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Are Shiba Inus Smarter Than Most Dogs? Canine Intelligence Explained

Krysha Thayer

By Krysha Thayer

shiba inu dog in the grass

People recognize the Shiba Inu for its intelligence, but its stubbornness prevents it from topping the charts. Below, we’ll look at this breed’s official intelligence ranking, what makes it instinctive and adaptive, and other features that make it unique.

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Intelligence Ranking

Stanley Coren is widely respected as a neuropsychologist and published “The Intelligence of Dogs” in 19941. Stanley Coren ranked the Shiba Inu 93rd on the list of the most intelligent dogs. The lowest-ranking dog breeds include the Beagle, Basset Hound, Chow Chow, and Afghan Hound.

While this isn’t an incredibly high ranking, it is still much higher than hundreds of other breeds and is considered average intelligence. However, Shiba Inus have unique skills because of their instincts and learning abilities, making them intelligent in their own ways.

Pretty girl is reading book with shiba inu puppy
Image Credit: Silverkblackstock, Shutterstock

Divider 2Instinctive vs. Adaptive Intelligence

Stanley Coren also defines both instinctive and adaptive intelligence2. Every breed has its unique blend of both, making them wise in their own way.

Instinctive intelligence

Is the intelligence a breed has inherited over time, which includes the traits they were bred for. Shiba Inus have been selectively bred for millennia to flush out birds and small game when hunting. We can trace their purpose back to the original inhabitants of ancient Japan.

Today, this intelligence makes them wonderful hunting dogs but can make them a flight risk when another animal catches their attention. They may not hear the calls of their owners, making their instinctive intelligence somewhat of a burden to modern dog owners.

shiba inu on a harness walking in the forest
Image Credit: Thorsten Schulze, Pixabay

Adaptive intelligence

Is the breed’s ability to learn. While the Shiba Inus are very adaptive to their environment and quick to learn, they are also fiercely independent, making them resistant to doing whatever you encourage them to do unless they are particularly interested in the task.

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Independence vs. Intelligence

As smart as a dog may be, it may also have other traits that affect its ability to use that intelligence in all situations. As we mentioned, the Shiba Inu will thrive as a hunting dog, learning from that environment and enjoying the mental stimulation of the hunt. Modern living, however, poses some challenges for these dogs.

Shiba Inus display a very stubborn streak and a dramatic flair. If they don’t want to do something, they most likely won’t unless obedience is trained early on. Still, they can be determined, which makes training challenging. Although they are smart and can learn quickly, they may resist acquiring new skills or doing them once trained.

The Dog IQ Test

Do you have a Shiba Inu and are curious about their intelligence? You can perform a fun dog IQ test at home to help determine their score. Remember, this IQ test only gives you a general idea and isn’t scientific. If you have concerns about your pup’s cognitive abilities, you should address them with their veterinarian. The dog IQ test consists of six tasks scored with one, two, or three points that are then tallied and compared against a scale.

Shiba inu dog inspects an advent calendar with handmade treats and eco toys for dog. DIY concept
Image Credit: Egrigorovich, Shutterstock

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The Shiba Inu is an intelligent breed compared to many others, but it’s not the smartest by any means. Their stubbornness typically prevents them from topping the intelligence charts, which can impede their learning abilities. Still, the Shiba Inu is instinctive and adaptive in any environment, ideal for active owners, and a beautiful pup with striking features that will turn heads on your next walk to the park.

Featured Image Credit: Spencer-Xu-Shutterstock

Krysha Thayer

Authored by

Krysha is a proud mom to Shelly, a tortoiseshell “Tortie” rescue kitty that loves to talk back, especially if I’m late with breakfast. Shelly’s big personality, despite her small stature, has been a driving force behind my ambition to spread awareness about local shelters and the small things residents, support groups, and non-profits can do to support them. Growing up, Krysha experienced the care of many pets, fr...Read more

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