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There's plenty of breeds out there that are synonymous with "difficult". A lot of breeds that are considered not good for novice owners.

My question is, WHEN/HOW do you know you're ready for a tougher breed?

My boyfriend and I are in love with Shiba Inu. I've owned Rottweilers in the past, but have been told it's like comparing apples to oranges, that no breed will ever prepare me for the stubbornness, difficult attitude of a Shiba. I'm a vet tech student, but no where do I get taught animal behavior, so I don't think the education helps. Experience does!

So what research, what experience do I need to "know" I'm ready for one? I don't plan on getting until 3-4 years from now. But it's 12am and I'm dreaming of a pretty Shiba puppy, so why not ask lol (I've already even picked out my potential breeder from the national club registry haha, of course haven't contacted them or anything, just window shopping).

"If" you were a breeder to a difficult breed, what would you consider to be signs of a ready/not ready home?

And if you were a hopeful owner, how would you know you're ready to own a difficult breed?
 

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I suppose there are some people who are not temperamentally predisposed for dealing with a "difficult" breed, but I think assuming a stable, dedicated, and educated buyer/adopter, that the living conditions are appropriate and long-term is the more important factor. Most of the sad stories I hear involve trying to bring a challenging dog into an environment it's not suited to (e.g. small children with a reactive dog, small animals with a high prey drive dog, ineffective containment with a runner dog, etc.) Or taking such a dog, then having a previously suitable environment change for the worse due to a move, family structure change, etc.
 

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For me, the most important thing involves knowing what the reality of the breeds are via meeting them and talking with owners, and not... being dishonest with yourself about your ability because of WANT. Does that make sense? I think most of the time when people get into trouble it's because they work really really hard to convince themselves that things will be okay in spite of that sinking feeling in the pit of their stomach because they have a 'breed crush'.

They know they don't like to exercise or train but they think those dogs are really cool. They know they have small kids, small animals, a super busy life, can 'figure out' containment' or 'we'll just socialize a lot'. Or the dog will 'make' them train or exercise more - ie: They see the dog as part of a life they do not currently live or they convince themselves that SOMEHOW things will just... work out and be different with 'their' dog, and every other experience/story they hear is someone doing it wrong.

Read. Find a breed specific forum. Meet the dogs. Don't lie to yourself about what you can handle and provide, don't let aesthetics rule (ie: It's just so pretty I HAVE TO) and don't get your ego involved and it'll probably be all right.
 

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The other thing for me is thinking you can change a breed's inherent characteristics. Like "Oh, I know shibas are aloof and don't tend to like strangers, but if I socialise them from a puppy it will be fine!" No, not necessarily.
 

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I was actually hanging out with my friends this weekend at a trial talking about our dogs. They all have very high energy, quirky herders and none had nearly as much trouble with their dogs as I did with baby Mia. rofl.

In fact yesterday 7 year old Mia decided to scale my cabinets (no idea how, I can never figure it out) and got into a box of thin mints and gave me a heart attack. She's also the dog that ate part of my door frame.

By comparison Hank chewed up a blanket and shredded toilet paper? He's been so ridiculously easy in comparison for me. Soooo....? Sometimes 'easy breeds' are hard. They assured me that screaming literally all night for almost a month straight protesting her crate, pulling out the carpeting, unlocking her crate, being so antisocial that people she knew for 2 years couldn't get a hand on her, scaling cabinets, etc were all atypical.

Just talk to breeders/owners. Meet dogs. Figure out if it's something you want to commit to or not.
 

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Now on the other hand, it's good to know your limits. A seriously protective LGD type would be a liability for me and my lifestyle so that would be dumb to go out and get. And I know that. To me that is the biggest breed group people need to be really really sure they can handle before jumping in.
 

