What Is The Best Dog Food for a Shiba Inu?
The Ultimate Shiba Inu Food Buyer’s Guide
The Shiba Inu is part of the spitz family of dogs. These dogs have long, thick fur and usually have pointed ears and muzzles. Their tail often curls over their back. Today spitz breeds are associated with arctic areas. This is a very old family of dogs and they have helped humans throughout history by pulling sleds, hunting, and herding. Japan is known for having six spitz breeds. The Shiba Inu is the smallest of these breeds. The breed nearly became extinct in Japan following World War II due to food shortages and disease after the war. The first Shiba Inu arrived in the U.S. in 1954. The breed was recognized by the AKC in 1992. Today the Shiba Inu is the 46th most popular breed in the United States.
The Shiba Inu is a small, agile dog suited for hunting in mountainous area. Shibas were originally bred for hunting. The Shiba Inu resembles some of the other Japanese spitz breeds, such as the Akita Inu, but they are not closely related and their temperament is different. They are also much smaller than the other Japanese spitz breeds. The name “Shiba Inu” is usually translated as “Little brushwood dog” – Inu means “dog” in Japanese. Shiba can mean “brushwood,” perhaps referring to where the dogs hunted; but it can also mean “little” in sold older dialects. The Shiba Inu tends to be an independent dog. In some cases these dogs can be aggressive toward other dogs. The breed is usually recommended for people who do not have other dogs or young children. They often do get along well with cats. It’s important to note that early socialization and training can make a difference in how a dog behaves. Shibas are loyal and affectionate to people they know but they are reserved toward strangers. This is a very clean breed – almost cat-like. They are considered to be very easy to housetrain. You should be aware that Shibas have a distinctive “scream.” They can emit the Shiba scream if you are handling them in a way they don’t like or if they are feeling particularly joyful.
Quick Look : Top 4 Best Dog Foods for Shiba Inus
The male Shiba Inu stands 14 ½ to 16 ½ inches tall at the withers. Females are 13 ½ to 15 ½ inches tall. Males weigh approximately 23 pounds and females weigh about 17 pounds.
The Shiba Inu is able to engage in many activities such as coursing, agility, rally, obedience, barn hunt, tracking, and fly ball. If you and your dog are training for or participating in some of these events, you should take this into account when you figure how many calories your dog needs.
According to the National Research Council of the National Academies, an active adult Shiba Inu weighing 20 pounds requires an average daily caloric intake of 660 kcal. Dogs that have been spayed/neutered, or that are older, may need slightly fewer calories. Some dogs may need more calories depending on their level of activity and their individual metabolism. For example, if you train with your Shiba Inu (weighing 20 pounds) and do fly ball, you might need to feed him somewhere around 733 kcal. Growing puppies consume more calories than adult dogs and so do young adult dogs. A young Shiba Inu puppy (4-12 months) weighing 15 pounds needs an estimated 591 kcal per day. You always need to adjust your dog’s food intake based on his activity level and other factors.
Since Shiba Inus are a small to medium-sized dog, it’s not hard to find many good foods that are appropriate for their size. You also have many choices for Shiba puppies since they don’t normally have any special food requirements.
You can choose a puppy food that is made for all puppies. Most breeders recommend feeding this food until your puppy reaches about 90 percent of his adult size. Many Shibas will start to look like an adult as early as six months of age but they will continue to grow and mature until they are a year old. Some breeders, instead, recommend a puppy food for the first few months and then suggest switching to an adult food by the time the puppy is about six months of age. You should talk to your breeder about the food they recommend for their puppies since they usually have experience with how their puppies grow and develop.
Feeding Your Shiba Inu
The National Shiba Club of America, the AKC parent club for the breed, recommends feeding your Shiba Inu a food that contains about 30 percent protein and 15-18 percent fat.
According to the club, Shibas can be prone to some allergies but flea allergies seem to top the list. Food and inhalant allergies (such as pollen) do occur, however. If you suspect that your dog has an allergy or food sensitivity, we recommend talking to your veterinarian to identify the cause.
As with any dog, you should feed your Shiba Inu a good quality dog food. Food that is high in animal protein is usually a good choice.
Whether you feed your dog a food with or without grains is a personal choice. Many people choose grain free dog foods because their dogs have digestive problems, food allergies or sensitivities, or skin problems. You may want to avoid the most common grains, such as corn and wheat which are often over-used in dog foods, but there are many good dog foods that use alternative grains/cereals such as oats and barley. If you still prefer to feed a grain free dog food, that should also work for your Shiba Inu. Try a couple of foods, with and without grains, and see how your dog does on the foods so you can make your decision.
