Dog Breeds Dog Health

Do Shiba Inus Shed a lot? – The Owner’s Guide to Shiba Shedding

The Complete Guide to Shiba Shedding.
Written by Tiffany Jeng

Shiba Inus are iconic Japanese dog breeds that have taken the internet and meme-world by storm. There’s no question why they’re so popular. But as an owner, you may be wondering: do Shiba Inus shed? How much?

Most Shiba Inus will shed moderately throughout the year. But because of their double coats, expect to see heavy shedding twice a year as they “blow” their coats during spring and fall. Other factors like malnutrition and sunlight exposure can also affect shedding.

Let’s explore why Shiba Inus shed more than other dog breeds. Plus, we’ll discuss ways you can help minimize shedding with your Shiba.

RECOMMENDED: Shiba Inu: Bold, Spirited & Good-Natured

Why Shibas Shed So Much

As discussed, Shibas will shed moderately year round. And depending on the individual dog, some may shed heavily throughout the year.

But why is it that Shiba Inus shed so much more compared to other dog breeds? There are a few reasons why – Let’s explore.

Bred for Mountain Hunting

Shiba Inus were originally bred to flush out birds and other small game in the mountainous region of Chūbu, Japan.

And because they spent a ton of time in the outdoors during the blistering cold winters, they needed a warm coat. Thus, they were bred with a coat capable of protecting them.

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 forests of Japan’s Chūbu region are dense. As a result, the Shiba Inu had to power through the thick brush in order to flush out the game.

Having a thick fur coat meant that Shibas were well protected during their hunting trips. On the other hand, more fur usually means more shedding as well.

Shiba’s Double Coat

Though double coats are more common than you think, most dog breeds have only a single coat. Still, there are 77 recognized breeds with double coats according to Pets 4 Homes, including the Shiba Inu.

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. Both 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. It actually acts like an excellent insulator for your Shiba Inu.

On the other hand, the topcoat is the second layer of fur with longer hairs than the undercoat. They’re actually called “guard hairs” are they’re meant to protect the Shiba’s skin from external environmental factors.

When a dog has two layers of fur, expect double the shedding to come from it. However, both coats will shed more at various times during the season.

Shibas “Blowing Coats”

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 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. 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.

We call this process, “blowing coats” and it’ll typically last between 2 and 3 weeks. However, it can vary depending on the dog.

But because Shibas are relatively small dogs, there will be less loose fur during these periods of excessive shedding. Still, expect more than usual.

Malnutrition & Shedding

All the reasons above are natural reasons for shedding in Shiba Inus. However, you (as the owner) can also influence how much your Shiba Inu sheds.

When it comes to dog care, nutrition is extremely important. Not only because proper nutrition is necessary for a healthy and happy life, but it also prevents excessive shedding.

According to PetMD, many owners opt for cheap quality dog food because they think it’s sufficient. But Dr. Roy Cruzen (DVM) explains that these cheap brands barely meet the nutritional requirements.

The number one reason for excessive shedding is a poor diet. People go to discount stores, buy a 40-pound bag of cheap food, and then see their pets’ shedding increase…it may not have enough protein or nutrients for your pet.

– 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.

When determining which brand of food would be best for your dog, it may be a good idea to consult with your local veterinarian.

Fur Loss vs. 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 Inu can be due to sickness. For example, Cushing’s Disease in dogs 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?

To understand how smart Shibas are, we must understand how we measure their intelligence.

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.

Here’s what they had to say about Shiba shedding:

1. Rambofox says: “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: “Shiba Inus are amazing shedding machines. You learn to accept it and preparing for shedding season is like preparing for war.”

3. Evoesque says: “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: “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: “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: “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: “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: “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.”

Dealing with Shiba Shedding

Shiba Inus rank low on dog IQ tests because they're too stubborn to obey commands.

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. Specifically, with brushing and bathing.

Unless you want hair all around the house, follow these steps to keep their fur in check.

Brushing a Shiba

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 any opportunity for hair to fall out around the home.

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 during blow coat season.

As for brush, I’d highly suggest getting yourself a Furminator Deshedding Tool. 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).

Bath Time

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 get bathed about once every 3 months. It’s not a strict 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 reduces the amount of loose hair on the dog’s coat. However, be careful with how often you do so.

Stephen L. Zawistowski, a pHD at the ASPCA, says that frequent bathing doesn’t provide the same benefits as frequent brushing:

Most people bathe their dog more often than they need to, sometimes weekly or every other week. 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, keep baths to a minimal. However, picking the right dog shampoo is just as important.

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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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!
  3. 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.

So, Is a Shiba for Me?

The Shiba Inu is a fantastic dog for…well, everyone. As long as you’re able to dedicate some time to grooming, they’ll make excellent companions.

These dogs are spirited and lively, with a bold personality at times. They make interesting pets to say the least.

For those that are allergic to dogs or sensitive to dog dander, the Shiba Inu may not be a good match. Rather, I would check out one of these 55 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!

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About the author

Tiffany Jeng

Tiffany is a product of Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine (class of 2022). Combined with over 5 years of veterinary technician experience, she's dedicated her life and career to dogs. When she's not studying or working, she's taking care of her Mini Australian Shepherd - Olympus!

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