Shiba Inu - DogGear

The Shiba Inu

The internet’s most practical guide to your favorite dog breed

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Shiba Inu Breed Overview

Officially recognized as the national dog of Japan, the Shiba Inu has a rich heritage that extends as far back as 9,000years. Brought to the shores of America in 1954, the Shiba is gaining popularity among dog owners in the U.S. This breed has exceptional intelligence and a quirky, confident personality.

Shibas commonly have a reddish-sesame or tan fur coat with white markings. On occasion, some Shibas have black and tan fur, with white markings. Their small, muscular body, pointed ears, curly tail, and alert expression give them a near foxlike appearance.

Declared a national treasure by the Japanese in 1936, these dogs have a hunting legacy. Shibas are active, with boundless energy. This breed prefers a colder climate due to their thick fur.

They’re common throughout the Northern regions of the U.S. The snowy, mountainous areas of Maine and Washington States provide the ideal landscape for this breed. Both of these States have magnificent public parks and open spaces ideal for raising a Shiba. This dog loves to run and explore. It’s in their nature to rummage through forests, seeking interactions with other animals.

Shiba Inu Food and Health

The Shiba Inu is a hardy breed, with excellent genetic heritage. As a result of minimal tampering with cross-breeding, these dogs have a well-balanced structure. Shibas are athletic and flexible, with the ability to sprint and jump with ease. Shibas like to stand erect on their hind legs. They maintain their balance perfectly, while they look up to roofs, treetops, or the dog treat you’re holding.

Common hereditary health issues affecting Shibas in their later years include vision issues, like glaucoma and cataracts. They may also be more inclined to develop structural problems, such as hip dysplasia and patellar luxation.

Shibas have a sharp mind. Unfortunately, this makes them challenging to train as they have an independent character. Studies of the breed show that Shibas may be prone to anxiety issues related to separation and noise.

The dogs don’t like to be alone for extended periods of time. They may whine or “cry,” if unattended or left outside in the evening. Shibas have sensitive hearing. They exhibit anxiety to loud noises, such as thunder, gun-shot, or firecrackers. This anxiety may create an urge to flee from the source of the sound.

Shiba Inu Nutrition

Shibas require a diet of fresh, nutritious dog food. They are generally picky eaters. Unless spoiled as puppies, they don’t wolf down their food. They may turn back and look at you if they don’t like what you add to their bowl such as  fun feeder slow Feed dog bowl.

Due to their hunting nature, these dogs are prone to eating things they find on the ground. You will need to keep a close eye on them while out for a walk. If they separate from you in a forest, you may find them gnawing on the carcass of a dead bird or small animal. They may also try to eat items, such as fast-food chicken bones, that they discover in their path.

Shibas have sensitive gastrointestinal systems. Avoid feeding them commercially-produced kibble. The ingredients may create allergic reactions. Many commercial dog food producers use feed-grade ingredients in their products. The toxins generate skin and fur issues with Shibas.

As puppies, Shibas need to establish good eating habits. Overfeeding a puppy may turn them into a greedy dog that develops weight issues. Overweight Shibas are less active and will experience shorter lifespans.

As a puppy, them a diet that’s 80-percent protein, 10-percent fibrous vegetables, and 10-percent whole grains. Adjust their food if you find your puppy has loose stool. Increase the fiber content of their meals to 30-percent vegetables and grains.

Excellent protein sources for Shibas include; fresh free-range chicken, and grass-fed beef, as well as fatty fish like salmon or tuna. Limit carbohydrates to whole-grain sources and never feed them refined carbs like pasta.

A balanced diet will ensure the excellent health of your Shiba into their senior years. This breed does not require any specific changes in diet between their adolescent and senior years. Unless they develop poor eating habits in their formative years, Shibas typically remain moderate eaters.

Purchase your Shiba a small feeding bowl for their puppy phase. Change it to a medium-size bowl at 12 to 18-months. This medium-size bowl should suffice for the rest of their life.

Shiba Inu Insurance

Less than 1-percent of all dogs in the United States have health insurance. Considering the benefits, it’s a surprising statistic. Insuring the health of your Shiba is a smart idea. This breed is active. Accidents can happen while they’re playing in the park or running a trial in the woods.