Adult Shiba Inus usually do well eating two meals per day. You can feed Shiba Inu puppies 3-4 meals when they are very young, then move to three meals per day as they get older. By the time they are about a year old they should be eating two meals per day.
According to the national club, an eight-week-old Shiba will eat about 1/3 cup of puppy food three times per day but this will also depend on the food you are feeding and how many calories are in the food. You can gradually increase the amount of food you are feeding as his appetite increases. Remember that puppies should not be too fat or too thin. Per the club, an adult Shiba will eat from 1-1 ½ cups of kibble per day, depending on his size and energy level. Again, this will also depend on the food you are feeding and how many calories it has.
Shiba Inu Health Problems
Shibas are considered to be a healthy breed but, as already mentioned, some dogs can have allergies, especially flea allergies. Allergies are considered the most common health problem affecting Shiba Inus, but not the most serious.
Eye problems can also occur in the breed such as glaucoma, entropion (where a portion of the eyelid folds inward which may cause an eyelash to irritate the eye), and cataracts. Cataracts is the most common eye problem seen in Shibas. Hip dysplasia and luxating patellas (similar to a slipped knee cap in humans) can also be problems with some dogs. The National Shiba Club of America considers luxating patellas to be the most serious health condition that can affect Shiba Inus.
The club recommends that any dog being considered for breeding have the following health tests:
- OFA Evaluation – OR
- OVC Evaluation – OR
- PennHIP Evaluation
Eye Examination by a boarded ACVO Ophthalmologist
- Results registered with OFA – OR
- Results registered with CERF
- OFA Evaluation
If you are thinking of getting a Shiba Inu, you should talk to the breeder about these tests.
The Shiba has a lifespan of 12-15 years. The oldest Shiba on record lived to be 26 so this does tend to be a long-lived, hardy breed.
Ingredients to Avoid and Some to Look For
As with most dogs, when choosing a food for your Shiba Inu you should look for a food that has good sources of protein and fat.
Ideally you will select a dog food that features two or three meat proteins in the first several ingredients listed. Both whole meats and meat meals are good sources of protein. Whole meats refer to foods such as whole chicken, beef, fish, and lamb. Some people don’t like meat meals as much as whole meats but they are a concentrated form of the meat in which the moisture has been removed. They contain several times as much protein as a whole meat. Meat meals are usually quite acceptable as one of the first ingredients in a good quality dog food. They are used by many good dog food brands.
Many dog foods today, even some of the most expensive and highly touted, use lots of plant proteins such as lentils and peas. These foods often have high protein percentages on the label. When you read the guaranteed analysis it’s important to consider how much of the protein in the food comes from meat and how much comes from plants. Your dog is able to digest meat protein more easily than plant protein. Meat protein is a much more natural source of protein for your dog than plant protein.
Dogs also need good sources of fat. You should look for named fat sources such as chicken fat. Other named fats also provide needed nutrients such as fish oil which can provide omega-3 fatty acid to help keep the skin and coat healthy. Puppies can benefit from DHA which is Docosahexaenoic acid. This is a specific form of omega-3 fatty acid that helps with brain and eye development. Older dogs seem to benefit from medium chain triglycerides which feature medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs). These have been found to help older dogs feel and act younger. They are often made from a combination of coconut oil and other oils.
If you want to avoid corn, soy, and wheat in your dog food, your Shiba Inu may still be able to eat an alternative grain such as barley or oats. Or you can feed a grain free dog food that uses an alternate source of carbs that is low glycemic such as sweet potatoes. You don’t have to feed a dog food with an excessively high percentage of protein but it’s a good idea to keep the carb percentage low to moderate.
If your Shiba Inu has a food allergy or food sensitivity, you may need to work with your veterinarian to identify the food triggers unless they are very obvious. There are lots of good foods with alternative meat proteins today as well as limited ingredient diets which we will discuss below.
Recommended Dog Food For An Adult Shiba Inu
Unless your Shiba has a food allergy or sensitivity or some other health problem, he should be able to eat most good quality dog foods. If your dog has a food allergy or food sensitivity you will need to try to avoid foods with ingredients that are triggers for your dog. We have listed some foods we recommend for dogs with food allergies and food sensitivities below.
We have suggested a variety of foods here for Shiba Inus. Most of the foods we have selected do not contain corn, wheat, or soy, unless noted. You may have to try a couple of foods to find which one is best for your dog. You should also keep in mind that your dog’s dietary needs can change as he grows and ages so you may have to change foods to suit him.
