Shikoku Dog vs Shiba Inu
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Shikoku Dog vs Shiba Inu: The Ultimate Comparison Guide to Japanese Breeds

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What is Japan famous for apart from their incredible UNESCO world heritage sites and of course, yummy sushi?

A breed of dogs so prolific that they have become living monuments in the country.

Shikoku dog (a.k.a. Kochi-Ken) joins the ranks of its Spitz family cousins: Akita Inu, Shiba Inu, Hokkaido Ken, Kishu Ken and Kai Ken.

These cousins are regal, loyal and dignified with warrior-like tendencies and exploits peppering their historical backgrounds.

But you always have that one cousin who likes their privacy and tends to live off the grid, with very minimal presence in the hullabaloo.

That is Shikoku Ken. 

If you’ve never heard of the breed, I hear you. They are NOT commonly found and have very little presence outside Japan.

They still have a primitive nature and are very reserved and aloof, especially around strangers.

Cousin Shikoku is quite the recluse compared to its smaller relative Shiba Inu.

Shiba is quite popular in Japan and around the world, and has even become a staple of meme culture thanks to the Doge phenomenon.

They know how to work the camera with the infamous side-eye meme and their small stature makes them adorable.

Both dogs are on the smaller side but with two very different temperaments.

In this post, we’ll take an in-depth look at these two cousins and break down what each breed is really like and what you need to know to care for them appropriately.

Shiba InuShikoku
 shiba inu dog breedshikoku inu dog breed
Size & WeightA small sized dog weighing up to 23 pounds with a height of up to 16.5 inchesA small to medium size dog reaching up to 55 pounds. The height is up to 22 inches
AppearanceHas a muscular build with alert ears that are perky and upright. The eyes are typically dark, almost black. It has white markings on the face, forechest, chest and underbelly. The coat ranges from reddish-orange to yellowish to cream. Some dogs are tan or brindle.Has a thick coat, muscular build and erect ears. It has compact feet and features are sharp. The eyes are dark brown and slanted. Its coat is black, red or sesame.
Life Expectancy12-16 years10-13 years
TemperamentVery bold and protective. It can be a great play companion but has a stubborn streak. It is excellent in highly active environments.Shikoku is an even-tempered dog with an easy-going attitude. They are obedient and follow instructions. They also have a lovable disposition and love cuddles and kisses, giving and receiving. Shikokus do well in a family environment and can get along with other pets. But they are aloof with strangers.
Health IssuesThe most prevalent conditions include allergies, chylothorax, patellar luxation, glaucoma, allergies, obesity, tail chasing, cataracts, and hypothyroidism.Hypothyroidism, dental issues, obesity, allergies and glaucoma and cataracts, among others.
GroomingModerate grooming needsIts grooming needs are moderate
TrainabilityIt has a stubborn, independent streak that can come across as hard to train. But it is highly intelligent. You just need the right approach to effectively train. When obedient, it is an excellent house pet.A highly trainable breed that likes to please its owner. But it has a high prey drive, so it is advisable to keep it behind a fence for its own safety. Do not let it out alone because it has a keen sense of smell and will take off on a hunting spree. Obedience training is critical for this breed.
Shiba Inu vs Shikoku Dog: Comparison Table

Related Post: Siberian Husky vs Shiba Inu: Things to Know BEFORE Making a Choice

1. Personalities of Shikoku Dog vs Shiba Inu: What to Expect

From Shiba Inu, you can expect a tinge of mischief well hidden in a pinch of regal aloofness and unwavering loyalty.

They also love to play and are very active. But if you step out of line, you can expect the (in)famous side glance to communicate their displeasure.

Doge is displeased!

On the other hand, a Shikoku will offer you bucket loads of kisses, a smidge of submissiveness, and a crateful of obedience.

But they don’t forget their roots so there is also a big helping of playfulness, hunting, and DIGGING in store for you. If you step out of line, you will be met with the aloof wall that naturally occurs in all of the six native Japanese dog cousins.

Different Types of Shikoku and Shiba

There are two varieties of Shikoku dogs and three varieties of Shiba Inu dogs.

