How Shiba Inus Are Great Apartment Dogs (Explained)

Moving out to get your own place is an exciting step in life, all the better if you have or plan on getting a four-legged friend to join you. But with how active and loud shiba inus can be, are they good apartment dogs?

Shiba Inus are amazing apartment dogs. They are seen as a “non aggressive breed” and easily pass most apartment’s weight limits (20~50lbs), Shiba’s are naturally clean, are surprisingly quiet when properly socialized, and do just fine on their own while you are out at work.

shiba inu in apartment

While on paper it sounds like Shiba Inus are the perfect apartment pet, that’s not entirely true. Shiba Inus are fantastic apartment dogs if you put the work into properly training, socializing, and exercising them each and every day. Let me explain.

The Pros And Cons Of Having A Shiba Inu As An Apartment Pet

While Shiba Inus as a breed have several positive aspects that help make them good apartment pets, they have equally as many potential drawbacks that can make them a real nightmare at times.


  • They’re Naturally clean.
  • Easy to house break.
  • Surprisingly Quiet when properly socialized.
  • Rarely get that musky wet dog smell.
  • Motivate you to get outside.
  • Are alert and well let you know if something is happening.
  • They are alarmingly smart and quick to learn.


  • Can be quiet loud and standoffish to strangers and other pets if not properly socialized.
  • Excessively loud noise can stress and overwhelm them.
  • Will chew on chairs, tables, furniture, door stops, and more if not properly trained and adequately worn out.
  • Can not be trusted off leash under any circumstances.
  • While smart they are equally stubborn, it’s common for Shiba Inus to openly ignore commands and even sass you back at times.
  • They’re compact size, high energy, and large personality can be too much for first time pet owners.
  • Other pets can be a bit hit or miss. Some will get along with no problems while other will need a little work.

That “cons” list sounds intimidating at first glance but that’s just it, at first glance. A lot of the issues I listed above are the same problems you’d run into with most dogs, I know I certainly have before. But, just because they aren’t exactly exclusive to Shiba Inus doesn’t mean they aren’t worth listing or going over in detail. Let’s do just that starting with the biggest problem Shiba Inu owners run into.

Daily Exercise Needs Of A Shiba Inu

As an ancient hunting breed, Shiba Inus were born, bred, and molded into hunting companions that can independently pinpoint and flush out wild game without input from a hunter. In modern day, that has lead this breed to have a high prey drive, vast amounts of energy, and a notorious reputation for running away when taken off leash.

Shiba Inus are on their best behavior when getting the proper amount of daily exercise for their age. A lack of daily walks, play, or general movement leads to a stressed pup. Which is one way a lot of first time Shiba owners get in over their head.

Failing to properly entertain and wear out a Shiba Inu is the quickest way for an owner to end up with a expensive nightmare.

Because Shiba Inus were bred to be smart and independent they tend to get bored, and a bored Shiba loves finding their own entertainment. That could be anything from harassing another pet, chewing on door stops, tearing up a pillow or stuffed animal, gnawing on wooden table legs, or generally destroying anything they can get their paws and teeth on.

Thankfully this doesn’t have to be the case. With enough toys, play, and daily walks you’ll rarely if ever run into this situation. The easiest way to get started is knowing roughly how much exercise your pet needs at their age, which I have a helpful chart for right here.

AgeTimeDaily Needs
1 Month Old5 MinutesTwice Daily
2 Months Old10 MinutesTwice Daily
3 Months Old15 MinutesTwice Daily
4 Months Old20 MinutesTwice Daily
5 Months Old25 MinutesTwice Daily
6 Months Old30 MinutesTwice Daily
7 Months Old35 MinutesOnce Daily
8 Months Old40 MinutesOnce Daily
9 Months Old45 MinutesOnce Daily
10 Months Old50 MinutesOnce Daily
11 Months Old55 MinutesOnce Daily
12+ Months Old60 MinutesOnce Daily

At a young age they don’t need much structured exercise, like a daily walk, because they’ll be running around playing with everything. As they get older their needs will change. Be sure they have access to plenty of water while they are playing. Dog’s can’t sweat like we do so panting and drinking water helps cool them off.