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I really don't think it matters if it's a seriously protective LGD or a chi, frankly. Your idea of difficult is not mine and vice versa. I'm fine with high energy. I'm fine with high drive. I'm fine with being bitten. I'm fine with a dog who is a stubborn jerk-face. I'm fine with a protective dog. I am fine with a dog who needs a job. I am fine with a LOUD dog. I can DEAL with reactivity, without breaking myself. I have no problem managing destructive behavior. Prey-drive isn't a major issue for me.

What I *can't* deal with are dogs with poor off leash reliability (as a breed tendency), a dog who must be physically touching me all the time, or a crazy independent dog. I can't do escape artists. I *won't* do da.

Molly is quasi-hard because reactivity, Thud is difficult because he's overly independent, but in general I find Jack more difficult than either. Because he doesn't give a crap about training/working and he must be touching someone all the time. He doesn't take 'bites' out of my time/energy the same way, but he is frustrating for me in a way that the more traditionally 'difficult' dogs here are.

It's just not as simple as an equation, but it ALL requires you honestly look at yourself, your life, and the dogs. Someone who lives on a big property with livestock and few visitors is going to be fine with an LGD - probably more so than a chi, which could be owl bait.

It's about FIT.
 

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I would just get the dog you want and have realistic expectations. Beaucerons are supposed to be a difficult breed, but Pan is 10x easier than my hounds because of his biddableness.

It's really different than having a scent hound or other independent breed like the Shiba. There are inconveniences and frustrations that come with a dog that isn't necessarily a people pleaser. As long as you are okay with a dog that can't be off leash and you are realistic with your expectations it should be fine.
 

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I think deciding you're ready for a difficult breed is an individual decision that no one else can really help with. Everyone finds different aspects of dog ownership difficult and everyone is able to deal with multiple types of difficulty in different ways.

What I find difficult might not be what you find difficult. My puppy would be far too much for many people to handle. Not temperamentally, but as far as management and expense. For a while he was eating 11 cups of food a day. He can't go up and down stairs repeatedly, can't be exercised on cement, has to be rested for 30 minutes before and 45 minutes after meals 3 times a day. I find this easy to manage, but many people wouldn't. And what other people find easy to manage, like high energy, I wouldn't be able to handle.

In my opinion, it's good to have a deal breaker list. Try to distance your mind from Shibas. Write a list of things out you definitely WANT in a dog. Write a list next to it of things you definitely couldn't deal with under any circumstances. Be honest with yourself.

My list of wants - velcro, biddable, giant, low grooming requirements, moderate exercise requirements

My deal breakers - aloof, vocal, DA tendencies, high grooming requirements, high exercise requirements

I LOVE German Shepherds. I think they are the most beautiful, regal looking dogs. I tried to convince myself for years that I could provide an adequate home for German Shepherds. But look at that honest list of deal breakers above, and you will see that GSDs have several deal breaking traits. When I was finally honest enough with myself to realize that the one breed I love above all others isn't a good fit for me, I was able to go out and pick a breed that encompasses my entire list of wants. I'm finding my relationship with my current puppy to be far easier than my relationships with the GSD mixes I have because my puppy and I just mesh.
 

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I was just saying that I think LGD and XL highly protective breeds have some extra considerations (land, lifestyle) that are pretty darn important to keep in mind or else there's liability issues moreso than most other breed groups. Nothing more, nothing less.
 

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I was just saying that I think LGD and XL highly protective breeds have some extra considerations (land, lifestyle) that are pretty darn important to keep in mind or else there's liability issues moreso than most other breed groups. Nothing more, nothing less.
Absolutely. I really like Kangals and COs, but I'm not sure I'd be able to provide the type of environment either of those breeds requires.

Your 'breed crush' comment really struck home with me. I've had a breed crush on GSDs since I was 4 years old. I'm sad, to this day, that it's just not a breed I think I can make work. But at the end of the day, it's far more rewarding to have a dog who fits well into my lifestyle than it would be to have a dog who makes me work hard at changing my lifestyle to make the relationship compatible.

