Shiba Inu Shedding, Brushing, & Bathing – Full Grooming Guide

Do Shiba Inu Shed a lot – Shiba Inu Shedding

How bad is Shiba Inu shedding? Shiba Inu has a Spitz type double coat. They will shed heavily usually twice a year and less so at other times. However, they are definitely not a low shed breed. Expect to brush them regularly and vacuum a lot.

When your Shiba Inu is having a major shed of their coat it is known as blowing their coat. A dog’s coat is said to be blown when it is coming out easily and in volume.

Most Shiba Inu will blow their coat twice a year depending on the climate you live in. This is usually during spring as the weather starts to heat up leading into summer. This is to aid in keeping them cooler. They may also blow their coat just prior to winter. This is to prepare for the new undercoat to develop to keep them warm in the colder weather. Some Shiba Inu only have a major shed of their undercoat once a year.

How to reduce Shiba Inu shedding

You will never be able to completely stop a Shiba Inu, or any double-coated dog shedding. However, the amount of coat that they leave around the home or on your clothes can be reduced. These are some tips to help reduce the amount of coat your Shiba Inu dog sheds.

Regularly brush your Shiba Inu

The main thing you can do to reduce shedding is regularly brushing your dog. Brushing helps to remove excess and loose fur. It also redistributes your dog’s skin oil into the fur helping it to stay in place. Ideally, you should brush your Shiba Inu daily during times they are doing a heavy moult. For other times, twice a week will suffice.

Bathing your Shiba Inu

Bathing will also help to loosen dead undercoat. Shiba Inus do not need bathing too often. Every three to four months is more than sufficient. The best times to bath your Shiba Inu is when they are doing a heavy shed.

A lot of the fur will come out in the bath instead of on your furniture. Towel dry your dog with firm but gentle rubbing which will also help remove dead fur. Finally, blow-dry your dog using a low heat setting.

You can give your dog a good brush once dry and you will find it is easier to brush a clean coat than a dirty one. If you don’t have the time, energy or facilities to bathe and brush your dog regularly use a grooming service.

Also, keep up to date with flea treatment for your dog as constant scratching will also make coat come out.

Provide a high-quality diet

The third thing you can do is to ensure your dog’s coat remains healthy and they shed less is through a high-quality diet. These may cost a little more in the short-term but will improve your dog’s overall health and save on vet bills in the long-term.

Dogs with food allergies or sensitivities are particularly prone to diet-related shedding. You may need to experiment with a few different foods before you find one that’s right for your dog.

In addition, you can add Salmon oil, olive oil or flaxseed oil to your dog’s food. One teaspoon (5 mL) per 10 pounds (4.5 kg) of body weight is a good place to start. These oils contain omega-3 fatty acids that help calm inflamed skin, decrease dandruff, and improve overall coat texture.

You can also increase your dog’s omega-3 fatty acid intake by feeding it salmon, tuna, or other fish rich in these fatty acids. Finally, remember to ensure your dog has access to fresh water at all times. Dehydration can lead to dry skin, which can cause excessive shedding and even illness. Make sure your dog always has access to as much clean, fresh water as it wants.

How to brush a Shiba Inu

  1. Using your slicker brush, brush your Japanese Spitz all over in the direction of the lay of the coat. If you come across any thick areas of undercoat or tangles you can brush in the opposite direction.
  2. If you come across any tangles or thick areas you can use your dematting tool to gently remove rolling your wrist when you feel resistance. The most common area for this will be the fluffy pants area.
  3. When the coat feels brushed out, run your steel comb thru to ensure you haven’t missed any tangles or small knots.
  4. Finally, use your selected deshedding tool to remove any remaining undercoat.
  5. Important note: Take great care when brushing your Shiba Inus tail. It is easy to accidentally catch the skin with a brush and a comb. Use your thumb to protect the tail where you are brushing.

Another technique is to do what is called line combing. This is where you select a small area of the coat to start. Use your comb to remove undercoat until the comb is able to slide through the topcoat easily. Using your free hand, push that area of the coat up and begin on the next section. Repeat this process until the whole dog has been thoroughly combed out.

