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Shiba Inu

The bold and fiery Shiba Inu is Japan's smallest native spitz dog.

Shiba Inu Breed Photo

Vital Stats

Dog Breed Group
Companion Dogs
Height
Weight
Life Span
12 to 16 years

Breed Characteristics

  • Details

    Adaptability

    based on 6 ratings
  • Details

    Trainability

    based on 6 ratings
  • Details

    Health & Grooming

    based on 6 ratings
  • Details

    All-around friendliness

    based on 4 ratings
  • Details

    Exercise needs

    based on 4 ratings
  • See All Characteristic Ratings


Summary

The Shiba Inu dog breed was originally bred to flush birds and small game, and was occasionally used to hunt wild boar. He is one of Japan's six native breeds: Akita (large), Kishu, Hokkaido, Kai, Shikoku (medium), and Shiba (small). He is known for his spirited personality, small upright ears, and cat-like agility. Today he serves primarily as a companion dog in Japan and the United States.

Additional articles you will be interested in:

Adoption
Dog Names
Bringing Home Your Dog
Help with Training Puppies
Housetraining Puppies
Feeding a Puppy
Dog games
Teaching your dog tricks
How to take pictures of your dog

  • Overview

    With his prick ears, squinty eyes, and curly tail, this breed from the Land of the Rising Sun looks like a fox, or perhaps a stuffed toy. He is neither. He is the Shiba Inu, the smallest — and possibly the most ancient — of six spitz dogs that originate in Japan.

    The Shiba Inu is known for a bold, fiery personality. The Japanese have three words to describe the breed's mental traits: kaani-i (spirited boldness), ryosei (good nature), and soboku (alertness). Combined, these traits make up the interesting, intelligent, and strong-willed temperament of this breed.

    The Shiba Inu is small (about 20 pounds) and athletic. Like a ninja warrior, the Shiba Inu moves quickly, nimbly, effortlessly. He is keen and alert.

    And superior — or so he thinks, according to those who know and love this breed. The Shiba Inu approaches the world with a calm dignity that is uniquely his own, which is likely why he is also described as stubborn.

    Because of his independence, the Shiba Inu is not the easiest breed to train. Socialization — the process by which puppies or adults dogs learn how to be friendly and get along with other dogs and people — and training should begin early to teach the Shiba Inu proper canine manners.

    It is important to understand the freethinking nature of the Shiba Inu so you won't be frustrated. The Shiba Inu is highly intelligent, but he doesn't necessarily want to do what you want him to do. You may have to make him think obedience is his idea. For best results, it's important to work with a trainer who understands the breed's independence.

    Another tendency of the breed is possessiveness. The Shiba Inu guards his stuff, including toys, food, or territory. Proper socialization helps minimize this characteristic, but it's wise to put away any of his favorite toys and treats when other dogs or children are around so he's not tempted to quarrel over them.

    Despite all of this, the Shiba Inu is a good family dog — he is loyal and devoted — and does well with children as long as he is properly socialized and trained, and the children treat him kindly and respectfully.

    The Shiba Inu has been known to show the fiery side of his personality with other dogs and animals. He can be dog-aggressive, especially intact males with intact males. Most Shibas cannot be trusted off leash because they are natural hunters and love the chase. There's a strong chance he will chase a squirrel, chipmunk, or cat. He is generally suspicious of strangers and is a good watchdog, alerting you to anything unusual.

    Getting outside for some action is also important to a Shiba. He needs a good daily workout, whether it's a walk in the neighborhood or a jog alongside his bicycling owner. He is best suited to a home with a securely fenced yard (he has escape-artist tendencies) where he can romp. He should always be leashed when he's not at home because of his prey drive and potential for dog-aggression.

    The Shiba Inu is a wonderful companion, though his strong-willed personality can be too much for some people. Others are charmed by his pluck and loyalty, which is why enthusiasts say that owning a Shiba isn't just owning a dog — it's a way of life.

  • Highlights

    • Grooming is minimal for the Shiba Inu, though he does shed heavily twice a year.
    • The Shiba Inu is an intelligent breed who learns quickly. However, whether he chooses to do what you ask is another matter. First-time dog owners or timid owners may be frustrated by the challenge of training this dog.
    • He's a small dog, but he's need plenty of room to romp. The Shiba Inu needs a home with a fenced yard.
    • The Shiba Inu can be aggressive with other dogs and he will chase small animals he perceives as prey.
    • The Shiba Inu tends to be possessive about his toys, food, and turf.
    • To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
  • History

    The Shiba Inu originated in Japan along with the Akita, Shikoku, Kai Dog, Hokkaido and Kishu, all of which are larger than the Shiba Inu. The Shiba Inu was used primarily as a hunting dog to flush out small game and birds for hunters.