Shikoku Inu:

  1. The Hata
  2. The Hongawa

Shiba Inu:

  1. Mino Shiba Inu
  2. San’in Shiba Inu
  3. Shinshu Shiba Inu

The Hata line of Shikoku is from the southeastern part of Shikoku island. They are stocky looking with a denser bone structure. They also appear shorter and when it comes to the length from the front to the hind legs.

These dogs have a thicker coat although their skin is slightly looser around their frame.

You will notice they have more urajiro, the white markings on the body, especially around the ventral parts of the body. The urajiro occurs also on the sides of the muzzle and cheeks.

Shiba Inu also boasts adorable urajiro markings.

Also like the three Shiba Inus, the ears of both the Hata and Hongawa Shikoku sit high and slightly back. But if you look closely, you will notice the eyes of the Hata Shikoku are more widely spaced apart than the Hongawa Shikoku.

With all of these dogs, names tell you where they are from. So naturally, the Hongawa line is originally from an eponymous village. They are more light-footed and nimbler compared to the Hata variety.

They have compact bodies with a slightly slimmer build. They are quite athletic and more muscular compared to the Hata Shikoku.

The coat on the Hongawa shikoku is less dense and the colors are not as distinct as the one on the Hata line. They have higher instances of black in the coat which is known as “Kuro” in Japanese.

Their skin is tighter and they have close set eyes on a rounded forehead.

If you have a black or tan Shikoku, regardless of the bloodline, they will typically have two white spots above the eyes known as the “yotsume” or four eyes.

Shikoku dog in snow

The San’in Shiba breed is closer in coat color to the Hongawa Shikoku. They tend to be black or tan. However, none of Shiba Inu has the yotsume.

It’s (only) two eyes for them!

San’in is also larger like the Hongawa Shikoku and has a more evident stubborn streak. It is thought to be a close relative of the Korean Jindo dog which is also a prolific hunter, extremely intelligent, and headstrong companion. The San’in Shibu is quite intelligent as well.

The Mino Shiba Inu is usually small but fine-boned. It has a deep mahogany color that is its trademark differentiating it from the other Shibas.

It also doesn’t have the typical white ventral markings known as the Urajiro.

Modern-day Shiba Inus that are larger and “blacker” tend to be from the San’in bloodline.

The Shinshu Shiba also has a reddish coat that has urajiro in it. They have rounder eyes compared to the other two and a solid undercoat.

You may see more of this variety around because more of them survived the distemper epidemic that hit Japan in the 1940s.

Taking care of these two breeds is not so different. But because of their temperaments, you may have to adopt two different approaches. 

Or will you?

Let’s check out their differences in appearance, grooming, training, and health.

2. Appearance

When you look at these two breeds, you’ll notice a few similarities and a bunch of stark differences.

So let us dive in and explore what physical characteristics distinguish these two breeds.

shikoku dog vs shiba inu height and weight
Weight and height of males and females: Shikoku Dog vs Shiba Inu

Eyes

You can tell a Spitz dog by their eyes!

Shikoku, Shiba, as well as their cousins Akitas (both American and Japanese) ALL have triangular eyes. Together with their more distant Spitz cousins such as Siberian Huskies and Malamutes, Pomeranians, Chow Chows, Samoyeds and others, they also have a wolflike, distrustful glance.

Shikoku’s eyes come close to a triangular shape with a dark brown iris. In comparison, Shiba Inu’s eyes are surrounded by black rims but the iris is also dark brown in color. They too have a triangular shape with an upward slant.

However, you will notice that Shiba’s eyes are set high on top of the head and towards the ear’s base while Shikoku’s eyes sit a little lower.

Coat

Both Shikoku and Shiba sport a doublecoat. Again, a common feature of all dogs from the Spitz family!

Their undercoats are dense, fuzzy and soft, whereas the outer coats are harsh and straight.

And it does make sense when you look at their lifestyles! These rough and rugged outer coats came in handy as the hunter dogs tracked down deer on snow covered mountains in Japan.

Shikoku comes in three colors: black, red, tan, and sesame (a mixture of red and black). 

