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Are Shiba Inus Aggressive? Dealing With Dog Aggression

Are Shiba Inus Aggressive? Dealing With Dog Aggression

When they lay out their ears to the sides like an airplane and narrow their eyes to slits, Shibas can look quite terrifying. This doggie’s grin makes it look like a fox.

Add some funny vocalizations to the list and you’ll wonder if these dogs are normal at all.

But, they are normal. It’s just a way Shiba Inus act sometimes. Such behavior can be linked to aggressiveness.

So, are Shiba Inus aggressive? A Shiba purchased from a responsible dog breeder, that has also been properly socialized and trained, shouldn’t be aggressive.

Still, they can act possessively when it comes to food, toys, and territory.

In fact, such cases can turn into aggressive behavior.

Luckily, there are dog breeders who work hard to make sure the original essence of the breed remains intact. They produce good-tempered dogs that fit all need standards.

Aggressive behavior is linked back to ancient times. Their history is the answer to the question of why many Shibas act aggressively.

But, are there any other reasons why they act the way they act? Do health problems cause aggression? How can it be treated? Is it hopeless?

Nothing is lost. Everything can be fixed. Just stick with us until the end.

History: Where Are Shiba Inus From?

Shiba inus (shibe) dog playing in the snow

The first Shiba Inus appeared in Japan, along with the Akita, the Shikoku, the Kai Dog, the Hokkaido, and the Kishu.

All of these dog breeds are larger than the Shiba dog breed. Once used as hunting dogs at an early age, Shibas are nowadays beloved companion dogs, excellent guard dogs, and watchdogs.

It’s still unknown if the old Shiba was bred from a spitz type of dog, or if the spitzs were bred from this dog breed.

Many people even compared them with the Jindo dog, but there are many differences between these two breeds.

This purebred dog breed got its name either from a word that means “brushwood” (a sort of bush in which they used to hunt), or another name theory is that they’re named after the autumn color of the brushwood leaves.

World War II was almost a disaster for the Shiba. Most of them were killed in the war, and the rest of them struggled quite hard after the war to the point that they almost became extinct.

Shortly after WWII, the Japanese Kennel Club was founded, and the Shiba Inu breed standard was defined by Nihon Ken Hozonkai.

The first Shiba in the USA was imported by an American service family in 1954, but the first litter was born in 1979.

The Shiba Inu was recognized by the American Kennel Club Miscellaneous Class in 1993. They acquired the Non-sporting Group in 1997.

Are Shibas Aggressive? Understanding Their Temperament

Potrait of two red shiba inus sitting together in the snow.

Generally speaking, Shiba Inus are great dogs. They’re not any more aggressive than any other dog breed. However, they do have a particular temperament that you need to be aware of.

Once originally bred to hunt small birds in Japan, nowadays, Shiba Inus are lovely pets with lots of quirks originating from their quirky history.

As bird hunters, Shibas had to operate independently from their owners. Their prey reacted fast, so they had no time to call for the owner. They had to learn how to work on their own.

No wonder why Shibas are so independent and quite stubborn dogs. That’s why coming at them with aggressive measures doesn’t work well. Such an approach could only increase their aggression.

When handling Shibas, we want them to be as calm as they can be. Use only positive reinforcement, meaning giving them rewards when they behave well and avoiding harsh punishment.

You’ll have to redirect away from the behavior you want to discourage and towards the behavior you’d like to see.

This means they have definite boundaries. They might not like having another dog up in their business. It can set them off. The same goes for people.

Even though they don’t serve as hunting dogs anymore, they still have the natural instinct and prey drive kicking in.

Any future Shiba owner must be aware that Shibas can be more aggressive towards small pets like cats or small dogs.

When dealing with Shiba Inus, keep in mind the following things:

• Shiba Inus are proud and independent dogs.

• Never use harsh punishment like choke chains, shock collars, harsh leash corrections, alpha rolls, etc.

• Shibas still have a strong prey drive, so be careful around small animals.

Why Are Shiba Inus So Aggressive?

young shiba inu barking menacingly at a dog in the snow

Aggression in dogs manifests in attacking and biting people, other dogs, and other animals. Dogs that manifest aggression have triggered situations that set off aggressive behaviors.

If you can figure out what triggers aggression in your Shiba Inus, you’ll be more likely to get closer to the solution. If you don’t know why the dog is upset, then it’s impossible to make them stop all of a sudden.

