The Best Dog Food for Shiba Inus in 2023

best dog food for shiba inu

The Shiba Inu: a breed that beautifully combines elegance, sass, and boundless energy. While their fox-like appearance and internet-famous antics have given them celebrity status, it’s essential to remember their unique dietary requirements behind the scenes. Finding the best dog food for Shiba Inus is not merely about filling their bowls; it’s about understanding and catering to their specific needs to keep them at their vibrant best.

Whether you’re a seasoned Shiba parent or are preparing to welcome one into your home, it’s crucial to equip yourself with knowledge about their dietary needs. This not only ensures they lead a healthy and active life but also helps maintain that gorgeous double coat we all adore.

To simplify your search, we’ve meticulously researched and compiled a list of the top products tailored for this breed. So, without further ado, let’s delve into this world of dog food!

What We Prioritize for Shiba Inus

Shiba Inus, with their fiery spirit, keen intelligence, and fox-like appearance, require a well-thought-out diet tailored to their specific needs. Let’s delve deeper into the nutritional cornerstones for these Japanese beauties.


Why They’re Important

Shiba Inus are a bundle of energy, especially those still in their puppy years. Protein acts as the foundation for muscle development and provides the necessary fuel for their day-to-day antics.

Top Choices

  • Salmon: Not just any fish, salmon brings a double whammy to the table. While being an excellent source of protein, it’s also rich in Omega fatty acids (more on that shortly).
  • Chicken: An all-time favorite for many dog breeds, chicken is no exception for the Shiba Inu. It’s easily digestible and serves as a lean source of essential amino acids.
  • Beef: This meaty delight is a treasure trove of vital nutrients like zinc, iron, and B vitamins.

For those eagle-eyed pet parents: when shopping, if you spot “meal” (like chicken meal or beef meal) as an ingredient, it’s not a downgrade. Quality meals are concentrated sources of protein and often include joint-supporting heroes like glucosamine and chondroitin.

Fatty Acids

Why They’re Important

Ever noticed the thick, plush coat of a Shiba Inu? That’s their double coat – an undercoat that’s soft and dense and an outer coat that’s straight and harsh. Fatty acids help maintain the health and shine of this double coat, ensuring it stays as luscious as ever.

Top Choices

  • Salmon: Once again, salmon emerges as a winner, thanks to its high Omega-3 content.
  • Flaxseed: A vegetarian source rich in Omega-3s, which supports both coat health and overall well-being.
  • Egg yolks: These golden centers are little pockets of nutrients, including essential fatty acids.
  • Whole grains: In the right quantities and types, they can provide a balance of Omegas for a shiny coat.


Why They’re Important

A Shiba Inu’s metabolism is like a furnace, constantly burning. To ensure they stay energized and healthy, a plethora of vitamins is non-negotiable in their diet.

Top Choices

  • Leafy greens: Spinach, kale, and chard are nature’s multivitamins, packed with a variety of essential nutrients.
  • Berries: Blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are not just treats; they’re also vitamin-rich powerhouses.
  • Meat organs: The thought might be a tad unpalatable to us, but organs like liver are some of the most nutrient-dense foods available. They’re packed with vitamins essential for Shiba Inus to thrive.

With these guidelines in mind, curating the perfect meal plan for your Shiba Inu becomes less of a challenge and more of a rewarding journey. Always remember, each dog is unique, so it’s essential to monitor how they respond to different foods and adjust accordingly. Happy feeding!

Our Top Picks for The Best Dog Food for Shiba Inus

Best Overall: Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream

  • First 5 Ingredients: Salmon, Ocean Fish Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Pea Flour
  • Crude Protein Percentage: 25%
  • Crude Fat Percentage: 15%
  • Rating on Chewy: 4.6/5


For the spirited Shiba Inu, Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream is a top-tier choice. The salmon-based protein source supports their energetic lifestyle while also providing a boost of Omega-3s, essential for that signature Shiba double coat. Sweet potatoes and peas offer energy without grain fillers, catering to Shibas with more sensitive tummies. With its high ratings, it seems many Shiba owners have found this blend to be a favorite, mirroring the wild diet their pups would adore.

