One of Japan’s six native breeds, the Shiba Inu is a smaller version of the Akita breed and was originally bred as a hunting dog for birds and small game. A popular choice among experienced owners, the Shiba’s are a spirited and good-natured choice who are is extremely loyal and alert.
Over the last decade, the Shiba has been most recognisable as the original and viral “doge” meme — an image to show both that of support, confusion and cuteness — and its reach has been expansive, popping up in GIFs, auto-text reactions and more. In recent years, the cryptocurrency ‘Dogecoin’ became popular and is considered to be the first “meme coin”. Despite its satirical nature, it’s actually considered to be a legitimate investment and is currently the shirt sponsor of Watford Football Club.
Find out everything there is to know about this breed in our in-depth guide.
How much does Shiba Inu insurance cost?
How much is a Shiba Inu?
If you’re set on wanting a Shiba Inu, then be prepared to wait. Because they produce a small litter, there’s usually a long waiting list for these dogs. As a result, a Shiba puppy can range from around £1,500-£3,000 in the UK.
How much is a Shiba Inu to insure?
In 2022, the average cost to insure a Shiba Inus with ManyPets was £605.55. Our average dog insurance cost for all our breeds was £412.25, so Shiba cost considerably more to insure than the average. Shiba Inus are a very rare breed and in 2022 we only insured 70 of them.
Shiba Inu training
Are Shiba Inus hard to train?
Essentially, Shibas will only respond to activities that make sense to them due to their stubbornness. Although they’re strong-willed, Shiba’s may defend themselves if they feel threatened, but like most dogs, this is something that can be trained out of them.
Breed bad habits
Although Shiba Inu’s are extremely loyal and make great watchdogs, they can also be quite possessive over their toys, food and territory and will often try to protect themselves when they perceive someone or a situation as threatening. This guarded behaviour is one of the most common issues that Shiba owners face.
Unless provoked, Shiba Inu’s are a relatively quiet breed, however, they can experience something known as the ‘Shiba-Scream’. This loud scream is a form of communication and they’ll usually only do this when they’re experiencing fear, anxiety or just general displeasure.
Shiba Inu gender differences
Female Shiba Inus are generally more aloof and cautious compared to their male counterparts. They’re also a lot cleaner and easier to keep clean as females are more likely to go out of their way to avoid muddy surfaces and wet puddles.
Females tend to be a bit more food-driven and are quite the intellectuals, so can be trained to do amazing things using the right methods.
Female size information
Height: 34-39 cm
Weight: 6.8-9.1 kg
Length: 58-71 cm
Playful and bright, male Shiba Inus are friendlier to other dogs and humans compared to females. A male Shiba's testosterone levels can play a role in how active and lively they are, with male puppies usually being more open to different training methods. However, these extra activity levels can also translate to more possible destruction in the house if they aren’t stimulated enough.
Male Shibas must be properly socialised within their formative years as they can have serious aggression and territory issues later on.
Male size information
Height: 37-42 cm
Weight: 8.2-10.9 kg
Length: 58-71 cm
Shiba Inu breed health
As a breed, the Shiba is a relatively healthy dog, however, there are certain genetic issues that can be a problem as they grow older. Allergies can also be an issue with the breed, particularly inhalant allergies which can cause constant itching.
A healthy Shiba Inu can be expected to live 13-16 years.
Common health problems
Overall, the Shiba is a healthy dog, but their genetic problems can make themselves known once they’re older. Some of their most common health problems are:
Atopy — Atopy is where a dog's immune system is overactive to environmental allergens. These can be anything from dust, moulds or pollen and while the condition can’t necessarily be prevented, Shibas can be prescribed certain medications to help deal with the symptoms. Frequent baths can also aid in reducing the triggering allergens.
Hip dysplasia — If your Shiba is struggling to put weight on either one or both of their hind legs, it’s possible that they could be struggling with something known as hip dysplasia. This common skeletal condition occurs when a dog’s hip joints don’t align properly with the socket and it can be extremely painful and difficult to get around. This condition can be corrected with surgery or managed by giving your Shiba joint supplements and pain medication.
Cataracts — Shibas are susceptible to developing cataracts, a condition where the eye develops a cloudy film that blocks the lens. The condition can either be inherited or a result of diabetes and, when left untreated, can cause blindness in dogs. Depending on their severity, some cataracts can be removed via surgery. Shiba’s are also susceptible to other eye issues like glaucoma.
Hypothyroidism — This condition is where a dog’s thyroid gland is underproductive which causes issues like fatigue, changes in their appetite or thirst and even fur loss. It’s usually diagnosed through blood testing and, unfortunately, can’t be cured, but can be treated. To stay balanced, Shibas will have to take a regular replacement hormone.
Patellar luxation — A genetic disorder, patellar luxation is where the surface of the femur on which the kneecap rides along is too shallow, so it slides in and out of place causing lameness and pain. This can make it difficult for them to walk and put weight on the affected leg(s). Depending on the severity, this can be corrected through surgery.
Epilepsy and seizures — Shibas are predisposed to epilepsy, with it often being an inherited trait. Epilepsy in dogs can cause seizures which can range from mild to severe, with most signs of oncoming seizures including muscle twitching, stiffening, or loss of consciousness.
“Shiba Inu’s are a healthy breed who love to do things their own way,” says Dr. Kirsten Ronngren, DVM MRCVS.
“If they’re forced into things like nail cutting, ear cleaning or handling from the vet, then it’s possible they’ll consider making a scene.