No matter the color variations, the breed standard indicates that dogs MUST have “urajiro” markings. Urajiro markings appear as white or cream and will show on the underside of the body and reflect on the cheeks and legs. 

With Shiba Inu, the breed standards are a bit more forgiving. The Mino subtype is allowed to have a mahogany colored coat with no urajiro.

Shiba Inu can also appear in several colors: orange or red, rusty-browny-red to cream.

Shiba’s urajiro appears on the all four legs and the tail.

Ears

Triangular eyes are also paired with triangular ears!

Shikoku’s small ears are firmly pricked and contribute to the dog’s alert look. The ears have a slight forward attentive slant.

Shiba’s ears are high on the head and pretty spaced apart. But, they are noticeably small with a forward tilt. The ears of both breeds are keen and play a role in bringing out the attentive expression of each.

Musculature

The medium-size Shikoku presents a balanced body with well developed, clean cut muscles. The build of the breed exudes an athletic air of great stamina and endurance

Shiba Inu, on the other hand, is smaller and compact. 

But just like Shikoku, it has a well muscled body with impressive agility and respectable speed. Between the two breeds, Shikoku may be a faster runner because it is just a bit bigger in size and has longer legs.

The males in both breeds have a more defined muscle structure than the gals.

3. Grooming Shikoku Inu vs Shiba Inu

Dog grooming tools

These are breeds with moderate grooming needs. So it’s definitely going to be cheaper to DIY their grooming than bring them to a professional every once in a while. 

However, this doesn’t mean you should NEVER take them to the salon. There are things only an experienced person can do properly! And I’m not talking about dying the dog’s hair.

For example, cleaning the dog’s anal sacks.

So, you should take the pooch to a professional groomer at least twice a year for a thorough clean from tip to toe.

But you may find they will spend more time with Shiba Inu despite its smaller size. That is because Shibas are not very receptive to advances from strangers.

How to Brush and Wash the Japanese Pals?

Brushing the coat once to twice a week should manage the shedding pretty well and keep the coat looking neat and presentable in both breeds. They both shed prolifically so you’ll definitely need a deshedding tool, at least during the season. 

You will notice that they are both self-cleaning dogs

However, Shikoku tends to have a doggie smell, while Shiba Inu doesn’t. 

So if you have a Shiba, you may need to wash their coat just THREE times per year while a Shikoku needs more frequent baths. 

Because there’s LOTS of loose fur on their coats, you should use deshedding shampoo on both breeds when bathing them.Always choose quality brushes for this task like the ones in this comprehensive guide.

Ears Need Cleaning Too!

It’s always wise to examine the years once or twice a week for accumulation of debris, odor and check for any sight of infection in both dogs.

Although their ears are upright, they have fur which can trap debris, dirt and moisture. Shikoku’s ear pinna is larger than Shiba’s, allowing you more room to clean. So when cleaning Shiba Inu, you have to be careful not to grab their pinna too tight because of its smaller size.

Look out for black specks inside the ear which indicate the presence of ear mites. If the ear is not reddish but pink, this is an indicator they are healthy and just need a clean. 

Use cotton balls or a towel and a dog ear cleaning solution to wipe them clean.

How to Cut Their Nails ?

Trimming a Shiba Inu's nails

I’m afraid I have some bad AND good news in this department!

Both breeds have thick nails that are also fast-growing.

So you’ll need to examine and trim them once a month to avoid issues such as splitting, cracking, or overgrowing and affecting the doggo’s gait. 

A dog nail grinder or clipper is a good idea as these tools get the job done (relatively) easily and safely. 

But the good news is they are active dogs so the nails tend to wear down on their own when they run or walk on hard surfaces. If your dog is not so active, make sure you cut the nails yourself.

Do the Tails Need Maintenance?

The long and short of it: yes!

The curled tails of Shikoku and Shiba need brushing just as diligently as the rest of the coat, because they may also have plenty of dead fur. They are fluffy which makes it easier to brush. Just don’t try to straighten them out!

Enter Toothbrush!

