Op Ed

Nothing Like a Doge

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.

A picture of a shiba inu puppy.
Resist me. Resist me. Also, do you see that flinty cast to my eyes? No? Well then you are in denial. (Photo credit: Mrs.L Selle. Retrieved via Wikimedia Commons)

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.
A picture of a black shiba inu.
Do I LOOK like I care what you think? (Photo credit: Pleple2000. Retrieved via Wikimedia Commons)
  • 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.

A Doge meme.
Photo credit: Roberto Vasarri. Photo has been released into the public domain. Original photo retrieved through Wikimedia Commons.

*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.


By Moretta

Moretta will take that applause. Her Twitter is

27 replies on “Nothing Like a Doge”

So Shiba Inu is for expert/master level dog owners basically?

As much as I love how much they look like foxes, I am glad that My Molly isn’t one. I need a dog that just wants to sleep and cuddle me and guide me out of crowded areas when I’m having a panic attack/meltdown, not one that will be a jerk.

Might be willing to puppy sit though.

One of my mother’s friends had chow chows for a while. One was mean and the other a sweetie pie, mainly because the first one had come from an aggressive home and the other was treated like a baby. Any how, the family had spent so much energy on the dogs’ behavior that they weren’t grooming them enough. :( They eventually changed their breed preference to Pugs- outside of nose health issues, they were lower maintenance grooming wise. (I woke up covered in pug snot a few times during weaning season for their puppies though…)

My own family has generally vere’d to Dachshunds and pitt bull/boxer breeds, though Molly is a tulip dog (Not sure how to spell actual name, it’s a dutch reconstructed breed meant to reproduce the dogs in Ren and Enlightment era paintings) my brother rescued years ago.

I know right? She’s a little thicker waist-ed and has areas where her fur texture has changed in patches (she as woolly patches now basically) from when she was younger because she survived a bear attack at one point, and so she has a lot of scar tissue around her waist. The hair stared growing in differently the next coat that grew in after the attack. Before that she looked just like the breed pics except a slightly more dachshund looking face/nose if you know what I mean?

I forgot one important thing: Even though she isn’t officially trained as my service animal (when she passes we will be looking at fundraising for one, as I am not always well or on point enough to train my own on basic obedience pre-reqs, though I can train on the social anxiety/melt down/social support skills.), she passes as one fairly well and acts as such on days when I want to try being at some of the public events in my town.

When on duty, she’s good at hooking people when I want to socialize but don’t know how, will hold still for sensory input (the floofies? great stim toys when I’m in need), Won’t bark or chase at other dogs even when they bark at her (she basically just gives them side eye. ALLL the side eye.), and when I need to get out she’ll guide me to a more quiet area and plant herself there/under my seat until I’m calm so that I don’t wander off and re expose myself to anxiety/panic/meltdown triggers until she thinks I can handle it again. Unfortunately she’s older and the arthritis means she’s not really official training material for service animal.

There’s a few things (mainly retrieving objects if I drop them so I don’t fall on my ass/face, traffic attendance where the dog would anchor at the curb until I’ve had a chance to assess traffic before crossing streets, alert humans if I fall and need help, and home steering where the dog would in familiar environments be able to guide homeward-ish if I become disoriented) that she either can’t do or I’m just not a firm enough personality consistently enough to train her myself. (Actually I could probably get her to do home steering if I worked on it.)

Chows are profoundly territorial, which is why they need fenced yards. If they see it regularly, they feel the need to guard it. We had to close off the windows on each side of our front door because our Chow would lose it whenever anyone walked by his strip of sidewalk.

My pup is a mutty mutt mutt mutt and this entire post could be describing her. So anyone interested in a pug/multiple terrier/rottie/english setter mix should definitely also read this cautionary tale. Also, I guess if we ever decide on adopting a Shiba Inu, we should be pre-prepared. :)

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