Shiba Inu Grooming 101
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The Royal, Regal, and Rebellious Shiba Inu
The magnificent Shiba Inu.
What a looker!
We as responsible Shiba Inu owners must ensure that our Shiba Inus stay gorgeous by keeping them healthy and well-groomed.
For some, ‘grooming’ is Shiba Inu is akin to a four-letter word.
For the lucky few, grooming their Shiba Inu is a wonderful experience.
A time to bond. A time to unwind…
Yes, it’s possible. You just need the proper mindset a couple of tools and some guidelines – which you’ll find here.
SHIBA INU [ NUTRITION 101 ]
It All Starts With What Your Shiba EATS
Just as with humans, your Shiba Inus health revolves around their diet.
A balanced diet full of “alive” and rich nutrients will ensure that your Shiba Inu’s coat is looking its best.
Are you feeding your Shiba Inu the best diet you can?
Or, do you just pour a cup or two of dry, dehydrated, (effectively “dead”) ‘kibble’ in a bowl and call it done?
What's The Best Way To Feed Your Shiba Inu?
Fresh is always the best.
Shiba Inus are omnivorous mammals – just as humans are.
So the same logic that states fresh, unprocessed whole foods is better than dehydrated, rendered, and processed foods applies to our four-legged family members as well.
Fresh is also the most expensive and time consuming.
The key to answering this “what should I feed my Shiba” question is finding a balance between what you can afford (budget / time) and quality.
And the best thing you can do to answer this questions is to do thorough research.
If you simply rely on what commercial dog food manufacturers advertise to you – you unfortunately, already lost.
#1 – Balanced Homemade Raw / Lightly Cooked Combo
#2 – Freeze-Dried Dog Food
#3 – ‘Ultra’ Premium Kibble Dog Food ‘WITH’ Fresh Food Supplementation
Our recommended ‘ultra’ premium dry kibble brands:
#4 – ‘Ultra’ Premium Wet Dog Food (Human – Grade Ingredients)
#4 (TIE) – Average Quality Dog Kibble ‘WITH MORE’ Fresh Food Supplementation
Essential Eats For Your Shiba Inu
Rich in essential amino acids and low in calories. Lean beef supports dog’s immune function, hair growth, and provides energy.
Packed with essential omega 3 oils, wild fish like mackerel, salmon, and sardines are excellent for your dog’s cardio- vascular system, coat, and vision.
High in fiber, selenium, and manganese. Brown rice is also rich in antioxidants and helps stabilize blood sugar levels.
High in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and B-vitamins. Sweet potatoes are much healthier than regular potatoes.
Chock full of diverse vitamins,
cantaloupe is an excellent fruit choice for dogs. Contain beta carotene, alpha carotene, and zeaxanthin.
Rich in vitamin C, beta-carotene and enzymes. Papaya is excellent for digestive health, reducing heart disease and inflammation.
Great source of phytonutrients, antioxidants, and vitamin K. Helps support your dog’s bone health. Helps combat damage from oxidative stress.
Great detoxifying and cholesterol reducing
vegetable. Good source of vitamin A, D, and K.
Contains unique phytonutrients that provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Low fat and also contains omega 3 fatty acids.
SHIBA INU [ BATHING 101 ]
Scrub a dub dub, there’s a Shiba In the tub. Yay! Regular bathing is a good thing and NOT HARMFUL, like some people proclaim.
How Often Should I Bathe My Shiba Inu?
Bathing is a good thing.
No really, it is.
Bathing your Shiba Inu semi-regularly is important to keep their coat in top shape.
- Cleans coat of debris and excess oils that can clog skin pores
- Stimulates and promotes circulation of your dog’s skin
- Helps promote shedding of dead coat
- Removes mats and prepares coat for brushing
- Helps with allergy symptoms
- Kills germs, bacteria, fleas, parasites, microbes
- Nourishes your dog’s coat
- Removes ‘doggy odor’
- Improves sanitation for both dog and human family
Is It True That Bathing Too Often Is BAD?
