Best Food for Shiba Inu : Top Puppy, Adult & Senior Recommendations for 2019

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Feeding the best food for your Shiba Inu isn’t just something to do because you are nice. The dog’s metabolism is high because it is a smaller dog. Standing at just over a foot tall, full grown, the dog requires daily exercise and food that keeps them active and nourished.

The Shiba Inu is a Japanese dog and one of the original spitz breeds. Of the original six, it is the smallest, which is generally where its name comes from. In Japanese, “inu” means dog. While there is some debate over the meaning of “Shiba” which is a Japanese bush (brushwood) of the same color, it is also a dialect word that means “small.” You may hear these dogs called “small brushwood dog” as a result.

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The Shiba Inu is a very loyal dog with a great temperament. They can be difficult to train, though, because of their aloof nature and seemingly selective hearing. Most trainers love working with them, even if they don’t always listen. As with any dog, the Shiba Inu requires high quality and specific diet.

Why Quality Food Matters for Your Shiba Inu

Meat protein is one of the most important aspects of a dog’s food. Meat meal is also acceptable as this comes from the bone and the muscle meat of the animal. While some reports may try to tell you meal is not acceptable, what they don’t tell you is that it is high in protein and vitamins the dog needs.

You should also make sure your Shiba Inus food has everything it needs and doesn’t contain anything that can cause problems, which we will cover shortly.

Vitamins and minerals are especially important in your dog’s food. As a puppy, Shiba Inus have most of their hip, bone, and joint issues develop. By the time they are two years old and moving to adult food, these problems either already have occurred, or they most likely never will.

Making sure the puppy formulas have enough vitamins and minerals to help fight some of these conditions is important. The same can be said of senior formulas, as well. Foods that are lower quality, high in grain proteins and without natural sources of vitamins and minerals can have negative impacts on your dog.

Top Shiba Inu Dog Foods : Quick Look

This review will look at the best dog food for each stage of like: puppy, adult, and senior. Here is a brief overview of the best dog foods for your Rottweiler.

Shiba Inu Common Health Issues

Overall Shiba Inu’s are relatively healthy. Their fur is not hypoallergenic, as it deals with humans, but for the dog, there isn’t a concern. They do have a few genetic issues and some external concerns, though.

Eye Concerns

Shiba Inu breeds have common eye problems. Of all the concerns with the breed, their eyes are the most vulnerable. Glaucoma is a condition that can lead to blindness if not treated.

With the disease, pressure and fluid build around the eye putting pressure on the optic never, causing damage. Left untreated the eye will slowly decrease the field of vision and eventually go blind. There isn’t a real preventative measure to take, though some experts believe proper nutrition with plenty of vitamin E and B6 will help with some degree of prevention.

Treatment is usually surgery, depending on how bad the condition is or how fast it is worsening.

Another eye concern is Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). This is an incurable condition that will lead to blindness. It is genetic, however. So if the parents are clear and not carriers, the pup won’t be affected.

Because of these conditions, Shiba’s also easily contract cataracts. As the dog gets older, the pupils can become cloudy, resulting in blindness from cataracts. Proper nutrition with added vitamins and minerals can help, but it’s a cure or total prevention.

Bone Conditions

One of the most common traits, among all dogs is a condition called patellar luxation. This is a condition where the kneecap becomes dislocated and results in constant displacement. It can cause pain, awkward gait, difficulty walking or getting off the floor.

It is generally a result of a birth defect although it can occur due to an injury. The severity can range from near debilitating to almost unnoticeable. In the most severe cases, corrective surgery is required.

Hip Dysplasia also affects a lot of dogs and is a genetic trait. Here, the sockets of the hip bone grow deformed causing the hip to not seat well in the hip bone. As the dog grows, the condition can worsen.

Because it is genetic, though, if there are no symptoms by the time the dog is fully grown, there won’t be any at all. You can have the dog screened as a puppy with regular check-ups until adulthood to be sure.


Shiba’s, like a lot of other breeds, are prone to allergies. Especially in warmer climates, airborne allergens can cause some concern. Another concern is with the dog food being fed to the dogs.

