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Are Shiba Inus Aggressive? [Breed Temperament Guide]

If you are considering having a Shiba Inu as your next family dog, naturally, you will want to know if they are aggressive. Are they good around children? What about other people? Do these dogs get along well with other animals? Let’s find out!

So, are Shiba Inus aggressive? Shiba Inus can be an aggressive breed as they are naturally very possessive of their food, toys, and territory. As a basal breed, Shiba Inus have more traits from wild dogs than other, more domesticated dog breeds (like Labradors). Therefore, this breed simply needs adequate socialization and training from the time they are young puppies.

With this information in mind, you need to ensure that you can dedicate the time and dedication it takes to own this small-to-medium dog.

And it may mean reconsidering the breed altogether depending on your circumstances and context.

That being said, don’t rule them out just yet.

A little further exploration into their temperament and what it takes to own one can make all the difference.

Besides, they can make good family dogs with the right owners and the right approach.

We will soon see why this is the case.

So let’s continue.

What Is The Typical Shiba Inu Temperament?

The typical Shiba Inu is confident, fearless, and independent in temperament. Although, they are known for their loyalty and faithfulness with and around their owners.  

In fact, the Japanese have described the mental traits of this breed with three words:

  • Kaani-I, or spirited boldness
  • Soboku, or alertness (hence why they make good watchdogs)
  • Ryosei, or good nature

Natural Hunters

Shiba Inus were originally bred in Japan for the purpose of hunting small birds. 

They had to be quick, reacting to their flying prey, who were faster than their human owners, and working independently.

These dogs are natural hunters and are not the best dogs to be trusted off-leash unless they have been highly trained. 

A Shiba will instinctively chase smaller animals – including smaller dogs – and enjoy the hunt.

Cats, other dogs, and squirrels are Shiba favorites for a good chase.

Athletic Escape Artists

Shibas are also escape artists: they need a large yard with a secure fence so that they can romp and play safely.

Although they are small (20 pounds on average), they are quite athletic: they move quickly and efficiently. These dogs are alert and sharp.

They need daily exercise, such as an invigorating walk or jog: you can cycle or jog along, and your Shiba will happily run alongside you.

Strong-Willed And Confident Animals

These dogs make excellent companions, but they are very strong-willed: all the more reason to train them well when they’re puppies.

Shibas are known for their fiery personalities, which come out when they are around other dogs as well as other animals.

They also have a calm dignity, which many feel comes across as a sentiment of superiority to everyone else around them. 

Some see this trait as stubborn, but Shiba Inu lovers appreciate their confident natures.

When training your Shiba Inu, it’s crucial to have this intelligent dog think that obedience is his idea. 

He won’t obey you just because you ask him to! If you aren’t experienced in handling Shiba Inus, get a trainer who has experience with this free-thinking breed.

Are Shiba Inus Protective?

Shiba Inus are very protective by nature because they are highly territorial. They will defend their toys, food, territory, and people.

Your Shiba will make an excellent watchdog, as these dogs are generally suspicious of strangers: they’ll alert you quickly to anything or anyone unusual on your property.

The protective nature of your Shiba Inu won’t stop them from being devoted to his people, and that includes children.

As long as he has been properly trained and socialized, and the children treat him kindly, and with respect, your Shiba can make an excellent family dog. Shibas are good playmates for children if they are gentle.

Shibas are very possessive dogs, though, so be sure to put away favorite toys or treats if other dogs or children are about. 

Your Shiba may be tempted to fight over his favorite things with just about anyone, family or not!

Because Shibas don’t like sharing what’s important to them, they are usually better off being the only pet in the house. 

So, if you have smaller animals like hamsters, guinea pigs, or even a cat, you may not want to get a Shiba Inu unless you are prepared to keep them in separate areas of your property.

If you have other dogs who are at least the same size as your Shiba, the dogs can get along if you feed them separately and have their own bedding, favorite toys, and other possessions.

What Can Make Shiba Inus Aggressive?

Several things can make Shiba Inus aggressive. This includes a lack of socialization, inappropriate play, the taking away of their possessions, and a perceived need to protect.

Let us walk through each one: 

Lack Of Socialization

If your Shiba Inu is not socialized enough as a puppy, he can suffer from lifelong fear, anxiety, and aggression. 

