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Bathing Your Shiba Inu (Frequency, & Puppy Tips)

If you have a Shiba Inu, you have likely noticed their unique coat which is often recognized for its beautiful color but, have you ever noticed how thick their coats are? 

Because of these thick coats along with other factors, new Shiba Inu owners are sometimes unsure about bathing their dogs themselves. If you need tips and tricks to help your dog’s bath process run smoothly at home, then keep reading!

Do Shiba Inu like baths?

A lot of dog owners’ first concerns when thinking of bathing their pup at home is whether or not they will like having a bath.

Each dog reacts differently to bath time; although, a significant number of Shiba Inu owners agree that their dogs either love or hate the water! 

Don’t be alarmed if your Shiba Inu screams during a bath. That is most likely just an indicator that he really doesn’t like the water. This has happened to many owners before. While it makes bath time a lot more difficult your Shiba is probably just being dramatic.

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Thank you Daniel Z. for use of your photo.

Shiba Inu are known for their double coats (2 layers of fur). The bottom layer is closest to their skin and is thick and dense, also called the “undercoat,” the top layer is stiff and coarse. Because of this thick coat, Shiba Inu tend to get hot very quickly, this is one of many reasons why they love baths and being in water in general — it is an easy way to cool off quickly! 

Learn more about a Shiba Inus double coat by reading this article:
Shaving Your Shiba Inu, Is it Ever Ok? (The Truth Revealed)
Or about what makes your Shiba Scream in this article:
7 Reasons Why Your Shiba Inu Whines and Screams (Quick Solutions Guide)

Do Shiba Inu need baths? 

Due to their double coat, a Shiba Inus fur is water-repellent. They do not need baths as often as other breeds because of their unique fur. If you over bathe your Shiba Inu more than necessary, it may lead to dry skin and hair loss. 

Although Shiba Inu do not need baths as often as other dog breeds, it is important to bathe and groom your Shiba Inu during heavy shedding periods. Shiba Inu are known for their large amounts of fur! One useful tool that I have found helpful is the Furminator, which is great for reducing the amount of loose hair on your dog. This tool is great because if used correctly 1–2 times weekly, it does not damage the coat or cut your dog’s skin. 

Do Shiba Inu smell? 

Shiba Inu are generally a breed that doesn’t smell bad unless they have rolled in something or have been in a very dirty working environment such as a farm around pigs or livestock. Their coat is water and dirt repellent and will keep most smells away.

The exception to this is during high shedding times.

Not only is it important to bathe and groom your Shiba Inu during heavy shedding periods to maintain their appearance and comfort, but it is also key in preventing any odor. 

Tip: Bathing can help quite a bit when your dog is blowing their coat. The photo below is before and after a bath time for this beautiful Shiba Inu when she was blowing her coat.

Shiba Inus have a unique and natural smell to their fur that tends to become stronger when they are heavily shedding. This is why it is important to keep their coat maintained, especially when shedding is at its highest. If their coat is not properly maintained and they are left without a bath for too long, the smell becomes even more powerful. 

If you are curious about how to deal with your Shiba Inus shedding you can read this article.
Shiba Inu Shedding Complete Guide (Tips and Tricks From Owners)

How often can I bathe my Shiba Inu?

Location has a lot to do with how often you should be bathing your Shiba Inu. Depending on where you live, your dog may be exposed to different environments that cause them to get dirty more quickly. 

An active dog, and one that is outside often, may require bathing on a more regular basis (every 4–6 weeks), whereas a Shiba Inu that spends a lot of their time inside may only need a bath every 3–6 months. 

There is no specific time range that a Shiba Inu should be bathed, each dog is different! If you notice your dog needing a bath before 4 weeks, go for it! 

What shampoo is best for a Shiba Inu? 

Choosing a good shampoo and conditioner for your dog is one of the most important decisions involving their bath. There are several things to keep in mind when looking for the best shampoo and conditioner for your dog:

  • If your dog has any skin conditions
  • If your dog has fleas or ticks or is known for having them previously
  • If your dog has an odor
  • If you are wanting your dog’s fur to shine
  • If your dog struggles with tangled fur
  • If your dog is young or old
  • If your dog is allergic to any specific ingredients.

Taking these points into consideration can help narrow down your shampoo and conditioner search significantly. Always remember not to use human shampoo or conditioner on your dog, certain fragrances and dyes can irritate, dry out, and damage your dog’s skin. Many Shiba Inu owners recommend using non-toxic and non-stripping shampoos so that the fur and skin do not dry out. 

Shiba Inu are known for having allergies mostly due to genetics; however, other factors can influence allergies such as diet, grasses, pollen, mold, dust, medicines, and especially what you are using on their fur and skin during bath time! Choosing specific bath products that you find don’t irritate your pup is key in preventing any serious allergies as well as ensuring that they are their happiest and healthiest selves! 

Most recommended by owners shampoos for Shiba Inu:

A lot of times dog owners will focus solely on shampoo and conditioner when preparing for their dog’s bath, forgetting about the other wonderful and unique bath and grooming products, tools, etc. that are available! Some other items that can be useful during your dog’s bath time include:

How to bathe my Shiba Inu at home (step-by-step)

Some Shiba Inu owners worry about the correct steps to take to bathe their Shiba Inu at home properly. Below is a step-by-step guide on bathing your Shiba Inu at home. By taking these steps you can ensure a positive bath experience for your dog!

