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puppy coat, fluffiness of coat and tail questions
  • Hey all, so i have a handsome boy who is 5 months old. I've noticed that his tail is not typical as many of the other Shibas i have seen here as well as on different forums. He has a perky tail and all but it does not curl in any respect like a typical Shiba tail that i have seen. Also, his coat is not as fluffy nor his is his tail.

    At first when i got him i figured it was because of his age about 2 months ago. Is there anything I should 1. be concerned about 2. do to improve his coat?

    I currently feed 1 1/2 cups of grain free Natures Domain (Costco) brand which is supposed to be similar in formula to TOTW I believe. He gets plenty of water a day and is very active. His coat overall looks quite nice but again I am a first time owner. I groom him with a slicker brush 1-2 lightly throughout the week.

    His mom and dad are both full Shibas, the father being AKC, but the mother being ACA. I have met both and both looked and had characteristics of full bred Shibas.

    I was thinking of supplementing fish oil to at least provide some more health and shine into his coat. Am I being to impatient as far as the fluffiness of his coat?

    Thanks all!


    here's some pictures of the tail and for cuteness :)

    here's one we took this past weekend at the beach. Its generally up or flopping around but it never really curls. It's also not fluffy as many other shiba's.
    Post edited by gerbilunit at 2013-03-26 00:00:32
  • knnwangknnwang
    Posts: 645
    Hi. Pics?
  • updated with photos for reference.
  • tatonkatatonka
    Posts: 1210
    He looks like a mix.
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4786
    If one of the parents is ACA, there could easily be some mixing in the recent past. ACA Shibas do not usually conform well to breed standard, due to questionable breeding practices and lack of showing or health testing, so that can explain why you may be seeing a lite coat and uncommon tail type. Saber tails (point upright like a saber sword) are not at all common in the US, or Japan, but it is a specific type of Shiba tail. A correct sickle tail is shaped like a farmers sickle (like a hook) and points towards the head of the dog, which is why this example is a "sword" or saber tail. Mostly, you see this in the other NK more than Shiba, like in Kishu and Kai.

    #3 is a sickle, #4 is a saber:

    Sickle tail:

    Saber tail:
    "Common sense isn't so common"
    photo c5d87957-61b6-48af-a440-4187cbfc861b_zps88ccdf88.jpg
    Post edited by lindsayt at 2013-03-26 02:45:54
  • RikkaRikka
    Posts: 1501
    He doesn't look full Shiba to me either.

    As far as trying to manage it, salmon oil is a great additive--I personally do 1.5 squirts of it a day in Sagan's kibble and he loves it. His coat is exceptionally soft and fluffy. Although I'm kind of lacking in the brushing department, since I only do that once a month or so. >_> Oops.
    Lauren, living with a 4 y/o Shiba named after a scientist. ☆
    Post edited by Rikka at 2013-03-26 00:15:19
  • tatonkatatonka
    Posts: 1210
    Don't ever brush the tail. Ever ever :p


  • DebDeb
    Posts: 286
    @gerbilunit, your pups tail is a Sashi-o or sickle tail is all upright tails and not curled. There are three types and Sashi-o is considered acceptable according to The Total Shiba (page 71). A more desireable sickle tail is one that points forward but doesn't touch the spine. If you were showing, I'm not sure a lot of judges would like a sickle tail very much, even though it is an acceptable tail, just not commonly seen. Just my thoughts on that, but anyway, I wouldn't worry about his tail causing any problems for him. I didn't get the impression you are showing or breeding him. He's your beach boy and general right hand puppy helper, right?

    If you don't think his coat is how you would like it to be, you can always try other foods. Even when a food compares itself to Totw, it may not be quite the same. No one food is best for every dog and sometimes it takes some experimentation with different brands or diets to see what works best for your dog.

    About brushing, my most used brush is a natural bristle one. It is gentle to the coat, especially if the coat is lightly misted with water or a watered down finishing spray. I never dry brush my dogs. When using the natural bristle brush, I brush against the lie of the coat in short strokes to fluff and separate the hairs. It works well for distributing the natural coat oils and my dogs all like it a lot. A slicker that isn't scratchy is good to just lightly go over the tips of the hairs in the direction of growth to pick up loose hair on the surface. It is very easy to damage a coat with a slicker.

    It looks like he enjoys the beach and is having quite a lot of fun hanging out there with you. I'm glad you're taking him out and about and having fun with him.
    Post edited by Deb at 2013-03-26 11:52:17
  • redcattooredcattoo
    Posts: 1960
    My understanding is ACA registrations are basically a joke, so just because a parent had ACA would mean almost nothing in regards to their pure bred status and quality. Even AKC sometimes in the hands of puppy mills/BYB's doesn't mean much.

    I would say you do have a Shiba (or one with some mix in their heritage) and you should enjoy and love him even if he is not what you think is "typical".

    If the coat is healthy, I wouldn't worry if he isn't "fluffy" as some Shiba's are known to have a smoother guard coat look. Those with the more experience in breeding can probably tell you better, but I want to say it comes from one of the lines of Shiba's.

    Now if the coat itself is not healthy, yes, work on finding the right nutritional balance to help support it.
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4786
    Shibas bred from show breeders in general tend to have thicker coats. All the same, even dogs within the same program and from the same lines may have "tight" coats (less coat). Some just don't carry much undercoat, and that is a trait that is inherited.