There are several types of aggression in dogs, all caused by different factors.

Aggression over territory is one of the most common ones. The dog gets defensive of its home or back yard, or any other place they consider as their territory.

Protection aggression is natural for all dogs because they want to protect their family, people, or things they consider to be a part of their family. Dogs that are mothers can also display this type of aggression if someone gets too close to their puppies.

Shiba Inus can get aggressive with things they think they own. This is when the dog acts possessive over their bone, dog bed, chew toys, food, or any other item they find valuable.

Fear aggression happens when the Shiba is scared or has anxiety. It’s a natural reaction to a threat, but it becomes serious when there isn’t a real threat. The Shiba is safe, but it doesn’t understand that, and feels unsafe.

Prey drive is a form of aggression when the dog exhibits classic signs of predatory behavior. It can manifest when something small like young children or a bunny runs. Since Shibas were bred to hunt small game, their natural instinct kicks in and they begin chasing the prey.

Redirected aggression happens when a dog is too upset about something, but it’s somehow unable to reach the source of aggression. That’s when the dog redirects their aggression towards the nearest object or person.

Are Shiba Inus Aggressive Towards Humans? The Signs Of Aggression

shibu inu puppy growling and showing her teeth

Don’t think that dog aggression just comes out of nowhere. Dogs can express their emotions very well. They may not know how to speak, but they do know how to tell what they’re feeling by using body language.

Every dog owner, not only Shiba owners, should be aware of the classic physical signs that dogs exhibit when feeling aggressive or anxious.

Keep an eye out and back off immediately if the dog is:

• Growling and showing teeth

• Making snapping motions into the air

• When their body goes very rigid and they’re wagging their tail quickly

• When their fur is raised

In addition, there are signs when the dog is too scared or when it’s about to engage in an aggressive defense:

• When they’re tucking their tail underneath their body

• If you can see the whites of their eyes

Are Shiba Inus Good With Other Dogs?

three shiba inus together sitting down in the forest

Are Shiba Inus aggressive at all times? Can’t they get along with other animals? Are Shiba Inus good with other dogs?

So many questions for you to know the answers to!

Here’s what we know for sure:

• Shiba Inus are dominant dogs. They do not get along well with other dogs, especially if that other dog is also dominant and of the same sex.

• Shiba Inus only get along with another dog if that other dog recognizes the Shiba Inu as the boss and the definite pack leader.

• The Shiba Inu breed has been a natural hunter ever since ancient times. If they see a small animal running by, their hunting instincts will kick in and they will chase that animal. This is exactly why you should never keep a Shina Inu off-leash in public.

• Shiba Inus think they are big dogs, even if they’re only a puppy. That’s how big their ego is. If they had to choose whom to tolerate, it would be big dogs like them.

• Are Shiba Inus aggressive? Yes! Are they grumpy! Yes! Their trigger? Other dogs. Sometimes, two Shibas may get along, but a Shiba and some other dog just won’t. Still, they need to be supervised during meals because they tend to steal other dog’s food and toys.

Some Shiba Inu owners claim that this dog can get along with the following dog breeds:

• Pembroke Welsh Corgi – An active, intelligent, healthy, athletic, and lively dog. It’s a smaller version of the Shiba Inu.

• Alaskan Malamute – A strong, loyal, affectionate, and playful dog.

Getting along with other breeds like Spaniels, Dobermans, or German Shepherds is impossible because they’re larger than the Shiba.

Given what we know about the Shiba, it’s pretty obvious that they’re better off without company.

Are Shiba Inus Protective?

shiba inu dog standing in a circle platform in sideview

Shiba Inus are very cautious dogs, and they don’t like changes at all.

Besides being protective of their family members, Shibas are also protective of their food. If you say they’re borderline possessive, you wouldn’t be wrong at all. Try taking their food and they’ll growl at you the same way they growl at strangers.

This is exactly why you should never trust a Shiba alone with a small kid. The child may try to take their food, but the Shiba won’t know they’re only playing.

These dogs need to be socialized with people and trained in order to be trusted completely.

Another thing they’re protective of is their territory. Shibas don’t like having the area around them invaded with strangers and other animals; hence, why it’s not such a good idea to own other dogs besides a Shiba.

There is a huge possibility that your Shiba will fight that other dog in order to protect their territory. Sharing isn’t caring for these guys.