Best Dog Foods for Shiba Inu Adults
Merrick grain free foods are high in meat protein. The first five ingredients in this food are Deboned Beef, Lamb Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, and Potatoes. This recipe is an all life stage food with 422 kcal per cup ME (metabolizable energy) on an as fed basis (calculated). It has 70 percent meat ingredients, 30 percent vegetables, vitamins, and minerals. It is grain free – no corn, soy, or wheat. No gluten. No poultry by-products, no artificial preservatives. No ingredients from China. It has 38 percent crude protein and 15 percent crude fat, with 3.5 percent crude fiber. It also has glucosamine and chondroitin added, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Merrick uses local growers from Texas, where the food is made. We think this is good quality protein and other ingredients for Shiba Inus that need good nutrition for an active lifestyle. Not everyone will like a protein percentage this high but if you do, give this food a try.
*New Formula* ACANA Grasslands Regional Formula Grain Free Dry Dog Food
Champion Pet Foods has completed their new kitchen in Kentucky and they are now reformulating some of their dog and cat foods to reflect what is now “regional” to the Kentucky area. So, it’s still the same award-winning company, but Acana will be made in Kentucky. We’ve had a chance to review the Acana dog and cat foods and there are some changes in the meat proteins but the foods still look good. If you visit the Acana web site you can view the old and new formulas to see the changes (we really like being able to compare the formulas). The old Grasslands formula, for example, was heavy on lamb, duck, whitefish, and lentils. The new formula features goat meal and catfish meal, in addition to the lamb and duck. The old formula has 31 percent crude protein, 17 percent crude fat, 5 percent crude fiber, and 10 percent moisture. The new formula has 33 percent crude protein, 17 percent crude fat, 6 percent crude fiber, and 12 percent moisture. The food has 70 percent animal protein ingredients and 30 percent vegetables, fruits, and botanicals. No grains, potatoes, or tapioca. If you’re looking for a good grain free dog food for your Shiba Inu that is low in carbohydrates, we think that the Acana foods are a good choice. Acana foods typically have slightly less meat protein than Orijen (made by the same company), but we think they’re a good choice for many dogs.
Victor dog food has something of a cult following. People who feed it really seem to love it. It’s made by Mid America Pet Food – a company that co-packs for some other well-known brands. Mid America is a family-owned and operated company located in east Texas. According to the company, more than 80 percent of the ingredients used in their foods come from a 200-mile radius of their facility. They currently have seventeen formulas available. They have foods that are free of corn, wheat, soy, gluten, and grain by-products. They use no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. The Yukon River Salmon formula has 32 percent crude protein, 15 percent crude fat, and 34 percent crude carbs. Seventy-six percent of the protein in the food comes from fish. We think that Shibas would do well on this food. Or you could check out one of Victor’s other foods. People who feed Victor are devoted to this brand. Considering the ingredients, their foods are very reasonably priced.
Fromm Adult Gold Dog Food
If you would like a food with a little less protein, we also like Fromm Adult Gold. This formula has duck, chicken meal, and chicken as the first three ingredients. It has 24 percent crude protein, 16 percent crude fat, and 3.5 percent crude fiber, with 408 kcal/cup. It is AAFCO-approved for growth and maintenance. The food includes salmon oil – a great source of omega-3 fatty acid for healthy skin and coat; probiotics, and prebiotics. No corn, wheat, or soy. The food is also made at the family’s own facilities in Wisconsin. The Fromm family has been making dog food and dog products for over 100 years and they have a great reputation. The food includes brown rice and pearled barley in the first five ingredients. It does contain oatmeal and potatoes so if you are trying to keep the carbs very low you may not like this food. However, we think the ingredients are good quality and many Shibas will do well on this food. You can see the technical analysis for the food, with the dry matter basis figures on the site.
Best Dog Foods for Shiba Inu Puppies
|Canidae Grain Free Pure Foundations Puppy Formula
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|Adirondack 30 Percent High Fat Recipe for Puppy & Performance Dogs
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Shiba Inu puppies can usually begin eating a puppy food after they are weaned or they can eat a good all life stage food. Some people like to feed a puppy food for a few months and then switch over to an all life stage food when their puppy is a few months old. If you have questions about how to feed your puppy, we recommend talking to your puppy’s breeder. They usually have the most experience with raising Shiba Inu puppies and can guide you.
