shiba will adjust to just about any home situation, including other animals and children. They are very fast and can usually avoid hair pulling, etc. from very young children, but will consider everyone in your family part of their "pack" and be close to all of you. The key is to supervise very small children with the puppies and train children in the proper care of animals. Children can be cruel without realizing it, and need early supervision. The Shiba enjoys almost endless hours of ball chasing and tug-of-war.

We got one of our dogs as an adult and he was terrified of children and my mother-in-law, who is short. After about a year he was willing to go up to kids AND my mother-in-law, tail wagging, to get a pat in the head. A puppy will grow into your family like it was natural to have children around.

Question: What are your dogs like?

We live in San Diego and have had most our dogs and puppies shipped to us air freight and they were no worse for wear. We shopped around quite a bit before purchasing the dogs we have now, and even took a trip to Washington State to get our first one. Our dogs are securely fenced and never off the leash when walking. They run free in the house and the fenced yard, and spend a lot of their time in our faces, trying to do what we do and eat what we are eating. They prefer to sleep with us, but are fine and comfortable if we choose to crate them for the night.

We have learned a lot about these little guys (and gals) since our first puppy and are planning to produce a video specifically for the Shiba, it's care and characteristics. We hope it will be available sometime soon. We have more hopeful plans for our Shiba Care and Training book. !!!! Shibas are not like other dogs. !!!!!

All of our dogs are at least trained to SIT. They really know their own names. We have trouble with STAY. COME is halfway in between. It works better with a treat! Shibas are very willing to be bribed with goodies!

We take them for at least one walk a day in the countryside or let them run loose in the big yard to read the "news'. We NEVER, NEVER let them off the long, retractable leashes unless we are in a completely enclosed area. They will run on impulse faster than you can blink an eye. These dogs are half feral (read wild) and are very instinctive. We think they are really tiny wolves, hence the name, LittleWolf Industries. They are also extremely loving and loyal to their families. They saved me from a threatening stranger and my husband from a loose bull, while on one of our walks. 

Question: What personality can I expect from a Shiba?

All Shibas have different personalities but are also destinctly "Shiba". Ours prefer to be near us and like lots affection. Sonia is a cuddler and likes to be on your lap. Casey loves to play ball and get attention, but was really shy when we first got him. He has developed a really nice personality and is not afraid to approach strangers now. This is not normally the case for Shiba males. They are usually distant to strangers. Beni is a love sponge and a couch potato. Simone thinks she is my shadow and loves to sleep under my desk when I am at the computer. Buffy steals kisses when she can sneak up on me from behind. She thinks it is bad form to scratch at the door to go out so she just stands there and hopes someone sees her. Bridgette is extremely energetic and very wiggly and kissy.

As a breed they are powerful, agile, clever, love your food better than theirs, have incredible hearing, sight and sense of smell, and are really, really fast. They love to be in your face when you do stuff and some of them love to lick toes. They have a terrible "Shiba Scream" when they are not getting their way, but will respond to patient, consistent, firm, loving training. Some of that screaming can be worked out with the early leash training.

A Shiba will insinuate itself into the fabric of your life. They have protected me from a threatening stranger, and my husband from a loose bull. They tell me when someone approaches and when the mailman and UPS truck come. They share sun with the cats or chase them, whatever the situation calls for. One cherishes the stuffed toys we buy him, the others tear the stuffing out immediately. They steal from each other and us. They will slip into your chair in the blink of an eye.

These dogs learn fast. They will learn lots of stuff, even things you don't want them too. They are also preoccupied with with all of their environment and sometimes choose not to hear you, having more interesting things to pay attention to.

Question: I heard that Shibas are stubborn. Do you have any training tips?

If you establish early that you are the pack leader, they will be willing to mind you, mostly.

Hold your puppy on it's back in your arms like a baby, at least twice each day, whisper loving endearments and play with their feet. This is mostly for the younger dogs, up to a year old. They may struggle, fuss and sneeze. When a shiba, especially a puppy, gets nervous, it's nose will run. (I let them turn their heads to breath easier). They may give you the dreaded "Shiba Scream". Don't let them down until they have calmed down and accepted the position. This is usually accompanied by an audible sigh of resignation. Praise them and then let them down, in your time, not theirs. This gentle dominance training goes a long, long way to get them to see who is boss and nobody has to yell or get angry.