Not only will you have a very unhappy dog, but an unsocialized Shiba Inu is more likely than other dogs to run away and never come back.

Some Shiba Inus can feel unsafe even when there is no threat, and they will be aggressive for no apparent reason. 

They may not understand that they are safe because of fear or anxiety.

Not Being Neutered

An intact Shiba Inu will be more likely to aggress other intact dogs, especially intact males.

Aggressive Play

Some dogs love aggressive play, but the Shiba Inu isn’t one of them.

If you want a dog that can put up with teasing or rough house play, you’re better off getting a different breed.

Shibas are quite sensitive, so if they aren’t engaged in active sports, they prefer calm gestures of affection. 

While they won’t seek you out for lots of cuddles, Shibas do love belly rubs and hugs from time to time from their people.

Taking Away Their Possessions

If you try to take away your Shiba’s food, chances are he will growl at you, even though you’re his owner. 

Don’t let your child take the food bowl away if your Shiba hasn’t finished: they may get very angry and start barking.

The same goes for your Shiba’s chew toy, bone, or any other items he sees as valuable.

Because Shibas are quite possessive, leaving them alone with children isn’t a good idea until they have been fully trained and socialized.

Other Animals

The presence of other animals can bring out the hunting instinct in your Shiba Inu, and he will want to defend his territory.

Wanting To Protect Their Pack

Your Shiba Inu will see you and your family as part of his pack, and he will want to protect you. If someone they don’t trust gets too close, they can be aggressive.

Mother Shiba Inus will be particularly aggressive if anyone gest too close to their puppies – and this could include you!

How To Prevent Aggression In Shiba Inus

By working with your Shiba Inu’s natural temperament, you can bring out the best in this breed.

Train Them Using Positive Reinforcement

Because these dogs were originally trained to work independently, trying to train them using aggressive measures won’t work.

Using aggression will make your Shiba more aggressive than before.

Harsh punishments such as shock collars, choke chains, alpha rolls, or harsh leash corrections will not work with Shiba Inus.

Use positive reinforcement: redirect away from the behavior you want to discourage and reward the behavior you want to see.

Respect Their Independent Natures

These dogs have their own ideas as to what’s what. Respect their independence and try to get them to adopt good behavior because they think it’s a good idea.

If you don’t have experience training a Shiba Inu, this is where an expert trainer can really help.

Be Consistent

Be consistent with your rules when training your Shiba. If you aren’t consistent, your dog will be confused, upset, or stressed.

Here are some suggestions for rules you may or may not wish to implement in your home with your dog:

  • No jumping on people
  • No being aggressive around treats or food
  • No biting, not even nipping
  • No getting on the furniture

Remain Calm

Be as calm as you can around your Shiba.

Dogs are experts at picking up on cues from our body language: if we are anxious or nervous, our dogs can pick up on that and become nervous as well.

Give Your Dog Lots of Exercise

Exercise is an excellent way to burn off energy and keep us calm.

Your Shiba will need lots of vigorous exercise to stay healthy, and activity is an excellent method for calming aggression, too.

Shibas are highly energetic dogs who do need good workouts every day. Play exciting games with them, too, like fetch or chase.

Neuter or Spay Your Dog

Intact dogs are often more aggressive and will display dominance and other forms of behavior.

If you don’t intend to breed your Shiba, spaying or neutering can help calm him down.

Speak To Your Vet

It could be that your dog is in pain: and, of course, he can’t tell you.

We are all more likely to be more short-tempered when we’re in pain, and dogs are no exception.

It might be worth a trip to the vet to make sure nothing’s wrong.

You may find that in this case, any aggresison is short-lived.

Get Professional Help

It may be that you need professional help when it comes to raising or training.

An aggressive dog can be dangerous and disastrous for the family dynamic. Your dog will be unhappy, too, so this situation is best remedied as soon as possible.

professional trainer can make all the difference, especially with independent thinkers like Shiba Inus!


Shiba Inus can be aggressive.

That’s the important word here, can.

Not all of them are, and not all of them will be.

A lot has to do with how they are raised and cared for, and then the circumstances they are subjected to.

If you have other pets already, you can expect a clash, at least to begin with!

But don’t let this put you off.

So long as you are willing and able to commit the time, effort, and patience to socialization and training, you will be rewarded by a truly loving, loyal dog.

Just don’t forget the cost. These dogs aren’t typically cheap!