Both breeds have straight, well aligned teeth, and that makes brushing a piece of cake. 

But while you may have an easier time brushing the teeth of the ever obedient Shikoku Inu, it may take some convincing paired with a subtle art of bribery to brush a Shiba Inu’s teeth

In the case of Shiba Inu, consider methods of cleaning their teeth without brushing like dental wipes, dental treats and other handy tricks.

Also, because of their high prey drive, both breeds can benefit from chew toys which not only keep them occupied but clean their teeth at the same time.

4. How to Train Shikoku vs Shiba

Shikoku dog walking on a leash

When training a Shikoku, you should bear in mind that the breed is highly intelligent and obedient to their master as well as amiable with the family. 

However, one should also keep in mind that the breed is also an independent thinker, thanks to their innate hunting instincts.

On the other hand, training a Shiba Inu requires you to consider their stubborn streak. They have this tendency to do what THEY want. If you don’t like that, change the conversation!

(Just kidding. Shibas are trainable too, but you do need to invest some extra effort.)

Do not lose sight of the fact that Shikoku is a primitive breed that can be aggressive if not well socialized. Many people expect this of Shiba and think that Shikoku is BORN obedient. 

That is not the case! Both breeds need obedience training. However, Shikoku is more likely to obey than Shiba.

So the approach to training the two breeds should be slightly different.

Choose your training place wisely

In other words, little to no distractions!

This can be anywhere from your backyard to a nearby quiet field. Both breeds do well in familiar settings at the beginning of the training. 

Starting the training process when the puppy is 8 months old is critical for Shiba Inu while Shikoku can learn to obey even later in life. But if you can, consider acquiring a Shikoku pup so that you can train it from a young age too.

Show affection to your puppy

Shikoku puppies are loveable and spending time in play with toys or running the yard is a great way to bond with your pooch. When they start seeing you as the leader of the pack from a young age, it helps streamline the training process as they grow older.

Shiba pups that are socialized to be around people and pets will also be playful and affectionate. 

For a Shiba pup, consider throwing in other puppies and children for play time. Take it for walks suitable to his age. Introducing them to other people, environments, sights and sound will help them grow up well socialized and calm.

Shiba Inu puppy

Such socialization and obedience training helps tone down the fierce guarding and protective instinct that a Shiba innately has.

If you are training an adult Shikoku, be patient and use treats. They will come around faster in obedience training as they are inherently good-natured and eager to please.

For the adult Shiba, a short walk before training is a good idea. They will find it hard to pay attention if they have pent up energy. So a walk may prep the dog to be at its best for the class.

However, be careful not to get it too excited with play so that it drains all focus!

Start simple (and DON’T punish)

As you introduce simple commands such as stay, sit and come, be sure to stay consistent, and don’t overdo it with longer training sessions. Start slowly and work your way up gradually. 

Remember to carry some treats for rewarding him when he obeys. Positive reinforcement is amazing with this breed!

Shikoku does NOT respond well to harsh correction and neither does Shiba.

And that isn’t always easy, trust me! You’ll need lots of patience as the pooch will hardly ever tire of challenging you and testing your boundaries. A trainer should command and let these intelligent and independent thinkers obey without forcing them.

Shikoku craves owner attention and is eager to please so they will obey. Eventually!

On the other hand, Shiba may take its sweet time and flaunt the rules, but eventually it will begin to obey. That’s why building a strong bond with your Shikoku or Shiba from puppy age forms a good foundation for training down the road.

Family members need training too! 

Once you gain the upper hand with the dog, you’ll want to apply your training skills on your kids and spouse too!

This is and isn’t a joke. People around these dogs need training as well. You need to show them how to treat and respect Shikoku and Shiba dogs and they will get respect in return. 

Shikoku dog naturally growls and Shiba has a special kind of scream. These sounds signify that they are not happy or that they feel mistreated. 

However, people tend to misinterpret these sounds as aggression and are one of the reasons that Shikokus and Shibas are not exactly park dogs. Knowing these peculiarities about the breeds helps everyone to get along just fine with your Shikoku or Shiba.