This video demonstrates line combing a Shiba Inu.

How often should you brush a Shiba Inu

During the period where the coat is blown you should brush your Shiba Inu daily to remove the unwanted undercoat to prevent matting. During other times when the shedding is not so much, brushing once or twice a week is sufficient.

Regular brushing will also help to keep them clean as the dirt is removed along with the undercoat.

Best Brush for Shiba Inu

Finding the right brush for grooming your Shiba Inu can be confusing if you don’t have dog grooming knowledge.

Having the right tools for any job will make it easier and you can do a much better job. Just as a carpenter will not just use a hammer, having a selection of brushes with different functions will be much more effective.

For brushing and deshedding your Shiba Inu I recommend using a good quality slicker brush, a steel comb, and some type of deshedding tool. These are some suggestions for the best brush to use for grooming a Shiba Inu.

Slicker Brush for Shiba Inu

The slicker brush is a pin brush which is used mainly as a dressing brush. This puts a shine on the coat and works well to loosen tangles and break the coat up to allow the other tools to finish the job.

It is well worth spending a few extra dollars on a good quality slick brush. Not only will it last longer as the pins or bristles on these type of brushes wear down and fall out over time. A better quality brush will have better quality pins and will be more effective.

You will also find that when brushing your Shiba Inu the pins on a slicker brush will fill up with fur. You can use your comb to remove the accumulated fur. An easier option is to use a self-cleaning slicker brush. With these, you push a button and the fur is lifted out from between the pins.

My top pick for a Shiba Inu is the Pro Quality Self Cleaning Slicker Brush available here from Amazon.

Steel Comb for Shiba Inu

A good comb is an essential tool for anyone who grooms a dog. Once you have gone over the area with the slicker brush first, ran the comb through to remove any tangles.

My personal choice is a 50/50 Comb which has two different width teeth. View 50/50 Steel Comb on here on Amazon.

Run the comb thought your dog’s coat first with the wider teeth and then again with the finer teeth. If you can’t run the finer teeth of the comb through the coat without resistance the coat is not fully brushed out. Repeat the process until you can.

There are other types of steel comb available including some with a handle that some people find more comfortable to hold.

Best Deshedding Tool for Shiba Inu

There is quite a range of different types of deshedding tools and brushes for double-coated dogs. Not all are necessarily suitable or work that well for a Shiba Inu. These are my recommendations for deshedding a Shiba Inu.

Top Pick: Mars Coat King Undercoat Rake

Best Budget Buy: Long Tooth Undercoat Rake

Shedding Blade

The shedding blade is my personal favorite for doing a quick regular de-shedding of a Shiba Inu. It can be held in one-handed or the handle splits in two so you can use two-handed. Also great for dragging excess water off your dog after the bath.

It is best not to overdo it. Six to eight strokes in one area are sufficient. Overuse in the same area can irritate your dog’s skin and even cause brush burn. By using a tool like this a few times a week for five or ten minutes will go a long way to reducing how much fur your Shiba Inu drops around the home.

View Shedding Blades here on Amazon

Long Tooth Undercoat Rake

An undercoat rake works very well removing undercoat and tangles and is gentle and comfortable for the dog. They are also very inexpensive making them the best budget choice for deshedding tools.

View Long Tooth Undercoat Rake on Amazon

Mars Coat King

The Mars Coat King is my number one pick for removing undercoat and dead coat from your Japanese Spitz. Works really well even on very thick and bulky areas. It leaves a nice shine and finish on the coat as well.

View Mars Coat King undercoat Rake on Amazon

Furminator Undercoat Deshedding Tool

I have included the Furminator as it is the most popular and best known of the deshedding tools for dogs. The Furminator is a grooming tool you either like or don’t like. From my personal experience, it is not as effective as the Mars Coat King. I have also found the blades can cut the guard coat and doesn’t leave such a nice finish and shine.

