What Is A Mame Shiba Inu?

A Mame Shiba Inu is a Shiba Inu dog that has been intentionally bred to be smaller. 

But why? 

Breeders who intentionally breed dogs that are  "off standard" generally do so simply for profit. 

They know that miniaturizing a dog breed can be quite profitable because small dogs are often seen as cute and "hard to resist".

To reputable Shiba Inu breeders, breeding Mame or Miniature Shiba Inus is highly frowned upon.

Breeding a Shiba Inu to be smaller does nothing for the betterment of the breed.

mini mame shiba inu at mameshiba cafe

If dog owners want a smaller sized dog, wouldn't it be more ethical to simply choose a smaller breed of dog instead of messing with the precious genetics from a breed that many worked so hard to save?

Mame Shiba Inus will never be recognized by Shiba Inu breed clubs or Shiba Inu associations.

This fact means that those who breed Mame Shiba Inus often don't care about health or temperament considerations. 

This makes the Mame Shiba Inu a popular target for backyard breeders and puppy mills.

This results in Shiba Inu puppies that often suffer from health issues - both physically and mentally.

What Does Mame Shiba Inu Mean?

In Japanese, mame translates to beans. So Mame Shiba Inus are "bean-sized" dogs. Instead of Mame, some use the term mini or miniature Shiba Inus. 

mame shiba inu size comparison

- via Taro The Shiba

How Big Are Mame Shiba Inus?

Mame Shiba Inus are typically bred to be about 35 - 50% smaller than standard Shiba Inu sizes. 

Therefore a full grown male Mame Shiba Inu will weigh roughly 10 - 14 pounds and be about 11" tall in height.

Female Mame Shiba Inus will be a little smaller.

Where Did Mame Shibas Come From?

The general consensus is that breeding of Mame Shiba Inu started in Japan.

For many years, smaller, "western-type" dogs have been highly coveted in Japan - likely due to smaller living areas in the city.

Dogs such as Chihuahua's and Toy Poodles became hot sellers in the puppy market.

This opened up the market for backyard and money hungry dog breeders to begin breeding Shiba Inus to be smaller to accommodate the growing demand.

But How Do You Produce a Smaller Shiba?

Reputable dog breeders breed for certain desired traits and it usually takes many generations to get the results desired.

They'll use tools such as genetic testing along with their years of expertise to produce healthy, quality show dogs.

However this is rarely the case in the puppy mill world.

Unscrupulous breeders will use any breeding method available to produce the fastest results.

MINI mame small shiba inu

There have even been reports of breeders purposely starving puppies to decrease size in adulthood. 

Some have even mixed Shiba Inus with smaller toy breeds to decrease size. 

Dog preservation societies in Japan refuse to recognize Mame Shiba Inus as a separate breed.

The NIPPO dog organization will not knowingly allow Mame Shiba Inus to be registered as Shiba Inus.

gorgeous red shiba inu

Regular-sized Shiba Inu - No need to mess with perfection

The Sad Popularity of Pet Stores and Mameshiba Cafes in Japan

Unfortunately, no country can escape the effects of insatiable consumerism and the accompanying capitalism. 

Japan is full of pet stores that resemble cute, mini dog prisons where anyone with enough cash can bring home a puppy of their choosing. 

No experience, interview, home check necessary.

sad puppy at the pet store

Shiba Inu puppy at a pet "store" in Japan

Just like in the states, "pet store" puppies often come from puppy mills and backyard breeders and our of questionable quality and health.

Many times, these puppies must suffer imprisonment for months on end before hopefully getting discounted and cleared out - akin to being nothing more than slow moving inventory.

Animals are not inventory.

And if we had our way, pet stores selling any animals that would not be comfortable and content in their quarters provided - would be outlawed.

Mameshiba cafes, similar to cat cafes allow paying customers to relax and have a coffee with Mame Shibas are popular with the tourists and locals alike.

Although the Shibas are quite comfortable and don't endure imprisonment like pet shop Shibas do - the question is why are the popularizing Mameshibas when their national dog is an actual "real-sized" Shiba Inu?

mameshiba cafe in japan

Just follow the money... Editorial credit: Arthur Matsuo / Shutterstock.com

Of course it's because those not familiar with the Shiba Inu will find these smaller versions a bit more "kawaii" / cute than their true sized counterparts - while the cafe owners likely appreciate the fact that smaller dogs are easier and cheaper to take care of.

So just because Japan has Mameshiba cafes scattered all around the country - that doesn't mean Mameshibas are accepted and appreciated by those that know better.

Popularizing an inferior version of a breed undoubtedly detracts from letting the public understand, appreciate, and protect the true version of a noble breed that deserves our due respect due to it's unmatched, dignified beauty. 

Something that shouldn't be messed with. 

Should I Get A Mame Shiba Inu?

We here at My First Shiba Inu do not advocate purchasing Mame Shiba Inus.

Instead, we recommend either rescuing a Shiba Inu or purchasing a Shiba Inu that has been bred by a reputable breeder that does stringent health and temperament testing.

This breeder should also be involved in showing their dogs at shows - a good sign that the breeder is reputable.

7 steps to find perfect shiba inu puppy

Shiba Inu are already beautiful dogs with a great history and lineage. It would be utterly disrespectful to "shrink" this breed simply to appease our own vanity and convenience.

If you want a smaller sized, fox-like dog, perhaps look into getting a Klee Kai instead.

beautiful red shiba inu


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