Best Natural: Nutro Ultra Adult Dry Dog Food

  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Meal , Whole Grain Sorghum, Whole Grain Barley, Whole Grain Oats
  • Crude Protein Percentage: 24%
  • Crude Fat Percentage: 15%
  • Rating on Chewy: 4.5/5


Nutro Ultra is the pick for Shiba owners leaning towards a natural diet. With chicken as the main ingredient, it aligns perfectly with the protein needs of a Shiba. The blend of whole brown rice and brewers rice provides a steady energy source, essential for these vivacious canines. A closer look shows the brand’s commitment to sourcing non-GMO ingredients, ensuring your Shiba is receiving nutrients without unnecessary additives. Its Chewy rating indicates many Shiba parents are giving two paws up for this natural formula.

Alternative Grain Inclusive: Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Chicken & Brown Rice

  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Barley, Oatmeal
  • Crude Protein Percentage: 24%
  • Crude Fat Percentage: 14%
  • Rating on Chewy: 4.4/5


Blue Buffalo’s Life Protection Formula is a well-rounded option for owners keen on providing grains without diving into the realm of common fillers like corn or soy. With deboned chicken leading the ingredient list, it’s a protein-packed choice that can fuel those lively play sessions. The inclusion of wholesome grains like brown rice and oatmeal ensures steady energy release, making it an excellent choice for active pups. Its commendable rating on Chewy highlights the trust this blend has garnered over time.

Best Grain-Free: Merrick Real Texas Beef + Sweet Potato

  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Beef, Pork Meal, Salmon Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes
  • Crude Protein Percentage: 34%
  • Crude Fat Percentage: 15%
  • Rating on Chewy: 4.4/5


For those wary of grains or if your pup has shown sensitivity, Merrick’s grain-free formula comes to the rescue. Deboned beef takes center stage, promising a meaty feast every mealtime. This high-protein content is excellent for sustaining energy, while the inclusion of sweet potatoes ensures your dog doesn’t miss out on essential carbohydrates. The added advantage of salmon meal means a silky, well-nourished coat. It’s no wonder this product enjoys such a favorable reputation on platforms like Chewy.

Best Senior: ORIJEN Senior Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

  • First 5 Ingredients: Chicken, Turkey, Salmon, Whole Herring, Chicken Liver
  • Crude Protein Percentage: 38%
  • Crude Fat Percentage: 13%
  • Rating on Chewy: 4.6/5


As our loyal companions age, their dietary needs shift. ORIJEN’s Senior formula is crafted with this in mind, ensuring older dogs receive optimal nutrition without unnecessary fillers. A diverse protein source, from chicken to salmon, caters to the protein requirements while also offering Omega-3s for joint health. Additionally, the reduced fat content means your Shiba won’t gain too much weight as they age and become less active. Cage-free eggs are a bonus, providing easily digestible protein and essential fatty acids. Its stellar rating attests to the positive impact it has on the vitality and well-being of mature dogs.

Best Puppy: Merrick Grain-Free Puppy Chicken & Sweet Potato

  • First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Salmon Meal
  • Crude Protein Percentage: 28%
  • Crude Fat Percentage: 16%
  • Rating on Chewy: 4.6/5


Puppies are a whirlwind of energy, and Merrick’s formula ensures they get the right start. Deboned chicken promises lean protein for muscle development, while sweet potatoes provide the necessary energy for those endless bouts of play. Tailored to support rapid growth, this blend ensures your young one gets the nutrients they need in their formative months. Its popularity on Chewy is a testament to the many puppies that have thrived on this hearty mix.

Buyer’s Guide for Dog Food

So, you’ve got yourself a four-legged friend, or maybe you’re just shopping for one. Either way, diving into the world of dog food can be daunting. It’s not just about kibble or wet food anymore; there’s a whole culinary universe for canines. But worry not! We’ve got the ultimate guide to help you decide what’s best for your beloved pup.

Why’s it so crucial to pick the right dog food? Good question! It’s like asking why humans should eat healthy. Proper nutrition ensures your pooch stays energetic, maintains a shiny coat, and has an overall long, healthy life. Now, there are various factors that’ll dictate the type of dog food you should be looking at. Let’s get into it!