If you would like to learn more about a Shiba Inus’ daily play and exercise needs feel free to take a look at my article going over it in detail.

Pet Proofing Your Apartment

Making sure you regularly walk and play with your Shiba Inu is half the battle, the other half is making sure they aren’t tempted to go through your stuff looking for things to chew on. A few easy ways you can “Shiba proof” your apartment are:

  • Making sure any loose cables, socks, or small towels are out of reach.
  • Keep an eye on door stops, my dog has made off with a plastic cap or two when I wasn’t looking.
  • If you have a stuffed animal collection, make sure those are out of reach if you wish to keep them.
  • While my Shiba doesn’t go for shoes she has gone for my shoelaces in the past, I tuck my laces in my shoes now but see if yours has any interest in them.
  • My Shiba loves shutting doors and locking herself in rooms by herself our with our cat, if they’re are any rooms you don’t want them in make sure they are shut ahead of time.
  • While my Shiba doesn’t open cabinets have I seen others, and our cat loves to, getting some child locks for your lower kitchen cabinets are must so they don’t get into any cleaning supplies.
  • If you like leaving cooking supplies or ingredients out make sure they are on a countertop and well out of reach.
  • If you like having candles out or even lit make sure they are out and put away before you leave.
  • Leave a handful of toys out for your Shiba Inu to play with, having a handful on a weekly rotation is an easy way to keep things interesting for them.
  • Some “no chewing” spray can save a couch, chair, or table leg if it works on your dog. It doesn’t for mine, but it has helped protect furniture from previous pets.

While being mindful of what’s out and in “chewing range” of your Shiba will prevent most destruction things happen and sometimes they get ahold of something they we’re suppose to. If destructive chewing becomes a problem take a look at my detailed article going over it here.

How Long You Can Leave A Shiba Inu At Home Alone

Just like how much exercise a Shiba Inu needs depends on their age, how long they can be left alone and how long they can “hold it” heavily depends on their age.

While a properly trained and housebroken adult Shiba Inu can be left alone and “reasonably” hold it for up to 8 hours, a 3 month old puppy can only be expected to hold it for a maximum of 2 hours before they need a potty break. In reality you want to avoid “maxing” out your pet’s wait time whenever possible.

But like I said earlier “age determines how long they can hold it and be left alone”, so what’s reasonable for my dog?

Lets go over that with a simple rule and an easy example: Starting at 2 months old, every month of age equals one additional hour your Shiba Inu can wait to go potty. Capping out at a maximum of 8 hours by the time they are a year old.

AGE8 weeks / 2 months12 weeks / 3 months16 weeks / 4 months20 weeks / 5 months
How Long They Can “Hold It”1 Hour2 Hours3 Hours4 Hours

It’s not safe or fair to expect your pet to go longer between bathroom breaks than this rule says they can.

Knowing roughly how long your pet at their given age can hold it, and assuming that you trust them not to chew on anything, tells you how long it’s safe to trust them to be left out while you run to the store or go to work.

If you have a longer shift or list of errands to run and you don’t think your pup will be able to hold it the entire time you should either ask for or hire help.

If you are confident your Shiba Inu can hold it while you are gone but you don’t trust them not to chew on anything, you should look into either crating them while you are out or investing in both a play pen and a large reusable doggy pee pad (for accidents or spilled water).

