Shiba Inu Health considerations

Important notes

Health Testing

All ethical breeders are mandated by Dogs New Zealand to ensure that their breeding dogs have been health tested for common Shiba Inu health issues. This page describes the three health issues we test for in Shiba Inu breeding dogs. Talk to your vet about these tests if you are worried about your breeder or puppy.

When inquiring about a puppy, it is important that the breeder is able to present the health tests listed below for the parents of the litter. It should be taken as a significant warning sign if they cannot/will not do so. No specific registrations or memberships are required to have these tests done and there is nothing stopping anyone from getting these tests done for their dogs. It is plainly irresponsible if a breeder has not done these, or refuses to based on “they’ve always been healthy”. 

Predisposition to the conditions below is something that can worsen over time as a result of careless breeding. Without professional evaluation and the appropriate documentation to prove the healthiness of the parents, you really have no guarantee that your puppy will be a healthy one.   


Shiba Inu must be tested for Glaucoma and other vision impairments by an ophthalmologist. More information can be found here.


Patella Luxation in the knees is essentially how easily the kneecap can be dislocated.

If this condition is severe it can cause significant pain and requires surgery to correct. More information on Patella Luxation can be found here.


Hips are assessed by x-ray for Hip Dysplasia, which is a deformation of the hip socket, which can be crippling and lead to arthritis. More information on Hip Dysplasia can be found here.


Diet and obesity

Every dog is different, and you will get loads of differing advice from people in this area. The best start is to follow whatever advice you’ve been given by your breeder and try to follow that regiment as long as it isn’t causing any issues. Puppies in particular will take time to readjust to any new food regime (usually a day or two) which is why it is best to try and maintain a constant food program. However should they consistently show that they are not doing well on their food, talk to your breeder and to your vet.

Raw food diets are very popular now, and lots of people have found great success in this. The main important thing to know is that it requires a lot more effort to achieve a balanced diet for your dog if you’re feeding raw food. Make sure you do your research and understand what your dog needs; it’s not enough to rely solely on raw chicken or beef and think that your dog is getting everything it needs nutritionally. This is much easier to achieve using a well-formulated  kibble (dried food) died.

Bones can be great for your dog’s dental hygiene, but never allow them to eat cooked bones of any kind, these can splinter and cause serious internal damage to your dog.

If you think your dog is reacting to their food, common food allergies are grain, chicken and lamb, but always consult your vet if you think your dog is having a reaction. 

Obesity is a common issue in Shibas, particularly as they move into their senior years. This can exaggerate other common issues like those listed above, especially the joint related problems. It is a good idea to carefully monitor your dog’s diet at all times to ensure they remain in their peak physical condition.



The most common allergies are food related as mentioned above and seasonal reactions to grasses, pollen, etc. These reactions frequently present as redness of the skin and itchiness, however this can also be caused by dog mites so it is important to consult your vet when finding a solution. It is also worth noting that Shiba Inu will often be quite itchy while they are shedding their undercoat, so it is worth taking your time to come to a diagnosis when these symptoms are presenting during shedding season.