5. Exercise and Health

Shiba Inu running in an open field

Shikoku is highly active and energetic. While it does love to stay indoors and express calm, Shikoku does need daily outdoor exercise. Be sure to take him for walks, jogs, swimming and any other fun outdoor activities like playing frisbee.

While naturally Shikoku have a more laid-back side, they generally have a lot of stamina and need mental stimulation as well as their daily dose of exercise preferably outdoors. A lack of exercise can make them anxious and destructive. You don’t want that! 

Shiba is also quite the energy ball.

They are inherent hunters used to running around and giving chase. But between the two breeds, Shikoku needs more outlets for its pent up energy compared to Shiba. 

An adult Shiba will need at least 1 hour of exercise every day. Have some mentally stimulating toys around the dog like puzzles that work out that grey matter! 

Physical and mental activities will make the dog happy AND help prevent destructive behavior as a result of pure boredom.

Shikoku, however, needs more than 1 hour of exercise. Make it a minimum of 2 hours because of their high prey drive. Create an area where they can dig or play fetch and other games that require athletic ability.

Agility training sessions are extremely helpful for this breed. A dog gym in the backyard can help. But if you can afford it, consider taking your Shikoku for one or two sessions at a dog agility training program.

Treats and other positive reinforcement techniques will give you the best results with these dogs.

Both dogs need supervision in a multiple pet household. Shiba just doesn’t like to share its space with anyone unless absolutely necessary. But a Shikoku will most likely HUNT smaller animals like hamsters thinking they are prey.

Health Conditions in Shiba Inu vs Shikoku

Eye Issues in Shikokus

VKH Syndrome, also known as uveodermatologic syndrome, is a complex disease. It is commonly found in Shikoku Inus as well as other breeds. It affects the inside of the eye and as well as the skin.

The condition is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the cells that make pigment in the skin and inside the eyes. The condition can cause pain or blindness inside the eye and the pigmented areas of your Shikoku’s nose, lips, and skin to change from dark to light. 

Exposure to sunshine makes it even worse.

Glaucoma is one of those eye conditions that can affect Shiba Inus. But it can also happen with Shikokus. 

The condition is excruciatingly painful and rapidly escalates to blindness if left unattended. Some symptoms include squinting, watery eyes, cornea turning blue, and the whites of the eyes becoming red. Should you see any of these symptoms in your pooch, you should get him to the vet immediately.

Dental Abnormalities

A dog's teeth

Teeth abnormalities in a Shikoku Inu are often genetically induced and are relatively common in purebred dogs. 

Luckily, Shiba does not often suffer from an overbite or underbite, called a malocclusion, or a bad bite. That is because they have more variations in their genes which have the mixture of the Mino, Shinshu and San’in bloodlines. 

Shikoku remains one of the most purely bred breeds of dogs in efforts to preserve their few numbers. The American Kennel Club classifies this breed as Foundation Stock Service dog. So some of these dental abnormalities run in the pure bloodlines and are passed on from ancestors to their offspring.

Oligodontia is another abnormality, where the dog has only a few teeth! The teeth can also be misaligned and cause lots of issues for your pooch. 

You can fix this with braces (yes, dogs can get braces too!) or extractions. 

Since these issues are fixable, bring your Shikoku to the vet at least once a year for detailed examination. The sooner you detect them, the better the chances to deal with them entirely!

Owners of a female Shiba, beware!

Each time your female Shiba Inu goes through her heat cycle, the hormones can cause a growth of nourishing cells to line the walls of the uterus. 

This becomes a fertile ground for the development of a raging bacterial infection known as Pyometra. The progression of the infection can be quite fast and may require surgery.

While Pyometra can occur in ANY female dog, it does seem to be more common in Shiba Inus than Shikokus.

Knee Problems

Patellar luxation is a condition that occurs mostly in Shiba Inu. The kneecaps on the hind legs of the dogs slide in and out of place. 

There is no known reason why Shiba is more susceptible to this condition than Shikoku and their other cousins. But thankfully, a surgery should fix it or at least make it manageable.

Achoo!

Alas, people aren’t the only ones affected by allergies. Shiba and Shikoku are there too!