And it's also really relevant to the OP. Whenever someone loves a breed without having spent quite a lot of time around the breed, you have to wonder why. Cute internet photos? Aesthetic appeal? Experience with one well trained individual? Or what? None of those is a bad reason to be attracted to a breed, of course. But when those limited interaction attractions are the basis for a decision to get an animal you're going to have for 10+ years, it's good to step back and be extra objective about the situation :)
 

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I have a 'difficult breed' that is often called "not a good pet" because they, well, really aren't meant for that. Nonetheless I have a jagdterrier. She is very difficult but I am ok with that cause I'm so in love with her, both her personality and appearance. I think that's the key - if you are crazy enough for the dog 'as is' then you will learn to deal with all the bad stuff. I think it's better for someone to go with their "dream dog" that may be considered difficult rather than settling with someone 'easier' which may in fact have habits that drive you nuts, and cause you are not as "into" the look/behaviour of the dog, it becomes a less-than-awesome experience.

For instance my rat terrier. He is great in many aspects but no one prepared me or warned me about how sensitive, shaky and 'soft' they can be. I didn't want that, I wanted a hard terrier, which I have now. Your average person thinks our rat terrier is a way better dog cause he is much calmer, more affectionate, etc., but for me, those traits don't help. It bugs me when he shakes for no reason or tries to curl up under your chin. I'd rather have a dog that's not interested in cuddling and is busy destroying a toy. It's all about what you are able to tolerate, what really peaks your interest, and your personality. As others said, one person's 'difficult dog' may be anothers dream, while someone's "love-bug" could be considered extremely annoying. It's all about your personal perspectives.
 

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I think almost anybody COULD handle almost any dog. The question is, do they WANT to? And not lying to themselves about what they really want. Someone who wants a dog who is good off-leash shouldn't get a hound and say "oh, well, I'll just train more" because they really don't want to deal with a dog who runs off.

It also comes down to flexibility and attitude.
 

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Don't really think there are any difficult breeds.
It's getting the wrong dog, compared to your life style or in some cases getting a dog for a status symbol and not putting in the time.
 

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And it's also really relevant to the OP. Whenever someone loves a breed without having spent quite a lot of time around the breed, you have to wonder why. Cute internet photos? Aesthetic appeal? Experience with one well trained individual? Or what? None of those is a bad reason to be attracted to a breed, of course. But when those limited interaction attractions are the basis for a decision to get an animal you're going to have for 10+ years, it's good to step back and be extra objective about the situation
Well, sometimes it's because it's simply not an option to spend a lot of time around the breed. I'm seriously looking into a breed that is extremely rare in my province, I've yet to actually see one here ever. There are great breeders in other provinces, but not in mine. But on paper, and in talking to people in a breed specific forum, it seems like they could be a pretty good fit for me. I'm going to a dog show next weekend to meet one, but there will be exactly ONE dog there at that show, lol. So, I'll do my best to meet as many as I can, but in the end, I'm going to just have to take a leap of faith that my research has prepared me enough. Sometimes, that's all you can do.
 

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There's plenty of breeds out there that are synonymous with "difficult". A lot of breeds that are considered not good for novice owners.

My question is, WHEN/HOW do you know you're ready for a tougher breed?

My boyfriend and I are in love with Shiba Inu. I've owned Rottweilers in the past, but have been told it's like comparing apples to oranges, that no breed will ever prepare me for the stubbornness, difficult attitude of a Shiba. I'm a vet tech student, but no where do I get taught animal behavior, so I don't think the education helps. Experience does!

So what research, what experience do I need to "know" I'm ready for one? I don't plan on getting until 3-4 years from now. But it's 12am and I'm dreaming of a pretty Shiba puppy, so why not ask lol (I've already even picked out my potential breeder from the national club registry haha, of course haven't contacted them or anything, just window shopping).