Having a bathroom schedule is a great way to get both of you in the habit of going out and building trust with one another. Here is a great starting point for those without one:

Time Of Day8 Weeks / 2 Months12 Weeks / 3 Months16 Weeks / 4 Months20 Weeks / 5 Months
8 amPotty Break Potty Break Potty Break Potty Break
9 am Potty Break
10 am Potty Break Potty Break
11 am Potty Break Potty Break
12 pm Potty Break Potty Break Potty Break
1 pm Potty Break
2 pm Potty Break Potty Break Potty Break
3 pm Potty Break
4 pm Potty Break Potty Break Potty Break
5 pm Potty Break Potty Break
6 pm Potty Break Potty Break
7 pm Potty Break
8 pm Potty Break Potty Break Potty Break Potty Break

Shiba Inus thrive on habits, and with accidents being a universal frustration for pet owners, this is an amazing thing to have. It’s also a fantastic resource for whoever is helping you while you are out an about. You can learn more about potty training and building a bathroom routine for your Shiba Inu here.

How Shiba Inus Interact With Other Pets (Including Cats)

Shiba Inus see other pets in animals in one of two ways:
1) Larger pets are seen as big toys.
2) Smaller pets are seen as small toys or even prey.

As you can see, it’s all play. Shiba’s really love to play so having another animal as a playmate is ideal in their world, but just because it’s ideal for them doesn’t mean the same for you. While a lot of people will say Shiba Inu’s have a hard time getting along with other pet’s as a whole, just like meeting new people and making friends, it depends. It’s not as black and white as people make it out to be. For example:

  • Most Shiba’s are high energy and have a hard time at first adjusting to being with a lower energy elderly pet. Due to the fact they constantly want to play.
  • A fast moving cat, on the other hand, will instantly be seen as prey without a proper introduction, training, and gradual integration. Cats are on the more difficult end for Shiba Inus to get along with because of a Shiba’s history of being a hunter.

That being said that doesn’t mean your Shiba Inu is destined to fail being friends with other pets you have or plan on getting in he future. You just need to slow things down, take your time, and ease them into being together for the best results. This process isn’t impossible, but is time consuming. For the best results you want to start this process ASAP. They younger your Shiba is when meeting a new pet or member to the family the easier time you’ll have developing those positive habits from scratch.

That’s exactly what me and my girlfriend did for our pets, my Shiba Inu (Faith) and her kitten (Mars). Yes, there are times we need to check on them but that’s been normal for every pet I’ve been around. If you’d like to see the steps I took to introduce them to one another take a look at my article here going over introducing your Shiba Inu to a pet cat.

shiba inu playing with a cat on carpet

How To Manage Excessive Barking, Biting, And Other Behavior Problems

While Shiba Inus are surprisingly smart, independent, and full of personality compared to other breeds, they’re also intelligent, self-reliant, and chaotic. All of those positive and interesting traits are the exact same ones that make them a handful. Shiba Inus are smart enough to entertain themselves but almost always wind up in trouble because of it. Which is why properly pet proofing your apartment is a critical step especially while they are young. A handful of the ways Shiba Inus act out are:

Excessive biting is usually a bad habit that develops while they are puppies. A dog’s mouth is their best tool for interacting with the world around them, and while small and cute, most people let puppies get away with murder without thinking about the fact they’ll end up doing the exact same things as an adult.

While biting itself can have several potential causes it’s universally seen as a problem by anyone. For more details on why your Shiba may be biting and how to stop their excessive biting take a look at our article here.

Shiba Inus are exceptionally alert, and loud when they want to be. For a breed commonly weight in between 17 and 28 lbs. they make an impressive amount of noise, all with the same tools other dogs have. The vast majority of apartments don’t have door bells, so it’s nice having a pet that will let you know when someone is at the door. The problem is they can be too good at their job without proper training or socializing.

A noisy neighbor coming home, a loud car driving by, or someone on the phone outside could set them off. Thankfully properly socializing them from a young age, on all those walks and bathroom breaks you’ve been taking them on regularly, solves most of those problems. But there will be times something gets them and they just won’t seem to stop barking

I have a detailed breakdown, and step-by-step guide, on excessive barking here if you’d like to learn more.

