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Do Shiba Inu’s Like to Cuddle? (Owners tell all!)

With their fox-like faces and their loyal and spirited personalities, Shiba Inus can be a wonderful lifelong companion. But if you are wanting to get a dog that is likely to enjoy laying around and cuddling with you then you may want to think again about getting a Shiba Inu.

Shiba Inu’s can be affectionate when they are in the right mood, but generally, they are independent and aloof and don’t like to cuddle and be held. Out of 242 owners surveyed only 22% of owners said that their Shiba Inus love to cuddle with them, 35% of Shiba Inus preferred little to no cuddles.

Why don’t Shiba Inus like to cuddle? Should you get a Shiba Inu if you want a cuddly dog? What about the ones that do like to be held and cuddled, what makes them that way? Is it something their owners have done, or is it their personalities? Is there anything you can do to encourage your dog to cuddle with you? Keep reading to learn all the secrets!

James G. with his dog Kato, and Pauline W and Boo Boo Thank you for use of your pictures!

Are Shiba Inu’s Affectionate?

Shiba Inus can be affectionate in their own way, however probably not in the typical ways that you would expect. Shiba Inus are very loyal and can be protective, although somewhat standoffish with strangers.

If you do measure affection by the amount of cuddles that you are likely to get, then you most likely are wanting to know how much cuddling you should expect from a Shiba.

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I asked a group of Shiba Inus owners how much their dogs liked to cuddle with them on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the most cuddly to 1 being not at all and here are the results.

Only 38 people said that their Shiba Inus were a 10 on the cuddle scale and another 16 didn’t think 10 was high enough. They gave answers such as 15, 10+, and 1001%.

Over 50% of owners did rate their Shiba Inus 5-10+ on the cuddle scale.

With that being said, there was a fair amount more than I expected that said their Shiba Inus didn’t like cuddling at all!

19 Shiba owners said their Shiba Inus never want to cuddle with them giving them a 0 when the lowest option was a 1. 

3 Shiba owners said 0.5, and 6 owners rated their Shiba’s in the negative category ranging from -4 to -20. With comments like “how dare you even think about a cuddle.”

Around 40% of owners rated their Shiba Inus a 3 or lower on the cuddle scale. Out of all of the breeds I have surveyed so far Shiba’s have definitely come in at the lowest.

So why is there such a huge variance in the experiences of Shiba Inu owners? Let’s take a look at their history that can give us some insight as to why this breed seems to be less affectionate than others.

In earlier history they were bred for the Emperor of China to sit around the palace and bark when people or animals approached, this was supposed to alert people to the presence of unwanted visitors. Soon after that, the Shiba Inu became a favorite of the Imperial Chinese court as companion dogs rather than working dogs. Even though they have been bred to be companion dogs Shibas still has a lot of tenacity left in their bloodlines.

Knowing this about our dogs can help us understand a little bit more where they may be coming from. The general personality of a Shiba seems to be very independent, curious, and a bit stand-offish.

Even most Shiba Inus that don’t necessarily love cuddling or being held will still be very loyal to their owners. They will stare at you with deep meaningful eyes, and possibly follow you around. So here is a solid list of why your Shiba Inu might love to cuddle and be held!

Reasons Why Shiba Inus Like to Cuddle

Because of the Bond and Trust you Have

When a Shiba Inu has established a bond and trusts its owner then it is likely to show that trust and affection by wanting to be with and around its owner at all times.

Owners who care for their Shiba Inu by feeding them, grooming them playing with them, and just spending time with them will gain their trust and can build a bond with them fairly easily. This helps your Shiba Inu understand who takes care of them and in a way presents you as their pack leader creating an instinctual trust with you.

If you have noticed that your dog has bonded to one person in your household more than others this could be one of the reasons why. If there is one person who is consistently spending more time caring for and playing with the Shiba Inu it’s likely that will be their preferred person to be with.

To Show Love and Affection

Shiba Inu like to cuddle with their owners to show them love and affection and receive that love in return.

Science has proven (link to US National Library of Medicine Study) that when owners and their dogs are engaged in activities like cuddling and showing each other affection both of them receive a surge of Oxytocin, the hormone dubbed as the LOVE hormone. It makes both our little pooch and us feel happier, calmer and loved.

This increase in Oxytocin has a lot of positive effects for both you and your Shiba Inu. It’s proven to reduce stress levels, help owners who may suffer from anxiety or depression, lower blood pressure, and helps us stay present in the moment. Your dog will also benefit from this surge in the love hormone.

Shiba Inus’s Cuddle for Protection.

Shiba Inus are normally very playful, curious, and full of energy! They are not very friendly with strangers however and generally don’t like being around other animals. Because of this, they may feel vulnerable when in unsure situations. It’s in a dog’s nature to seek a place of protection and comfort when wanting to relax. For this reason, they will often seek you out and want to be near you or in your lap while sleeping so that they can feel the protection that comes from being with their pack.

Shiba Inus cuddle because it’s instinct

Newborn puppies need to cuddle closely with their mothers as a way to survive. They need the life-giving milk that they provide as well as the protection and warmth. They instinctively know they are helpless until they get older open their eyes and become more curious.

This survival instinct goes back to the beginning of time even before dogs were domesticated. as well as protection for themselves, they can also be somewhat territorial and protective of others in their family. A lot of Shiba Inu owners told me that their Shiba was very loyal to one person in their family and it made a pretty big impact on how much cuddle time they got because of it. As a general rule Shiba Inus cuddled more with the people in the house that they felt more connected to.