“Obesity is also a big risk for Shibas, so it’s important to make sure they’re leading an active lifestyle and being taken for regular exercise daily."
Shiba Inu colours and variants
Colours available: Cream, Red, Red Sesame, Black & Tan
Markings: White markings
Breed variants: Before World War II, there were three different variants of the Shiba; San In Shiba, Mino Shiba and the Shinsho Shiba. Due to bombing, food shortages and a post-war distemper pandemic, the Shiba was almost wiped out entirely.
Caring for Shiba Inus
Shibas are good-natured and an inquisitive breed who will love being involved with their owner(s). They are sometimes known to have an independent and stubborn personality which can be challenging for more inexperienced dog owners. However, patience, kindness and positive reinforcement will be the best approach when training and caring for Shibas.
As a breed, Shibas are fairly energetic and aren’t super-hyper if they don’t get all of the daily exercises that they need. Typically, Shibas will need around an hour of walking per day. Despite being small, they can reach speeds of up to 25 mph when sprinting, so be careful when letting them off the leash.
The right amount of food to feed your Shiba will depend on your furry friend, but it’s important that they get a balanced diet. They should eat a wide range of foods including meats, vegetables, fruits, and grains but it’s best to consult with your vet to make sure that they’re on the right diet for them and not over or under-eating.
When your Shiba is a puppy, it’s crucial that you choose the appropriate food for them. If you’re unsure, speak to your vet about what type of diet they should be on as they grow and the type of foods they can and can’t eat as it can sometimes be difficult for owners to create a balanced diet of their own.
Shibu Inu puppies need about 18 to 20 hours of sleep per day for proper mental and physical development. Adult Shibas spend roughly around 75% of their day either sleeping or lounging around — so this is around 10 to 12 hours per day.
“Keeping your Shiba healthy is vital for their development,” recommends Dr. Kirsten Ronngren, DVM MRCVS.
“A combination of the right food, exercise and sleep will make for a happy dog — and a happy owner, too!”
Shiba Inu temperament
Loyal, alert and lively, Shibas tend to form extremely close relationships with their owners — although they’re not the best for first-time owners or families who have young children. For more experienced dog owners, Shibas are a great and loyal companion to have by your side.
Are Shiba Inus good with children?
Although Shibas are a loyal dog, they can become easily provoked by children. A Shiba might not be the best fit for families with babies, small children or toddlers as they can lack the patience that’s needed when dealing with them.
For families with older children or teenagers, older Shibas could be a good fit, so long as the children have been taught how to properly behave around a dog.
How affectionate are Shiba Inus?
While Shibas typically aren’t particularly friendly with strangers, they show their affection to owners in their own ways, though typically more subtle than other breeds.
Shiba’s will be happy to see you when you return home, but they’ll usually signal to you once they’ve ‘had enough’ of your presence. Again, Shibas won’t be as good in homes with small children as those with just adults: they like having their own space and are much more content when they can get alone time at will.
How territorial are Shiba Inus?
Although Shiba’s may not be affectionate with their owners, they can be territorial over them. They can be a protective breed and are naturally extremely possessive over their food, toys, territory and owners – given they take a large range of their traits from wild dogs.
How friendly are they with other dogs?
As with most dogs, it’s best to keep a Shiba on a lead when they’re being taken for a walk. Shibas are dominant with other dogs, and don’t usually get on well with dogs of the opposite sex. However, Shibas will get along just fine with dogs who agree that they’re the boss.
How much do Shiba Inus tolerate other pets?
Shiba’s don’t do as well in multi-pet households due to their dominant side. However, they can be trained to get on well with cats as long as they’re introduced properly and from an early age.
How much attention do Shiba Inus need?
Shibas are extremely independent dogs who don’t require constant attention. They can be left alone for longer periods of time, though most dogs should not be left for more than 6 - 8 hours at a time.
Shiba Inu coat and grooming
The Shiba is a relatively clean dog with a double coat and is known to shed heavily twice a year. A single shed can last for a period of weeks but is completely manageable with the right tools and equipment.
Coat type: Short coat
How often to groom: When your Shiba isn’t shedding, they should normally be groomed or brushed at least twice a month. When the spring and autumn shedding season comes around, a weekly or twice-weekly groom will be best.
Hypoallergenic or not?: No, Shibas are not hypoallergenic due to their two-layer coat. Although all dogs produce dander, the Shiba's thick coat means they shed a lot, allowing the dander to escape through the home and furniture.
Shiba Inu bark sound
Shibas are relatively quiet dogs and only tend to bark when it’s necessary or when they’re in a happy, playful mood.
The bark of a Shiba Inu is sharp and clear, with a more abrupt alert rather than the bark of a smaller dog. Shibas will only usually bark when spurred by unfamiliar movement such as a stranger coming up the path. The Shiba Inu can be quite the vocal artist as they’re known to ‘yodel’ or ‘scream’ when they want attention or become excited.
Frequently asked questions about Shiba Inus
Can Shibas be cuddly?
Shibas are extremely independent dogs. If you’re looking for a dog that’ll need plenty of affection and loves to cuddle, then a Shiba is likely not your best bet.
Are Shibas high-maintenance dogs?
Shiba Inus shed heavily, but they do require minimal care. All you need to do is brush their coat weekly!
Are Shiba Inu’s good family dogs?
Whilst they’re loyal, Shibas do have an inpatient side and they may quickly become irritated and provoked by children. Because of this, this means they may not be the best family dog. However, they’re great for experienced owners.