Whether your dog is a purebred Shiba Inu, or a Shiba Inu mix, learning about their breed can explain a lot about your pet’s personality, habits and overall health.
These fox look-alikes are known for having big personalities and being devoted to their people, but they have some personality quirks that make them unique. Here’s why Shiba Inus are an excellent fit for experienced pet parents.
Shiba Inus, at their full maturity, can be between 14 to 15 inches tall, Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian, says. They can also be between 17 to 23 pounds.
You may be most familiar with tan-colored Shiba Inus, but did you know that their fur also grows in shades of black, cream, red and red sesame, too?
Unfortunately, Shiba Inus are known for being prolific shedders, and they have super thick fur. “Shiba Inus are double coated. The outer coat is short and stiff while the undercoat is soft,” Dr. McCullough explains.
They’re also not a hypoallergenic dog breed, she says. If you struggle with dog allergies, you’ll want to speak to your doctor before snuggling up with a Shiba Inu.
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Shiba Inus are known to be bold and assertive, which means they’re not always warm and fuzzy toward everyone they meet. “Shiba Inus tend to be devoted companions to their pet parents but are often wary of strangers,” Dr. McCullough explains.
Like other breeds, you’ll want to slowly make introductions between Shiba Inus and other dogs. “Every dog is different and has their own personality,” she adds. “Some Shiba Inus can be dominant with other dogs and may not get along with other dogs with similar personalities.”
And these pups would benefit from a certain type of lifestyle. “Shiba Inus are best suited for experienced pet parents,” Dr. McCullough says. “They are not generally an ideal breed for a first-time dog parent. They also may not be the best choice for families with young children. But every dog is different, and a well-trained and socialized Shiba Inu may get along well with children that understand how to properly handle and respect dogs.”
If you have, or are planning to adopt a Shiba Inu it’s smart to know about the breed’s common health issues. This way, you can come prepared for your dog’s first vet visit and talk to your veterinarian about ways to prevent the conditions from happening. Here are the most common health issues Shiba Inus are diagnosed with, according to Dr. McCullough:
If you think your Shiba Inu is experiencing hip dysplasia, which is when one or both of a dog’s hip joints become loose, look for limping, a swaying gait, weakening of their rear leg muscles, difficulty laying down or getting up and a reluctance to use the stairs or jump, Dr. McCullough explains.
“Treatment for hip dysplasia depends on the severity of the condition and can include pain medications, joint supplements, steroids, holistic and alternative therapies like acupuncture, physical therapy, laser therapy and in some cases, surgery,” she adds.
This condition happens when a dog’s knee cap moves out of its normal location, Dr. McCullough says. The giveaway sign of patellar luxation is intermittent limping (it usually appears suddenly and looks like skipping) — in more severe cases, the limping can become chronic.
Your veterinarian will likely recommend physical therapy, rest, anti-inflammatory medications, joint supplements or surgery for dogs with chronic limping.
Skin allergies are the most common type of allergies that dogs experience, and unfortunately, Shiba Inus aren’t exempt from being susceptible to them. This condition is usually triggered by exposure to allergens like pollen or dust, and you can usually spot them as your pup will likely chew, lick or rub the affected area. This type of allergy may bring on hair loss, hives and skin and ear infections, Dr. McCullough adds.
You can treat skin allergies through veterinarian-recommended allergy medications, prescription diets, topical shampoos, conditioners, sprays, mousses and skin supplements, she says.
Are you interested in adopting a Shiba Inu, Shiba Inu mix or any pet at all? We think every pet deserves a home and encourage you to check out our shelter partners.
The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.
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Photos by Oleksandr Horbach, Ameya Sawant and Gabriel Yuji on Unsplash