Shiba Inus are iconic Japanese dog breeds that have taken the world by storm. With their adorable looks and loyal temperaments, there’s no question why they’re so popular today. However for owner allergic to dogs, their shedding can be a problem.
Most Shiba Inus shed moderately throughout the year, while experiencing heavier shedding twice a year (spring and fall seasons). Because of the Shiba Inu’s double coat, they’ll “reset” their coats to a heavier or lighter coat depending on the season and temperature. Other factors, such as exposure to sunlight and malnutrition can also cause excessive shedding of your Shiba Inu.
Let’s explore all the reasons why Shiba Inus tend to shed more than other dog breeds. We’ll also discuss ways you can help minimize shedding in your Shiba. With some patience and commitment, the shedding won’t pose a big problem with most allergic owners.
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4 Reasons Why a Shiba May be Shedding
As discussed, Shibas will shed moderately year round. But depending on the individual dog, some Shibas may even shed heavily throughout the year. Genetics have a big role when it comes to the frequency of shedding in your Shiba.
But why is it that Shiba Inus shed so much more compared to other dog breeds? There are a few reasons why this is – Let’s explore.
1. Shibas were bred with a fluffy fur coat for extra protection
Believe it or not, Shiba Inus were originally bred to flush out birds or other small game in the mountainous regions of Chūbu, Japan. In fact, they’re some of the best hunters to come out of the Asian island with a long lineage of superb hunting dogs.
And because Shiba Inus spent a ton of time in the outdoors during the blistering cold winters, they needed a warm coat for insulation. Thus, they were bred with a coat capable of protecting them even in the below-freezing temperatures of Chūbu.
In addition to the coldness, hunting in the mountains meant that they needed a second layer of fur that protects their skin from rough terrain. The Chūbu region is full of trees, shrubs, grass, bushes and other natural elements that could cut their skin.
After all, the forests of Japan’s Chūbu region are known to be very dense. For this reason, a Shiba Inu had to power through the thick brush in order to flush out the game. It wouldn’t be an easy task without some type of protection.
Having a thick fur coat meant that Shiba Inus were well protected during their regular hunting trips as to minimize potential harm and injury. The only downside is that more fur usually means more opportunity for shedding as well.
2. The Shiba’s “double coat” means more fur to shed
Though double coats are more common than you think, most dog breeds only have a single coat. Even so, there are 77 recognized breeds with double coats according to Pets 4 Homes. And as you may have guessed, the Shiba is one of them.
But what is a double coat and what does it do for the Shiba Inu? A double coat means there are two layers of fur on a Shiba Inu. However, both layers (inner coat and undercoat) serve a very specific purpose in protecting the dog.
The undercoat is an inner dense coat. Because the coat has a wool-like feel, it’s intended to keep the dog warm during harsh cold temperatures. Not only does it feel like wool, but acts like wool by being an excellent insulator for your dog.
On the other hand, the topcoat is the second layer of fur with longer hairs than the undercoat. They’re actually called “guard hairs” and they’re meant to protect the Shiba’s skin from various environmental factors, such as rain, snow and debris.
While there are many advantages for dogs to have a double coat, expect the potential for double the shedding to come from it. More fur on the coat means more fur to shed. However, it’s worth noting that both coats will shed more at different times during the year.
3. Shibas will “blow” their coats twice a year
Depending on the time of the year, a Shiba Inu can experience heavier shedding than usual. All dogs tend to shed more during fall and spring. However, shedding is far worse for double-coated dogs, such as Shibas.
In the fall, a Shiba Inu will shed its lighter summer coat in preparation for the winter. It does not make sense to go into winter with a light coat. During this period, they’ll need to grow out their thicker winter coats instead.
Similarly, in the spring time, Shibas shed their heavier winter coats in preparation for the upcoming warmer months. Having their thick winter coats during the summer time is not practical. It can often lead to heat exhaustion and discomfort.