Artificial colors, chemicals, and dyes can all cause allergy attacks. To prevent this, you should use a high-quality food that doesn’t use dyes and colors. If you suspect your Shiba has allergies, your vet will be able to diagnose and confirm. They can also tell you what is causing the allergies so you can help prevent future attacks.

What to Look for in Quality Dog Food for Your Shiba Inu

There are several ingredients to be on the lookout for in the dog food you choose. Some of them you need to look for being included. Others need to be avoided. Let’s take a look at which is which.

Meat and Meat Meal

The ingredient label won’t tell you everything about the contents of the dog food, but it can tell you enough. For example, it is an FDA law that all ingredients are listed from the highest content to the lowest. This means that the first listed ingredient takes up the most space in the kibble.

The first ingredient should be meat. This is generally chicken, beef, turkey or even pork. Meat protein is essential for your Shiba’s diet. Just be wary if the first ingredient is now meat protein, or even worse if it just says that actual word “meat.”

Where the protein comes from should be listed. Chicken, turkey, beef, etc. are all acceptable forms of meat protein. You may see seafood listed, which should also cause you to pause. This is a possible allergen, especially shellfish.

Grain proteins will generally be the second listed ingredient. Wheat grain is highly likely, but you should be wary. Just because a meat protein like chicken is listed first doesn’t mean it is the highest protein content.

Chicken Meal

Chicken is widely used as the first protein, which is great. However, chicken has high water content. If the following ingredients are grain proteins and wheat you can be assured most of the content is going to be grain protein instead of meat protein.

Sometimes you will see meal listed as a primary or secondary ingredient. A lot of sources will tell you to stay away from meat meal. This is a tricky situation though, if the actual term on the label is “meat meal” then you should stay away. If they use the term “meat,” they don’t need to specify where the meat comes from or what type of meat it is.

However, if there is an actual meat protein listed, such as chicken meal, or beef meal, then it is acceptable. The meal is the powder made from grinding the bone and muscle meat of an animal. While this may not sound very appetizing, the marrow of the bone is quite healthy, and a specified meal from a meat source can add a lot of vitamins and nutrients to the kibble.

Meat Byproducts

If you ever see the term “byproduct” on a food label, run away. Meat byproduct is considered a 4-D food. The four D’s stand for: dead, dying, diseased, and decay. It is basically what is left over from dead animals, slaughtered animals and the slough off and expired meats.

There is zero regulation for producing byproducts, including sources and content. A grocery store that has expired meat will send it to a processing plant. This plant will then take the expired meat, packaging and all, and throw it in their mixer. The result is a slush that is made into kibble.

While the FDA has regulated that byproduct is not suitable for human consumption, it is rated for canine consumption. However, that is the only regulation they have about it. You shouldn’t feed this to your dogs.

Artificial Colors and Dyes

You may, from time to time, see items on the ingredient list that shouldn’t be there. Colors and dyes are the most common. Colors, like Red 40 or Blue 2, are the top foodborne allergens in our dog’s food. Shiba’s are sensitive to allergens and having them in their food is cause for concern.

Most high-quality foods won’t have artificial colors or dyes. If you see the colors listed on the ingredient list, you should try to find another brand.


Vegetables will offer your Shiba the most natural nutrients in the form of vitamins and minerals. Potatoes are the most common because they are relatively cheap to add to dog food. However, they are a great source of nutrients that work well with meat proteins.

Peas are also common, and there are some concerns about peas and legumes in dog food. However, if the peas are not a primary source and aren’t listed within the first few ingredients (with a few exceptions, such as an ingredient list that only has five or six items), there isn’t much to worry about.

On the other hand, if there aren’t any meat proteins, the vegetables will have to bind with grains and won’t be absorbed by the dog’s digestive tract. When searching the ingredients list, make sure that if you see peas, you also see meat proteins.

Brands to Avoid

Several brands will use some or all the ingredients listed above that you should avoid. You will need to be extra diligent in your search for the high-quality food your Shiba Inu should be eating. To help, we have a few brands that are frequent offenders.