Why Shiba Inus Don’t Like to Cuddle or be Held

There are many things to figure when trying to figure out why your Shiba Inus may not like to cuddle with you.

It could be too hot. Unlike us our dogs can not sweat through their skin. The only way they can cool themselves off is through their nose and the pads of their feet, as well as panting. Because of this they are much more sensitive to temperature changes. If it’s very warm your dog my be avoiding your snuggles because it doesn’t want that extra body heat.

In particular for the Shiba Inu, (as you are probably aware) have A LOT of fur. They shed a lot and their fur is very thick! They do really well in cold weather, but they can get hot very easily. This along with their aloof temperament could be the biggest reasons why Shiba’s tend to not cuddle as much as other breeds.

They have been abused or had bad experiences in the past. For Shiba Inus that really don’t enjoy cuddling at all this is usually the most likely scenario! If you have a rescue or your dog has had negative experiences with cuddling others in the past then this normally loyal trusting breed could be struggling with trust issues.

It’s possible to regain its trust and have a strong bond with your dog, but it will take a lot of time and patience and they may not ever warm up to the idea of super close snuggle time.

Their personality will have a lot to do with whether or not they want to cuddle up to you. Some dogs are naturally more energetic and inquisitive and don’t want to slow down enough to relax and snuggle. Most Shiba Inus are quite confident and independent and just prefer to have their space.

You’re not their person. A lot of owners admit that their Shiba Inu may like to cuddle with another member of the household a little more than others. Shiba Inu can choose a favorite person and may prefer to be with them when possible. Their favorite person is often the one who plays with, feeds, gives affection and attention to the most.

Your lifestyle and home dynamics can play a big part in whether or not your dog is super cuddly and affectionate. If as a puppy you spend a lot of time snuggling on the couch and holding your dog in your lap then it will naturally lead them to be more snuggly. If you are a very active family and are on the go exploring and moving around a lot your dog will tend to follow your lead.

They are still a puppy and full of energy. Puppies tend to be a bit more rambunctious and may not slow down for cuddles very often in their first year of life. They are so busy exploring and trying to figure things out they will tell you they don’t have time for those cuddles. It’s usually very easy to steal some cuddles from them, however, once they nod off to sleep. It can even be a great way to train your puppy to cuddle (Link to my article can I train my dog to cuddle) and get them used to it.

They are getting older and don’t enjoy being held as much. Some Shiba Inu owners said that their dogs became less cuddly as they got older. This could be for a few reasons, but the most likely one is that as they age they start to suffer from aches and pains, and shifting or movement from you while cuddling could disrupt their sleep and make it less enjoyable.

Can I Teach My Shiba Inus to Cuddle and Enjoy Being Held

You can train a dog to do many things including learning how to lay down and sit still, whether that be in your lap on next to you it’s possible to help your dog learn to be closer to you and share some of the same space. However, you should never force your dog to cuddle with you or be more affectionate than it’s comfortable with. Here are some ways you can encourage your Shiba Inus to enjoy giving cuddles and being held.

  • Understand a Baseline: Notice where your Shiba Inus is at with their desire to cuddle. When do they like to do it, when don’t they? Do they shy away from petting? Is there a particular way they like to be pet and held? Can you recognize their body language and what they are trying to tell you?
  • Take advantage of their natural cuddle times: Once you know when, where and how they like to cuddle take advantage of those times and work it into your schedule so you can get maximum cuddle time and your pup will get used to the routine of it. Some owners really like to cuddle with their Shiba Inus in bed at night and in the morning, but before you decide to let your Shiba Inu sleep in bed with you check out this article I wrote about the pros and cons of your pup sleeping with you.
  • Wear Them Out: A tired dog is a well-behaved and happy dog and a lot of times a cuddly dog! Never try and force your Shiba Inus to cuddle with you especially when they are full of energy and want to play.
  • Bond with your Shiba Inus and Build Trust: The more your Shiba Inu trusts you the more affection and love they will naturally want to give you. Doing things with your Shiba Inus you know they will enjoy will help you become closer not only emotionally, but physically as well. This can include playing with toys or hand-feeding them.
  • Encourage your Shiba Inus and reward Behavior you Like: When your dog is cuddling calmly with you in your lap or by your side make it a pleasant experience with a high-value reward attached.
  • Get Good at Basic Commands: When your Shiba Inus gets good at commands like sit, stay, and settle, you can use those to your advantage to help them learn to be calm when it’s cuddle time.
  • Name the Cue: As with training your Shiba Inus most things you’ll want them to understand the word associated with what they are doing. When they know what a cuddle is called then as you get better at communicating with each other you’ll be able to ask for a cuddle and receive on-demand.
  • Respect Boundaries: It’s important to remember that most dogs do not like hugs in the traditional sense. Being held too tightly can make them feel agitated and stressed. Kisses and getting into your Yorky’s face can also be upsetting to them and possibly dangerous for you.

It’s always a great idea to encourage bonding and playtime with your dog, but it’s important to remember that even with employing all of these strategies your dog may not like to cuddle at all, and that’s ok. You can look for other ways to share love and affection with your dog. Or you could just get a Chihuahua! I hear they are pretty big into cuddling.

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