You don't have to be touching a Shiba to get "the scream". When they perceive a threat or want their own way, they will utter this horrifying screech that is so loud that you are certain the neighbors have called the police.

For barking issues, a water sprayer set for distance works wonders. For tougher issues, "the classic", a rolled up newspaper, judiciously and sparingly applied, sometimes works. Also, the "Wand Of Power" works pretty well. It is that long, neon-colored plastic foam pole you can find in supermarkets that kids use in pools. Just waving it around seems to do the trick at our house.

Please check out the books I have found to be of great value. There are many good solutions to training problems in these volumes. Shiba Books Link

If you are firm, loving and consistent they DO learn that they must respect your wishes. Also, bribery will work. They return your love and guidance in hundreds of ways.

Question: I live in a cold/hot climate. Can Shibas live here?

Shibas grow a coat of hair appropriate to the climate they live in. If you live in a northern location, they will get pretty puffy. In San Diego, they shed out pretty well and carry a very light coat in the summer. In a northern climate, they grow a thick, long coat that rivals a Husky, who is also a member of the Northern Spitz breed, like the Shiba Inu, and the Akita.

Shibas are indeed, quite like tiny, red Huskies. Their coat is double, with a soft undercoat and a coarser, protective outer coat. This double layer is said to protect them against all weather, including heat.

They shed twice a year normally, but will shed constantly throughout the year, under artificial lights.
If you will get busy with the dog brush at the first sign of shedding, you can have the situation under control right away and it won't last much longer than a week or two.

Question: What if I have no time for a puppy but I still want a Shiba?

Buying or adopting an adult dog can be both tricky and rewarding. Find out how the dog has been raised and by whom. Some really good information has become available, and I've put two books in our Shiba Bookstore that address adopting an adult dog of doubtful past. I suggest looking into the Shiba Rescue organizations in your area, if you are patient and have the time and love to rehabilitate a needy Shiba. A loving, patient household will produce a dog that is a joy forever.

A dog that is already trained and socialized takes a tremendous burden off the prospective owner that does not have the time to devote to a puppy. We have acquired both adults and puppies with very good results, (some required more work than others) and have letters from happy families who have adopted rescue Shibas from us.

Although all Shibas share common qualities, most are very shy of people that are not in their family. Don't be put off if a particular dog won't warm up to you right away. That is a characteristic of the breed.

Question: I already have a Shiba and I would like another. What shall I get?

Two non-neutered males will fight, often to the death! Sometimes it doesn't matter if one is neutered or not. A female and male is a good combo, neutered or not. Females can sometimes live together, if they are spayed, or if you can separate and/or supervise them during their heat periods, twice a year. Actually, some of the worst fights occur between spayed females! (Go figure!) The females will compete (fight) with each other for the right to breed. Traffic control is vital in a large household. We have several several Shibas and really have to pay attention to whom is with whom and when. We can usually have one male out with all the ladies, but we can never have the un-neutered males out together because they will fight for the women.

A non-neutered male will have females on his mind. They take marking their property very seriously. Stink is EVERYTHING! This may sound funny, but every pee and poop is a strategic, political and social tool. They also want to get out and roam unless they have their own family to protect. Even then, your male will be every bit a stallion and will want to accommodate every female in heat within 20 miles. Hormones are nasty, unreasoning things. Neutering and spaying make all social and logistic arrangements so much easier. 

Question: Where can I find more information?

We certainly don't know everything but if you E-mail us with specific questions, we will try to help and inform.
We are finding more Shiba Books all the time. Visit our Shiba Bookstore and read our reviews.

Jane Vanderpool of "Shiba's Nest", has raised Shibas for more than 25 years and is a veritable font of valuable info, gained from real experience. Her number and address are: 15321 133rd Avenue S.E., Yelm, WA 98597 - (360) 458-2709. She is on the web now, on our Shiba Links page.

Don't forget the American Kennel Club and other helpful dog information sites.
Go to Google and type: Shiba Inu

I also suggest more web surfing and getting on the Shiba Inu web ring, for constantly evolving information.

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