Ol’ Roy

Ol’ Roy, from Walmart, is arguably the worst food on the market for any dog. Not only do they use chemicals, artificial colors, and dyes, but they also use no meat sources of any kind. Even their meat byproduct listing hasn’t been traced back to any real meat source.

If you shop locally for your dog food and end up in Walmart, you should skip Ol’ Roy altogether.


Purina has been making dog food for many decades now and is a highly recognizable brand. They have several secondary brands, such as Beneful, that you should pay close attention to.

All Purina products are manufactured using a high-heat process. This does kill off most germs, insects and other things we don’t want in our dogs’ food, but it also kills off nutrients. For making food, this is the worst process to use.

Purina also uses dyes, coloring, and byproducts in most of their brands. Double check the label and make sure none of these isn’t a brand you are looking at. If possible, avoid Purina always but be especially cautious of Beneful.

Shiba Inu Feeding Chart

Because Shiba’s are smaller dogs they don’t tend to eat themselves to death, like some large breed dogs. However, care should still be taken to avoid overeating, which can lead to weight gain and the problems that come with it.

You will need to adjust the recommended food amounts based on your particular dog, as each one is going to be different. As a guide, though, Shiba’s should have ½ to ¾ cups of dog food per day.

This shouldn’t be given all at once, though. Split the amount between two meals, one in the morning and one in the afternoon or evening. If you find the dog finishes their meal in less than a few minutes, give them more.

Likewise, if they leave food behind and wander away for more than ten minutes, for the next feeding, offer less. Once you have the sweet spot where the dog is full, and nothing is left behind, stick with this amount.

Best Dog Food for Your Shiba Inu

Depending on the life stage of your Shiba (puppy, adult, senior), the food choices will vary. The nutritional needs for your dog will change as well. Below is the list of some of the best options for the various life stages.

Adult – Best Overall – Blue Buffalo Life Protection Small Breed Chicken & Rice

Blue Buffalo Life Protection Small Breed Chicken & RiceBlue Buffalo produces a kibble that is designed for all dogs in various life stages and sizes. Because the Shiba Inu is a smaller dog, they can use the small dog formula, which will work well with their higher metabolism.

The all natural ingredients use rice and barley for the grain proteins while the chicken is the primary (and highest concentrate) of meat proteins. You will also find a lot of added vitamins and minerals for digestive health, bone health, and overall health.

The first five ingredients are Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Oatmeal, and Barley.

What Customers Like

  • The easy to digest kibble gives smaller dogs less trouble.
  • All natural chicken and chicken meal offer a lot of proteins and vitamins.
  • Can easily be mixed with water for a gravy meal.

Common Complaints

  • Wet food toppers don’t go down as well when mixed.
  • Can be difficult to get an exact amount for feeding.

Adult – Best Value – Taste of the Wild Sierra Mountain Grain Free Dry Dog Food

Taste of the Wild Sierra Mountain Grain Free Dry Dog FoodTaste of the Wild has many different flavors that capture the natural proteins in that area. Fish, prairie or even mountain regions are all covered. Depending on your flavor, the proteins will be different, if not exotic.

Each bag of kibble is specially formulated to give your dog everything it needs while leaving out anything that isn’t required. Vitamins, minerals and most importantly, all-natural meat proteins, are found in every bag. You will also see natural fruits and vegetables along with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

The first five ingredients for the Sierra Mountain flavor are Lamb, Lamb Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Egg Product, and Lentils.

What Customers Like

  • The variety allows the dog to find a favorite while not becoming bored with the same tastes.
  • All the ingredients are natural with no colors or dyes.
  • Shiba Inu’s generally have no problem with the size of the kibble.

Common Complaints

  • Some of the flavors are not liked by picky Shiba’s.
  • Seafood allergies can occur.

Adult – Best Super Premium – Ollie Hearty Beef Eats

Ollie Hearty Beef EatsOllie produces human-grade food for all dogs, including your Shiba Inu. All of the ingredients are naturally sourced and highly regulated by the company. Each recipe is handmade and shipped to your door when ordered. They do not make any meals before being ordered which maintains freshness and viability.