No, it’s not true.
Unfortunately MANY dog owners till this day still believe in this widely circulated MYTH.
The origins of this myth was initially true.
A long time ago, “dog soap” was made from harsh, industrial strength chemicals such as lye.
That’s seriously strong stuff that of course would be bad to use on a dog’s coat.
Luckily, we are now, along with our dogs, enjoying the luxuries of modern times.
The gentle and organic shampoos and conditioners available to our pets clean as well as improve the condition of our dog’s coat and skin.
[ Step 2 – Bathing ]
- Wet your dog carefully with lukewarm water
- Apply either diluted or straight shampoo onto your dog’s fur concentrating on the stomach, legs, and private areas.
- Thoroughly brush in the shampoo with a bath brush
- If your pup’s paws are muddy use a cloth or paper towels to clean away the dirt
- Condition your dog’s coat if necessary / desired
- Express anal glands if necessary (no more than once or twice a month)
[ Step 3 – Drying ]
After a successful bath, praise your Shiba and encourage him or her to shake. Along with sit, stay, and down, ‘shake’ is a handy command to teach your Shiba.
- Towel dry with enthusiasm and praise
- If necessary, and your dog allows – blow dry on low / medium heat
- [ Optional ] Apply coat finishing product for extra conditioning and shine
SHIBA INU [ BRUSHING 101 ]
Brushing your Shiba Inu – even one that is ‘blowing coat’ – is not as hard you may think it is.
How Often Should I Brush My Shiba Inu's Hair?
Shiba Inus have gorgeous double coats that don’t require excessive maintenance.
A Shiba Inu’s coat rarely mats like most long-haired breeds.
During non-shedding times, a brushing session every two weeks or so is sufficient.
When your Shiba Inu is blowing coat (usually during the spring and fall), brushing should be done more often.
Brushing is also an ideal time to check your Shiba Inu’s body for skin issues, mysterious lumps, and overall body size (obesity in Shiba Inus is a serious issue linked to many health problems.)
How To Manage 'Blowing Coat'
Twice a year, usually in the spring and fall, Shiba Inus will lose (blow) their dead undercoat.
During this time, Shiba Inu shedding goes into maximum overdrive.
Fortunately, this intense shedding period only lasts a few weeks and can be easily managed with the right tools.
– Brush More Often –
Once you notice signs that your Shiba’s coat is shedding, make a mental note to remember to do frequent and thorough brushing sessions for the next few weeks.
– Use The Right Tools –
Make sure you have the proper tools to manage your Shiba Inus type of coat.
Most Shiba Inus have a short, dense outer coat but some Shiba Inus have longer, softer coats that require different types of brushes.
Slicker brushes are known as the ‘all-around’ default brush that will work well for most hair types.
Deshedding brushes, rakes, and shedding blades are not suitable for all coat types and need to be used with care and skill.
– Fur Fur Fur
If you have an indoor Shiba Inu(s) like most of us do – blowing coat time is a fluffy time when are interiors get a new ‘plush’ look.
To control the barrage of furr balls, make sure you arm yourself with a quality vacuum suited for the job.
If you don’t have wall-to-wall carpeting (which you really shouldn’t with dogs in the house) – then canister vacuums are the best choice for the job.
– Fur Magnets?
If your furniture seems to be a magnet for collecting and trapping fur – considering using couch covers during times of heavy shedding.
Lint rollers are also useful to have to get fur off your daily attire.
[ Brushing Supplies ]
Slicker brushes work great for most hair types
Pin brushes are good for longer-haired Shiba Inus
Bristle brushes work well for short-haired Shiba Inus. The bristles help to make the coat shinier by distributing natural oils
Deshedding tools like the Furminator are very useful tools to help brush out dead undercoat. These tools must be used properly with care
Rubber "Bath" Brush
Rubber bath brushes like the Kong Zoom Groom are useful to using during baths. They help promote sudsing and the distribution of shampoo
Comb (For Face)
Combs are perfect to use for facial hair.
