Shiba Basic Grooming and Routine Care

Outside of routine vet visits for vaccinations and heartworm testing etc you should see to the basic grooming and hygiene of your pet.

Brush That Coat

Brushing the coat removes loosened hair and keeps shedding down to a minimum. Do not worry if you Shiba suddenly sheds in masses, unless you see bald patches underneath (see allergies ). Most Shibas will blow their coat twice a year. At that time they will look like moths have invaded.

When a Shiba sheds it does not shed lightly but explodes hair almost overnight. During this time there will be an extreme amount of hair that needs to be groomed out over several sessions to keep the dog from getting sore from brushing.

(What you see in this picture is a Shiba posing after a single grooming session. Behind the dog is a pile of hair that has been removed with a slicker brush. The hair mass covers 18 inches and is 2 inches deep.)

A nice warm bath and a good brushing will loosen the hair so that the shed can be completed more quickly. Usually in two to three weeks.

Do not bath your pet in cold weather and then allow it to run outside!! A Shiba’s coat keeps it warm in winter and cool in summer assisting in repelling the weather. If your dog is soaking wet it will not be able to maintain its body temperature in the cold or heat. It takes a Shiba’s coat a while to dry, so make sure there is a nice warm place to finish the salon treatment and for the coat to dry out thoroughly in cold weather. A good towel rubbing in summer and a shady spot are in order in

If you are fastidious about hair that floats about or you allergic to fine hair then this breed may not be for you.

Brush Those Teeth

At minimum your Shiba should have its teeth brushed once a week. Providing bones does not take place of brushing your pets teeth. (To get your pet used to a dental tip, brush or gauze, place yummy items on it such as peanut butter or liver flavored tooth paste. Be gentle as you work over the surface of teeth and gums. You can switch to non flavored canine dental paste later. Avoid toothpaste with sugar.)

Broken teeth are not considered a genetic issue as are missing teeth. However, broken teeth can cause difficulty in eating and contribute to abscessed gums and sinuses. Loss of more than one tooth will be the result if infection sets in.

Broken teeth occur if you pet has been given too hard of an object to chew on. Slab fractures of teeth in many cases go unnoticed because the actual tooth particle shears off at an angle and has been swallowed. Brush your Shiba’s teeth regularly and look to see how those back molars are doing.

Many Shibas are considered power chewers and will devour whatever they can find in their path. Culprits in aiding broken teeth are Nylabones or Durables, super hard shin bones, hard pressure compressed plastics, and chew hooves.

As an alternative, provide rope bones, flexibones or gum bones instead. Other items to consider are some rawhide chew flips or planet dog items so that your pet gets used to chewing softer products.

The general rule of thumb is, if it is too hard for a human to chew on, the enamel on the dogs tooth will not hold up either. The majority of chew products are not consumer safety tested as are human consumables, so you will need to be the best judge of flexible chew items for your pet. Always supervise dogs when they are eating rawhide. (Tip: Do not leave two Shibas alone together with rawhide or you may have a heated argument on your hands).

Trim Those Nails

Excessively long nails can lead to injuries during obedience and agility trials. At the very least they ruin your rugs, floors, and couch as well as providing additional momentum for digging under fences and enclosures. Trimming of nails every two weeks after adulthood keeps the quick from growing too far down the nail. As puppies you must keep up with weekly nail trims to avoid the quick from growing too far down. Once the quick develops to a particular point it is difficult to trim beyond it without injury.

The majority of Shibas hate nail trimming and will run the other direction if they see the trimmers. However, once they get used to it and gentleness is used they usually concede.

If you happen to have a dog that just won’t tolerate trimmings at all, without working itself into an apoplexy, see your vet to get the job done or in worst cases if you can live with long nails have trimmings done at an annual teeth cleaning when the dog is sedated.

This overview of basic Shiba Inu grooming and care was originally written by Patrice Grossman for Mid Atlantic Shiba Rescue. Used by permission.