Written by Ella White
Part of welcoming a new dog to the family is research: from the care they need to how long they’ll live. So, the life expectancy of a Shiba Inu is probably one of the first things you’ll want to know if you’re considering becoming an owner of this fluffy Japanese breed.
In this blog we’ll look at the average lifespan of a Shiba Inu, any genetic diseases that might affect their life expectancy, and how you can help them live the healthiest life and possibly even extend how long your Shiba Inu will live.
Shiba Inus are a spitz breed that originated in Japan as far back as 7 AD – making them one of the oldest domesticated dog breeds in the world.
Originally bred for hunting, Shiba Inus are smaller than other, similar Japanese dog breeds, like the Akita Inu, the Hokkaido Ken and the Kai Ken. In fact, in Japanese Shiba Inu translates to ‘small dog,’ as it's the smallest of six breeds native to the country.
Thanks to their ancient heritage, Shiba Inus are hardy, adaptable, and less susceptible to genetic diseases thanks to a long history of natural breeding. While they’re alert, loyal, confident, they also have a strong prey-hunting instinct that can make them tough to train and disposed to escape attempts.
Their double-thick coat, pointed ears, and curled tail give them a fox-like look that’s made them popular on the internet among fans of cute animal videos. But don’t let their sweet appearance fool you: the fluffy Shiba Inu’s confidence and intelligence means they’re not well suited to first-time owners with no experience training dogs, or families with small children that might pique the dog’s impatient side.
A healthy Shiba Inu can be expected to live for 12 to 15 years. Medium-sized dogs with few genetic predispositions and general good health can live a fairly long life. But, like any pet, how long your dog lives can be affected by their quality of life and the level of care and attention given to them by their owners.
To help increase their lifespan, owners should have their dog spayed or neutered to help prevent reproductive illnesses and some cancers. Rigorous training will help them stay safe and mentally healthy, while good nutrition and plenty of exercise will promote their overall wellbeing.
Like all dogs, Shiba Inus should be taken for regular check ups at the vet, and can be checked for known genetic diseases so that precautionary measures can be put in place or treatment can be administered.
Though healthy, strong, and generally unaffected by modern, purposeful breeding practices, the Shiba Inu is still susceptible to some less serious health issues. Regular visits to the vet will mean you always know whether your Shiba is at risk or already suffering from one of their more common genetic conditions.
Though unlikely to affect the lifespan in most cases, this breed is as susceptible to flea, food, and environmental allergies as other breeds. Allergies can impact the quality of life your dog leads, even if it doesn’t shorten it. Adding a supplement like Front of the Pack’s Soothe to your dog’s daily diet can help alleviate symptoms of allergies while boosting their immune system with healthy, natural ingredients.
Eye conditions like cataracts, glaucoma, and retinal atrophy can all affect Shiba Inus. Though unlikely to shorten their lifespan, conditions that affect their eyesight or cause discomfort in the eyes can impact their quality of life. So owners should have their dog’s eyes tested regularly, especially if they plan to have their pet join a breeding program.
Many dog breeds can be affected by hip dysplasia, including the Shiba Inu. This is usually a genetic issue inherited from one or both parents, and is caused by abnormal growth in the joint socket. This usually occurs during rapid growth periods or if your dog becomes overweight. For more information about hip dysplasia in dogs, read our blog.
If you notice your dog limping, especially in their rear legs, it could be because of a luxating patella. Essentially, this means their knee cap has shifted out of its normal place and can cause lameness and a lot of pain if not recognised and treated quickly.
Though we might like to imagine our pups will live forever, the truth is that we have little control over their natural lifespan. However, by promoting the healthiest possible lifestyle can help them live slightly longer and much happier lives.
Shiba Inus can be stubborn and instinctive, which can make them challenging to train – especially for first-time or inexperienced dog owners. But, like all dog breeds, a well-trained Shib is a happy Shiba. And in fact, their intelligence can make them easier to train in that they can pick up and obey commands more easily. You just need patience and a firmly established position as the leader of their pack.
Consistent and rigorous training can improve their lifespan by keeping them safe – for example teaching them to stop, sit, and heal on command – and also by keeping their brain stimulated which is proven to be connected to overall well being.
Be sure to focus on recall training, and make sure your Shiba gets plenty of physical and mental exercise every day to keep them happy and healthy.
A bored dog is an unhappy dog, and in many cases this can lead to destructive and dangerous behavior. Particularly in intelligent dogs, mental stimulation is as important as physical exercise when it comes to keeping them happy and healthy.
So as well as exercising their bodies, make sure you exercise your Shiba’s mind and make time to play with them throughout the day. This breed loves affection and attention and will probably follow you around the home just for company when you’re there.
Shibas are curious and inquisitive, and their hunting instinct means they especially enjoy games that involve problem solving. They also love to chase, to bring a ball out on walks and enjoy a game of catch together.
They can be left alone for short periods of time without experiencing too much anxiety, but making sure there are toys and games to keep them entertained. And since they’re strongly motivated by food, game puzzles like snuffle mats will keep your Shiba busy while you’re out and promote a healthy mind.
At a minimum, Shiba Inus should get around 40 and 60 minutes of daily exercise. This will help them maintain a healthy weight and also fulfill their physical needs. As active and energetic dogs, they need long walks with lots of interesting things to look at, sniff, and explore. For this reason, they’re also better suited to homes with secured gardens that they can play in while at home.
All dogs need a healthy and nutritional diet to thrive, so picking high-quality, protein-rich food is a great way to ensure your Shiba Inu will live a long and happy life. Understanding the correct calorie and portion requirements for your pet depending on their age and size is also important to prevent over- or under-feeding.
Front of the Pack’s air-dried dog food is a fast, safe, and easy way to serve your Shiba all the vitamins and minerals they need to live a long and healthy life. And since it’s packed with meat protein, fruits, and veggies, they’ll love the taste, too.
Our vet-approved food is formulated to improve your dog’s health with its fiber-rich blend of fresh fruit and veggies, raw meat protein, and postbiotics. The low-and-slow air drying process locks in all the goodness of the natural ingredients – and unlike kibble, you don’t have to worry about any added filler or nasties that can disrupt your dog’s health.