If, by any chance, you end up with a Shiba and a small pet like a cat, a hamster, or a turtle, don’t put them together.

Make sure their feeding places are nowhere near Shiba’s. They’re small game and Shibas love to hunt small game.

Better safe than sorry.

To answer the question of whether or not Shibas are protective, we can say yes. Shibas are very protective of everything. From their owners to toys, food, and territory – they cover it all!

As long as you have defined boundaries between your Shiba and your loved ones, you’ll be able to enjoy living with this quirky dog.

How To Calm An Aggressive Shiba Inu

image of a shiba inu dog standing near the waters

If your Shiba is exhibiting signs of aggression or you believe it might begin, don’t panic. There are some tips to follow to get the relationship with your dog on the right track.

Stay calm. Your dog will pick up lots of your energy. Dogs take cues from the body language of their owners. If you’re acting nervous or anxious, then your dog might act the same.

Talk to the vet. The aggression trigger can be something beneath the surface of their body. It’s called pain-elicited aggression. In other words, when something is hurting them, they will be crabbier than usual.

Take the dog for a check-up to see if something serious is injuring your dog.

Neuter or spay your dog. Unspayed and unneutered dogs are more likely to display aggression and dominance.

If you don’t intend to breed your Shiba Inu, it would be best to spay or neuter it. It will calm down, and also help with the aggressive behavior it is showing.

Exercise your Shiba Inu. Many dogs get aggressive if they have too much energy and nothing to do.

Shiba Inus can have lots of problems with this because they’re energetic dogs. Having a healthy outlet for that energy is a must for this dog breed.

Make sure your dog gets plenty of walks and playtime, and that he engages in many mental games.

Stay consistent. Your dog must have rules and boundaries; otherwise, it will feel upset and confused. Dogs only understand when something is bad or good.

They don’t understand why it’s bad to jump on the couch. You need to install some rules that they will learn over time.

Teach your Shiba the following:

• To stay off the furniture

• Not to jump on people

• Not to exhibit aggression with food or treats

• Not to bite or nip

Are Shiba Inus Stubborn, Independent, Affectionate?

black and tan shiba inu dog sitting on the ground looking at the camera

What we didn’t emphasize before is that Shiba Inus were intentionally bred to be independent. It’s not a trait they picked up on the way.

They’re aloof with strangers and new people, and they have a self-governing nature, which makes them charming and appealing to many new owners.

Since there are lots of dog lovers who want capable dogs that are able to entertain themselves, Shibas are getting more and more attention these days. Not everyone wants a lapdog that craves attention all the time. Enter Shiba Inus!

This breed isn’t really fond of cuddles. Many examples of this breed tolerate occasional petting only. Their personal space is just too valuable for them.

Are Shiba Inus A Primitive Breed?

tan shiba inu dog jumping in the road

As they were once hunting dogs for small game like birds and rabbits, Shibas are nowadays good family dogs that are appreciated for their courage, agility, and resourcefulness.

Their loyalty and intelligence have allowed them to develop the independence trait.

To answer the question, yes, Shiba Inus are still somehow connected to their ancestors. The history of this breed greatly affected what these dogs are today.

How Do You Socialize A Shiba Inu Puppy?

Are Shiba Inus aggressive even after socialization? No. Socialization plays a big and important role.

When socializing a Shiba Inu, these are the basic guidelines you should follow:

• They must be kept on a leash all the time when you’re out of the house.

• You must help them get used to new sights, sounds, people, and environments.

• Never leave them alone with small children, and always watch over them.

• Introduce other animals slowly, and don’t leave them unsupervised.

Socialization is imperative with a breed that still has many primitive features. Aggression issues can be overcome if the puppy is raised and trained properly with proper socialization techniques.

Socialization means exposing your dog to as many different experiences as possible and in a positive way. Every encounter with new people or situations is a learning opportunity.

Take your dog with you every time you go out, especially while he’s still a puppy. The crucial learning period in puppyhood takes place between two and four months. This is the time to be consistent with the training.

Positive reinforcement and gentle correction when socializing are highly important. The goal of socialization is to raise a dog that has no fear or aggression when encountering something new.

Your dog needs to learn how to politely interact and play with other dogs without feeling threatened or being aggressive.

