Mame Shiba Inu: Breed Info, Pictures, Traits & Care Guide

Mame Shiba Inu near the beach

Japan’s fondness for small dogs initially paved the way for the breakthrough of the Mame Shiba Inu. You might wonder, “Is it different from the Shiba Inu breed?”

Clearly, its features and temperament virtually appear similar to the regular Shiba Inu, making it a discussion topic among dog enthusiasts. However, certain aspects of this smaller variety make it unique. 

Do you want to learn more about the adorable Mame Shiba Inu? This guide discusses its appearance, temperament, needs, and more. Stick to the end to discover what distinguishes it from your typical Shiba Inu. Let’s start!

Breed Overview

Height:10 – 13 inches
Weight:10 – 14 pounds
Lifespan:12 – 15 years
Coat Colors:Black, white, red, sesame
Temperament:Loyal, vigorous, independent
Suitable for:Families with older children; active owners; being an alert dog

What Is a Mame Shiba Inu?

Smiling Mame Shiba Inu
Image credit: mameshiba_san2 / Instagram

A Mame Shiba Inu refers to the miniature version of the standard Shiba Inu. Other than the size difference, the physical characteristics of the standard Shiba are retained by the Mame Shiba. This goes along with many other traits of the breed, including loyalty, obedience, and being high-energy.

With its appealing traits, falling in love with this breed is easy. In fact, even though regular Shiba Inus have successfully taken the world by storm, the Mame Shiba is still making a name for itself. 

However, unlike other dogs that are bred to be smaller, the Mame Shiba’s existence is frowned upon by the general public. 

Many people believe that the breeding practices involved in creating a miniature Shiba Inu show a huge compromise toward its health. 

However, there are a handful of dedicated Mame Shiba Inu breeders who have done thorough work to ensure the health of their dogs. 

Where Do Mame Shiba Inus Come From?

Mame Shiba Inus originated in Japan, particularly in Kyoto, where a kennel named Tarui-So started developing mini Shiba Inus around the 1950s. 

The Sesshu Hozan-so kennel took over the breeding in the following years, headed by the late Mr. Masanobu Nishiyama. He eventually became the executive of the Kennel Club of Japan (KCJ).

Mentioning these kennels is significant as these were the only ones recognized to produce authentic and sound Mame Shiba Inus at that time. 

If you trace back the roots of many Mame Shibas today, you’ll learn that they come from the Tarui-so and Hozan-so lines. 

After some time, stricter breeding standards were passed by the Nihon Mame Shiba-ken Association, despite the Mame Shiba not being recognized by other major kennel clubs, like the American Kennel Club (AKC)

Breeders measure the Mame Shiba Inu and track the consistency of proportions up to three generations. They pick the ones that are significantly smaller than the regular Shiba.

Interestingly, most Mame Shiba Inu lineages are well-recorded. The canines described as having the ideal pedigree get certified once they reach one year old. 

Mame Shiba Inu Controversy

Mame Shiba Inu getting some sun

Controversies surround the breeding of the Mame Shiba Inu due to the presence of backyard breeders. 

Acknowledging the dog’s potential rise to fame, illegitimate breeders started producing mini Shibas to take advantage of the possible high demand for these dogs. 

They intentionally breed Shiba Inus with dwarfism to achieve the desired measurements of the Mame Shiba. 

By introducing the dwarfism gene, the resulting litter will indeed be smaller, but along with that, the risk for abnormalities is heightened. 

Such a genetic mutation can cause a Mame Shiba to have short legs, bulging eyes, and oversized heads. Ultimately, this method of breeding produces dwarf Shiba Inus. 

This is mostly seen as the backyard breeder’s easy way to achieve their objectives instead of going through the rigorous processes the Japanese Mame Shiba Inu breeders underwent.

Other times, Mame Shiba Inus are also developed through selective breeding. Breeders purposely pick the runts of the litter and breed them together.

The runts are characterized by their smaller-than-usual height and weight than the other puppies. They are born slightly weaker since they developed in a poor placentation site. 

They may also struggle during nursing. Not receiving adequate colostrum from the mother can affect their immune system. However, Shiba Inu runts are not necessarily unhealthy dogs. 

Reputable breeders who give them extra care and attention can ensure they grow healthy like the rest. When runts turn vigorous, they become great candidates in breeding sound Mame Shiba Inus.

Mame Shiba Inu Size and Weight

The Mame Shiba Inu is bean-sized. The KCJ, the only organization recognizing this variety, states that the Mame Shiba’s ideal height is between 10 and 13 inches. Meanwhile, this dog usually weighs 10 to 14 pounds.

However, Mame Shibas below 10 inches are accepted as long as they’re mentally and physically well. They must also be purebred dogs and not products of crossbreeding in order to qualify under the KCJ standards.

Male Mame Shibas are typically larger and heavier than females due to sexual dimorphism. Regardless of gender, however, Mame Shiba Inus usually reach their full-grown size at around 12 to 18 months old.