Rakes are used for longer haired dogs to remove tangles and undercoat. Care and proper technique must be practiced when using these type of tools
Curved rakes offer more detangling abilities over straight rakes. Care and proper technique must be practiced when using these type of tools
Shedding blades are effective for removing undercoat but proper technique and care must be followed
[ Brushing Procedure ]
The best time for brushing is after a bath and when the coat is completely dry
- Ensure you are using the right type of brush for your Shiba’s coat
- It’s best be to in a positive mood whenever you engage in any grooming activities with your dogs
- Find a well lit and comfortable area for both you and your Shiba Inu – depending on your situation – a grooming table may be a good investment
- Make sure your brushes / combs are clean
- When brushing your Shiba Inu, don’t forget their chest hair, belly hair, and butt hair
- Be careful not pull to roughly on the dog’s coat as well as brush too hardly on the dog’s skin
- If your Shiba Inu is shedding, concentrate on the parts that are shedding and try to get out as much undercoat as possible
SHIBA INU [ NAILS AND PAWS 101 ]
Nail trimming time is for both Shiba Inus and their owners can often be a frightful and nerve wracking experience.
But because keeping your Shiba’s nails trimmed is important for their health – it must be done some way or another.
Why Nail Trimming Is [SO] Important
Keeping your Shiba Inu’s nails trimmed is not only for aesthetics – it’s important for overall health as well.
Long nails can push back into the dog’s nail beds and cause pressure and pain that can eventually lead to a splayed walk and gait issues.
In the long term, the consequences of walking out of natural alignment can include pain, injury, and difficulty walking.
Neglecting to trim your Shiba’s nails will also cause the ‘quick’ to lengthen – making future trimming even more difficult.
How Often Should I Clip My Shiba Inus Nails?
Ideally, if your Shiba Inus nails are currently at a good length – then twice a month clippings should suffice.
If you have a Shiba Inu with long nails you need to trim (conservatively) their nails more frequently to get their quick to shorten and retract – every 5 days or so.
If your Shiba Inu allows – use a nail grinder for this task – it’ll help the quick to recede faster.
The Uncooperative Shiba Inu
If you have a Shiba Inu that refuses your nail trimming efforts – or worse becomes aggressive – both you and your Shiba need additional training to overcoming this obstacle.
Reasons For Shiba Inus Difficult Behavior
The number one reason for your Shiba’s difficult behavior is lack of socialization and conditioning during puppy hood.
And specifically – during the critical puppy development phase (8-14 weeks)
Because Shibas are a basal and more “primitive” breed, extra work must go into socializing and acclimating your Shiba to all things (people, other dogs, noises, grooming, etc)
Unfortunately, many new and or inexperienced Shiba Inu owners just don’t put enough effort and time into this critical training period.
Once this period passes, the difficulty level for training the pup can go from a level 4 to a level 9 quite rapidly.
Shiba Inus with extreme fear and reactivity to grooming must be dealt with patience, empathy and calm.
Nothing positive will happen if you lose your temper and patience.
Dealing with a Shiba Inu that bites is the worse.
You’ll be fearful and your Shiba Inu will easily sense that. This can lead to a vicious cycle that never positively progresses.
At this point, many Shiba Inu owners simply give up trying to handle their Shiba Inus during grooming.
Don’t give up.
There are options and resources that can help you and your Shiba.
[ Tools For Nail Clipping ]
Gulliotone Style Cutter
Gulliotone cutters are good all around nail cutters suitable for most sizes and length
Pliers Style Cutter
Pliers style cutters are good for thicker nails
Scissors style cutters are easy to control and great for precision cuts
Angled Plier Cutter
Angled for better positioning
[ Tools For Nail Sanding]
Emery / Metal File
Emory or metal files are perfect for sanding and smoothing your dog’s nails after cutting and in between cuts
Rotary Grinder Tool
Rotary grinders are the ultimate tool for grinding and sanding your dog’s nails quickly and efficiently
[ Nail & Paw Care Supplies ]
Styptic powder is essential for stopping bleeding when the quick is accidentally cut
~ Can use corn starch as a substitute
Ointment / Balms
Paw protecting ointments like Musher’s Secret is great for protecting your Shiba Inu’s paws from cold snow, ice, snow salts, and pavement.
