As a so-called primitive dog breed, the Shiba Inu enjoys rather robust health. But does this mean that these dogs are completely immune from health issues? Find out more below.

What are the Most Common Diseases for a Shiba Inu?

Fortunately, this Japanese Spitz is much less affected by disease than most other dog breeds. However, Shibas are still susceptible to several health problems:

  • Eye Problems: Most notably glaucoma, cataracts, and progressive retinal atrophy. Glaucoma is a deformation of the eyeball caused by increased pressure in the eye. It is very painful and results in strabismus, discharge, blueing of the cornea and redness in the whites of the eyes. He must be treated as soon as possible, as he presents a risk of blindness. Cataracts involve a gradual thickening of the eye lens, which is accompanied by decreased vision, or even blindness. Cataracts are treated surgically by replacing the lens of the eye with an artificial lens. Finally, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is characterised by degeneration of the retina. This is a fairly common illness for the Shiba Inu. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease and, eventually, the dog will go blind. While not particularly painful, it will require certain adaptations to preserve the dog’s quality of life.

  • GM1 Gangliosidosis: Also known as Norman-Landing disease, gangliosidosis is a hereditary lysosomal storage disorder. Fortunately quite rare, it is caused by the abnormal accumulation of GM1 ganglioside (a fatty molecule important for normal functioning of nerve cells) in the brain and viscera. Symptoms usually appear early, by the age of 6 months, and are primarily neurological, e.g. loss of balance, unsteady gait, tremors, etc. There is no cure for gangliosidosis; this disease is progressive and most dogs are euthanized within a year to save them from unnecessary suffering.

The Average Lifespan of a Shiba Inu

The average life expectancy of a Shiba Inu is between 13 and 15 years, but it is not uncommon for this little dog breed to live well beyond that. As such, the lifespan of a Shiba Inu is relatively long compared to other dog breeds. Large dogs, in particular, live much shorter lives than smaller breeds. It should be noted, of course, that the predicted lifespan of any dog breed is only an indication. A dog's life could be cut short by unexpected events like accident or illness. But there are a few things you can do to help ensure that your dog lives a long and happy life.


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How Can I Increase My Shiba Inu's Life Expectancy?

Choose a High-Quality Diet for your Shiba

The good health of your dog is contingent on the contents of its bowl. So it’s important to choose a high-quality diet that is perfectly suited to your Shiba’s needs. To do this, try to avoid the industrial dog food products found in supermarket chains. The ingredients used by large-scale manufacturers tend to be very low in quality to cut costs. For example, industrial dog food is often produced using plant protein, which is cheaper, even though dogs are carnivores and need to eat animal protein to thrive. Opt for dog food containing at least 25-28% animal protein: this will be able to meet the nutritional requirements of your pooch much better. Also, keep in mind that your Shiba Inu's dietary needs will change over time, depending on their age, weight, and overall health. 

Get Serious about Vet Check-Ups

Never underestimate the importance of an annual veterinary check-up. It allows you to keep your pup’s vaccines up to date, as well as check on their general health and wellbeing. This is especially vital as your Shiba Inu starts to age. Additionally, don’t forget to take your pooch for regular deworming treatments plus antiparasitic treatments against parasites like fleas and ticks. Finally, supplement your dog’s veterinary care with regular dog grooming like brushing your Shiba Inu two to three times a week.

Prioritise Dog Training

Proper dog training can indirectly influence your Shiba’s life expectancy. This is because training your Shiba Inu allows them to grow up comfortably and safely in their environment and helps you to keep them in control at all times. A properly trained dog will be better able to avoid accidents and therefore not put itself in danger. And by having control of your dog, you can prevent accidents or stop them from running away. Prioritise teaching your dog to walk to heel and come back when you call.

Don't Neglect Physical Activity

This Shiba Inu is an agile, lively dog that needs to stretch its paws every day. It is therefore very important to take this pooch for at least one long walk each day, supplemented by shorter outings for toilet needs. An inactive Shiba Inu will ultimately be and feel very unhappy. And, just like with humans, a dog's mental health is closely linked to its physical health.

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