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Shiba Inus are generally fun, moderately active dogs that we enjoy taking everywhere! 

Most Shibas enjoy outdoor activities such as walking in nature - especially hiking.

black and tan shiba inu swimming in a swimming pool

But what about water activities? 

Do Shiba Inus enjoy being submerged in various bodies of water?

I mean, so many Shibas are already terrified about baths!

If you’re a water enthusiast and want your Shiba to enjoy your passion, there are methods you can follow to give your Shiba the best chance of enjoying aquatic adventures.

Do Shiba Inus Like Water... At All??

Shiba Inus all hail from the non-working dog group meaning that while they might have had work responsibilities in the past, they currently are more in a “retired” mode with a preference for laid back activities vs. arduous ones.

Shibas were never bred to “work” in water like retriever dogs so naturally, their enthusiasm  for the water is virtually non-existent compared to dogs like Goldens and Labs.

Additionally Shiba Inus are known to be fastidious dogs who are great at avoiding mud and puddles on the sidewalk so naturally they might not appreciate the feeling of a soggy, wet coat. wet 

shiba inu wading in a lake

However every Shiba is different and some Shibas may naturally love swimming while others can slowly learn how to enjoy, or at least tolerate some water activities. 

To have the best chance of having a water-loving Shiba, it’s important to carefully introduce water activities to your Shiba as a puppy. Exposure to water / swimming must be done in a calm and patient manner and be full of positive reinforcement and praise.

Both Shiba Inu puppies and adults can be stubborn so it’s important to use methods that encourage participation versus “forcing it”. And if that involves using tasty treat bribes - then that’s fine as well.

Are Shiba Inus Good Swimmers?

Shiba Inus that don’t mind dipping their paws into water can generally swim efficiently and safely. It’s important to note that while many people seem to think so, not all dogs automatically make good candidates for swimming.

For example, flat-nosed breeds like Pugs are at higher risk for drowning due to the ease in which water can enter their snouts.

Fortunately for Shibas, their well-balanced bodies and long snouts makes swimming relatively easy for them provided they are comfortable being in the water in the first place. 

red shiba inu standing on the steps of a swimming pool

Considerations For A Wet Shiba Inu

Shiba Inus are a double-coated dog breed - with some coats thicker and fuller than others.

Wet coats can be heavy and take a long time to try, especially in humid conditions.

Be sure to have towels and other trying tools to quickly dry off your Shiba after they are finished enjoying - or possibly not enjoying, the water.

Certain Shiba Inus with “soft”, fluffier coats will take on and retain much more water than Shibas with harder and more water-resistant coats.

Also try to avoid getting water into Shibas ear if possible. Stagnant water in dogs' ears can be prone to inner and middle ear infections.

red shiba inu standing at the edge of a swimming pool

Benefits of Swimming For Your Shiba Inu

If you are a regular water person, then having your Shiba also enjoy water will make it easier for both of you to enjoy doing things together.

Shiba Inus are typically “one-owner” dogs and will always have a preference to be with their “main” owners as much as possible. 

However if you don’t acclimate your Shiba to water adventures early as a puppy it’s likely to be much harder as they mature into adults. 

So if you plan to be in or near the water on a regular basis, make sure to do your best to make these experiences enjoyable for your Shiba as well.

Swimming, just like for humans, is a great low-impact workout for dogs. Swimming is especially helpful for older dogs who have limited and or painful joint movement.

shiba inu comfortably swimming in the pool

So if you get your Shiba at least comfortable in water, you’ll at least know you have a method for exercise and rehabilitation as your Shiba reaches her senior years.

Just the experience of swimming is great for your Shibas mental enrichment. The water will provide your Shiba with a totally unique sensory experience.

For those of you living in hot climates, taking a dip in cool water with your Shiba should provide relief from simmering temperatures.

But always think about safety first. 

  • Don’t bring your Shiba out in temperatures that are too high for comfort
  • If you have a pool make sure that your dogs never have unsupervised access 
  • Always have fresh and clean water available for your Shiba to drink
  • Be mindful of hot surfaces that can burn your Shiba’s paws
  • Blue algae (Cyanobacteria) in ponds and lakes can be deadly! 
  • Wash / bathe your dog after swimming to remove excess chlorine, salt, and other contaminants
red shiba inu wearing a doggy life vest near the swimming pool

Tips For Introducing Your Shiba Inu to Water

  • Start young and be consistent - make water interesting to puppies by incorporating toys into water, splashing, bouncing, etc.

  • Make early experiences calm and non-threatening. Don’t go to beaches with strong waves, start with flat, calm beaches or kiddie pools.

  • Utilize a life vest so your Shiba can get used to being in the water first, instead of worrying about swimming. 

  • Try to include dogs that love swimming to give your Shibas guidance and encouragement

  • Entice your Shiba with his favorite (water resistant) toys

  • If you have access to a kayak, paddleboard, or something big enough for both you and your Shiba to float on, try going that route first 

  • Never rush or force your Shiba to do something they’re not comfortable with. If they seem stressed, end the session and try again when your Shiba is in better spirits.

Shiba Inu swimming in the pool

Supplies For Water Activities With Your Shiba 

Doggy Life vest 

Raft or boogie board

Dog bed with canopy

Water toys - Chuckit! Amphibious

Absorbent towel - Bone Dry Pet Grooming Towel Collection Absorbent Microfiber X-Large

Doggy Water Bottle

Doggy Sunscreen / Skin Protection

Doggy Car Seat Protection

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