Understanding Your Dog’s Nutritional Needs

Life stages and their unique needs

From the moment they’re bouncy little puppies to when they become wise, old dogs, our canine companions’ dietary needs change. Puppies require more calories, proteins, and essential nutrients to support their rapid growth. Adults need a balanced diet to maintain their health and energy, while seniors might need fewer calories but more fiber and specific nutrients.

Dietary needs based on activity level

Ever heard of the term ‘couch potato’? Yes, some dogs love their lazy afternoon naps just as much as we do! But others are buzzing balls of energy. High-energy breeds or working dogs need diets high in protein and calories, while your laid-back loungers might need a bit less to avoid gaining those extra pounds.

Special considerations for breeds or sizes

Size does matter—at least when it comes to dog food. A Great Dane and a Chihuahua have different nutritional requirements. Larger breeds might need food with joint supplements, while smaller breeds might require more calorie-dense diets due to their faster metabolism.

Types of Dog Food

Dry Kibble

The Good: It’s convenient, has a long shelf life, and can help keep those canine teeth clean.

The Bad: Some kibbles might be packed with fillers and not-so-great ingredients.

Storage Scoop: Keep in a cool, dry place and always reseal the bag or transfer to an airtight container.

Wet/Canned Food

The Good: Packed with flavor, and can be a lifesaver for picky eaters or older dogs.

The Bad: Can be pricier than kibble, and might not be as calorie-dense.

Cooling Tips: After opening, it’s refrigerator-bound! And use within a few days for optimal freshness.

Freeze-dried or Dehydrated Food

The Good: Retains most of the nutrients thanks to the unique preservation process.

The Bad: Can be on the pricier side of the spectrum.

Storage Scoop: Store in a cool, dry place. Seal tightly to prevent moisture from sneaking in.

Homemade Dog Food

The Good: You know exactly what’s going into your dog’s dish.

The Bad: It can be time-consuming and might not always be nutritionally balanced.

Nutrition Note: If going this route, chat with a vet or pet nutritionist to ensure your doggo’s getting all they need.

Ingredients to Look For

High-quality protein sources

Proteins are the building blocks for strong muscles and provide the energy your dog needs for their day-to-day activities. The AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) recommends that adult dog foods have at least 18% protein, while puppy foods should contain a minimum of 22%. 

These numbers may vary depending on your pup’s size and energy level, but it is the vet recommended baseline. Key sources include:

  • Chicken: A lean source of essential amino acids and glucosamine, which supports joint health.
  • Beef: Packed with vital nutrients like zinc, iron, and B vitamins.
  • Fish: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, especially salmon and sardines.
  • Lamb: A good option for dogs that might be allergic to other protein sources.

Healthy fats

Fats aren’t just a flavorful component of your dog’s meal – they’re an energy powerhouse, vital for various bodily functions, and carriers for essential fat-soluble vitamins. When we talk about healthy fats, the conversation often circles around Omega fatty acids, which play crucial roles in a dog’s overall health.

For adult dogs, fats should represent at least 5% of their diet, while puppies require a minimum of 8%. Here’s a deeper dive into these fats:

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

  • Benefits: They possess anti-inflammatory properties, which can aid in reducing symptoms of allergies or arthritis. Additionally, they’re essential for brain development in puppies and can help maintain a shiny coat and healthy skin in dogs of all ages.
  • Sources
    • Fish oil: Especially from cold-water fish like salmon and sardines, fish oil is a top-notch source of Omega-3.
    • Flaxseed: For those looking for a plant-based alternative, flaxseeds are an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid, a form of Omega-3.

Omega-6 Fatty Acids

  • Benefits: These fatty acids are crucial for skin health, coat sheen, and they also play a role in reproductive health and metabolism.
  • Sources
    • Chicken fat: Not only does it make kibble irresistibly tasty, but it’s also a good source of linoleic acid, a form of Omega-6.
    • Safflower and sunflower oils: These are additional sources that can boost the Omega-6 content in dog food.

