I could have called this topic post: "The difference between your last Golden Retriever and the Shiba you are now inquiring about" but that was too long. The person inquiring would like to come look at puppies and choose one. Yep....
Picking a Shiba puppy is a little different than picking a puppy from a larger breed's huge litter because Shibas usually only have 1-4 puppies in a litter, with 3 being average. Usually the breeder will keep one, that leaves two puppies for the 20-30 people on the waiting list. IF the first two people waiting wanted males there would surely be nothing but females in the litter! It always seems to go that way. If one male and one female was wanted and that's what was available then that works out IF the personalities match the families. The breeder will usually decide which puppy goes where. It is a good idea to listen to the breeder's advice on puppies as they've seen hundreds and you only see one or two. I try to follow my list but this is not a Golden by any means. A person who wants a Golden can pretty much pick any puppy from the litter of 14 and they will GET a Golden. We call them Golden Dumbtrievers and yes, we too have owned one. Goldens are all pretty much the same perpetual puppy till near their end. My best friend breeds Goldens and I love to help her evaluate pups because they are so darned cute and bumbly but they are NOT the breed for us. An 8 week old Golden is still tripping over his feet with that innocent look on his face while an 8 week old Shiba is wearing horns and an Evel Kneivel costume and leaping from the back of your couch, landing on all fours and racing through the kitchen like his tail is on fire. Not to be misunderstood about the difference, a Shiba is the 2nd closest canine relative to the wolf and a wolf pup has to move fast in case of danger, let's say fire, while the poor extremely domesticated Golden would just sit there and go up in flames. Duh.
I honestly don't think a Shiba should even be considered a dog as it is in a class of its own. A cat in a dog suit that acts like a coyote/fox mix. They learn at an alarming rate so you have to be on your toes NOT to teach them the wrong things. They are not forgiving like a Golden who apologizes to you if you step on his tail and then must reinforce the fact that you still love him by fawning all over you for the next 10 minutes. If you step on a Shiba's tail he will surely make sure you never get close enough to him to let that happen again and basically....forever! Lesson learned the end. That would be one huge difference between those breeds. The Shiba will have some of the characteristics of the northern/spitz breeds you've owned in the past.........but ad speed. The Elkhound, Akita and Mal are all working spitz breeds, the Shiba is in it for himself, to be admired and be waited on, not to do anything remotely looking like work! HA! It is your job as the boss to make obedience and manners look like FUN so the Shiba wants to participate.
You have to have a good sense of humor along with a an assertive nature to live successfully with a Shiba or they will embarrass you just for fun. Also, most of what you read on the internet about them is obviously not written by Shiba owners or people that understand them AND it is outdated. Modern Shibas are much different then the earlier imports who were very sharp, dominant and unsocial with everyone but their owner and sometimes their owner as well. Modern Shibas have much better dispositions, they are social, friendly to all and cuddly while still having some classic Shiba character, especially once mature at age 3 when they really settle in and become incredible companions.
Still, Shibas don't do well with passive owners. They will walk all over you like a high maintenance girlfriend in stilettos. So it's important to look at one's self honestly and decide if you are willing and capable of changing your life for this dog because trust me, life will change. Luckily most of the best Shiba owners agree that the Shiba changed their life for the better. Shibas have old souls and they teach you things about yourself you never knew. It's really kinda cool.
Every Shiba is different too. As a breeder, I have had many Shibas over the 25 years I have been involved in this breed. Each one so different then the last and all very special and dear to me. I was a very strict disciplinarian with the other breeds of dogs I owned before Shibas came into my life. Shibas taught me to choose my battles and chill out. My previous training skills are barely used with the Shiba. I had to learn a whole new way. It's something undescribable.
If you want to visit Shiba puppies that is fine but know that they will be spoken for already. Good breeders have long wait times for pups opposed to the sad puppy mill & back yard bred puppies who are always readily available and actively seeking homes. You get what you pay for in this breed so be cautious and buyer beware is always a good motto to remember.
There are Shiba Meet Up groups (yahoogroups.com) in Portland and in Seattle where you can meet with other pet owners who would love to share their various stories about adventures with their Shibas. Neutered pet Shibas are different than the intact Shibas you will meet at a breeders home. You can see different colors and compare personalities. You will see subtle differences in looks, size and behavior in dogs from different breeders and you may even come away with some certainties in the kind of Shiba you want to purchase and from what breeder.
Just make sure you purchase your Shiba from a National Shiba Club of America (NSCA) member as they have the highest standard of care of their dogs, puppies and customers. People producing puppies that are not a member of the breed's parent club are not members for a reason.......