You will also notice a limited ingredient list that offers just what your Shiba needs. Nutritional value, with no additives or preservatives.

The first five ingredients are Beef, beef heart, beef kidney, sweet potato, and beef liver.

What Customers Like

  • Freshness is guaranteed.
  • Different recipes to choose from so you aren’t stuck with the same one all the time.
  • Human-grade foods mean no byproducts or additives.

Common Complaints

  • Can be difficult to keep fresh or stocked when ordering larger batches.
  • Some ingredients are eaten around, leaving lots of leftovers.

Puppy – Best Dry Food – Nutro MAX Chicken Puppy Food

Nutro MAX Chicken Puppy FoodTo get all of the required nutrients for your Shiba puppy, Nutro Max uses a mix of meat meal, meat, and whole grains. The puppy formula focuses on chicken as the protein source with grain proteins coming from wheat alternatives and oats.

They have also added vitamins and minerals that are necessary for proper growth and activity in puppies.

The first five ingredients are Chicken Meal, Whole Grain Sorghum, Peas, Whole Grain Oatmeal, and Chicken Fat.

What Customers Like

  • A puppy formula with a lot of protein to promote proper growth.
  • Small kibble is easily chewed and digested.
  • The dry food mixes well with wet food toppers for added nutrition and less frequent feedings.

Common Complaints

  • The recently changed formula may upset sensitive tummies.
  • Some Shiba’s tend to go potty more often.

Puppy – Best Wet Food – American Journey Meat & Vegetable Canned Dog Food

American Journey makes four wet food varieties. While it isn’t specifically branded for puppies, the nutritional value of the wet food is hard to beat, even in “puppy” only products. Everything put into the cans is natural with no additives to upset small stomachs.

They also sell variety packs with two flavors, so you can mix things up and not allow your Shiba puppy to grow bored of the same flavors time and again.

The first five ingredients in the chicken and vegetable flavor are Chicken, Chicken Broth, Beef Broth, Chicken Liver, and Dried Egg Whites.

What Customers Like

  • Meat and vegetables are the main sources of proteins, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Nothing artificial is included.
  • Even puppies can easily digest the natural foods.

Common Complaints

  • Some Shiba Inu puppies don’t eat everything in the cans.
  • Smaller puppies may leave a lot of leftovers, causing waste.

Senior – Best Dry Food – Solid Gold Young at Heart Chicken, Sweet Potato & Spinach Senior Dog Food

Solid Gold Young at Heart Chicken, Sweet Potato & Spinach Senior Dog FoodSolid Gold makes a single senior formula. It is made from the best ingredients for older digestive systems and dogs that need to maintain an active lifestyle. Along with daily exercise, Solid Gold senior formula will give your elderly Shiba all the energy they need to get through the day.

The first five ingredients are Chicken, Chicken Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Chickpeas, and Peas.

What Customers Like

  • The kibble is great for mixing with wet food or water for easier chewing and digestion.
  • Older dogs seem to enjoy the flavors and vegetables.
  • Doesn’t seem to be as harsh on older, smaller teeth than some kibble.

Common Complaints

  • The added vegetables may not agree with all stomachs.
  • There is only one flavor, so variety is gone.

Senior – Best Wet Food – The Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Turkey Recipe Dehydrated Dog Food

With quite possibly the shortest ingredient list on the market, The Honest Kitchen uses organic vegetables and free-range protein sources. There are several flavor varieties to choose from, and each one is limited in what goes into the food.

You should note that the food is dehydrated. You will need to follow the feeding instructions to re-hydrate the food before serving.

For the turkey flavor, the first five ingredients are Turkey, Organic Oats, Potatoes, Organic Flaxseed, and Carrots.

What Customers Like

  • Vegetables are organic, and the proteins are free range or uncaged animal sources.
  • Easy to re-hydrate and mix for proper serving amounts.
  • All life stages love the flavors, especially seniors.

Common Complaints

  • Some Shiba’s won’t eat the food at all, while others tend to eat around certain vegetables.
  • Getting the proper wetness level for your dog takes trial and error.

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