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Discussion Starter #1
I've been lurking here for a couple of days trying to soak up as much information as possible so I can make the correct choice for both me and my future pet. Basically I am a 27 year old college student(I went back at 25) and I am relocating soon to an apartment complex that is more pet friendly. The restrictions it has are no animals over twenty five pounds and no taller than twenty inches. I love dogs and had two long lilving animals that were my buddies throughout my youth. I have no experience with indoor dogs but I have housesat for my sister who has two cats and I think I am responsible enough and willing to do the work required to do right by a dog without the luxury of a fenced in back yard. My initial plan has been to keep an eye on the local shelters in my area(Knoxville, TN) and find a young dog who was not quite a puppy to rescue and make my partner in crime.

This is all well and good, but I have a couple of problems. First the size restrictions make it almost impossible for me to take a mix breed of unknown origins and stay within the acceptable limits as he reaches adulthood. The second is that I made the mistake of having a chance encounter with a Shiba Inu, and immediately was smitten. It was a regal little animal, very good posture, very intelligent eyes, very stocky and sturdy but still small enough to fit the bill at my new apartment. A quick chat with the owner let me know that the dog was full grown, and only 22 pounds. I immediately decided that's the dog I wanted. Now I have done research on the breed and found that it is in fact intelligent and regal, but also a bit of a problem child and almost catlike in its self empowerment. I am a big dude, and while I like all dogs, this was the first small dog I had seen who did not look scrawny or ratlike and who seemed to have the demeanor of a bigger animal and not the yippy little things that want to jump in your lap and lick your face. I am willing to put in the effort needed to deal with this breed in the proper manner, but now I am left with new problems.

1. Shiba Inu appear to be the sort of animal you either pay 1500 dollars for or buy from a puppy mill. I will not buy from any place that mistreats its animals, and as a typical college student I can barely afford books and gas, much less 1500 dollar dogs(and the 300 dollar pet fee at my new apartment). Houston we have a problem.

2. I am absolutely willing(and happy) to rescue a dog from a shelter, and it doesn't have to be a puppy. But while searches of local humane societies and pounds throughout this region show me a plethora of chihuahuas and other smaller breeds, the shiba seems like a much less common adoptee and when crossed seems to be crossed with much larger dogs that would push it out of my weight restrictions.

So there's my situation. I cannot afford a champion blood line breeder animal(which every legitimate breeder seems to say they are), and I do not want to give my money to a puppy mill. I want to rescue one, but purebreds are not available and a mix(which I would be happy with) seems to all be on the larger than acceptable side. Basically just looking for any advice people think is useful. I could just get a cat, or maybe another small dog. But for a first pet on my own who would be a fixture in my life for the next fifteen years I really don't want to settle. I had an open mind about what animal to get, but that little furball's attitude and demeanor just made it seem silly to get anything else.

Thanks in advance.
 

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I will be back to this thread later with more advice. In the meantime check out Shiba rescue options here:
http://www.shibas.org/rescue.html
http://www.petfinder.com/search/search.cgi?pet.Animal=Dog&pet.Breed=Shiba+Inu&pet.Age=&pet.Size=&pet.Sex=&location=Knoxville,+TN

Will post more in a bit.

Alright, hi.

The first thing I'd do is start looking up Shiba Inu breeders or breed clubs in your area. http://www.shibas.org is the national breed club; http://www.shibas.org/clubs.html lists the contact info for the Tennessee regional club. I'm aware that you don't want to go the breeder route, which is fine. However, objectively speaking, Shibas do not make good first time dogs. Shibas in rescue are also very often the "leftovers" from first time owners who couldn't handle the breed, and thus come with a smorgasbord of temperament problems.

I think it would help you a lot to meet more examples of this breed, as well as talk to people who know the breed inside out about whether they would be a good fit for you. Breed club members and breeders should be more than happy to answer your questions even if you're not looking to purchase a pup from you. Chances are they will have some helpful contacts in rescue as well.

I don't think that owning a Shiba Inu for your first dog is impossible or even unadvisable at this point. It may very well be the breed for you. However, I strongly discourage you from making this decision based on one dog.