How to bathe a Shiba Inu at Home

How you bathe your Shiba Inu at home will depend on what set up you have. Most Shiba Inu don’t like water or getting wet so bath time can turn into a messy operation. Your options may include:-

  • In a shower with a handheld showerhead. This is probably the easiest approach as you can wet down and rinse your Shiba Inu a lot easier.
  • In a bathtub. With this method, you will need to fill the bathtub to about a quarter height and have a couple of buckets of warm clean water on hand to rinse.
  • Outside with the hose. This means the water will be cold, but if the weather is warm it is OK. Having a couple of buckets of warm water on hand will make this less unpleasant for your Shiba. The advantage of doing it outside will prevent a huge mess to clean up inside.

Steps to bathe your Shiba Inu

Step 1

Brush your Shiba Inu before the bath to remove as much undercoat and any tangles or knots. Matted fur holds water which will tighten the knot when it drys. It will also save drying time.

Step 2

Start by thoroughly soaking your Shiba Inu’s coat being careful not to get water in the ears. It is a good idea to put cotton balls in the ears before you start to avoid this.

Step 3

To wet your Shiba Inu’s head use your thumb to flatten down the ear and from back to front wet that side of the head. Repeat on the other side. Gently hold your dog’s head down by the muzzle and wet face. Now raise the head up and wet under the chin being careful not to get water in the nose.

Step 4

Use tearless baby shampoo to thoroughly wash your Shiba Inu’s face. Then apply the other regular dog shampoo down the dog back and work into a lather using your fingers or a rubber dog bathing brush such as The Zoom Groom.

Step 5

Many shampoos are quite concentrated so you can premix with water which will help the shampoo lather and will rinse better. Work in the direction the coat lays or the coat will be trained to stand up. Never use human shampoo on your dog as human hair has a different pH level and it will dry and irritate your dog’s skin. Human shampoos may also contain chemicals that may cause a skin irritation.

Step 6

Then rinse your dog using the same process you use to wet them. I always do two lots of shampoo as it gets the dog much cleaner and the clean smell lasts longer, so with the first rinse, you don’t have to rinse as thoroughly as you will with the final rinse.

Step 7

Once you have done the two shampoos and thoroughly rinsed all the shampoo out of the coat scoop excess water off your dog with your hand. If you don’t want your dog to shake while in the bath put a towel over them and pat to dry.

Step 8

Then dry as best as you can by rubbing with a towel working in the direction of the coat as much as possible. You can even leave them wrapped in a towel for a while to absorb as much water as possible. Don’t forget to remove the cotton balls from their ears.

For more tips on bathing your dog see here.

Do Shiba Inu smell

Shiba Inus don’t have that doggy smell you associate with many breeds. They are a very clean dog and groom and lick themselves like a cat. They can even often get fur balls like a cat.

The Shiba Inu coat is also relatively dirt resistant. Once dirt is dry it tends to fall off. If your Shiba Inu does have a bad smell it is likely a health issue or skin allergy. See you vet if you have any concerns.

At what age can you bathe a Shiba Inu

The general rule of thumb for giving your Shiba Inu puppy their first bath is around 16 weeks old unless they are extremely dirty. By this age, they would have had all their vaccinations.

Prior to being fully vaccinated, a puppy’s immune system is weaker. Puppies are also less able to control their body temperature, especially if they get wet. This can leads to potential issues including hypothermia.

How often should you bathe a Shiba Inu

So, how often should you bathe a Shiba Inu? This should be minimal. Every 3 to 4 months is more than sufficient. Shiba Inus are a very clean breed than groom themselves much like a cat. In addition, being a Spitz type breed their coat is fairly dirt-resistant and doesn’t have that doggy odor associated with many other breeds.

Over bathing your Shiba Inu can result in stripping the natural oils from their coats and dry the skin. This can cause skin irritations and make them smell more. In addition, stripping the natural oils from the coat can lead to them producing more oils to compensate making the coat greasy. This will cause the dirt to attach to the coat making them smell more.

