If you’ve seen the doge meme, you understand why I’m writing this. Photoshopped pictures of a surprised-looking Shiba Inu, layered with comments in Comic Sans, have become an obsession for some, and an irritation to others. This really isn’t about the meme, though. It’s about why Shiba Inus are hellbeasts who do not belong in polite society.
This fascination with Shibas can be traced back to before the doge meme. The first seeds were planted in 2008 when a Puppycam of a litter of newborn Shibas became a national obsession. The Shiba Inu, formerly a breed with a limited pool of devotees, entered the mainstream consciousness.
I remember that when I saw the Shiba Puppycam, I got very nervous, because this is not a dog for the masses. However, although I saw a few more Shibas around, it didn’t cause an explosion of little foxy-looking dogs, and I was hugely relieved. This time, though, I don’t think we will dodge this bullet, and I am afraid. Very afraid.
Shibas are not a good dog for most people; they have incredibly strong wills, are cantankerous, and are tough guys in fox coats.
- If you have never owned a dog before, a Shiba will break you like a butterfly on a wheel.
- If you have owned other dogs but have never owned an Asian breed, your adorable little Shiba will destroy your notion of circular time.
- If you ever have a moment of weakness, or exhaustion, or a momentary distraction, your Shiba will own you forever.
Is that enough for you? No, I imagine not. You love the idea of having a dog who is a character. Well, listen to me. If you want a dog with a big personality, get a Basset Hound or a Corgi. Don’t get a dog whose nickname is the “devil dog.”
Here’s why Shibas are not good pets.
- They are weird, and have weird issues. Unlike their Internet counterparts, Shibas aren’t philosophical or plagued with self-doubt. They may have things they are afraid of, but they are typically things that other dogs don’t fear, like toll booths or the Sharper Image catalog. They have strange little idiosyncrasies. I wish I could tell you what they are, but they vary from dog to dog.
- They are thugs. Shiba Inus enjoy mixing it up with dogs that are literally three times their size, and they play ROUGH. They are frequently dog aggressive, and can be human aggressive, because Shibas take no guff from anyone. Suffice to say, they need to watched around children who are not part of their families.
- They can’t be off-leash, for the most part. Why? Because they do what they want. Getting a Shiba to reliably respond to the “come” command is nigh on impossible. Yes, yes, you’ll meet someone whose Shiba will do it, but you won’t be that person, trust me.
- They are impossible to train. Shiba Inus are smart, don’t get me wrong, but if they don’t see a point to what they are learning, most of them just forget it. Or they might as well have forgotten it, because it’s over.
- They make unholy sounds. Shibas make a lot of noises, and a lot of them are creepy. Their growl is disconcerting; the “Shiba scream” will haunt your dreams. Go to YouTube and listen to them if you dare.
- Shibas are the only dog breed I am aware of that has actual tantrums. No, I’m NOT anthropomorphizing. My Shiba foster got angry because I wasn’t letting him go out in the yard with my enormous, territorial Chow Chow. He looked at me and I could see it registering that he wasn’t going to get his way, so he bit the hell out of me. There was a pause between the time he was denied, then I saw the little wheels turning, then he got angry, then he bit me rapidly. If he could have held his breath or kicked his feet, he would have.
You don’t want a Shiba. Don’t do it. Just don’t. And if you persist in your mad quest, at least go through rescue. There should be hundreds of them available in a few years.
*You might be thinking that this is a terrible, biased breed guide. Well, it isn’t actually a breed guide, it’s a breed caution. Also, for the record, I LOVE Shiba Inus. I just don’t want them to become popular. America is not up to the challenge of widespread Shiba Inu presence (thanks, Obama!). The world is not up to the challenge.