Shibas are exotic. Therefore, they are at higher risk of exposure to disease, and the development of auto-immune disorders. The most common health risks associated with the breed involve their gastrointestinal system. Drinking or eating tainted water or food in their local environment, is the most frequently cited reason for premature death in Shibas.

Other common GI disorders include ulcers and diverticulitis. Shibas are overly-sensitive to parasite infections such as tapeworm, whipworm, and roundworm.

Shibas require regular health checkups for their hips and eyes, especially as they reach their senior years. Therefore, it’s a prudent strategy to insure the health of your dog. The average insurance premium is only $35 per month.

Insurance for your Shiba ensures that you aren’t left with a hefty vet bill if something goes wrong. Shibas don’t get along with other dogs. If your Shiba escapes your sight at the local park and meets another dog, they’re likely to get into a fight.

Being that they have a strong, independent nature, they won’t back down to a challenge. His means they have a high risk of injury. Insuring your Shiba could save you thousands on vet bills, and their life.

Leashes and Collars for your Shiba Inu

Shibas are escape artists prone to running away, especially during their formative years. They are an active breed that requires regular exercise. Therefore, you’ll need a collar with an identification tag for your dog in case they escape your property. It’s a good idea to chip your dog at the vet as well.

Shibas will scratch at their collar when they’re young, so you’ll need a durable, nylon collar  such as nylon collar for small dogs with a secure fastening system. Never use a shock collar for your Shiba. If your Shiba cry’s frequently, a shock collar may be a tempting option. However, this is animal cruelty.

Avoid choke-chains. A choke chain may damage their throat, vocal cords, and esophagus when they tug at the leash like pull dog lead rope for small.

This breed is muscular, so a dog harness provides control while eliminating pressure on the throat while walking. It’s typical for Shibas to get very excited for a walk. Fortunately, their small stature makes it easy to slip them into a harness.

Shibas are typically popular dogs to own in colder climates. Therefore, it’s a wise idea to get harnesses and dog collars that don’t have metal parts. Steel and alloys may freeze to their skin when they’re outdoors.

Choose a nylon or fabric leash that’s easy to grip with gloves, and won’t slip through your hands. Given that Shibas are escape artists, it’s a wise idea to invest in a GPS collar if you have the budget to do so.

Best Crates, Beds, and Doghouses for Shiba Inus

Shibas can exhibit anxiety as well as insecure, clingy behavior when they’re puppies. They require a crate for bedtime to feel safe and secure. Pad it with blankets and leave a toy for them to chew if they feel anxious.

The crate will need high walls. As a puppy, your Shiba will experience separation anxiety. So, it’s likely to try and escape to find you. These muscular dogs can jump, so high walls are a necessity.

As your Shiba enters the 4 to 6-month mark, you need to change their crate for a bed like a Warming Pet Bed . It’s common for Shibas to invade your bed in an attempt to be close to you. However, their fur will get everywhere. Once they develop this behavior, you’ll never be able to get them to sleep in their bed.

For the first two months after leaving the dog crate, keep their bed in the corner of your room. Move them into another area of the house when they adjust to the new sleeping environment. Shibas don’t like to sleep outdoors. They prefer constant human contact. If you try to make them an outdoor dog, they’re likely to cry all night long until you let them inside.

Shibas don’t chew up furniture in the same manner that some other dog breeds do. After teething, they shouldn’t tear up a fabric bed, or your couch. You’ll need to change their bed to a larger size at around the 10 to 12-month mark. Once they are a year old, they won’t grow much more. So, this bed should suffice into their adult years.

Shiba Inu Toys

Toys provide your Shiba with the stimulus they need to remain physically and mentally healthy. However, Shibas are temperamental dogs. They’re easily bored with traditional toys like balls and sticks such as dog squeaky balls. You need to purchase something that’s loud, and provides them with a “wow experience.”

As puppies, Shibas like to chew while they teethe. It’s best to buy a toy with multiple chew points that keep them interested. A toy shaped like an animal, such as a fox, is an ideal option. Shibas go mad for treat-dispensing toys. While Shibas can be picky eaters, they are slaves to treats.

A bobbing-ball dog treat dispenser is your best option. This toy has a weighted base and a treat dispenser on top. Your Shiba will knock it around and skid about as it tries to release the treat. This toy is loads of fun for your Shiba and very entertaining for you. You’ll need to buy a small bobber for your puppy and change it to a larger version as they grow into adolescence.