    There are several theories how the Shiba Inu got his name. One explanation is that the word Shiba means "brushwood;" the dogs were named for the brushwood bushes in which they hunted. Another theory is that the fiery red color of the Shiba is the same as the autumn color of the brushwood leaves. A third idea is that an archaic meaning of the word shiba refers to his small size.

    World War II nearly spelled disaster for the Shiba, and most of the dogs that did not perish in bombing raids succumbed to distemper during the post-war years. After the war, Shibas were brought from the remote countryside, and breeding programs were established. The remaining population was interbred to produce the Shiba as he is known today.

    The Japanese Kennel Club was founded in 1948 and the Shiba Inu breed standard was drafted by Nihon Ken Hozonkai, which was adopted by both the Japanese Kennel Club and the Federation Cynologique Internationale.

    An American service family imported the first Shiba Inu into the United States in 1954, but there is little else documented about the breed until the 1970s. The first U.S. litter was born in 1979. The Shiba Inu was recognized in the American Kennel Club Miscellaneous Class in 1993 and acquired full status with the Non-Sporting Group in 1997.

  • Size

    Males stand 14.5 to 16.5 inches tall and weigh about 23 pounds. Females stand 13.5 to 15.5 inches tall and weigh about 17 pounds.
  • Personality

    The well-bred Shiba Inu is good-natured, alert, and bold. He is strong-willed and confident, and often has his own ideas about things. He is loyal and affectionate with his family, though tends to be suspicious of strangers.

    The Shiba Inu doesn't share well. He tends to guard, sometimes aggressively, his food, toys, or territory. And he doesn't always get along with other dogs, especially if he's intact. He won't hesitate to chase small animals that he considers prey.

    This is a smart breed, but training a Shiba Inu isn't like training a Golden Retriever. While a Golden is delighted to come when called, the Shiba Inu will come when he feels like it — or not. He's been described as stubborn, but freethinking is probably a more positive way to characterize him.

    Temperament is affected by a number of factors, including heredity, training, and socialization. Puppies with nice temperaments are curious and playful, willing to approach people and be held by them. Choose the middle-of-the-road puppy, not the one who's beating up his littermates or the one who's hiding in the corner.

    Always meet at least one of the parents — usually the mother is the one who's available — to ensure that they have nice temperaments that you're comfortable with. Meeting siblings or other relatives of the parents is also helpful for evaluating what a puppy will be like when he grows up.

    Like every dog, the Shiba Inu needs early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they're young. Socialization helps ensure that your Shiba puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.

    Enrolling him in a puppy kindergarten class is a great start. Inviting visitors over regularly, and taking him to busy parks, stores that allow dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors will also help him polish his social skills.

  • Health

    Shiba Inus are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they're prone to certain health conditions. Not all Shiba Inus will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed.

    If you're buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy's parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition.

    In Shiba Inus, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand's disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site (offa.org).

    • Allergies: Allergies are a common ailment in dogs, including the Shiba Inu. There are three main types of allergies: food allergies, which are treated by elimination process of certain foods from the dogs diet; contact allergies, which are caused by a reaction to a topical substance such as bedding, flea powders, dog shampoos and other chemicals; and inhalant allergies, which are caused by airborne allergens such as pollen, dust, mildew. Treatment varies according to the cause and may include dietary restrictions, medications, and environmental changes.
    • Chylothorax: Chylothorax is a condition that causes an accumulation of a fluid in the chest cavity. This accumulation causes difficulty breathing, decreased appetite, coughing, and lethargy. Chylothorax can be caused by an underlying condition. Treatment includes removing the fluid, a low-fat diet or in serious cases, surgery.
    • Glaucoma: Glaucoma is a disease that dogs and people. It is an increased pressure in the eye, and can be found in two forms: primary, which is hereditary, and secondary, which is caused by decreased fluid in the eye due to other eye diseases. Symptoms include vision loss and pain. Treatment and prognosis vary depending on the type. Glaucoma is treated with eye drops or surgically.
    • Cancer: Symptoms that may indicate canine cancer include abnormal swelling of a sore or bump, sores that do not heal, bleeding from any body opening, and difficulty with breathing or elimination. Treatments for cancer include chemotherapy, surgery, and medications.
    • Epilepsy: Epilepsy is often inherited and can cause mild or severe seizures. Seizures may be exhibited by unusual behavior, such as running frantically as if being chased, staggering, or hiding. Seizures are frightening to watch, but the long-term prognosis for dogs with idiopathic epilepsy is generally very good. It's important to remember that seizures can be caused by many other things than idiopathic epilepsy, such as metabolic disorders, infectious diseases that affect the brain, tumors, exposure to poisons, severe head injuries, and more.
    • Patellar Luxation: The patella is the kneecap. Luxation means dislocation of an anatomical part (as a bone at a joint). Patellar luxation is when the knee joint (often of a hind leg) slides in and out of place, causing pain. This can be crippling, but many dogs lead relatively normal lives with this condition.
    • Hypothyroidism: This is a disorder of the thyroid gland that's thought to cause conditions such as epilepsy, hair loss, obesity, lethargy, dark patches on the skin, and other skin conditions. It's treated with medication and diet.
    • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): PRA is a family of eye diseases that involves the gradual deterioration of the retina. Early in the disease, dogs become night-blind. As the disease progresses, they lose their daytime vision as well. Many dogs adapt to limited or complete vision loss very well, as long as their surroundings remain the same.
    • Hip Dysplasia: Hip dysplasia is a heritable condition in which the thighbone doesn't fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but you may not notice any signs of discomfort in a dog with hip dysplasia. As the dog ages, arthritis can develop. X-ray screening for hip dysplasia is done by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred. If you're buying a puppy, ask the breeder for proof that the parents have been tested for hip dysplasia and are free of problems.
    • Tail Chasing/Spinning: Tail chasing or spinning is an unusual problem that's not well understood. It usually begins at 6 months of age. The dog is obsessed by his tail and may circle for hours. He loses interest in food and water. All attempts to get the dog to stop the behavior fail. Sometimes the dog yelps while spinning and may attempt to bite. Research suggests that spinning may be a type of seizure. Some dogs respond to treatment with phenobarbital either alone or in conjunction with other medications.
  • Care

