The Shiba Inu’s plush and beautiful coat is one of the breed’s hallmark characteristics.
But it’s not all about vanity.
A Shiba Inus coat is their first defense against the heat, the cold, as well as bacteria and dirt.
While caring for Shiba Inus coat can be a chore, a daily brushing and the occasional bath should keep their coat in good condition.
However, it's never, ever, a good idea to shave your Shiba Inu, unless it is done in a veterinarian’s office during the course of a necessary medical treatment.
Shaving a Shiba Inu for stylistic purposes, to make grooming them easier, or under the mistaken notion that it will help them better cope with the head is not a good idea and can be very damaging to your Shiba Inus health.
One of the main reasons why shaving your Shiba Inu is a bad idea can be traced to the very makeup of their coats.
Shiba Inus are “double coated” dogs, which means their hair is a little more complex than that of other breeds.
WTH? This Is Definitely NOT Funny:
do not encourage this behaviour shiba or i will shave you— R (@noctira) November 7, 2017
The Differences Between Double Coated / Single Coated Dogs
While there are many different colors, styles, lengths, and textures of fur in dogs, there are two types of coats in canines: double and single.
Single coated dogs have only one later of hair on their bodies.
They tend to shed a little bit less, are easier to groom, and generally hail from warmer regions of the world or were bred to be companion animals.
Some breeds with single coats include Poodles and Shih Tzus.
Many people shave their dogs to achieve different styles or for the hot, summer months. But dogs that are commonly shaved are almost always single coated breeds.
While its important to always be careful when deciding whether or not do have a single coated breed, the consequences are generally less drastic and a shorter haircut may actually be beneficial, especially in keeping cool.
Double coated dogs are a different matter altogether. To have a double coat means to have two layers of fur, a topcoat and an undercoat.
The top coat is made up of coarser hair and the undercoat is warm and fluffy and serves as a type of insulation and protection against foreign bodies.
Many double-coated breeds shed all the time and then “blow out” their coats annually, which means a period of intense shedding, usually in the Spring.
Shiba Inu Anatomy: Why Their Coat is So Important
Shiba Inus have their plush coats for a reason, and it’s isn’t just to look pretty.
Shiba Inus were originally bred as hunting dogs in Japan, and were especially created to withstand vigorous exercise in sometimes unfavorable conditions.
Shiba Inus were commonly called upon to hunt in thick underbrush, which may contain thorns or other prickly foliage.
Their thick double coats protected them not only from the elements, but from the foreign bodies they came into contact with on a daily basis.
Even if your Shiba Inu is no longer hunting rabbits in the underbrush of Japan, they still need their coats to protect them from the cold, the heat, dust, dirt, and any debris they encounter on their daily walks.
While it seems counterintuitive, your Shiba Inus thick double coat is actually their best defense against the heat.
When a Shiba Inu pants, the internal body heat is released and creates airflow over the skin and the coat, which directs the hot air away from their body.
The thick fur also protects their delicate skin from the rays of the sun and helps to prevent sunburn.
By shaving your Shiba Inu, you are exposing them to the weather, bacteria, and opening them up to possible skin infections and irritation.
Owners who make the mistake of shaving their Shiba Inu, even with the best intentions, often find that their fur grows back sporadically and unevenly, which can lead to matted hair.
The fur grows back in this way because the undercoat, which grows slowly, can’t catch up with the faster growth of the topcoat.
When Is It Okay To Shave a Shiba Inu?
There are exceptions to every rule, and sometimes it is medically necessary to shave small portions of your Shiba Inus fur or even their entire body.
Your veterinarian will tell you if it is necessary to shave your Shiba, and will likely do it for you in the office.
Certain skin conditions are better managed when the medication can come into direct contact with the skin.
Severe parasitic infections may also require shaving, as do many surgeries.
If you need to shave your Shiba Inu for medical reasons, you should take care to brush them frequently as t heir hair is growing back to ensure that it doesn’t get matted.
Shiba Inu Coat Care
Shiba Inus are not particularly high maintenance when it comes to coat care, but they still need regular brushing and the occasional bath to smell clean and be healthy.
During their annual shedding period, brush your Shiba Inu as much as you possibly can, possibly with a de-shedding tool (which help remove the dead hair from the undercoat as well as the top coat).
However being diligent about brushing is the best way to reduce shedding, keep your Shiba Inus coat healthy and clean, and will also enable you to catch any skin irritations before they become a problem.
Getting your Shiba Inu used to being brushed from a young age will save you a lot of headache when they are adults.
A well trained Shiba Inu should be a pleasure to groom, and a weekly brushing session need not take more than 5 or 10 minutes.
By caring for your Shiba Inus coat properly from the get-go you can drastically reduce their risk of disease and skin irritations, which will lessen the chance that they will need to be shaved by the veterinarian because of a medical issue.
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