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Mini (Mame) Shiba Inu: Pictures, Care, Info & More

Written by: Ed Malaker

Last Updated on April 26, 2024 by Dogster Team

mini shiba inu dog inside a playpen

Mini (Mame) Shiba Inu: Pictures, Care, Info & More

The Shibu Inu is a Japanese dog that makes a wonderful pet for the right family. They are energetic, playful, and loyal. However, when you go shopping for one, you might hear or see a few that have the label “Mini” or “Mame” and wonder what the difference is. The simple answer is that the Mini or Mame versions are smaller. Keep reading as we discuss how these dogs got their name and many other interesting facts to help you decide if they are right for your home.

Breed Overview


10–11 inches


10–14 pounds


11–14 years


Black and tan, cream, red, sesame

Suitable for:

Active families, experienced owners, small homes


Obedient, loyal, affectionate

“Mini Shiba Inu” does not refer to an officially recognized breed or a specific mix of other breeds. It is often used as a marketing term to describe small Shiba Inus, a purebred dog from Japan that breeders don’t usually cross with other dogs. Typically, these dogs are the runts of the litter, and many people prefer their extra small size, especially in their native Japan, where they have the name “Mame,” which translates to “Bean.” Mixing the Shibu Inu with other dogs would create a new mixed breed, like the Pom Shi or the Poo Shi, and introducing the dwarfism gene would break away from the official breed standard and could lead to health problems.

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.


Mini (Mame) Shiba Inu Puppies

Shiba Inu puppies are adorable and have distinct traits that develop as they grow. They are generally active, curious, and full of energy. However, they can be mischievous and require consistent training and socialization to shape their behavior before they become adults. Finding a Shiba Inu puppy can vary in difficulty depending on your location and the availability of breeders or rescue organizations. Shiba Inus are a popular breed, but it’s essential to find a reputable breeder who prioritizes the health and well-being of their dogs before you start to inquire about purchasing one of the smaller ones. This way, you know that they won’t try to create it unnaturally, which could lead to health problems.

Happy mini Shiba Inu puppy inside a carrier bag
Image Credit: Tawei Yang, Shutterstock

Temperament & Intelligence of the Mini (Mame) Shiba Inu

Shiba Inus are known for their spirited, bold, and independent nature, and your Mini will be the same. They have a confident demeanor but can be wary of strangers, often barking at them unless they get plenty of socialization with people. They are typically loyal and affectionate with their families, though they may not be as cuddly as some other breeds. They are intelligent dogs capable of learning many tasks, but they have a stubborn streak, making training more difficult.

Are These Dogs Good for Families?

Yes, the Shibu Inu, including smaller individuals, can make great pets for owners experienced in training and dealing with stubborn pets. They are affectionate, protective, and loyal and can be a great companion for many years. Once you train them, they can be a good choice for busy people because they are not as likely to suffer from separation anxiety.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets?

The Shiba Inu has a hunting background, so they can have a strong prey drive that causes them to chase after smaller animals like cats, squirrels, and rabbits. Early socialization can help them get along better, and many homes with these dogs also have cats. They tend to get along well with other dogs, especially when they receive plenty of early socialization, and they enjoy walking on trails and visiting the dog park.


Things to Know When Owning a Mini (Mame) Shiba Inu

Food & Diet Requirements

Choose a high-quality dog food with real meat listed as the first ingredient and no artificial colors or preservatives. It should be appropriate for your pet’s age and health and formulated for small dogs if possible. Choosing a brand that provides omega fats and probiotics can also benefit your pet. Follow the portioning advice on the package, and provide plenty of fresh, clean water to help your pet stay hydrated. Limit treats to no more than 10% of their daily caloric intake.

black and tan mini shiba inu dog under the chair
Image Credit: Sakkarin Pongrujikorn, Shutterstock


Your Mini Shiba Inu will need 30–60 minutes of daily exercise. Leashed walks, fetch, hide and seek, tug of war, and training exercises are all great ways to stimulate your pet’s mind and body, which will help them stay happy and prevent them from becoming overweight. It can also help reduce the amount of chasing small animals that they do. Adjust the intensity of the activity to go with their age, and always play in a safe, fenced-in area, as they like to run off chasing animals or even cars.