Balms are also great for lubricating and moisturizing dry and cracked paws
Dog Shoes / Booties / Socks
Dog shoes are the ultimate paw protectors. Getting them to stay on and training your dog to walk in them is another story!
Certain Shiba Inus, no matter with how much training, still need to wear a muzzle to protect from bites.
It’s important to find a comfortable and properly fitted muzzle to ensure safety and comfort – for both you and your Shiba.
[ Basic Nail Trimming Procedure ]
- Choose a time when your Shiba is more likely to be calm (ideally after a long walk)
- Make sure you are also calm and in good spirits – never attempt any type of grooming in a negative mood.
- Place your Shiba in a comfortable position that gives you easy access to their nails
- Using the clipper of your choice (must be sharp!), begin clipping the nails – don’t clip too much as once (refer to nail chart for proper cutting angle)
- Don’t forget to trim the dew claws if present
- Be careful with the back paws – back nails are naturally shorter so less trimming is needed
[ Basic Nail Sanding Procedure ]
Sanding your Shiba Inu’s nails after clipping is great for removing sharp edges. The additional sanding will also help getting the quick to recede “quicker”.
- Use either a manual or powered nail grinder (or a combo of both) to carefully sand down each nail
- Use a powered grinder ONLY if your dog has been acclimated to it (for many, this is much easier said than done)
- Make sure to sand the tops of your dog’s nails too
- Monitor your dog’s nail while sanding – you can get to their quick while sanding and cause pain
- If you ‘quick’ your dog’s nail, use either styptic powder or cornstarch to stop the bleeding
- Make a mental note of how long your dog’s nail was when reaching the quick so you can be more careful next time
Paw Pad Care:
Caring for your dog’s paws is an often overlooked grooming task.
But put yourself in your dog’s shoes (paws) for a moment and you will quickly realize that neglected paws can result in pain and suffering.
Your Shiba Inu’s paws are basically their four bare “feet” that must traverse on hot pavements, icy snow, rocks, sharp objects and whatever icky goop commonly found on the ground.
Paw pad injury is common with the most injuries caused by hot pavements like asphalt so never walk your dog on hot pavements without dog shoes.
Shoes or dog booties can also protect from ice and ice salts commonly found on the road. Dog balms such as Musher’s Secret can also be used for protection against snow.
Wearable Paw Protection:
Topical Paw Protection
SHIBA INU [ DENTAL CARE 101 ]
Oral disease in dogs in silent, serious, and preventable.
Periodontal disease in dogs causes pain, tooth loss, and can be a contributing factor in other serious diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
Simple Health Tip: Brush your Shiba Inu’s teeth!
Brushing is Best. Period
Did you know that dogs are five times more likely to suffer from gum disease than humans?
First off, a dog’s mouth is more alkaline versus acidic – a more favorable environment for bacteria that causes plaque.
Secondly, dog owners simply don’t brush their dogs teeth like they should.
They may just give “dental” treats loaded with unknown empty calories of questionable quality.
Or they may even believe the myth that kibble actually “brushes” a dog’s teeth. (it doesn’t).
Brushing your dog’s teeth everyday is the best method in preventing dental disease.
You’d be doing your part in ensuring that your dog has the best chance for long term health and quality of life.
Yes, it takes time, commitment and patience.
But our dogs deserve it.
So instead of wasting a few minutes of your day checking on updates on your phone you already checked a little while ago – brush your dog’s teeth.
