Shibas-By Myrna Shiboleth, Shaar Hagai Kennels, Israel

The Shiba Inu is a perfect little Oriental soul in a fur coat. My first shiba convinced me of this very quickly, and none of the many others that I have .known since have changed my mind


I was first attracted to the shiba by their appearance – such a perfectly proportioned, well balanced, agile and appealing little package with their wonderful fox colored plush coat and Japanese eyes.  The first shiba who owned me was Kito, who, from the age of two months when I first met him, was a perfect dignified little Japanese gentleman with an inscrutable expression and the talent for wrapping everyone around his little paw.  He taught .me much about the Shiba, and those who followed furthered my education. My education continues – learning to live with Shibas is a life long task


The shiba is certainly not a dog for everyone.  Why?  Not because they are difficult dogs or dogs that tend to be hard to care for or to have bad habits.  But because the shiba personality is so unique…maybe you can compare it with a marriage – your soul mate is perfect for you, but your best friend would never be able to live with him or her.


Just to make it clearer, let’s consider some of their characteristics.


Perhaps one of the outstanding characteristics of the shiba is dignity.  Shibas like to play as much as any dog – but somehow, even in the excitement of play, the shiba never seems to be silly.  They always seem to project this feeling of decorum, poise, even nobility. Sometimes when you are playing with a shiba, and you get this sideways glance out of those dark, dark eyes, you begin to feel that it is the shiba who is tolerantly humoring you by playing.


The shiba likes his privacy.  He may come over for a cuddle when it pleases him, but he expects you to understand that he has his own thoughts to consider and would be pleased if you would respect his right to his own private corner.  And to expect him to do such things as breeding in public…! Well, really!


The shiba is incredibly clean.  He keeps himself spotless and likes his surroundings to be the same.  Shiba bitches manage to produce their puppies with so little mess that if the puppies were not there as evidence, you would wonder if there had been a whelping, and they keep their nest and puppies spotless for as long as they are allowed to care for them.  One should never expect the shiba to be prepared to set foot in the mud on a wet day – unless there might be a squirrel to chase…I am sure that everyone with a shiba has experienced that typical little shake of the foot with each step when he is expected to step across anything as disgusting as wet grass…


The shiba is highly intelligent, and the proof of his intelligence is his great success at always getting his own way.  There are many ways of doing this, from sitting and staring at you, to gentle nudges with the nose, delicate indications with a paw, or, in extreme cases, the shiba scream.  No one is capable of withstanding a shiba scream, especially when the neighbors come running out to see what you are doing to that poor little dog that sounds as though he is being skinned alive…


As far as obedience goes, the shiba, being so intelligent, learns very quickly.  However, obedience is repetitive, and repetition is boring.  So in order to be successful, we have to be sure to continue to keep our shiba interested in what he is supposed to be doing, and this takes a good deal of intelligence and imagination on our part, to motivate the shiba sufficiently to keep him working.  The shiba also has many little tricks to show you what he thinks of these silly obedience exercises.  One of the best is coughing and choking when we expect him to walk nicely on leash, just to show how cruelly we are torturing him by limiting his freedom…This works the best, as all shibas know, when we are walking down a busy street, or when he is in the show or obedience competition ring.


The shiba, like all of the spitz family, is very independent by nature.  This does not mean that he is disobedient or that he disregards your authority.  He does have his own opinion about things, however, and he expects that his opinion be considered.  And there are times when he may consider his judgment to be better than yours.  So you may call him to come to you, but he may feel that there is something of supreme interest in the other direction, and will expect you to honor his opinion by following him instead…how could you possibly interpret this as running away? A shiba never runs away!


The shiba is very loyal and affectionate, but he is not soppy.  His affection is not expressed by fawning over you, but rather by allowing you to share his life.  He may tap you gently with a paw, curl up next to you on the sofa, or simply stare at you until you realize that now is the time that you are expected to stroke him and show how much you love him, and he expects you to understand that the feeling is mutual.  For the shiba, a relationship is forever – there is no question in his mind of this fact.


A shiba has great confidence in himself and his own abilities.  This can sometimes get him into trouble, as his self confidence includes the belief that he is superior to all other dogs, even when they are twenty times his size.  He doesn’t look for trouble and is not fond of fighting, but he finds it hard to understand why not all other dogs understand how superior he is.  Though he usually has enough sense to back down if the situation gets too tense, there are times when the smart shiba will be glad to have his loyal master act as a shield between him and other less intelligent canines.


It is amazing how expressive the shiba face can be while retaining that oriental inscrutability.  It is very clear when he is expressing disbelief (“You couldn’t seriously believe that I would do a thing like that!”), scorn (“Now really, you might consider lowering yourself to that level, but me! Never!”), affection (“You really are quite a good fellow – some stroking would be appreciated…”), request (“That stuff you are eating looks like it might be edible – you might be able to persuade me to try it…”) and numerous other important feelings.


There is so much more…Living with a shiba is a challenge.  The shiba may be a small package, but it has a big soul, and it may take a lifetime to understand them – but it is well worth the effort


Shiba Talk

Shiba Property Laws

1.   If I like it, it’s mine.

2.   If it’s in my mouth, it’s mine

3.   If I can take it from you, it’s mine.

4.   If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine.

5.   If it’s mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way.

6.   If I’m chewing something up, all the pieces are mine.

7    If it just looks like mine, it’s mine.

8.   If I saw it first, it’s mine.

9.   If you are playing with something and you put it down, it automatically becomes mine.  


Life Lessons Learned from a Shiba:

1.   If you stare at someone long enough, eventually you’ll get what you want.

2.   Don’t go out without ID (loose Shibas will explore a large area).

3.  Be aware of when to hold your tongue, and when to use it (Shibas  do not bark without good reason).

4.  Leave room in your schedule for a good nap.

5.  When you do something wrong, always accept responsibility (as soon as you’re dragged out from under the bed).