As your Shiba enters adolescence, they become far more active. This breed is athletic and loves to jump. A sky-bounce rubber ball is a perfect toy that lets you spend hours of fun with your dog.

These solid rubber balls are great for the dental health of your dog as well. You throw the sky-bounce into the ground and watch your Shiba leap for the rebound. Choose a medium-size ball that fits in your Shibas mouth.

Shibas are an intelligent breed. They love to play and hunt. You need to encourage their nature, and you can do so with dog-puzzles. The outward hound bee-hive is an excellent example of a puzzle toy such as dog puzzle toys that will entertain your Shiba.

This plushy contains smaller animal toys that your dog will pull from the toy. The last toy inside the beehive is squeaky. Your Shiba will extract it and bring it to you to show you their hunting skill.

Related Post: Dog Squeaky Toys

Unfortunately, Shibas are not easily amused. So, don’t be surprised if they turn their nose up in disinterest at cheap items bought at the Dollar Store. As they age, your Shiba will develop an attachment to their toy collection. It’s common for them to lose interest in new toys as they enter their senior years.

Grooming Insights for Shiba Inu owners

Shibas are double-coated dogs. They shed their coats twice a year during the spring and fall. These heavy shedding periods last a few weeks at a time. Their undercoat fur is light, and it gets everywhere. Expect to find hair all over the house, even in the fridge.

During the period when they “blow” their undercoat, its best to brush them regularly – at least every third day. After the “blow” period, send them to the groomer for a good once-over. Shibas will scream murder if you try to brush them with a steel-bristled brush. They have sensitive skin, so use a soft-bristled option.

Related Post: Dog Grooming Brush

Oral Hygiene

Keep your Shibas teeth and gums healthy using an enzymatic dog toothpaste and an electric dog toothbrush with a small head. Shibas are temperamental about brushing teeth. Some let you do it, while others will hate it with a passion.

Trimming Nails

Shibas can’t stand having their nails clipped like nail clippers for dogs. Their resistance must come from their character as hunting dogs, where they require longer nails to catch prey. It’s easy to slip and cut too far, so leave it to a professional groomer.


Accustom your Shiba to water from an early age. This strategy will reduce their resistance to bath time. Shibas commonly experience a skin disorder known as F.A.D, (Flea Allergy Dermatitis.) This condition makes them allergic to flea bites, and they will scratch the bite intensely.

It’s vital that you use a high-quality flea and tick resistant shampoo. Use a flea-collar if you live in an area with tall grass. Purchase a flea and tick spray as well. Spray your dog down before and after taking a walk in the park or woods.

Related Posts: Flea and Tick Prevention and Flea Sprays

Shibas have thick fur, so the chances are that you won’t notice ticks. Tick bites can infect your dog with biliary, a blood disease that can end their life.

Shiba Inu Accessories

What’s cuter than a Shiba in a backpack? Dog backpacks are a great way to transport your Shiba around town to the mall, the vet or groomer. With this accessory, you don’t need a leash or harness, and they’re ideal for puppies.

All right, we digress, the only thing cuter than a Shiba in a backpack, is a Shiba wearing a bandana! These trendy fashion items come in a variety of designs and colors.

Keep your Shiba warm in the winter with a dog vest or dog jersey. These items also come in a variety of novelty themes, such as a shark costume, or a postman uniform. When the summer rolls around, your Shiba may need cooling down during the hot peak sun hours. A cooling collar will help them regulate their body temperature and prevent over-heating.

Keep your Shiba warm and dry in the rain with a slicker. They prevent the wetting of their fur and undercoat. A wet undercoat can take hours to dry out completely. While Shibas are typically odor-free dogs, a damp under-coat will smell musty and irritate their skin.

A high-visibility vest for your Shiba is another must-have item for anyone that likes to camp or hunt on public land. The last thing you want is for a hunter to mistake your dog with a hare or small game.

Avoid purchasing accessories like shoes and socks that cover your Shibas feet. They’ll complain and put up a fight. If you do manage to get them on, they’ll spend the next few hours trying to take them off. Instead of shoes and socks, use a soothing balm product to protect your Shibas paws from the elements.