    The Shiba Inu is best suited to a home with a fenced yard. He is an active breed who likes to play, take walks, or jog along with you. Giving him room to roam will help him get his ya-yas out.

    Socialization is important with this breed. Like any dog, he can become timid or quarrelsome if he isn't properly socialized — exposed to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when he's young. Early socialization helps ensure that your Shiba Inu puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog because he is suspicious of strangers and tends to be aggressive toward other dogs.

    He'll also chase small animals such as cats or squirrels that run away from him, triggering his prey drive. For this reason, he should always be on a leash when he's in outside his fenced yard.

    One quirk to the Shiba Inu's personality is his dislike of being restrained, even though it's required for his own safety. He doesn't like wearing a collar or being leashed. Leash training this breed takes time and patience, but is a must.

    Puppy and obedience classes are recommended for the Shiba Inu, not only for the lessons learned but also for the amount of stimulation and socialization it provides the dog. Work with a trainer who knows this breed. Don't be disappointed if the Shiba Inu is a difficult and strong-willed student — that's his nature. Think of it as a challenge.

    Housebreaking is relatively easy with this breed. Once your Shiba Inu understands the concept of where he needs to go, he will go to that area whenever he can. Crate training is a great housetraining aid that benefits every dog and is a kind way to ensure that your Shiba Inu doesn't have accidents in the house or get into things he shouldn't.

    A crate is also a place where he can retreat for a nap. Crate training at a young age will help your dog accept confinement if he ever needs to be boarded or hospitalized. Never stick your Shiba Inu in a crate all day long, however. It's not a jail, and he shouldn't spend more than a few hours at a time in it except when he's sleeping at night. Shiba Inus aren't meant to spend their lives locked up in a crate or kennel.

  • Feeding

    Recommended daily amount: 1/2 to 1.5 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.

    Note: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl.

    Keep your Shiba Inu in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you're unsure whether he's overweight, give him the eye test and the hands-on test.

    First, look down at him. You should be able to see a waist. Then place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see his ribs without having to press hard. If you can't, he needs less food and more exercise.

    For more on feeding your Shiba, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.

  • Coat, Color and Grooming

    The Shiba Inu has a thick double coat that gives him a Teddy Bear look. The outer coat is stiff and straight, and the undercoat is soft and thick. He sheds moderately throughout the year and heavily twice a year when he "blows" coat (imagine a snowstorm — but on your furniture and clothing).

    The Shiba Inu coat comes in orange-red, urajiro (cream to white ventral color), and sesame (black-tipped hairs on a rich red background). Sometimes, there are white markings on the tip of the tail and on the forelegs and hind legs.

    The Shiba Inu is fairly easy to maintain when it comes to grooming. He is a naturally clean and odor-free dog. He does need brushing to remove dead hair and distribute oils once a week, or more often when he's shedding heavily. A bath now and then is necessary, too, but not too often because over-bathing will dry out his skin and coat. Many owners bathe the Shiba Inu every three to four months.

    Brush your Shiba's teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath.

    Trim his nails once or twice a month if your dog doesn't wear them down naturally to prevent painful tears and other problems. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they're too long. Dog toenails have blood vessels in them, and if you cut too far you can cause bleeding — and your dog may not cooperate the next time he sees the nail clippers come out. So, if you're not experienced trimming dog nails, ask a vet or groomer for pointers.