If you Shiba Inu has rolled in something unpleasant such as a dead animal or feces a bath is probably needed. The other best times to bathe your Shiba Inu is when they are at the start of a heavy shed. This will aid in loosing and lifting the unwanted dead undercoat making it easier to remove.

Do Shiba Inu like to be bathed

In general, Shiba Inu don’t like water or being wet. Many Shiba Inu will probably protest being bathed while others may be more tolerant. To make bath time less of a drama, it is a good idea to give them exercise first to make them calmer.

You can also try giving them plenty of praise and treats during the whole process so they have more of a positive association with being bathed.

How to dry a Shiba Inu after bathing

Shiba Inus can take a long time to dry naturally, especially if they have a lot of undercoat. You can either wait until they are dry, perhaps the next day, or to blow dry. Using a hand-held dryer for human hair is fine for a small fine-haired breed such as a Yorkshire terrier. For a Shiba Inu with a thicker heavier coat, this would take an awfully long time.

The best solution is to use a dog blow dryer. Commercial dog blow dryers like those used in grooming salons are very expensive. However, there are available smaller dog dryers available at very reasonable prices.

I would recommend something such as these low-cost dryers which come with two airspeed settings and three heat levels (no heat, medium and high) and several easy to attachments to increase air flow.

I have blow-dried Shiba Inus with this type of dryer and it was more than up for the job. Although small dryers like this don’t have the air velocity of large commercial grooming dryers by using the heater the coat still drys quickly.

Get your Shiba Inu as dry as possible using a towel, micro cloth, or chamois. You can wrap the towel around your dog and hold in place with clothes pegs or bulldog clips and it will absorb a large quantity of the water in the coat.

Now you are ready to blow dry your Shiba Inu. Start on the lower back area so your Shiba Inu doesn’t get a fright when the dryer starts. With the nozzle about half an inch from the coat, move the nozzle back and forth in a continuous motion. You can use your other hand to move the coat or brush as you dry.

If you have the blow dryer on a high heat setting be aware of the air temperature. If it is too hot, turn down to a lower setting.

How to give your Shiba Inu a dry bath

If you are wanting to clean you Shiba Inu without giving them a full bath there are a couple of options. This is a handy approach if they have rolled in mud or something else unpleasant. This is a good way to give your dog a clean when you are unable to give them a full bath. However, waterless and dry shampoos cannot replace bathing completely.

The first option to clean your dog is a waterless shampoo. Work the waterless shampoo into your dog’s coat. Using a towel or sponge, wipe the shampoo and dirt from the coat.

The second option is to use a dry shampoo. You can purchase dry shampoos here at Amazon. Alternatively, you can make your own using cornstarch. There are a couple of ways you can do this.

Firstly you can use cornstarch by itself or you can use an equal part mix of cornstarch and baking soda. The cornstarch helps absorb oil and dirt in the coat while the baking soda is great to deodorize your dog.

As an optional extra, you can mix in a few drops of a selected essential oil to add a fragrance to your homemade dry shampoo. Eucalyptus essential oil can also be used as a flea deterrent.

Mix the powders in a container or bottle with a reasonably large hole at the top. You may need to use a funnel if using a bottle. Add 1 cup of cornstarch and 1 cup of baking soda. Mix in a few drops of essential oil if you wish also. Give the powder a good mix up.

Sprinkle a liberal amount of the dry powder on your dog’s coat. Cover the face, to avoid getting any in their nose and eyes. Rub the dry shampoo into the coat until it reaches the skin.

Your dog may want to have a shake at this stage. This is fine as it will help remove any of the excess powder. Wait five minutes and brush your Shiba Inu to remove the remaining powder. You will find that the powder also makes it easier to brush and remove any tangles from your dog’s coat. Give your dog a good rub down with a clean towel to ensure there is no more powder remaining in the coat. That’s it. Quick and simple.

