Frequently Asked Questions

How big is a Shiba?
14" - 16" at the shoulder, 18 - 25 lbs, is correctly sized.

Do they shed?
Yes, twice a year. Thick wooly undercoat is shed in the fall and spring, and it is messy. The harsh guardhairs generally shed once a year.

Are Shibas hypoallergenic?
NO. While not as bad as some breeds, sensitive individuals may experience allergic reactions.

Can Shibas be trained?
YES. They are very intelligent and learn quickly. However, this does not mean they are obedient! Social training is easy, formal obedience training can be a challenge, particularly the off-leash work.

Do they need a fenced yard?
YES. Shibas were bred to hunt - this meant running all day. Fences should be at least 4' high, with no spaces of more than 3". If they can get their head through a hole, the rest of the body will follow.

Are they good apartment dogs?
Generally NO. When young, Shibas need exercise, and lots of it. If confined in a small apartment all day while the family is out, a young Shiba will bark, chew, and do all those awful things dogs do when they are bored. If someone is home most of the day with them, and there is the opportunity to get outside for exercise several times a day, Shibas can manage nicely in an apartment.

What kind of health problems are there in the breed?
At this point in time, the Shiba is generally a healthy dog. The most widespread problem is likely immune related issues (itchy skin, allergies, etc). Hip dysplaysia has been reported - reputable breeders X-ray their stock to reduce the incidence of this. Slipping patellas, some eye diseases and heart problems have also appeared, not in large numbers, but enough that breeders need to be aware and screening their breeding animals.

How are they with cats?
Surprisingly good... but remember that this is also an individual personality trait - not ALL Shibas may accept ALL cats. If a cat runs, a Shiba will chase it.

Are Shibas good with children?
YES, if they are raised with kids that treat animals with respect. If they have not been exposed to children when they (the puppies) were very young, they may be very apprehensive around children, particularly toddlers. Patience and pleasant experiences with children are the best teachers.

What's BAD about Shibas?
We are, of course, of the opinion that Shibas are perfect, but...

  • there is that shedding thing.
  • they need LOTS of exercise, particularly when young.
  • owners need LOTS of patience, particularly when young (see above!).
  • they can be stubborn, and ignore you, much like a cat would.
  • they deeply resent being bullied by other dogs; however they can be just as bad bullies themselves
  • if they get loose, they may be gone for days, if they can avoid getting hit by a car or attacked by other dogs.
  • there is that superior attitude - owners must possess just as much, if not more, self-esteem than the dog.