Mame Shiba Inu Appearance

Mame Shiba Inu tongue out

People agree that the Mame Shiba Inu is as eye-catching as its larger counterpart. Furthermore, this dog’s splendid features are also reminiscent of the Akita, another dog breed with Japanese roots.

They may all share a similar appearance, but the Mame Shiba’s size puts itself in a different beauty category. 

It exudes confidence in its physique despite the small proportions. On its rear end is a wooly tail curled over the back, making the Mame Shiba appear more compact and distinct among other dogs. 

Apart from its muscular and athletic build, this dog also sports stately facial features. The Mame Shiba has a medium-length, narrow snout, almond-shaped eyes, and a black nose set not too far from its lips.

Atop its head are two thick, furry ears, too. Like the regular Shiba Inu, the Mame Shiba can also smile. Its wide cheeks allow the dog to do so, making it appear friendly and captivating.

As for its double coat, it usually comes in black, white, red, and sesame.

Take a closer look at what a Mame Shiba Inu looks like by watching the video below:

Mameshiba - Miniature Shiba Inu - 豆柴 - 柴犬

Mame Shiba Inu Temperament and Personality

It takes lots of patience and energy to keep up with the Mame Shiba Inu. Originally bred to be a hunting dog, its vigor naturally goes through the roof. 

That said, make sure exercise is always a part of your dog’s routine. At least an hour of free play, walks, or runs is recommended to keep the Mame Shiba Inu happy and healthy. 

Keeping it preoccupied also prevents the onset of destructive behaviors. A Mame Shiba with lots of pent-up energy may start misbehaving, such as chewing off your furniture or peeing and pooping in inappropriate places. 

When properly taken care of, all these unwanted habits are less likely to show. The Mame Shiba likes to make its owners happy and typically behaves, especially when well-trained. 

However, this breed is not a people-pleasing dog. A Mame Shiba is known for its independent nature; hence it can’t be forced to do anything it’s not inclined to do.

Since it can be a stubborn dog, respect and authority must be established early within the household to keep things in order when owning this small Shiba Inu.

A Mame Shiba also tends to act dominant over other dogs, which may lead to inter-dog aggression. That said, socialization is just as essential, too.

Mame Shiba Inu Lifespan and Health Issues

Mame Shiba Inu out for a walk

The Mini Shiba Inu is a generally healthy dog that lives an average lifespan ranging between 12 and 15 years

However, despite being set to live a long life, the Mame Shiba is still predisposed to a few health conditions. 

Below lists the common medical issues a Mame Shiba Inu may suffer from:

  • Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism is when the dog’s thyroid gland produces insufficient thyroid hormones. The Mame Shiba Inu’s neck may swell or shrink when a hormonal imbalance occurs. Vets usually prescribe medications to minimize the symptoms of hypothyroidism. 
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): Progressive retinal atrophy is rarely noticed, but night blindness in dogs helps owners recognize something is wrong with their pet’s vision. It needs immediate treatment since PRA can lead to complete blindness within 1 to 2 years of having it. 
  • Glaucoma: Glaucoma is common in dogs, and this health issue doesn’t spare Mameshibas. This is characterized by increased intraocular pressure within the eye. This happens when there is inadequate fluid drainage. If it progresses, the optical nerves and retina will be damaged, which may lead to blindness.

According to controversies, many of these conditions are more prevalent in Mame Shiba Inus than in standard Shibas because of their small size. 

While this is not entirely false, there are Mame Shibas that are produced ethically and tested against common genetic issues. Ideally, these healthy ones are the ones you should be eyeing for.

Nonetheless, if your Mame Shiba shows concerning signs and symptoms, you should bring it to your local vet immediately. Early diagnosis of any medical condition keeps your pet from suffering severe cases. 

How Much Does a Mame Shiba Inu Cost? Puppy Prices & Expenses

Reputable breeders sell their Mame Shiba Inu puppies for $1,200 to $3,000. Considering it’s a rare and highly controversial dog, some breeders may set skyrocketing price tags for their puppies. 

Other factors that can influence the price of a Mameshiba include lineage, age, sex, location, breeder’s reputation, and health.

There are also other expenses to consider apart from the one-time cost of purchasing this dog. 

The table below shows the initial expenses associated with owning a Mame Shiba Inu:

Type of ExpenseCost
Food and Treats$30 – $80
Bowls$10 – $30
Toys$20 – $30
Beds$30 – $200
Collars and Leashes$15 – $50
Crates and Carriers$30 – $200
Grooming Essentials$50 – $150
Initial Vet Visits$100 – $500
Initial Vaccine Shots$50 – $300
Deworming, Flea, and Tick Medications$40 – $300
Neutering or Spaying$50 – $500
Microchipping$40 – $60
Dog License$10 – $20
Other Essentials$20 – $50
Total Initial Cost$495 – $2,470

The figures in the table are mere estimates only. The cost of the listed items depends on the brand and quality you choose and your city’s cost of living. 

