Shiba Inu Care

The Shiba Inu is a small-sized, agile breed with a thick coat and a calm and friendly (but often stubborn and possessive) personality. Overall Shiba Inu care and maintenance won't take too much work, but will need to include some daily exercise, along with frequent hair cleanup because of the breed's high-shedding coat.

Below you'll find plenty of details on caring for a Shiba Inu: puppy care and development, exercise needs, diet and nutrition, and other Shiba Inu tips are covered here. The sections below are your definitive Shiba Inu care guide--so read on!

Shiba Inu Breed Development

As a small-sized breed, Shiba Inu life stages from puppyhood to maturity typically span 15-17 months--and the breed's lifespan averages 14 years, so a senior Shiba Inu is one 10 years old or more.

Physical Development: For puppies, Shiba Inu growth is steady in height and length for the first 8-9 months, then the adolescent "fills out" with muscle and fat. And when do Shiba Inus stop growing? These dogs normally reach their adult height and weight (an average of 15 inches and 20 pounds) at 11-12 months of age.

Social Development: Pups reach adolescence at 5-6 months, sexual maturity at 8-9 months, and full mental maturity by about 16 months.

For further details on Shiba Inu development, see the chart below.

(NOTE: Shibas, though friendly, are known for being stubborn, possessive, and independent. To help ensure proper behavior once they're mature, new Shiba Inu owners will need to introduce training and socialization as early in puppies' lives as possible.)

Shiba Inu Exercise Needs

Though fairly energetic and agile, these dogs are relatively small--so Shiba Inu exercise requirements aren't too high. Still, these dogs are highly intelligent, so they'll need a variety of activities that both condition them physically (walking, fetch) and stimulate them mentally (games, canine sports). They make good jogging companions as well.

Adult Shibas, depending on their age and overall activity levels, will need about 45 minutes of dedicated exercise per day. You can start exercising your Shiba Inu puppy when it's three months old by taking it on short walks, then you can increase the walks' length as the pup grows.

Precautions with Shiba Inu exercise:

  • Don't exercise puppies too hard before they're nine months old
  • High prey drive means a leash is required when exercising in public; leash training during puppyhood is highly recommended
  • Yards should be securely fenced to keep the dog from running off
  • May overheat easily; don't exercise too hard in sweltering temps

It's a good idea to exercise your Shiba Inu every day. These dogs are usually good-natured and calm--but without consistent activity they can become fussy, disobedient, and destructive. Regular exercise will be great for both the dog's and your own peace of mind! Some exercise ideas:

  • Walking/Jogging: Two 15-minute walks (or 10-minute jogs) per day is a good target
  • Fetch/Frisbee: Shibas usually love chasing a ball, stick, or Frisbee
  • Hide-and-Seek: Good indoor activity; give the dog a treat when it finds you
  • Canine Sports: These dogs can excel at obedience or agility trials and other events
  • Hiking: Excellent bonding activity

When indoors, giving your Shiba access to balls or toys will allow the dog to burn excess energy. It's also good to have a regular exercise schedule for the dog, such as walks or jogs after breakfast and dinner and playtime in the afternoon.

Shiba Inu Maintenance

These dogs will need moderate to frequent maintenance overall. Shiba Inu shedding is seasonal: moderate for most of the year, and profuse during the twice-yearly shedding seasons. Drooling isn't an issue.

Shibas have medium-length, thick, double-layered coats that shed a fair amount most of the time--but when they blow their undercoats in the spring and fall, the shedding is heavy. Even so, owners will only need to brush their Shibas once or twice a week with a pin brush (and daily during shedding season) to maintain them. Does Shiba Inu shed get all over the house? It does--especially during shedding season!--so owners will need to vacuum the floors and use lint rollers on clothes and furniture pretty regularly.

A Shiba Inu rarely drools, though. If your Shiba Inu is drooling excessively, it might be a sign of a medical issue, in which case a veterinarian's care is needed.

Shiba Inu Diet

The Shiba Inu diet will need to include animal proteins, healthy carbs, vitamins, minerals, and omega fatty acids--nutrients every dog needs to maintain its health in the long term. This means the best Shiba Inu dog food is premium dry kibble, as it has balanced portions of the above-listed ingredients.

But just how much should a Shiba Inu eat? Adult Shibas, depending on their age, size, and activity levels, will only need about two cups of dry food per day, divided into two meals. Shiba Inu puppy food portions are a bit smaller: again depending on age, about 1½ cups per day, divided into three meals (not two) until six months of age.

For more info on Shiba Inu eating habits and feeding, see this Shiba Inu feeding chart:

*--Around this time, transition to adult food by mixing in adult formula with the puppy formula, in slowly increasing amounts with each meal, for one week.

Try if possible to stick to the above-listed portions. Though they're not especially prone to obesity, if these dogs are constantly overfed (and under-exercised) they certainly can become overweight--and a fat Shiba Inu will have multiple health problems and a potentially shortened lifespan. You can help control your Shiba's weight by having consistent feeding and exercise schedules, by not feeding the dog table scraps (and easy on the Shiba Inu treats!), and by not leaving food in the dog's bowl all the time.

If you're worried your Shiba Inu is overweight, try this simple test: run a hand along the dog's side, and if you can't feel any ribs, it's diet time--which means less food and more exercise!

Living Environment

For the most part, this breed is better suited to living indoors. Though Shiba Inus will need some outdoor exercise each day, they'll be happier if they can live inside with their human family members. And for the Shiba Inu, apartment living is fine--just make sure you take the dog outside each day to stretch its legs!

Another consideration for owners of a Shiba Inu: climate. For the thick-coated Shiba Inu, cold weather isn't a problem--but a Shiba Inu in hot weather may suffer from heat exhaustion, especially if the temps are sweltering. Overall, these dogs are best suited to life in milder climates.