Introducing your dog to new environments, sounds, and smells is important. Taking them with your while you go supply shopping in pet stores is a great opportunity to work on their socialization.

Shibas are aloof with strangers, but this can be overcome with time.

The secret to effective socialization is to present each new experience in a positive way. The dog will pick up on your attitude, so stay happy and relaxed.

What Are Shiba Inus Known For?

shiba inu on the beach lying down with a leash in the night

Shiba Inus are escape artists. They scale fences, tunnel under walls, and break free from leashes.

If they’re in the mood, these smarty pants will work like crazy to set themselves free. Do you understand now why it’s so important to secure the house and the yard?

Shibas are runners. They should never be trusted off-leash. If something interesting gets their attention, they will surely wander off and ignore all your commands.

Shiba Inus are prone to wandering off. Once they get outside the secured area, Shibas will wander off, and they might not return for days. The worst-case scenario is they never come back, which is something that happens occasionally.

Microchip your dog and have them wear ID tags in case this happens. However, preventing this scenario from happening is the first thing on the list.

Rough play is not tolerated. Shibas that aren’t socialized correctly don’t get along with other dogs, especially ones of the same gender. If they’re not spayed or neutered, the issue becomes even bigger.

Prey drive is strong with these dogs. Shibas are in charge of controlling squirrels, birds, and other small creatures.

All jokes aside, their prey drive is very high, and they should be kept away from small animals.

Shibas aren’t that tolerant towards kids. Little children can sometimes unintentionally pull their ears, fur, or tail. Also, they’re loud, so a Shiba may bite. Shibas won’t find this amusing, so supervision is always needed.

Can Shiba Inus Live In Apartments?

beautiful shiba inus lying comfortably in bed

Shiba Inus are very adaptable to apartment life as long as they get enough exercise. They’re quiet dogs that keep themselves clean and love to live in such an environment. Shibas are also affectionate when they want to be.

They do enjoy being a part of your home, but from afar.

Are Shiba Inus Active Dogs?

2 month old shiba inu sitting comfortably indoors

Shiba Inus are active, but they’re not hyperactive. They need daily exercise in the form of a walk for thirty to forty-five minutes.

Some Shibas can get the zoomies, meaning they get bursts of energy and they run in circles around the room.

Biggest Mistakes Shiba Inu Owners Make

smiling pretty woman posing in the camera with a black shiba inu

Dogs aren’t perfect, and neither are their owners. There will be mistakes in handling the dog, but it’s important to know how to avoid the biggest problems. Here’s what you should pay attention to.

Not socializing Shiba puppies

Not socializing Shiba Inu puppies in time is the biggest mistake every Shiba owner can make. Socializing is best done in the puppy imprinting period, somewhere between two and four months of age.

Once that period is over, socializing this dog becomes extremely difficult, and sometimes, even impossible.

A puppy in the house means a lot of work. Many fresh dog owners aren’t aware that they can be a bit of a handful, and they can underestimate new puppy needs.

Sure, snuggling, feeding, and cleaning is great, but there is much more than that when it comes to taking care of a puppy.

Proper socialization and behavior training is more important than anything else. Only a socialized and trained dog is able to function normally.

Shibas are a basal dog breed, with more wild traits than other domesticated dogs like Labrador Retrievers.

Unsocialized Shiba Inu puppies can suffer from anxiety, aggression, and fear that can greatly affect their life and the life of your family. Also, they’re more likely to run away and never come back, which will break your heart.

Grooming and hygiene are important

Are Shiba Inus aggressive when it comes to visiting the groomer? Yes, but hygiene is extremely important. If you’re brushing your teeth regularly, who says you shouldn’t do the same for your dog?

Of course, you need to know how to handle your Shiba in order to perform some grooming processes.

Since dental disease is the most common one in dogs, it can greatly affect a dog’s lifespan as well as your finances.

Untrimmed nails are also a problem, especially if they get longer to the point that their natural gait is compromised.

Such nails can lead to pain, splayed paws, and irreversible joint damage.

Make sure you keep the nails short and tidy. Long nails are very difficult to trim.

Don’t be that owner who ignores a dog’s basic needs. Brush and trim him regularly.

Facilitating Shiba Inu aggression

Unsocialized Shiba Inus have a higher chance of having aggression issues sooner or later.

As a first-time Shiba owner, you must know that your responsibility is to correct aggressive behavior before it gets too late.