"If" you were a breeder to a difficult breed, what would you consider to be signs of a ready/not ready home?

And if you were a hopeful owner, how would you know you're ready to own a difficult breed?
The breed of dog I'm getting most people on this forum would say, "I wouldn't recommend for a first time dog owner." Still, I've been researching this dog for almost 5 years, met them in person and I know people that own the breed. I've familiarized myself as best I can without actually owning the breed. I do get nervous sometimes...wondering if even with all my preparation if I will be a good owner...but I think thats normal. I feel like as long as you set realistic expectations for yourself and for the dog you'll be okay. Don't ever be afraid to ask for help. Only you can know what you're really ready for. So if you're not planning to get a pup for another 3-4 years then take that time to research! Watch videos on youtube, talk to other shiba owners on instagram, join a shiba forum, find a facebook group. Really get in there and learn about the breed from people with experience because they are going to give you better advice than any google search.
 

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As an owner of a "difficult" breed I don't think there is a right or wrong time to get one, as long as you do your research and go into it honestly and openly. I do think that the term is used to try and dissuade people who like the idea of dog ownership but don't want the hassle of puppy training, long walks sometimes for multiple hours etc. I would say that if you know the basics of dog ownership and are prepared to put in the time and effort to understand and learn the breed then you should be fine.

For myself although I have never owned a dog myself, I have been brought up around GSD's, Labradors, Old English Sheepdogs and the like. When we announced we were getting an Akita, a lot of people told us that we shouldn't as we were first time owners etc. However we now have a gorgeous Akita girl, who I would not be without. An amazing breed, the Shiba is a smaller version of the Akita Inu (they actually used Shiba's in the film Hachi).
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thank you all so much for your replies! I'll definitely take every advice into consideration. I agree, there's a dream dog for one person and that same dog might be "difficult" for the other person, it's more about lifestyle!

I LOVE the idea of making up a list of deal breakers, I'm not "set" on a Shiba, my boyfriend, the person who has never owned a dog, is (lol). I'm the dog educated person in the family, so I've taken it upon myself to be the main caretaker of any dog that comes into the home, which means researching and being honest with myself. I honestly will be happy with any dog that comes my way, as you all said, as long as they fit our lifestyle and ours fit theirs.

Unfortunately I've never had any experience with Shiba Inu in person, my country has a grand total of 0 dogs of that breed. This country is a bit backwards in animal care. Full of really bad BYBs. No person who is in it for the profit will put up with the care Shiba Inu requires. If I DO find breeds of dogs I'm considering getting, they're usually tied up in the backyard completely ignored day and night, so they're horrible examples of what the dog would be in an ACTUAL home environment :\ Once I move to FL this June (WOOHOO) I'm planning on volunteering on Shiba Inu Rescue of FL and volunteering at least every few months (since they're so, so soooo far away from where I'll live). Hopefully in my job I'll come in contact with some owners as well. I'm also thinking about getting books and such, but I won't trust books as much as I'll trust the rescue and owners.

I'm gonna start working on that deal break list, to see what other breeds might fit our life better. My boyfriend might be set on a shiba, but he's not the one that's gonna take care of it lol Any recommendations on key words to google? First language isn't English and I'm coming in a blank xD
 

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Personally I don't think of shibas as a "difficult" breed. They aren't the right breed for everybody, but then no breed is going to be right for everybody. They aren't generally human aggressive or ridiculously high in energy and I think those are the two hardest things for most people to live with. Could you "handle" a shiba? I think you probably could. It's just about figuring out whether it's a breed that would mesh well with your personality.

I would start at shiba inu breed club websites (look for breed clubs in a variety of countries) and see what they have to say. Look for individual breeder websites and see if they have a section on what it's like to live with a shiba.
 

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Not sure difficult breeds are difficult to their owners. Mine sure are not difficult to own bond and work with... but there is more of a liability to owning them that should be taken for everyone else that is around you. having one.
 
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