The usual culprits are pollen, certain foods, materials – basically, everything that can pester us humans too.

If the allergy is being triggered by her diet, your vet can recommend a minimal ingredient diet that helps solve the problem.

Thyroid Issues

Both Shikokus and Shibas are prone to hypothyroidism. It is a condition in which the body doesn’t make enough thyroid hormone. Symptoms can include dry skin and coat, loss of hair, weight gain, susceptibility to other skin diseases, aggression, or other behavioral changes.

Again, it’s similar to the symptoms us humans show when our thyroid gland doesn’t work properly!

Your vet can conduct a blood screening test annually to screen for the condition. Treatment is usually straightforward, effective and comes in the form of a pill for thyroid  hormone replacement.

Because these dogs are from the same Spitz dog family, they tend to suffer from similar afflictions. But some diseases are very breed specific.

6. Price Comparison: Shikoku Puppy vs Shiba Inu Puppy

Shikoku puppy vs Shiba Inu puppy

Shikoku Inus are quite new to most people outside Japan. But their wolf-like look and guarding or protective abilities are proving to be a hit with most fanciers.

While they are still a rarity, the popularity is on a steady rise. You can expect to get a Shikoku puppy at between $400 and $1000. The price may vary from one breeder to another.

If you’re looking to adopt a shelter pup, you don’t stand much chance to get a Shikoku. They are just too rare.

On the other hand, Shiba Inu’s popularity has boomed thanks to social media. That popularity, of course, bumps up their price. Expect a puppy to cost you between $1200 to $2000, or even $3000 if it’s from a champion!

7. History & Fun Facts about Shikoku and Shiba Inu

As its Japanese name of Kochi-Ken says, Shikoku comes from the Kochi prefecture, a mountainous region on the island of Shikoku.

The region is remote so not many people make it into the area. That may explain why Shikoku breed is not prevalent all over Japan.

It also explains why the purity of the breed has remained intact over centuries as the inaccessibility of the area made it harder for crossbreeding to take place.

Shiba Inu is also a native of a mountainous region in Japan. It originated in the mountains of Chubu where it was bred to hunt and also to flush game like rabbits and birds. 

Both breeds were popular with Japanese hunters, the so-called Matagi, for their ability to help flush out prey. 

The isolation of Shikoku contributed to the development of two bloodlines: the eastern and the western Shikoku.

The eastern Shikoku was also known as the Mount Tsurugi Shikoku. It has two varieties: The Tokushima (Iya) variety and the Kochi-Aki variety. 

The western Shikoku had three varieties: The Hata Uwahara, the Honkawa, and the Ehime-ken Shusho-gun.

Unfortunately, today we have no idea what each variety exactly looked like. But the modern-day Shiko may be a reflection of some of the characteristics from the coat to the build and temperament.

Among breeders, it is believed that the modern-day Shikoku bears the most similarity to the western Shikoku varieties.

Yes, that’s me! I have NO idea what my Western ancestors looked like

Japanese hunters in these regions highly valued Shikoku because it was invaluable in hunting wild boar. The Matagi trained these dogs to bark to detain, which was known as “Hoeru-dome”, but also to BITE to detain, known as “Kami-dome.”

Barking was the preferred method by most hunters because it kept their valuable dogs safely away from the angry wild boar.

The same methods were used with Shiba Inu during hunting. That is why both dogs became such prolific hunters.

Shiba Inu was also very valuable in the Chubu mountains. 

The Second World War resulted in widespread hunger that affected even the remote regions of Japan. That impacted the numbers of Shikoku but not as much as it did to the numbers of its cousins like the Akita and Shiba Inu.

After the end of the Second World War, both breeds had diminished in numbers. 

Shikoku bred from the Honkawa and Hata lines, also known as the Chonsun line and the Matsukaze line respectively while Shiba Inu was bred from the MIno, Shinshu and San’in bloodlines.

Until 1955, the two lines of Shikoku were bred separately. However, after 1955, breeders began mixing the two lines to improve their lineages.