We can’t 100% prevent other diseases such as cancer but why not do our part in preventing a disease that we do know we can prevent?
Check Dog's Teeth and Gums for:
Oral Care Shopping Checklist
[ Basic Teeth Brushing Procedure ]
The one and only way you can make brushing your Shiba Inu’s teeth easier (versus harder) is to start during puppy hood.
If you haven’t done that, then using a combination of patience, positive reinforcement, and conditioning are the best methods to ensure teeth brushing success.
- Use either a child-sized toothbrush or a toothbrush with a small head that will accommodate the size of your dog’s mouth and teeth
- Allow your dog to taste the toothpaste a bit before attempting to brush
- When you dog seems to enjoy the toothpaste, begin introducing the toothbrush gently and slowly while using positive praise
- [TIP] If you sense that your dog is already uncomfortable, instead of introducing the toothbrush instead apply a bit of toothpaste to your fingers and slowly (and carefully) “brush” your dog’s teeth with your finger
- If the dog seems comfortable, continue brushing as much teeth surface as possible
- If the dog is very uncomfortable, you must keep the initial sessions short but always ending on a positive note
SHIBA INU [ EYES AND EAR CARE 101 ]
A dog’s eyes and ears serve a critical role of allowing the dog to sense the world around him.
A dog’s eyes can also tell a lot about their overall health.
Clear bright eyes with no redness, inflammation, or discoloring is a good sign that your dog is enjoying good health.
It’s a good idea to always monitor your dog’s eyes for any signs of potential health issues.
Weepy discharge can indicate allergies, while yellowing of the eye whites can indicate liver problems. Any of these symptoms will warrant an immediate visit to your veterinarian.
Cloudy eyes can be a symptom of a hosts of conditions such as cataracts, ulcers, and dry eye. These symptoms also call for a visit to your vet.
Shiba Inus have been known to have eye issues such as cataracts and glaucoma. Both conditions are treatable but may come at a high expense.
If getting your Shiba Inu as a puppy, make sure to buy from reputable breeders that check for genetic issues that include eye problems.
Aging and Your Shiba's Eyes
The natural aging process affects your Shiba Inus entire body including eyes and eye sight.
Corneal changes and cellular loss can cause cloudiness in the corneas. Some Shibas will experiences lipid and mineral deposits in their corneas that can cause corneal ulcers.
The most common and obvious age-related changes to your Shiba Inus eyes is called nuclear sclerosis which causes cloudiness deep in your Shiba’s eyes.
This cloudiness is caused by the eye lens that continue to grow in the eye. As space runs out, fibers in the lens become densely packed resulting in cloudy eyes.
This condition also affects humans that make us require reading glasses as we age.
Cataracts are another condition that comes along with aging. Some cataracts are very tiny and don’t cause much of an issue. Large cataracts will affect vision and cause complete blindness.
In most cases, surgery can correct cataracts but can be costly.
Check Eyes For:
Eye Care Maintenance
Ear Care 101
Keeping your dog’s ears clean and healthy is an often overlooked part of grooming care.
A dog’s ear has glands that produce secretions such as ear wax that can build up over time – especially for older dogs.
Dogs with droopy or hairy ears are more prone to ear infections due to the lack of air flow throughout the ear canal.
Thankfully, Shiba Inus have perky ears that allow for adequate air flow.
However, ear issues such as ear mites, inflammation, and ear infections can affect all dogs.
Ear infections can be painful and lead to serious issues such as deafness and ruptured blood vessels.
Check Ears For:
Causes of Ear Discharge
- Ear mites
- Outer ear infection, caused by allergies, mites, wax, moisture
- Inner ear infection, caused by not treating outer ear infection
A dog’s hearing is one of their most important senses so it’s important to take care of their ears at all times.
Ear infections are painful and can lead to dizziness, nausea, and even loss of hearing.
If your Shiba Inu has any of the above symptoms, see your vet immediately. Don’t try to diagnose the problem yourself.
Ear Care Maintenance