We call this process, “blowing coats” and it’ll typically last between 2 and 3 weeks. However, it can vary depending on your dog. We highly suggest extra grooming measures to combat the uptick in shedding – unless you want a house full of fur.
But because Shibas are relatively small dogs, the extra shedding may be manageable. There will be less loose fur during these periods of excessive shedding. But even so, expect more than usual.
4. Malnutrition can lead to extra shedding
All the reasons above are natural reasons for shedding in Shiba Inus. However, you (as the owner) can and often will, influence how much your Shiba Inu sheds.
When it comes to dog care, nutrition is extremely important – just like with humans! Not only because proper nutrition is necessary for a healthy and happy life, but it can also prevent some excessive shedding.
According to PetMD, many owners opt for cheap quality dog food because they think it’s fine to feed cheap food. But Dr. Roy Cruzen (DVM) explains that these cheap brands barely meet the nutritional requirements.
The number one reason for excessive shedding is poor diet. People go to discount stores, buy a 40-pound bag of cheap food, and then see their pets’ shedding increase.– Roy Cruzen (DVM)
Though you won’t need to spend a ridiculous $8 per pound on dog food, even something half the price can be enough. As such, Cruzen says that $4 a pound is probably ideal for some of the higher quality dog foods.
When determining which brand of food would be best for your dog, it may be a good idea to consult with your local veterinarian. And if you see your Shiba shedding excessively after the switch to a new food brand, stop immediately.
Difference Between Fur Loss & Shedding
Let’s be clear: shedding and fur loss are not the same thing. However, it may be difficult to tell the two apart sometimes. Fur loss in a Shiba can be due to sickness. For instance, Cushing’s Disease is a condition that generally leads to fur loss.
According to Pet Care RX, signs of fur loss from illness can include the following:
- Dry or brittle fur coat
- Patches or clumps of fur falling from the coat
- Skin around baldness is tender and sensitive
- Other skin problem
If you see any of these symptoms with your Shiba Inu, it’s important to contact your veterinarian immediately. There’s a possibility that there may be an underlying illness far worse than just natural shedding or malnutrition.
How Much Do Shibas Shed?
Not all Shibas will shed the same amount. Some will be heavy shedders, most will be moderate shedders. Also, there may even be a few low shedders.
To really gauge how much these small Japanese dogs shed, we decided to survey the Shiba Subreddit (and other forums) to ask owners this question.
Real Owner Answers:
1. Rambofox says Heavy: “The blow out is a ton of fur, coming out in brushfuls. After that? There’s still fur everywhere on everything. It’s on the dashboard of my car. It’s on my bath mats even though she doesn’t go in the bathroom.”
2. Totalrainbows says Heavy: “Shiba Inus are amazing shedding machines. You learn to accept it and preparing for shedding season is like preparing for war.”
3. Evoesque says Heavy: “It’s the fur-pocalypse. You’ll have so much hair you can make a mini stuffed shiba…my dog didn’t have her first big shed until close to a year old.”
4. Dukey4chan says Heavy: “It always amazes me how much hair such a little dog can produce. Don’t underestimate the shedding of a shiba…they grow hair/shed non stop.”
5. Anonymous says Heavy: “Blowing coat time was pretty messy, even with daily brushing. I think it lasted a few weeks. Hair tumble weeds will show up everywhere every few days.”
6. Toseikiokami says Moderate: “My shiba inu sheds down to her guard hairs when she blows her coat. This is usually normal unless the skin gets irritated.”
7. Shibamatchfantasy says Heavy: “Yes a Shiba will shed a ton but at least you have enough extra dog fur to create a pillow should you need to.”
8. Tealponies says Heavy: “Blowout season is bad with our two, but they shed like crazy regardless. Everything is always covered in hair regardless of how much we clean.”
How to Deal with Shiba Shedding
There’s very little you can do about shedding. It’s mostly a natural process and you just have to learn to deal with it. However, there are ways you can help minimize shedding with your Shiba Inu.