Bath prep:

  1. Lie all of the necessary products and tools out before you begin. It is helpful to have the necessary items nearby so you don’t have to leave your dog in the shower or bath alone. 

    Staying by your pup’s side throughout the bathing process can eliminate any stress or anxiety they are feeling. Having the bath products nearby can also help you avoid forgetting any steps in your dog’s bath routine!
  2. Make sure to start running the bath or shower water before your dog enters. Finding the right temperature of the water is important; having the water too hot could burn you or your dog’s skin and having the water too cold can cause discomfort for your pup. Starting the water before your dog enters the bathing area can also help eliminate the stress your pup may be feeling! 
  3. If you have a bathtub, you may have to lift your dog into the tub. Start by placing one arm on their chest (under the two front legs) and scoop with your other arm to bring their back legs in, supporting their backside. This lifting method takes any strain off of your dog’s back and results in the most comfortable position for you as well!
  4. It is important that your dog does not fall while having their bath. If your tub or shower is slippery, you may want to consider laying a rubber mat on the floor to prevent your dog from falling. It may also be helpful to lay towels on the bathroom floor so your pup doesn’t fall after coming out of the tub or shower. 
  5. If you have a dog that is anxious and stressed about bath time, two ways to calm them down include; using a low voice and soft tone. Speaking to your dog softly and sweetly can be soothing for your dog, resulting in their stress fading away. Investing in an adhesive lick pad for your shower wall or tub can be helpful as well. By placing a distraction in front of your pup, they should be occupied enough for you to bathe them efficiently without causing them any discomfort or stress! 

Tip: Seeing as Shiba Inu have so much hair, it is oftentimes a good idea to invest in a drain cover for your shower or bath to prevent any clogs caused by loose hair!

Step 1

Begin by running your fingers through your dog’s fur as you spray the water onto them. Don’t start at the head because this may cause your pup to feel anxious and begin shaking or trying to escape the shower or tub. A significant number of Shiba Inu owners found that washing the head last resulted in an overall better bath experience. 

Step 2

Use the shampoo and lather it in your hands before applying it to a section of your Shiba Inu’s fur. Begin washing in sections — because Shiba Inu’s fur dries so quickly, it is important to wash in one section at a time or in different zones of the body (belly, sides, back, etc.) so that the fur doesn’t dry up and cause shampoo to get stuck. 

It is recommended to rinse the fur from top to bottom (back to stomach), this causes the water to fall downward, washing out any shampoo that is left behind. It is very easy for shampoo to get stuck in a Shiba Inu’s undercoat; there is no such thing as “over rinsing,” when it comes to these dogs — Rinse, Rinse, Rinse! 

Tip: Praise your dog often throughout their bath. Remind them that they are doing a good job. Bath time is supposed to be a positive experience, reminding your dog that it is doing “so good!” can also help alleviate any stress or discomfort they may be feeling. 

Step 3

After shampooing and conditioning your dog’s entire body, it is now time to wash the head. When spraying water on your pup’s head, try pushing any water away from their eyes to avoid any discomfort or risk of getting shampoo or conditioner in their eyes that could lead to irritation. 

It is important to avoid getting any water inside your dog’s ear(s). If any water enters their ear(s), normally there is nothing to worry about, just be sure to dry their ear(s) well once they are done with their bath; however, if water sits in a dog’s ear too long, there is a risk for infection. Thankfully there are products available that help with drying up any water stuck in your dog’s ear!

Step 4

Some Shiba Inu owners may be surprised to find that Shiba Inu paws hold a lot of water! Because of this, it is important to dry their feet last after all the water has fallen off of them. Use a towel to dry the paw and between the toes so that no water is left behind that could cause dry skin or irritation, you may also choose to blow-dry your pup too!

Tip: It is likely that your dog will shake after its bath! If you have doors or a curtain on your shower or tub, it is a good idea to leave them closed for a moment to see if your pup is planning on shaking water everywhere!

Should I air-dry or blow-dry my Shiba Inu? 

Although Shiba Inu dry super quickly, especially on their topcoat; sometimes there is moisture still present on their undercoat. Because of this, a lot of Shiba Inu owners blow-dry their dogs. 

If you are planning on blow-drying your Shiba Inu, it is important to keep the nozzle of the dryer several inches away from their fur so that they don’t get burned. Keeping the airflow moving constantly can also avoid this issue. 

Blowing the fur in one consistent direction (normally in the direction of hair growth) will cause the fur to lay flat. If you were to blow the hair in the opposite direction of the hair growth, the fur will likely curl up and become messy. 

If you plan to blow-dry your pup rather than let them air dry, you will want to brush and dry the undercoat very well. If you don’t, there could be some moisture left behind, resulting in the fur becoming a curled mess that is very matted. 

Shiba Inu owners tend to blow dry their pups often, not only because of the points above but also because a lot of Shiba Inu have sensitive skin.

By blow-drying your dog instead of letting them air dry, irritation to the skin can be avoided since there is no moisture left in the fur for a long time; instead, your dog will have completely dried fur and skin after their bath. Blow-drying also helps eliminate any odor that would arise due to moisture being left on the fur!

While we strive to give the most accurate and helpful information about your pet’s health that we can, this article is meant to be informational only and not medical advice. Never disregard, avoid or delay in obtaining medical advice from your veterinarian or other qualified veterinary health care provider regardless of what you have read on this site or elsewhere.

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