Puppy foods should have a calcium to phosphorus ratio of about 1.2 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus, though there is some slight room for variation such as 1.5:1.2 . It’s also important that dog and puppy foods do not have an excess (or deficiency) of calcium since this can affect bone growth. If you are feeding your puppy a food that is properly formulated, you should not add any extra calcium, such as milk, cottage cheese, or other calcium supplements. Doing so can lead to serious health problems such as OCD (osteochondritis dessecans) – painful bone spurs that may require surgery – and other orthopedic problems.
Here are some of the puppy foods we like for Shiba Inu puppies. Note that an all life stage food can also be fed, as long as the nutrients are appropriate for your puppy.
Canidae Grain Free Pure Foundations Puppy Formula
Canidae Grain Free Pure Foundations Puppy Formula is a limited ingredient food with nine ingredients plus vitamins and minerals and probiotics. It’s grain free with probiotics to help digestion; antioxidants for a healthy immune system; and omega 3 and 6 to support healthy skin and a beautiful coat. The first five ingredients are Chicken, menhaden fish meal, lentils, peas, potatoes. The recipe is supposed to be especially good for puppies with sensitive digestion. The food has 30 percent crude protein, 12 percent crude fat, 4 percent crude fiber, and 10 percent moisture. This food checks in at 520 kcal/cup, so it’s high in calories but active, growing Shiba Inu puppies can usually burn them off. Just remember that you don’t need to feed a lot of food with these very nutrient-dense foods. If your Shiba Inu puppy does well on this puppy food, Canidae has some good adult foods – both grain free and foods with grains.
Adirondack 30 Percent High Fat Recipe For Puppy & Performance Dogs
We have heard lots of great things about this food from people who feed it to puppies. The first five ingredients are: Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Chicken Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Ground Grain Sorghum. It has 30 percent crude protein, 20 percent crude fat, 3.8 percent crude fiber, 10 percent moisture, and added omega 3 and omega 6. It has 534.8 kcal/cup. No corn, no wheat, no soy, no artificial colors or flavors. This is an all life stage formula. We think this is a good food for energetic Shiba Inu puppies.
Best Dog Foods for the Senior Shiba Inu
It’s not unusual for many Shiba Inus to live into their teen years. This means that you will probably need to consider what kind of food to feed your Shiba Inu as he gets older. As your dog ages it’s a good idea to plan an annual senior check-up with your vet. Many older dogs begin to put on pounds as they become less active. For this reason, most senior dog foods have fewer calories and they can skimp on protein. You should watch your older dog’s weight as he gets older to make sure he doesn’t become overweight. In some cases you can simply cut back on the portions of his regular dog food to help him stay fit or increase his exercise.
On the other hand, some very old dogs often start to have some problems metabolizing nutrients, including protein. It can become hard for them to keep good muscle tone and weight as they age. For this reason, you may wish to avoid many dog foods labeled “senior.” These foods are often formulated for older dogs that have gained weight. Instead, look for a senior dog food that we like which has lots of protein. As long as your older dog doesn’t have any problems with his kidneys or with phosphorus, there is no reason to avoid higher protein levels.
Orijen Senior provides plenty of excellent quality protein for your older Shiba. This food features deboned chicken, deboned turkey, yellowtail ﬂounder, whole eggs, and whole Atlantic mackerel. It helps keep older dogs in good muscle even as they become less active. Made of 85 percent meats and fish, the food is low-glycemic and has low carbs to help keep your older dog’s blood sugar steady. The food also contains natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin to keep your Shiba’s joints healthy. The food is 38 percent crude protein and 15 percent crude fat. It checks in at 414 kcal per 8 ounce cup. We think this is a very good food for senior dogs who often need extra protein as they get older. (We know Orijen is expensive but this food really stands out for senior dogs.)
Another food you may want to consider for older dogs is Weruva’s Caloric Harmony Venison and Salmon Meal Dinner with Pumpkin. This food (and several others in this product line) is potato-free with no corn or wheat, easy to digest, and low-glycemic. It contains pumpkin and oatmeal for healthy gut motility. Meat protein comes from grass-fed venison and the food also features salmon meal and herring meal. The dry matter basis for this food is an estimated 37.8 percent protein;14.4 percent fat; 3.9 percent fiber; and 35 percent carbs. The calorie count (calculated) is Metabolizable Energy (ME) 3320 kcal/kg; 348 kcal/cup. Those look like good figures for senior dogs who need more protein without extra fat.
Best Dog Foods for Shiba Inus with Skin Problems/Allergies
As mentioned earlier, Shiba Inus can have some allergies and skin problems. If your dog needs to avoid common proteins, you can try this food.