    His ears should be checked weekly for redness or a bad odor, which can indicate an infection. When you check your dog's ears, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to help prevent infections. Don't insert anything into the ear canal; just clean the outer ear.

    Begin accustoming your Shiba Inu to being brushed and examined when he's a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you'll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he's an adult.

    As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.

  • Children and other pets

    The Shiba Inu is a good family dog, as long as he is raised properly and receives training and proper socialization when he's young. He gets along with children who treat him kindly and respectfully.

    As with every breed, you should always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he's eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog's food away. No dog, no matter how friendly, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.

    Early training and socialization go a long way in helping the Shiba Inu get along with other dogs and animals, but it's not a guarantee. He can be aggressive toward other dogs and he will chase animals he perceives as prey. Training and keeping him on leash are the best ways to manage the Shiba Inu with other dogs and animals.

  • Rescue Groups

    Shiba Inus are often purchased without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. There are many Shibas in need of adoption and or fostering. There are a number of rescues that we have not listed. If you don't see a rescue listed for your area, contact the national breed club or a local breed club and they can point you toward a Shiba rescue.

  • All Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability

    Measures how well this breed potentially adapts to different environments

  • Trainability

    Measures the amount and difficulty of training potentially required for this breed

  • Health & Grooming

    Measures how much effort this breed potentially needs to keep a tidy hound and home

  • All-around friendliness

    Measures this breed's potential to get along with other dogs and humans

  • Exercise needs

    Measures this breed's potential to require lots of physical activity

  • Almost always

    Adapt well to apartment living

    Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn't necessarily an apartment dog make -- plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents, are all good qualities in an apartment dog.

  • Not particularly

    Affectionate with family

    Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they've been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn't the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.

  • Moderate

    Amount of shedding

    If you're going to share your home with a dog, you'll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds: Some dogs shed year-round, some "blow" seasonally -- produce a snowstorm of loose hair -- some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you're a neatnik you'll need to either pick a low-shedding breed, or relax your standards.

  • Not usually

    Dog friendly

    Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs even if they're love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn't the only factor; dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least 6 to 8 weeks of age, and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.

  • Very low

    Drooling potential

    Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you've got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you're a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog that rates low in the drool department.

  • Somewhat

    Easy to groom

    Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog that needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.

  • Not usually

    Easy to train

    Easy to train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word "sit"), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training. Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a "What's in it for me?" attitude, in which case you'll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.

  • Moderate

    Energy level

    High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they're more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells. Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you'll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.

  • Low

    Exercise needs

    Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise -- especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, such as herding or hunting. Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don't like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.

  • Rarely

    Friendly toward strangers

    Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with a wagging tail and a nuzzle; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult.

  • Very good

    General health

    Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they're at an increased risk. If you're buying a puppy, it's a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in, so you can ask the breeder about the physical health of your potential pup's parents and other relatives.

  • Sometimes

    Good for novice owners

    Some dogs are simply easier than others: they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They're also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies. Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time owner to manage. You'll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.

  • Below average

    Intelligence

    Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don't get the mental stimulation they need, they'll make their own work -- usually with projects you won't like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.

  • Very low

    Intensity

    A vigorous dog may or may not be high-energy, but everything he does, he does with vigor: he strains on the leash (until you train him not to), tries to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who's elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.

  • Not usually

    Kid friendly

    Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who's on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (aka pit bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren't so family-friendly.

    **All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they're not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.

  • Very low

    Potential for mouthiness

    Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn't puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or "herd" their human family members, and they need training to learn that it's fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a chew toy that's been stuffed with kibble and treats.

  • Low

    Potential for playfulness

    Some dogs are perpetual puppies -- always begging for a game -- while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.

  • Very low

    Potential for weight gain

    Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that's prone to packing on pounds, you'll need to limit treats, make sure he gets enough exercise, and measure out his daily kibble in regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.

  • Moderate

    Prey drive

    Dogs that were bred to hunt, such as terriers, have an inborn desire to chase and sometimes kill other animals. Anything whizzing by -- cats, squirrels, perhaps even cars -- can trigger that instinct. Dogs that like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you'll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren't a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won't chase, but you'll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.

  • Moderate

    Sensitivity level

    Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called "easygoing," "tolerant," "resilient," and even "thick-skinned," can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.

  • Small

    Size

    Dogs come in all sizes, from the world's smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if he is compatible with you and your living space.

  • Low

    Tendency to bark or howl

    Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how the dog vocalizes — with barks or howls — and how often. If you're considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you're considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious "strangers" put him on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby?

  • Fairly well

    Tolerates being alone

    Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive, barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.

  • Not so well

    Tolerates cold weather

    Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks.

  • Not so well

    Tolerates hot weather

    Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can't pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, the dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you'll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.

  • High

    Wanderlust potential

    Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they'll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses, or that bunny that just ran across the path, even if it means leaving you behind.

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