Best Shampoo for Shiba Inu

What shampoo is best for your Shiba Inu will depend on any special needs. For most Shiba Inu, using a deshedding shampoo will be the obvious choice. This will help to loosen the undercoat and keep their coat in a healthy condition.

However, if your Shiba Inu has sensitive skin or is prone to skin allergies I would recommend one of the other shampoos.

Best shedding reduction shampoo

FURminator deShedding Ultra Premium Dog Shampoo 

It contains Omega 3 and six fatty acids, papaya Leafs, and calendula extracts work to reduce shedding of your dog’s fur and maintain the health of its skin. The shampoo is also compatible with the FURminator conditioner to achieve the best results.

Best shampoo for sensitive skin

Paws & Pals 5-in-1 Oatmeal Dog Shampoo

Oatmeal is one of the best ingredients for sensitive skin. It has all-natural ingredients and is soapless so it won’t inflame or irritate dogs’ eyes. It is an excellent all-purpose shampoo being a 5 in 1. This shampoo aside from cleaning conditions, detangles, moisturizes, is anti-itch and controls odor.

Best antifungal and antibacterial shampoo

Nootie Medicated Oatmeal Dog Shampoo

This shampoo is very concentrated and when you apply it forms a really thick and rich lather. It also works really well in treating yeast infections and cooling and soothing your dog’s skin It will also always leave your Husky smell really clean and fresh and leaves their coat beautiful and shiny.

Do Shiba Inu need a conditioner

It is recommended not to use a conditioner on a Shiba Inu coat. A conditioner will soften and flatten the coat. This will not look as nice as their coat does naturally and can affect the dirt resistant quality.

Shiba Inu shedding bald spots

When a Shiba Inu is doing a heavy shed they will lose a lot of coat. However, if bald spots appear there could be an underlying health issue causing abnormal hair loss. This can be caused by allergies and skin irritations, excessive stracthcing and licking, hormone imbalance, or immune system or organ issues. It is best to consult a vet to ascertain the cause.

Another reason that there may be a bald spot is if you have brushed in one area too much. I have seen this occur when people use a deshedding tool like a Furminator.

Nail clipping and filing

Unless your dog is regularly walking on concrete their nails will need regular trimming. Filing your dog’s nails will remove the sharp edge preventing them scratching you.

If you hear your dog’s nails tapping on the floor when he/she walks then it’s definitely time to grab the clippers and trim those nails. When a dog’s nails tap on hard surfaces, it pushes their nails back up into their nail beds, which can be extremely painful.

Not only can it put pressure on the toe joints, but it could also force the toe to twist to the side, resulting in soreness or even arthritis. Most dogs can go about a month in between nail trims (this will vary depending on your dog’s lifestyle).

For more on clipping nails see here

Teeth Cleaning

Brushing your dog’s teeth should become part of your regular routine. Unfortunately, more than 70 percent of dogs and cats will suffer from periodontal disease (AKA gum disease) by the time they’re just two years old.

Unless you take action early on, your dog’s teeth will just worsen with age. Dog toothpaste is available. Obviously never use human toothpaste as your dog can’t rinse and it is toxic to your dog.

Chewing also helps with dental health so provide your dog with dental chew toys and treats.

For more on teeth cleaning see here.

Ear Cleaning

You can give your Shiba Inu’s ears a regular wipe around the visible area to prevent ear infections and smell. If you want to put ear drops in your dog’s ears I would recommend checking with your vet as you can’t see what is going on inside and if there is an infection or damage to the eardrum you may make things worse. 

For more on ear cleaning see here

Should you shave a Shiba Inu

Some people want to shave their Shiba Inu They usually want to do this for two reasons. Firstly, to make their Shiba Inu cooler in hot weather. Secondly, to reduce shedding.

Unfortunately it doesn’t keep a double-coated dog cooler as it hinders the natural function of the coat. It also doesn’t reduce shedding as it grows back thicker causing more shedding.

Some people do shave their Shiba Inu. That is a persoanlchoice. I do not ever recommend shaving a Shiba Inu or double-coated dog. To learn more about why see here.

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