Most of the suggestions revolve around grooming, and for good reason. Specifically, with brushing of the coat and bathing. Unless you want fur all around the house and stuck to the carpet, follow these steps to keep their coat in check.
Brushing your Shiba is essential
Brushing a dog is grooming 101. With a double-coated Shiba Inu, it’s even more important than ever. The reason why you’ll want to consistently brush your Shiba is to remove any loose hair. Thus, preventing opportunities for hair to fall out.
According to My First Shiba, it’s recommended you brush your Shiba Inu at least once every other week. However, you should consider brushing your Shiba every few days (or more) during coat blowing season.
As for brush, I’d highly suggest getting yourself a Furminator Deshedding Tool. It’s practically made for dogs like the Shiba. Not only do we use this with our double-coated dogs (Corgi and Aussie), but hundreds of Shiba owners swear by this product.
For your Shiba, you’ll want to get a size medium for short hair. However, many owners decide to go with the long hair version and it works just as great. It’s seriously a great tool and I highly recommend you checking it out here (at Amazon).
We recommend regular bathing
Bath time can be a great bonding session for both the Shiba and owner. However, there’s a fine line between too many baths and just enough.
According to Pet WebMD, a Shiba (or really any dog) should receive baths about once every 3 months. It’s not a hard rule, but rather a guideline. So if your Shiba gets extra dirty two months after a bath, it’s okay to bathe again!
If possible, you’ll want to bathe your Shiba more often during shedding season because it’ll reduce the amount of loose hair on the dog’s coat. Again, you’ll want to be careful with how often you do so.
Stephen L. Zawistowski, a pHD at the ASPCA, says “most people bathe their dog more often than they need to, sometimes weekly or every other week.” He also suggests that frequent bathing doesn’t provide the same benefits as frequent brushing.
Too many baths will strip the coat of natural oils that protect the skin, and your dog’s coat will lose some of its shine and luster.– Stephen Zawistowski
So unless you want to strip away all the important oils that protect your Shiba’s coat and skin, keep baths to a minimal. However, picking the right dog shampoo is just as important when it comes to bathing your dog.
Best Shampoo for Shibas
We have personally tried these shampoos with our dogs or have heard good things from people we know and trust. These are our recommended dog shampoos for Shibas:
- Pro Pet Works Oatmeal Dog Shampoo – Pro Pets Shampoo is the “go-to” for our dogs. It’s made from all-natural oatmeal and we’ve been using it for years with no problems. Also, it’s made in the USA – high quality stuff!
- Earthbath All Natural Dog Shampoo – We’ve heard fantastic things about Earthbath’s dog shampoo. It’s definitely a time-tested product because it’s been on the market for so long. Plus, owners seem to love it!
- Paws and Pals Dog Shampoo – I’ve used this with our Corgi and it seems to be just as great as any other dog shampoo. Smells good and keeps our dog fresh!
Remember to NEVER use human shampoo with your Shiba. A dog’s skin isn’t the same as a human’s, so this could lead to irritation among other skin issues.
If possible, always use an oatmeal-based dog shampoo because it’s all natural and gentle on a dog’s skin.
Is the Shiba Right for Me?
The Shiba Inu is a fantastic dog for…well, everyone. As long as you’re able to dedicate a little bit time to grooming, they’ll make excellent companions. But that’s not to say they’re “easy” to take care of.
These dogs are spirited and lively, with a bold personality at times. They make interesting pet dogs to say the least. After having lived with one for a few years in college, I know how comical and mischievous (in a good way) they can be.
For those that are allergic to dogs or sensitive to dog dander, the Shiba Inu may not be a good match. Most of them shed quite a bit and can cause some serious allergies! Rather, I would check out one of these 57 hypoallergenic dog breeds instead.
Though they’re little shedding machines, Shiba Inus are some of the best companions you can find. You won’t regret bringing one home!
How much does your Shiba shed? And what have you done to help minimize the shedding? Leave a comment down below to let us (and other owners) know!
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