I would also take a good hard look at your current schedule and ask yourself if you have the time, energy and finances to juggle college and dog-raising at the same time. Soloing dog ownership tends to be a very consuming process, very often encroaching on your social life. Regardless of breed, your dog will need to be walked for 30-60 min a day (possibly more, depending on breed); fed twice a day (at regularly spaced intervals, obviously); trained each day and of course played with and socialized (VERY important for the Shiba).

All the best! :)
 

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There is quite a number of Shiba Inu in rescues ! Did you look on petfinder.com if there's one close to your home?

If you have any question on them, feel free to ask me :D
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the responses. I know the Shiba is in a lot of ways a special breed with regards to the kind of responsible owner it requires, but it seems to me a lot of the issues I would have with a rescued small dog of any type. They probably wouldn't be in a shelter without their initial owners finding them overly active or hyper or otherwise annoying or unsatisfactory. So I understand that I may have to try and train the dog into a more healthy mindset and give him the exercise and mental stimulation he needs to be more relaxed when I need him to let me sleep or simply not destroy my apartment.

I have been checking craigslist, petfinder, and the local shelters websites daily, but the problem I see is that perfectly wonderful animals like this are available but are mixes of larger breeds that I worry would go beyond the boundaries of what is acceptable in my new residence. If only it was 40 pounds instead of 25 it would be much easier to find one that fits the bill.

As to shiba specific questions I do have a few. My thought was to try and lead as regimented a life as possible with regards to my new dog, especially when dealing with feeding and exercising him. I personally always found simply walking for exercise boring when you think about all the alternatives, but adding the idea of walking the dog to it makes it much more appealing to take a stroll around the neighborhood and meet my new neighbors. Shiba's do sound like they add some complications to the mix however.

1. I would imagine going to a closed in tennis court and throwing some balls with him would be fun for both of us, but Shiba's seem to have the reputation as an escape artist, and how do you give him any free reign to really run and rip if there is always the constant threat of someone opening one of the tennis court doors and him wanting to take off?

2. If I did get an older dog(6 months to a year) who had been abandoned to a shelter is it likely he would be okay with crate training and with taying in his crate at night and for the 3-4 hours at a time I am away at school until he learns what he can and cannot do in my apartment? I hear people talk about a play pen of sorts so puppies can be occupied but not destructive, but for an older dog I doubt anything I could construct would hold them if they really wanted to explore the rest of the apartment.

I hate to sound pessimistic, but it almost seems like it would be easier to get a younger puppy and try to follow the excellent training advice given here rather than try to reform a dog that may have learned some bad habits or been mistreated. That sounds awful I know, because those dogs deserve good homes too, but for a first dog with a breed that is precocious I don't want to get in over my head. Is it generally very difficult to take a shelter dog and help him get accustomed to a schedule?
 

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1. I would imagine going to a closed in tennis court and throwing some balls with him would be fun for both of us,
LOL, from the Shiba Inu I've known, you'll be doing a lot of throwing and fetching it yourself. Shibas don't DO fetch.

I agree with Zim, a Boston seems like a good match for you.
 

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Thanks for the responses. I know the Shiba is in a lot of ways a special breed with regards to the kind of responsible owner it requires, but it seems to me a lot of the issues I would have with a rescued small dog of any type. They probably wouldn't be in a shelter without their initial owners finding them overly active or hyper or otherwise annoying or unsatisfactory.
Actually I don't know about that. If you look at the more common breeds - the Boston that Zim recommended is one of them - you'll find a lot of them in rescue that were abandoned because their owners ran out of time, interest, space, had to move, had allergies, had other dogs with whom the rescue dog didn't get along, had cats, or simply couldn't solve basic behavioral problems. Shibas are hard to train. A Shiba with issues is going to be more of a handful than most other common breeds you'll find in shelters.

1. I would imagine going to a closed in tennis court and throwing some balls with him would be fun for both of us, but Shiba's seem to have the reputation as an escape artist, and how do you give him any free reign to really run and rip if there is always the constant threat of someone opening one of the tennis court doors and him wanting to take off?
Well, a good recall, for one. Good recall - training the dog to come to you on cue - takes a long time and a lot of dedication to train. There are some breeds who are hardwired to run. A lot of the hound breeds fall into this category, as do many of the Northern breeds like Huskies, Malamutes, Keeshonds and etc. I'm not sure if the Shiba is considered one of these.