The medium size shikoku that exists today closely resembles Shiba Inu while differing in size, temperament, and strength.

Shikoku has very strong ties to nature and is a dog with a high prey drive. They remain one of the purest breeds of dogs in the world and are even recognized by the American Rare Breed Association.

The smaller cousin of Shikoku, Shiba, also loved hunting and was bred specifically for it. Despite their small size, Shiba is tenacious, courageous, dignified, and loyal.

Shiba Inu is the oldest breed among the six cousins. It has survived near extinction, crossbreeding, journey across seas to the west, and now stands as the most sought-after Japanese breed in the world.

Primitive drawings in Japan depict a small dog chasing down prey and that is believed to be Shiba Inu. These drawings go as far back as 300 BC!

They are named after the brushwood that they so effortlessly run through in pursuit of prey. 

Some people believe they are named after the actual brushwood and others believe they are named after the color of the brushwood which is red like the red coat of the breed.

Like Shikoku, the three bloodlines were carefully bred, separately, to increase the numbers of Shiba Inu. With time, the bloodlines were mixed resulting in the modern-day Shiba Inu.

Apart from the ubiquitous meme, Shiba is also popular because their small sizes allow them to be great apartment dogs and they can be carried around.

Shiba Inu is a bold and strong-willed dog, unafraid yet affectionate while Shikoku Ken is less stubborn with an eagerness to please that comes easy. But make no mistake, both dogs are fiercely loyal and protective with excellent hunting skills although Shikoku has a higher prey drive than Shiba.

Frequently Asked Questions

Shiba Inu against a red background

What should I feed my Shikoku?

Shikoku has no specific nutritional requirements other than having a balanced diet. 

However, as with most canines, you should either choose a raw diet or high quality kibble. Or you can consult with breeders in your local area on how they approach the diet of a Shikoku.

Do Shikokus get along with other dogs?

If you want your Shikoku to get along with other animals, they need to be raised together. And even then, much supervision is necessary as this breed has a strong prey drive.

It’s possible to see Shikoku living side by side with other dogs, rabbits and birds, without posing a threat to them. 

But some Shikokus may need close attention and are best kept separate altogether. Shikoku is innately a hunting dog whose prey drive can easily be triggered by smaller animals. With thorough socialization at a young age, they can be helped to sufficiently overcome their need to chase every other small animal in the compound or park.

Should I bathe my Shikoku frequently?

The breed is fastidious in keeping clean

However, Shikoku can tend to have a “dog smell”, especially when their diet consists of high quality kibble or raw diet. 

Most breeders and owners report that the breed only needs a bath ONCE a year on average. This is sufficient for removal of any dirt or irritants that may have gotten trapped against the skin and your dog’s fur.

However, you can bathe Shikoku more frequently and safely if you choose to, as long as you use a natural shampoo that is formulated for dogs.

Because Shikoku is a shedder, some owners may find additional baths during the shedding season to be helpful in reducing the amount of Shikoku hair in your home during shedding season.

I have little time for a puppy but I still want a Shiba. Is that a good move?

Getting a well-trained adult Shiba has a big upside for the impatient owner: you won’t need nearly as much time and devotion required to train a puppy from scratch. 

Looking into rescue shelters in your area is a good place to start. If they don’t have one, they can put you on a waiting list and ring you as soon as they get one. 

You’ll need much love and commitment to rehabilitate a needy Shiba. If you and your family members have it in you, you’ll get a worthy companion for the next decade!

How long do Shiba Inus live?

Shiba Inus have a great longevity of between 13 to 16 years. Shikokus on the other hand, have a lifespan that ranges from 10 to 12 years.

Bottom Line

Shikoku and Shiba Inus are Japan’s national pride, but their popularity has spilled over to the States and other countries across the globe. 

In most cases, Shikoku may NOT be the best breed for a first time dog owner who is a novice trainer or has a passive lifestyle. They are best suited for a person with a lively outdoor lifestyle and who is a good pack leader.

Shiba Inu breed is also an excellent option for active outdoorsy people. They may be strong willed but are loveable, protective and manageable – but only if they are well socialized and obedience trained.

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