Also, the recurring costs usually cover your Mame Shiba Inu’s food and treats, while others are bought once only if they’re durable. These are the food and water bowls, grooming kits, and accessories. 

Places to Find Mame Shiba Inu Puppies for Sale and Adoption

Mame Shiba Inu puppy with a rope like leash
Image credit: mameshiba_san2 / Instagram

If you have decided that the Mame Shiba Inu is the dog for you, the next decision to make is to decide where to get your puppy.

You want to ensure that the dog you’re getting is healthy, so you must only go for reputable breeders. 

Keep in mind that there are many breeders that unethically breed Mame Shiba Inus; hence, you must steer away from them at all costs.

To ease up your search, check out below a few trusted sources where you may find Mame Shiba Inu puppies for sale:

  • AKC Marketplace – The AKC Marketplace is one of the most credible sources for healthy puppies. Most dogs for sale on this platform have come with a health guarantee and are raised in nurturing environments. Although the AKC breeders focus only on producing standard Shiba Inus, you might chance upon breeders specializing in Mameshibas. 
  • The Animal Farm Shiba Inus & Mameshibas – The Animal Farm Shiba Inus & Mameshibas have had their dogs imported from South Korea and Japan. They aim to produce quality dogs that conform to what’s ideal. If you want a Mame Shiba Inu, check out what they have available or inquire if they have a future litter planned.
  • Jogoso Shibas – The Jogoso Shibas is an AKC-registered breeder that prefers breeding Shibas based on quality rather than quantity. That said, expect that they won’t always have available dogs. Also, although they specialize in the standard Shiba, there might be circumstances where they have small Shiba Inus to sell.

Meanwhile, if you prefer to adopt rather than shop, there are animal shelters in the country which you can visit. 

If you’re ready for the commitment, below lists some of the shelters where you may find a Mame Shiba Inu for adoption:

  • Midwest Shiba Inu Rescue – The Midwest Shiba Inu Rescue is a volunteer-based organization that cares for the helpless Shiba Inus and the Mameshibas in several states. They don’t keep their dogs in kennels but place them in foster homes for rehabilitation. They’re also ensured to be up-to-date with their vaccinations and are treated for any health problems they have.
  • DC Shiba Inu Rescue (DC SIR) – The DC Shiba Inu Rescue is dedicated to rescuing, fostering, and rehoming Shiba Inus in the country. Since they take in a lot of dogs regularly, some of them might be Mame Shiba Inus. These canines are spayed or neutered, dewormed, and vet-checked before they’re sent to their new homes. 
  • NYC Shiba Inu Rescue (NYCSR) – The NYC Shiba Inu Rescue is a New York-based non-profit organization that actively works to improve the lives of Shiba Inus and all their varieties or mixes in the state. All their rescues are prepared for adoption while finding the most suitable families responsible enough to own them.

If any of these sources don’t have any available Mame Shiba Inus for you, check their websites every other day for updates. 

Other ways to find a Mameshiba are by asking for referrals from Shiba Inu breeders, local veterinarians, and Mame Shiba Inu owners. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Mame Shiba Inu standing on a ledge

Are Mame Shiba Inus Good Dogs?

Mame Shiba Inus are good dogs for the right owner. If you’re contemplating getting this canine for your family, remember it will be an extremely devoted companion. 

It’s known to bond strongly with its family and loves to be included in any activities indoors or outdoors. Like other dogs, it needs to be trained and socialized early to develop desirable behaviors. 

These ideal traits should also be positively reinforced through treats and praises. Simply put, as long as you get a healthy Mame Shiba Inu from a reputable source and train it early on, you shouldn’t have any issues.

Do Mame Shiba Inus Shed?

Mame Shiba Inus moderately shed all year round. It’s recommended that you brush their coat every 1 or 2 weeks, depending on what works for you and your dog. 

During spring and fall, the frequency of brushing their coats should increase since these are the times when Mameshibas shed the most. You can also give them regular baths to help deal with their shedding.

Are Mame Shiba Inus Hypoallergenic?

Mame Shiba Inus are not hypoallergenic dogs. They constantly blow off their double coats year-round, making them unsuitable for individuals with severe pet allergies. 

To control your dog’s shedding, ensure it’s groomed regularly. Also, consistently give it healthy meals so its fur stays healthy.

Final Thoughts

The Mame Shiba Inu is a good family addition only if you’re ready for the responsibility the dog ownership entails. It is also important to ponder and think through some of the reasons behind its controversy before getting one.

That said, should you decide to get this a Mame Shiba Inu, you must keep in mind that it is packed with energy. This means it is best suited in an environment with many opportunities to release its vigor. 

It is also important to train your Mame Shiba as early as possible. Establish yourself as the pack leader so your dog learns to listen to your command. 

Furthermore, be prepared to engage your dog in lots of drills and socialization to help it grow up as a well-rounded pet. 

So, are you going to add this tiny Shiba Inu to your family? Let us know your thoughts about the Mame Shiba Inu by commenting below!

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