2. If I did get an older dog(6 months to a year) who had been abandoned to a shelter is it likely he would be okay with crate training and with taying in his crate at night and for the 3-4 hours at a time I am away at school until he learns what he can and cannot do in my apartment? I hear people talk about a play pen of sorts so puppies can be occupied but not destructive, but for an older dog I doubt anything I could construct would hold them if they really wanted to explore the rest of the apartment.
3-4 hours of crating a day would be no problem for a dog of 6-12 months or older. You might have to acclimatise him to the crate at first, but after that I don't think it would be an issue.

I hate to sound pessimistic, but it almost seems like it would be easier to get a younger puppy and try to follow the excellent training advice given here rather than try to reform a dog that may have learned some bad habits or been mistreated. That sounds awful I know, because those dogs deserve good homes too, but for a first dog with a breed that is precocious I don't want to get in over my head. Is it generally very difficult to take a shelter dog and help him get accustomed to a schedule?
I think you know what the answer to this question is... just look around DF and you will see plenty of good examples of well-adjusted rescue dogs. Unless you take in a dog with very serious aggression or anxiety issues, I doubt you will encounter any major hitches. Dogs adapt very well to new environments and new schedules.

Regarding the puppy vs adult issue, I must warn you that puppies are a huge pain in the butt. They are a TON of work compared to adult dogs. They have to be taken out every hour or so, fed three or four times a day, they chew things, eat things, soil things, play-bite, jump, dig and cry... just out of the boredom and curiosity that comes with every pup. Considering you are a college student, and you're likely to be pretty busy, I really wouldn't recommend a pup for your situation. A 1-2 y/o dog sounds just about right.
 

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I will throw my hat into the ring for the Boston Terrier

They are wonderful dogs....Big dog personality in a little dog body :)
 

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I've been kind of keeping an eye out for Shibas at the rescue too but overall I just don't think they are a common breed, at least where I live. I've only seen one Special Needs Shiba and she was adopted within the hour.

You could try for smaller breeds like Papillons :). The more I read about these dogs, the cooler they sound.

Does your apt actually weigh the dogs? Only asking because some smaller dogs weigh more than larger dogs. I would say just adopt a mutt from the shelter that seem to fit you. An older (4+years old) dog would be great and you'll know their full grown weight and size, plus their personality is already matured. and just as easily "reformable" as the younger dogs.

Here's my experience on some of the questions you posted. My dog is a 6 years old shelter mutt. He was listed as a stray possibly but he was potty trained already or at least he knows not to go in the house. He's about the size of a Shiba but weighs 35lb. He's very polite so I wouldn't worry about behavioral problems in an older dog.

I walk him about 2-3 hours a day and he's not a very active dog. (Shibas ARE energetic).

A good way to exercise (instead of you tennis court) is tie a long line on him and let him run around at a park. My dog won't chase balls so I pretty much run around with him and if he feels like it, he'll run off on his own. I also work on his recall with this. Now you don't have to actually buy a long leash. I used a long (100ft) sturdy rope that I had from home depot and tied it to a clip to make a really long leash :D.

Hope you find a great friend.
 

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One of my previous agility instructors has a shiba. Was a little thought get it now purchase. She has a long hard road, but was willing to do whatever she needed to work with her pup. Now Soshi is likely the top shiba in agility in Canada. She's gone as an alternate on the world team. Plays tug like a fiend, will retrieve and does have recall, but not if there is prey around.

She makes a great ambassador for the breed, but tries to tell people that not every one will end up like hers. When I met Soshi I wanted one like that.. but sadly meeting one isn't enough to base opinions on.

My roomie tried to get a puppy based on our apt buildings weight and height restrictions. Went out and got the only non jack russell she could find. An American Cocker. 4 months later we graduated, and she decided oops I don't want a dog and this certainly isn't the breed for me and was going to ditch her in the pound. I took her home. Both my cocker kids fit in the weight and height restrictions of your building, both play fetch like fiends, have good recall, and are happy to be couch or crate potatoes when needed. Major down side for most people is they need grooming of some variety.
 

