My Shiba Purrs...And Other Forms of Communication

All pets make cute sounds. Even the most mundane of sounds can become the foundation of all that is cute when they come from a smiling puppy. Like ours. Here's a short little tour through the wonderdom that is Misaki's avenues of communication.

Your silliness astounds me.

Huff: This is perhaps the most well-known of all sounds to Shiba owners. To make this sound Misaki will take in a deep breath and blow it out her mouth without opening her lips. Does it have meaning? Oh hell yes it does. She makes this one when her humans aren't doing whatever she deems they should be doing at that very moment. Are we taking too long to get ready for a walk? Huff. Is it 7:30pm and there is no food in her dish? Huff. Do we tell her to wait until a commercial before we take her out? Huff. Do we tease her for huffing at us? HUFF! The best part about this is she clearly understands the situation when this kind of sound is apt - we call it the Shiba equivalent of the eye roll in a teenager.


Purr: Yes, believe it or not Misaki does purr. Apparently it's not just a cat thing. She loves to get picked up, which is nice because we always want to pick her up. If I reach down and put my hands around her middle, she will jump up into them. Then, if you pull her tight and squeeze her a little bit, she starts making little purring sounds. It's not as smooth, loud, or consistent as a cat, but it's a very contented sound and goes with a very contented look on her face. Apparently this is not unique to Misaki - other Shibas on Twitter claim to also purr.

I'm warning you Moochie - Back the F up!

Growl: This one she saves for the cats. Misaki will usually leave them alone, sometimes even run around the house with them, but when they get a little too in her face - Moochie - she'll let loose a warning growl. Sera and Lilo pick up on the meaning of the growl and duly back off; Moochie, as I've mentioned before, does not understand social cues and will instead continue to rub on her face and talk into her ear. We've found it's best if we just distract him. What's nice is this usually resets her annoyance level - it doesn't seem to build over time.

Rrrrufff! So excited!

Bark: Sure, all dogs bark. Ours, though, does not bark at the doorbell, the mailman, thunder, fireworks, or really anything else most dogs bark at. Or anything Ruby barked at - a doorbell on TV could send her into a fit of barking and put her on edge for the next two hours. That got old. Not Misaki. She tends to bark while sitting all by herself and chewing on a toy. I have no idea what she is telling her toy, but she is adamant. And since she is so small her barks aren't deafening (like Ruby's), but she's big enough they aren't shrill either. Nothing is quite as cute as Misaki barking or growling at her toy in a room where she is the only one there.

A content pup. Sleep sounds, sleep sounds...

Snore: Don't tell her I'm saying this, but Misaki snores. All the time. She'll lay down on her chair in the office and be asleep and snoring in - not kidding - less than five minutes. We'll go to bed at night and before the light even goes off she'll be making light snoring sounds. It never gets too loud and in fact is pretty soothing - helps me fall asleep some nights.

You people bore me. I have to bring sandals over to entertain me.

Yawn/Stretch: This is a sound I couldn't recreate if I tried a thousand times. If you have pets, you've probably seen it. The animal will wake up from a nap, stretch the front paws forward as far as possible, and then yawn, letting out a long, low moan of a sound. Misaki, unlike some other pets we've had, never makes the same moaning sound twice. Sometimes it curls up at the end, sometimes it has more bass. Other times it tails off, or has more treble. She'll also turn this stretch into an elegant Sphinx position - after the stretch and yawn, her back legs drop to the floor, leaving her stretched out as long as she can be, ready to jump up at any moment. She will also look at you and yawn when you are clearly boring her. How sweet.

Imagine the sound of teeth raking over plastic...

Chewing: All dogs chew on toys (or other things, if toys are absent). Misaki chews to make a point. If the huffing doesn't work she will grab her pink Nylabone and start chewing on it as loud as she can. She does this mostly when dinner is late or if she's feeling ignored. Sometimes if we are talking about her - and possibly not saying entirely flattering things - she'll grab the bone and chew chew chew chew. It's like she thinks if she chews loud enough whatever we are saying either won't matter or will never happen. Yes, Shibas are forever teenagers. Apparently.

Feed the Shiba...

Shiba Mind Control: This is real. Any Shiba owner will tell you it's real - and they talk about it all the time on Twitter. Shibas have this ability to get just about anything they want by staring at you super hard. They imprint their desires on your brain, and somehow you have no choice but to acquiesce. Those who don't know Shibas will take this for politeness, because Shibas use the mind control in place of explicit begging, either for food at home or treats and toys while out and about the town. People who have felt the affect of Shiba Mind Control will readily admit they don't know exactly why the Shiba ended up with the pizza crusts or why they inexplicably let their Shiba run off leash. And the older the Shiba the more developed this trait. Misaki is seven - we don't stand a chance.

It's interesting to me how different two dogs can be. Ruby barked a bit and yawned a little, growled occasionally, but she didn't seem to have quite the breadth of expression Misaki employs. Ruby, however, would give you the look of an abused dog every time you asked her to do something. Misaki just looks at you and huffs.


  1. Laughing so hard...this is wonderful. I can't believe Misaki let you "out" her on the huffing and chewing though. ;-)

  2. Aww, now I'm jealous that my shiba doesn't purr. Did she learn it from the cat?

  3. Most of these are all so very true for my shiba! I love the mind control bit. How do they do it?!
    Niko doesn't purr when i pick him up, but he purrs when he has a furry toy in his mouth.

  4. i love this post so much!

    My Shiba doesn't purr at all. I'd love to hear that someday. What melts me every time is the yawn... oh so cute.

  5. Well, when I told Misaki what I was writing about, she looked through me, huffed, and looked for her bone to chew on. Maybe "let" isn't the right word. :)

    I'm not sure where she learned to purr...she's done it since we got her in the spring, and she lived her first 6.5 years without cats. Surprised me the first time.

    Wifey loves the yawn too. :)

  6. I had so much fun reading this post! I'm researching Shibas now and sounds like a Shiba could be a great inspiration.