Shiba Inus are small-to-medium-sized dogs that are closely related to wolves. Their animated facial expressions and comparatively small size have made this breed popular throughout Japan and the rest of the world.
But are Shiba Inus good with kids? Do they make good family dogs? In this guide, I’ll address this question and discuss why this breed may or may not make the ideal companion for your household.
Are Shiba Inus Good Family Dogs?
Shiba Inus could be excellent dogs for families with older kids or teens. These pups are also a perfect choice for child-free households and young couples.
However, a Shiba Inu might not be the best fit for a home with young children, toddlers or babies.
To understand why the Shiba Inu breed isn’t the best choice for families with babies, let’s take a moment to discuss the qualities that make a dog breed appropriate for family living.
What Qualities Make a Dog Breed Good for Families?
Some dogs seem to be made for family life. These pups come in all shapes, sizes and colors, but their personalities tend to be somewhat similar.
Generally, the best dog breeds for families are known for their:
When choosing a family dog, pet parents must consider these traits. Dogs that are excellent with children of all ages tend to be gentle, patient and friendly. These pups are also affectionate and easy to train.
But does a Shiba Inu possess any of these qualities?
Understanding Shiba Inu Personality Traits
Now that you’re familiar with the most common qualities family dogs share, it’s time to delve more deeply into standard Shiba Inu personality traits.
Many Shiba Inu owners describe the breed as:
While these qualities can be desirable for pet parents looking to enjoy a loyal and lively pup companion, these traits might not always be compatible with families with young children.
Territorial dogs tend to be protective of their family members. Still, they can also be possessive of adult caretakers, snapping at children who come between themselves and their owners.
A Shiba Inu’s territorial nature can work for or against it when set in a family household. Let’s explore more to understand how a Shiba Inu’s qualities affect its ability to become a great family dog.
When a dog is territorial, it’s defensive due to a perceived threat to its resources. Dogs may be territorial over food, owners or toys.
Territorial behavior manifests in several ways. However, growling and prolonged eye contact are two of the most common indicators of territorial behavior.
Shiba Inus can be territorial dogs. They may growl or nip at strangers, other animals or perceived “threats” in their environment.
This type of behavior can be problematic when babies or young children are involved. After all, a Shiba Inu might see a new baby as an intruder and threat, resulting in constant barking or growling.
A toddler might grab for a Shiba Inu’s colorful toy, only for the dog to growl or nip in response. This type of territorial behavior can frighten or potentially harm a young child, so this breed often isn’t the most compatible with households with young children.
Shiba Inus make for excellent watchdogs, as they’re incredibly alert. Their territorial nature makes them more likely to respond to strange sounds or smells, making them a great companion for adults who live alone.
If a Shiba Inu detects anything strange or potentially threatening in or near its home base, it’ll bark and alert its owner. In this situation, the breed’s strong territorial tendencies can benefit the entire household.
Though the Shiba Inu isn’t the most active dog breed, these dogs are more active than English Bulldogs or Shih Tzus. They enjoy going on daily walks, playing in the yard and enjoying indoor playtime with their human family members.
This breed is brilliant, so it also enjoys playing games and getting new toys. If you’d like to keep a Shiba Inu happy, you’ll need to invest in plenty of mentally-stimulating toys.
Training a Shiba Inu can be difficult because these spirited animals can be stubborn. When a Shiba Inu has decided they don’t want to do something, they’ll become unmanageable, playing dead and refusing to make eye contact with you.
If they decide that they’re done with their walk, they’ll sit down and stare at you, no matter the location. They’ll then ignore every command, simply looking away until they’ve decided they want to walk again.
Because this breed is notorious for its strong-willed attitude, you’ll need to seek professional training lessons soon after adopting your Shiba Inu. Training lessons can be pivotal in turning your rambunctious Shiba Inu puppy into a well-behaved adult.
Factors That Make Shiba Inus Good for Kids
Though some Shiba Inu personality traits might make it a problematic breed to have around young children, a handful of factors make the breed an excellent choice for families.
These medium-sized dogs are full of energy, making them ideal playmates for older children. They’re also protective, barking to warn their family members about potential intruders or danger.
Shiba Inus are also comparatively small dogs, so they’re not as powerful as large breeds like Great Danes or German Shepherds. These qualities could make Shiba Inus ideal for households with middle-school-aged children and teens.
They’re Full of Energy
Children are typically full of excess energy, running around and playing throughout the day. Shiba Inus respond well to this relatively high activity level, enjoying daily walks and outdoor playtime.
However, this breed isn’t nearly as active as Australian Shepherd dogs or Border Collies.
Their moderate exercise needs make them ideal for families of all sizes and ages, so long as there’s always someone willing to play for at least 30 minutes each day.
They’re Protective of Family Members
One of the most beloved traits of this breed is its loyal nature. Shiba Inus are incredibly protective of their family members.
This quality does mean that Shiba Inus dogs can be reserved or tense around strangers, but once they’ve developed a strong bond with a family member, the pup will always watch out for that person.
They’re Not a Large Breed
Shiba Inus might not be hypoallergenic, but they’re not a particularly large or powerful dog breed. This quality makes them slightly less problematic for families, as they’re less likely to overpower children.
The average Shina Ibu weighs 17-23 lbs, making them easier to control during walks or when playing outdoors. While this dog can still bite when agitated, it isn’t likely to drag a child down the sidewalk when it gets excited during a walk.
Training a Shiba Inu To Interact With Children
Training your Shiba Inu to respond to commands and resist negative behaviors is an excellent way to reduce tensions between children and these adorable Japanese pups.
Regular training from a young age is preferable, though it’s also possible to train adult dogs to embrace new behaviors. It’s crucial to reduce your Shiba Inu’s stress, as pups experiencing stress are more likely to bite, bark and cause trouble.
You must spend plenty of one-on-one time with your Shiba Inu each day, playing with your pup, giving them affection and checking that their food and water bowls are full and clean.
It’s also an excellent idea to train young children to appropriately interact with Shiba Inus. Try to take time with your child to review the do’s and don’ts of playing with Shiba Inus (and most dogs).
Children should learn to use gentle, quiet voices when interacting with Shiba Inu pups. They should also understand to pet these dogs softly and never pull on their ears or tail. Touching a Shiba Inu’s toys is a concept that parents will want to discuss with their children.
By training both parties to interact calmly, parents can ensure that their little ones and the furry family members get along with minimal incidents. Still, adults should never leave small children or babies alone with Shiba Inu dogs.
Buying from a reputable Shiba Inu breeder is also an excellent way to ensure the puppy or dog you’re adopting has been raised in a family-friendly environment. Most breeders are more than happy to discuss their dogs’ personalities before finding homes for them.
Well-trained Shiba Inus are generally good with kids, especially older children and teens. Though Shiba Inu dogs require supervision when interacting with toddlers and young kids, this breed is affectionate toward family members.
Training your Shiba Inu to respond to commands and calmly deal with stressors is an excellent way to help curtail unwanted behaviors such as barking or nipping. Still, this breed can be quite territorial. For this reason, you’ll never want to leave young children alone with Shiba Inu dogs.