While most Shiba Inus will prefer to keep to themselves, others, like mine, absolutely love meeting people. Which I love and prefer over their normally aloof attitude towards other people. The problem is she gets way too excited and tries to jump on them while squeaking or even barking with a big smile on her face.

Slowing things down and regaining both control over her and her attention has helped massively. My favorite way of doing so is making her sit and wait for whoever is nearby to either walk by or ask to meet her. This can be a time consuming, and sometimes frustrating or even embarrassing situation to be in, but breaking that impulsive habit makes a world of difference when they get older.

I’ve had success with a slow and steady training approach detailed here.

Important Facts On Grooming A Shiba Inu

Thanks to the fact Shiba Inus are clean freaks, similar to cats, they rarely get that musky wet dog smell. But it’s not just their regular grooming habits, Shibas have a double coat that actually does a lot of the work for them.

Shiba Inus have a a rougher over coat that helps them repel dirt, grim, water, and basically everything else along with a soft undercoat that helps them regulate body heat. But this dual coat is both a blessing and a curse. While they are clean and odor free they shed heavily twice a year during the spring and fall seasons. A lot of owners report it seemingly never stops year round so consistent brushing and vacuuming are a must.

To avoid this some people look into whether it’s safe to shave their Shiba since it’s acceptable for some dog breeds. DO NOT SHAVE a Shiba Inu, while their undercoat sheds and grows back their overcoats do not and will not grow back.

Shaving a Shiba permanently ruins their coat for the rest of their life, and because they rely on their overcoat to both protect and keep them clean, their grooming needs will drastically change immediately. You can learn more about the problems, and specific health situations you will need to, shave your Shiba Inu here.

Shedding and regular brushing will be a lifelong journey for the two of you, so it’s best to have a system. I and many other owners have had consistent luck with the following:

  • Biweekly brushing during off season
  • Weekly brushing during shedding season
  • Followed up with either weekly or biweekly vacuuming (depending on the size of your apartment)

While brushing isn’t the only part of grooming you’ll need to manage with your pet it’s easily the most frequent. If you’d like to learn all about a Shiba Inus grooming needs take a look at our head-to-toe grooming article with schedules here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Leave A Shiba Inu Alone?

You can leave a Shiba Inu alone for a reasonable amount of time. Shiba Inus are independent dogs that can handle being alone without excessive stress. Remember to provide fresh water, toys, and a comfortable place for them to rest.

Are Shiba Inu Good For First Time Owners?

Shiba Inus can be a challenging breed for first-time owners due to their stubborn nature. However, if you are willing to invest time and effort in training and socializing your Shiba Inu, they can be rewarding companions.

Are Shiba Inus Good House Dogs?

Shiba Inus make excellent house dogs. They are relatively small, quiet, and clean which makes them suitable for apartment living. They prefer indoor environments and are known to groom themselves, similar to cats.

How Do You Potty Train A Shiba Inu In An Apartment?

To potty train a Shiba Inu in an apartment, follow these steps:
Establish a routine – Take your Shiba Inu out to the designated potty spot at regular intervals.
Use initiative – Place training pads near the door to the potty spot.
Praise and reward – Whenever your Shiba Inu successfully uses the potty area, give praise and a treat.
Monitor and supervise – Watch for signs that your Shiba needs to go, such as sniffing and circling.
Consistency is key – Stick to the routine and reinforce good behavior.

Why Are Shibas Not Recommended For First Time Owners?

Shibas are not recommended for first-time owners due to their independent and stubborn nature. They require consistent, firm training and socialization to overcome potential behavioral issues.

Do Shiba Inus Get Separation Anxiety?

While Shiba Inus are known for their independence, they can still develop separation anxiety when left alone for long periods. Providing mental stimulation and exercise can help reduce the risk. If separation anxiety is severe, consult with a professional trainer or veterinarian for guidance.

Colby Adkins

I am a proud Shiba Inu owner who is just looking to share any tips, tricks, or advice I have to help others.

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