While Omega fatty acids offer numerous benefits, balance is key. The ratio between Omega-6 and Omega-3 should be balanced in a dog’s diet to reap the full benefits. Often, modern diets are rich in Omega-6 but lack Omega-3, so keep an eye on this when choosing dog food or supplements.

Beneficial carbohydrates

While dogs don’t necessarily need carbohydrates, they can be a valuable energy source, especially for active dogs. When choosing dog foods, look for complex carbs which provide sustained energy. Some excellent sources are:

  • Sweet potatoes: Low in fat, rich in dietary fiber, and packed with vitamins.
  • Brown rice: Easily digestible and full of essential nutrients.
  • Oats: Provide lasting energy and are also a good source of fiber, aiding in digestion.

It should be noted that some dogs have grain sensitivities. In these cases, carb sources such as sweet potatoes will be the most beneficial to your dog’s digestive system. That being said, brown rice and oats are generally considered easily digestible grains compared to some such as wheat or corn.

Essential vitamins and minerals

Just like us, dogs need a variety of vitamins and minerals for overall health. Here’s the lowdown on some of them:

  • Vitamin A: Crucial for vision, growth, and immune function. Found in ingredients like carrots and liver.
  • Vitamin E: An antioxidant that supports immune function. Found in fish oils and green leafy vegetables.
  • Calcium and Phosphorus: Important for strong bones and teeth. Found in dairy products and bones.
  • Iron: Essential for healthy blood. Meats like liver are packed with it.

Ingredients to Avoid

Artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives

If you can’t pronounce it, chances are your dog shouldn’t eat it.

Fillers with little to no nutritional value

Corn syrup? No thanks! Look out for empty-calorie fillers.

Potential allergens or controversial ingredients

Some say soy, wheat, and corn are big no-nos. Research and decide what’s best for your pup.

Special Dietary Considerations

Every dog is unique, and while most fit comfortably within the general dietary guidelines, some might have specific nutritional needs or health concerns. Let’s dive deeper into these special dietary considerations to help you determine if they resonate with your furry friend’s situation.

Grain-free diets

Grain-free dog foods exclude common grains like wheat, corn, barley, and rice. But why would you choose grain-free?

  • Allergies or Sensitivities: Some dogs might be allergic or intolerant to grains, showing symptoms like itching, ear infections, or digestive issues.
  • Digestibility: Certain dogs might digest grain-free foods more efficiently.

However, it’s essential to remember that ‘grain-free’ doesn’t always mean ‘low-carb’. Potatoes or legumes often replace grains. Make sure to check the other ingredients and consult with a vet to determine if grain-free is genuinely beneficial for your dog.

Limited ingredient diets

The concept is simple: fewer ingredients mean fewer potential allergens. These diets are designed primarily for:

  • Dogs with Allergies: By narrowing down the ingredients, it becomes easier to pinpoint potential allergens.
  • Digestive Issues: A simpler ingredient list can be gentler on a dog’s stomach.

Typically, these diets feature one protein source and one carbohydrate source, minimizing the chances of allergic reactions.

Foods for dogs with allergies or sensitivities

It’s heartbreaking to see your pup in distress due to allergic reactions. Symptoms can range from itchy skin, ear infections, and stomach issues. These special diets focus on:

  • Novel Proteins: Think kangaroo or venison. The idea is to introduce a protein source the dog has never consumed, thus unlikely to be allergic to.
  • Hydrolyzed Proteins: These are proteins broken down into smaller components, making it hard for the immune system to recognize and react to them.

Always consult with a vet to accurately diagnose allergies and get recommendations tailored to your dog’s needs.

Prescription diets for specific health conditions

These are not just ordinary dog foods. They’re specially formulated under the guidance of veterinarians to address specific health concerns like:

  • Kidney Issues: Low in protein, phosphorus, and sodium, but high in omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Joint Health: Enriched with glucosamine and chondroitin for better joint mobility.
  • Weight Management: Lower in calories but still nutritionally balanced.

It’s crucial only to use these diets under a vet’s recommendation. They’re tailored for specific conditions and might not be suitable for healthy dogs.

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