An adult Shiba can be quite a handful, especially if they’re not socialized in time. And, if you have a male Shiba, chances are you’ll be in trouble.

Every doggie owner must set up rules and boundaries for Shibas. You can’t let them get away with anything they want. Most importantly, never reward aggressive actions or try to calm the dog by petting.

Instead, you should firmly correct and make your Shiba Inu understand that aggressive behavior is not tolerated.

If you’re not sure whether you can handle this dog, then ask a dog trainer to help you.

We understand that this is your new dog, but you’re also new to the dog. You two will have to find a way to work together for mutual success.

Seek the help of a qualified dog behaviorist if training is not your forte and/or if your Shiba Inu is aggressive to the point of being even a tiny bit dangerous.

Letting your Shiba Inu become overweight

Shiba Inus are prone to becoming overweight. A pound or two might not be too big of a deal for you, but it will be for your dog. Each additional ounce can affect the dog’s health and lifespan.

The consequences of Shiba Inu obesity are the following:


• Decreased mobility

• Fatty tumors (Lipomas)

• Diabetes/insulin resistance


• Liver disorder

• Breathing difficulties

• Low immunity

• Increased risk of anesthesia complications

Chubby isn’t cute and adorable in this case. A fat Shiba is an unhealthy Shiba, and the owner is the one to blame.

If you notice your Shiba is putting on weight, then you must reevaluate your feeding habits. Reducing portions will usually do the trick, but there are cases when a change of diet is necessary.

Treats should be banned. Stay on the feeding schedule, and don’t sneak in an additional bite or two.

Feeding your Shiba low-quality food

A responsible Shiba Inu parent should know that only high-quality food should be fed to the dog.

In the perfect world, Shibas would eat fresh, lightly cooked or raw human food.

Dog food that you see in the pet store should be avoided. Stick with small brands with a proven track record for fresh food, good ethics, and love for dogs.

Sure, it will cost a penny more, but don’t you want the best for your Shiba?

Shiba Inus eating

Photo from @shibaharu427

Not exercising your Shiba’s body and mind

To keep your Shiba happy, healthy, and fit, you need to satisfy their exercise needs. Many overweight Shiba Inus don’t get nearly enough of the required daily exercise; hence, their poor physical condition.

But, it’s never too late to start working out. Start small and build up your Shiba’s endurance from light walks to runs.

Physical exercise means total body health, and it will ensure that your dog stays fit and moving even in its senior age.

What is often overlooked is mental stimulation. This also affects a dog’s well-being.

There is research that has proven that mental stimulation improves behavioral adaptation, reduces stress, and improves the bond between the dog and the owner.

In addition, mental stimulation for primal breeds like the Shiba is especially important because of their aggression issues. Even the simplest dog puzzles will enrich their daily routine.

Not giving them enough training

Once more, Shibas aren’t the easiest dogs to train. Many dog owners use excuses like “My Shiba Inu won’t listen to me” or “He’s too stubborn to train“. Is he really? Did you speak the right way?

Shibas are stubborn sometimes, but it doesn’t mean they’re impossible to train. In fact, it’s a reason to train your Shiba more.

Dog training, especially obedience training, will make sure that the two of you have a healthy relationship. Besides, it will make everyone around you feel safe.

Trained Shiba Inus are:

• Less likely to run away / bolt

• Get hurt

• Easy to walk

• Good with other dogs, people, and kids

• Able to accompany you everywhere you go

• Less likely to bite or cause material damage

• Easy to treat at the vet

• Easy to groom and bathe

• Happier and healthier family members

In other words, training Shibas is a must. We’re aware that it’s not the easiest task to do, but it’s not impossible. With lots of patience, perseverance, and guidelines, everything is possible.

Final Words

shiba inu portrait standing in the woods

Shiba Inus are generally nice dogs. But, not all dogs are the same. As you could see, all Shibas that aren’t properly socialized have issues with aggression. This behavior can be dangerous if not treated.

Sadly, many people judge before looking at the whole picture. To answer the question “Are Shiba Inus aggressive“, we can either say yes or no.

What we can really say depends on the owner and how dedicated he is to properly training the dog.

Read Next: Shiba Inu Poodle Mix: The Poo-Shi Guide

Are Shiba Inus Aggressive Dealing With Dog Aggression

Are Shiba Inus Aggressive? Dealing With Dog Aggression