Health and Care
The Shiba Inu should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior).Some Shibas are picky, and others will eat anything in sight. Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level; you should be able to feel the dog’s ribs and backbone, but not see them.
Shibas shed — a lot. It has been said that they shed twice a year, but some owners quip that it lasts for six months at a time. Unless a Shiba is a “long coat,” the coat does not mat, so infrequent brushing doesn’t hurt the dog, but brushing or combing during periods of heavy shedding will reduce the amount of hair around the house. Shibas often object to nail trimming. Start a puppy early, but if it becomes a major struggle, let a professional do it.
Most Shibas are fairly energetic and love to go for walks. They are not so hyper that they will climb the walls if they don’t get daily exercise, but a Shiba owner should be dedicated to exercising the dog, especially if the dog doesn’t have an adequate yard in which to exercise himself. In general, Shibas are not massively destructive if left alone once they reach maturity, but some can suffer separation anxiety and should be able to spend periods of time crated even when the owners are home and at night. Crating guarantees a home will remain intact.
The one thing every Shiba owner must know is that a Shiba can never, ever be considered reliable off lead unless in a confined area. No amount of obedience training will ever change that. On the positive side, a Shiba is practically born housebroken. By 4 weeks of age the puppy is trying to get as far away from his sleeping area as possible to eliminate. By 5 weeks the puppy will hold it all night and wait until taken outside to go. Controlling the bladder takes a little longer and depends a lot on immediate access to outdoors and diligence of the owner.