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How about some of the terriers? I know a few of them can be a handful, but there's gotta be at least a couple out there that would be suitable for a first time owner. Terrier people? Got any ideas?
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Well, this may sound bad but I've just never liked the smaller dogs. I know people with chihuahas and terriers and especially Boston's and Jack Russel's and they are just very needy dogs. They also don't appeal to me aesthetically. The shiba was appealing because it is a very independent animal and also looks somewhat like the dogs I've always loved(I had a malamute and a german shepherd mix as a kid). That's not to say a dog has to be giant for me to like it. I had a beagle that was very loyal and just a great animal, and labs seem like great dogs. I don't know, I just do not think a really small dog is a fit for me.

Putting it off is not really an option. I have two years of undergrad and probably two to three of graduate work to do before I'll have any sort of better monetary situation or a bigger home. By then I may be married or whatever. I want to enjoy the whole "just me and my dog" bachelor life for the next few years.
 

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Would it be possible for you to find an excellent breeder and work out a payment plan? You would obviously have to demonstrate the quality of the home and the care but you may find one that is willing to compromise with payment for an excellent home for their puppy.

Otherwise you have to sit tight; keep checking the rescues, get your name on the list. People are very accommodating to find the right home for a dog.
 

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ALL dogs are needy. Every single one. Even the Shiba.

and as for the behaviors you talk about that you don't like...those behaviors are taught and conditioned for the most part. Don't want them? Don't allow the dog to behave that way.

it seems to me like you may have a few misconceptions about owning a dog.
 

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I have a Manchester/Jack Russel Terrier-Mix. He's two forms of Terrier in one and the greatest dog I've ever owned...

You would not look at this dog and say "Yup, that's a Terrier through-and-through," unless you saw him letting loose at the dog park or my father's fenced in backyard. Seriously.

He is beyond intelligent, and even though I'm biased, I'd say borderline- Doggy Genius! It takes him record time to pick up anything I'm training him, tricks or behaviors...

Shibas are amazing and I'd love to have one, but I opted to rescue for my own financial needs and that selfish acted proved to be the most selfless. : ) Donatello's a rescue and is truly in-debt to be for the rest of his life. : )

Boston's are great dogs too... I more or less vote for rescuing, and rescuing a dog that works for you. : )
 

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Shibas have a bad rep and it's definitely a dog that is not right for everyone but I think you might the right kind of owner for one.

If you are not looking for an affectionate dog that obeys every commands, that enjoys spending time alone and you have patience and a sense of humour it might just be a great dog for a bachelor.

Shiba tends to do better with a sporty owner, when they have the chance to get all the spunk out of their little bodies they are pretty laid back. At Shiba meet ups, most are allowed to run freely in unfenced parks. Sometimes they get a bit far but they always come back. So playing in a fenced tennis court is Ok.

In England, Shibas are still used to hunt, which means they are allowed to run free and can follow command.

If you are looking for rescues, Shibas get more mellow toward 2 yo and in this economy perfect dogs are turned to shelters.

Here are listed all the shiba rescues http://www.shibas.org/rescue.html
 

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Discussion Starter #18
or, paradoxically, homeless people.
Hah, care to extrapolate on that? There is something oddly appealing about a man and a pooch who both have been abandoned to the streets finding solace in one another, but I can't see how that's an ideal situation for the canine.

Anyway I appreciate all the advice, but I'm definitely going to get a pet. I'm too old for the typical college BS and have been on my on too long to want a roommate. I'm definitely going to rescue a dog, either from a shelter or from daily checks of craigslist and the paper(a lot of which are so heartbreaking). Still two weeks til I move into the new place, so I am going to research it fully and be prepared. I was just hoping there was something I may have missed when it came to finding the right dog. I guess it's kind of like having kids, they're all different and just require a lot of attention and forethought just for them.
 

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All dogs need attention they depend on us. I always thought small dogs in a apartment. Medium to Large dogs in a house. Dogs need room to run. Being in a apartment or house most of the day isn't good for the dog or you.

I always like big dogs myself so when I rented a house, I got a big deal. She's still here with me almost 10 years later. We even sleep in the same bed that's my girl.
 
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