Wild Calling! Xotic Essentials Rabbit Meal Recipe
Any dog suffering from skin problems or food allergies may benefit from Wild Calling!’s Xotic Essentials recipes. Formulas like their rabbit meal recipe use exotic meats that are rare in today’s pet food market so your dog hasn’t eaten them before – less chance of having an allergic reaction. The foods are also highly digestible. Wild Calling! also uses what they call LITe (limited ingredient technology). They don’t use any of the ingredients commonly found in most dog foods such as chicken, grain, gluten, egg, yeast, corn, wheat or soy. If your Shiba Inu has a food allergy, he may benefit from Wild Calling! The foods are formulated for rotational feeding and they offer several Xotic Essentials recipes, such as kangaroo and bison, so your dog doesn’t get over-exposed to one kind of meat protein. This is an All Life Stage food. We think that dogs with skin problems and food allergies can definitely benefit from these recipes.
Another food that is often recommended for dogs with food allergies and skin problems is Zignature. It comes in proteins such as trout & salmon, kangaroo, turkey, duck, venison, and others. It’s available in dry and canned versions. Foods are potato- and grain-free, and chicken-free. They do not use common bonding agents (thickeners and ingredients to hold the food together) in their foods which are high in simple carbs and starches. They only use low glycemic carbs such as chickpeas that add extra protein and fiber to the food. They work with Tuffy’s in Minnesota and Performance Pet in South Dakota to make their foods. Many people like Zignature very much. If you have a dog with food allergies, this is a brand that you might consider.
Best Dog Foods for Shiba Inus with Sensitive Stomachs
If your dog has a sensitive stomach it can be an indication of a food sensitivity, which is different from a food allergy. A dog with a food sensitivity will have gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting or diarrhea. Or it could be something more serious.
A dog with a sensitive stomach can often be helped by feeding the right dog food. Sticking to a limited ingredient diet food with as few ingredients as possible can reduce the chance of your dog having a bad reaction to something in the food.
We recommend Natural Balance L.I.D. Limited Ingredient Diets Sweet Potato & Fish Formula Small Breed Bites Dry Dog Food. This food is grain free with limited ingredients. It has good quality, alternative ingredients that are easily digestible for a dog with a sensitive stomach. And it contains no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. The first five ingredients are: Sweet Potatoes, Salmon, Salmon Meal, Canola Oil, and Potato Fiber. It has 21 percent crude protein, 10 percent crude fat, 4.5 percent crude fiber, and 10 percent moisture. It has 380 kcal/cup and it’s an all life stage formula. If your dog can’t eat some of the ingredients in this food, Natural Balance has lots of other LID recipes that you might check.
If your dog can’t eat these ingredients, you might try one of the Weruva foods or Acana Singles. Weruva also has lots of foods with pumpkin which can sometimes help a dog with stomach issues.
Best Dog Foods for Overweight Shiba Inus
If your Shiba Inu becomes overweight, it may be due to overfeeding and not enough exercise. You can help your dog lose weight by cutting back on his portions and encouraging him to get more exercise. Shiba Inus are very active and playful dogs as puppies and young adults but they can slow down as they begin to age.
If your Shiba Inus needs to lose more than one or two pounds, however, you may need to consider a weight control dog food.
We do not recommend a weight control dog food for a puppy or a very old dog. These foods generally have fewer calories and may have some other differences in nutrients that make them inappropriate for growing puppies or older dogs who need special nutrition.
If you have a Shiba Inu that needs to lose weight we recommend Merrick Grain Free Healthy Weight Recipe. We like the fact that this food has 32 percent crude protein. The crude fat percentage is between 8 and 11 percent with 5 percent crude fiber so your dog should not feel like he’s starving. It is AAFCO-approved for a maintenance diet. The food has 3,210 kcal per kilogram or 360 kcal per cup ME (metabolizable energy) on an as fed basis (calculated). It is grain free and made from 55 percent beef and poultry. And it contains no corn, wheat, or soy and no ingredients from China. The first five ingredients in this food are: Deboned Beef, Chicken Meal, Potatoes, Peas, and Sweet Potatoes.
If your dog needs to lose weight, you should proceed slowly. No crash dieting. You should aim for your dog to lose no more than 3 to 5 percent of his body weight per month or about one percent each week.
Independent, bold, and good-natured, the Shiba can make an excellent pet for singles or families with older children. They are alert, strong-willed, intelligent dogs so they are not always the right dog for everyone. They do best with smart owners that understand them. It’s important to begin socializing and training your Shiba Inu early and continue throughout his life. These dogs are wonderful pets for the right owners but it does take some effort.