Begin training your Mini Shiba Inu as early as possible to help get them into a routine, which will make training much easier. Keep the training sessions short, consistent, and at a scheduled time, and your dog will arrive knowing what to expect. The most effective method of dog training is through positive reinforcement, which involves giving treats and praise when the dog follows a command. Still, it can take several weeks for a dog to learn a new trick, so it’s important to be patient and avoid getting frustrated, which can upset your pet and make training even harder.

Grooming ✂️

Mini Shiba Inus have a double coat consisting of a dense undercoat and a stiff outer coat. Regular brushing helps remove loose fur, prevents matting, and keeps the coat looking nice. Brush your Shiba Inu at least once or twice a week using a slicker brush or a grooming tool suitable for double-coated breeds. They are meticulous groomers that many owners describe as cat-like, so they won’t need many baths unless they get into something, but you will need to trim their nails if you hear them clicking on the floor as they walk and to brush their teeth as frequently as possible using a dog-safe toothpaste. Their upright ears aren’t as prone to infection as floppy ones, but you will still need to check them often for ear mites and wax build-up and clean them if needed.

mini shiba inu dog with leash walking outdoor
Image Credit: tackune, Shutterstock

Health and Conditions

Serious Conditions

Patellar luxation occurs when the kneecap dislocates or moves out of its normal position due to a stretched or loose patellar ligament. This condition can cause lameness and discomfort. Regularly exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, and ensuring proper breeding practices can help reduce the risk of patellar luxation.

Mini Shiba Inus may be prone to certain eye conditions, such as progressive retinal atrophy, leading to vision loss. Other eye issues that may occur include glaucoma and cataracts. Regular eye examinations by a vet can help diagnose any problems early, when there might still be a chance to correct them.

Shiba Inus can be prone to hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones. Signs include weight gain, hair loss, lethargy, and skin problems. Although there is no cure, treatment usually involves lifelong thyroid hormone supplementation, which can help your dog manage the disease and live a happy life

Minor Conditions

Mini Shiba Inus can develop allergies to environmental factors, such as pollen, insects, or certain foods. Allergies may manifest as skin irritations, itching, or gastrointestinal issues. If you notice signs of allergies, consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Hip dysplasia is common in many dog breeds, including Shiba Inus. It involves the abnormal development or degeneration of the hip joint, which can lead to pain, lameness, and reduced mobility. Responsible breeders perform hip evaluations on their breeding dogs to minimize the occurrence of hip dysplasia. Weight management can help slow the progression of the disease, and medication and surgery can help manage it.


Male vs. Female

Male Mini Shiba Inus tend to be slightly larger than females in height and weight, and they can exhibit more dominant behaviors, especially around other dogs. However, they also tend to be a bit more playful and affectionate. Female Mini Shiba Inus may display strong maternal instincts, even toward other animals or household members, but they tend to be more territorial and protective of their space.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Mini Shiba Inu

1. The Mini Shiba Inu is not recognized.

The Mini Shiba Inu is not recognized as an official breed by major kennel clubs and breed organizations.

2. Finding a true Mini Shiba Inu can be challenging.

This is because they are not a standardized or widely recognized breed.

3. In some cases, the term “Mini Shiba Inu” may refer to a mix of a Shiba Inu with another smaller breed like a Chihuahua or Pomeranian.

It’s important to note that mixed breeds can vary in appearance and temperament, and individual traits may be unpredictable.



The Mini, or Mame, Shibu Inu refers to a standard Shiba Inu that’s a smaller-than-average size due to natural breeding. They are not mixed breeds, nor do breeders introduce a dwarf gene to create smaller dogs. They have the same temperament as the regular Shiba Inu and the same dietary and exercise needs. They can also be just as stubborn and strong-willed, so they are best suited to experienced owners who can train them.

Featured Image Credit to: Sakkarin Pongrujikorn, Shutterstock

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