    A common saying is "first you breed the coat, then you feed the coat". Sometimes supplements and diet change help a great deal to improve coat health (luster and sheen, etc) but they can't alter the dogs' genetics.
    "Common sense isn't so common"
    photo c5d87957-61b6-48af-a440-4187cbfc861b_zps88ccdf88.jpg
    Post edited by lindsayt at 2013-03-26 11:31:14
  • kagurarapkagurarap
    Posts: 208
    My Shiba looks almost just like yours except she has the curly tail. But her coat is thin compared to some other people's Shiba's where they just have these thick paws and fluffy faces. I think it's a mixture of genetics, nutrition and weather. I've heard those overly fluffy shibas are bred and put out into super cold conditions to get that "style". And dogs with a thin coat, like ours, if it's all in genetics, there's not much you can do to go from thin to super fluffy except to just take care of their coat in general and have it look it's best.
  • @kagurarap - please don't perpetuate what is essentially an urban myth about how breeders get a thick, proper coat. I'm sure some breeders do leave their dogs out in the cold, but that has more to do with kennel practices than to try to get a thick coat. As @lindsayt mentioned, it is largely a matter of genetics. It's also not a style, but a type of coat.

    I have a full brother sister pair from show lines. My boy has a correct coat which is very full, with coarse guard hairs. My girl's coat is shorter, softer (which is great in a pet, but not correct according to standard), and nowhere near as full. He's a retired show dog, she was a companion pup from the beginning and they pretty much have the same lifestyle now, though if anything she spends more time outdoors because she loves hiking. His lifestyle change has had no effect on his coat. He may spend more time indoors now but that is a function of my having a significantly smaller yard and living in a city.

    Temperature can effect coat but it tends to correspond to more extreme weather (constant warm weather of say Florida, or for instance the effect that Alaska had on @losech's Conker).

    @gerbilunit - coat is large a matter of genetics, but many posters here have found great success in improving coat texture by adding salmon oil. I prefer the zoom groom and a rake to slicker brushes. I've seen dogs get a quick run through with water mist (via spray bottle) and a greyhound comb too. If it doesn't upset your dog's stomach, eggs and dried sardines/anchovies (I got them from a Japanese market, the type used for dashi so no additives, salts, etc.) as an occasional treat couldn't hurt.

    [edited for typos]
    Post edited by violet_in_seville at 2013-03-27 13:38:52
  • curlytailscurlytails
    Posts: 2779
    @kagurap I think you'd have to dig around deeper to find any truth in the correlation between subjecting your Shiba to "super cold conditions" and the fluffiness of their coat. Environment does play some part, but I don't think even extreme temperatures compensates for genetics... or age, for that matter.

    Just for reference, my Bowdu also had that really lanky, gangly look at seven months old, when we were living in subtropical Taiwan:


    After moving to Northern California, he did eventually fluff out. And it didn't take extremely cold conditions. I'd say the change was noticeable when he was around three years old or so. That's also when he started getting higher quality food. And now that he's on a combo of raw and grain-free kibble and supplements (fish oil, etc.), his coat's looking quite nice most of the time.

    Bowdu 寶肚 (Shiba) and Bowpi 寶媲 (Basenji) with M.C.
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4786
    Lol, I know on the RPK/MyShiba webpage that had been tossed around as a reason their dogs didnt have thick coats. My dogs live indoors with me at 60-65 degrees and like violet_in_seville says with her dogs, I have 2 retired champions with completely different coats. It's mostly genetics :)
    "Common sense isn't so common"
    photo c5d87957-61b6-48af-a440-4187cbfc861b_zps88ccdf88.jpg
  • SayaSaya
    Posts: 6678
    I use zoom groom and rake type brush for Saya. She only needs a lot of brushing during when she blows her coat. Bath helps loosens the fur too when it gets bad.

    "If it doesn't upset your dog's stomach, eggs and dried sardines/anchovies (I got them from a Japanese market, the type used for dashi so no additives, salts, etc.)"

    I read eggs are supposed to be good for dog's coat too Saya and Bella loves eggs cooked or raw.

    I'd give little bit of cooked egg and increase it over time to whole egg see how stomach handles it.

    Saya loves those dried anchovies I use them as fun training treat.

    Saya also loves caned sardines, salmon and mackerel. The kind that has skin and bones caned kind.

    Go slow with introducing any new food items though.

    I'd do salmon oil first once doing good on that you can add tiny bit of either caned fish or egg.

    Love pictures of him it could be he has small coat?

    I do love giving caned fish and eggs once a week as dogs like it makes yummy kibble topper for Bella and snack or small meal for Saya.

    If your shiba does good on current kibble I'd keep him on it don't want to be changing kibble then adding stuff like fish oil and egg..

    raw smelt is one fish Saya loves and never refuses. Walmart near me even sells them.

    Coarse do research as some fish have parasites and feeding them raw can be dangerous. Like raw salmon or trout.

    Smelt is safe from what I've read.
    Nicole, 5year old Bella(Boxer), and 4year old Saya(Shiba inu)
  • Mine is an indoor dog and he has a lot of coat. It's genetics and diet.
  • WOW! I appreciate everyone's and comments. After i made this post last night I realized regardless of how his coat is, as long as he's happy and friendly I'm going to love this pup the same. But I do appreciate the input because it is great for the community to know these things, or perhaps I am still very new to this.

    I started with fish oil last evening and have done some reading on it and plan to supplement it only a few times a week as it seems thats the suggestion on this forum. I love the raw threads and have thought about slowly adding that in the upcoming months to his nutrition.

    Just for a sidenote we do live in Southern California and the temperature at best is nowhere near cold, but regardless maybe I just need to be patient as @curlytails demonstrated.

    Thinking back about the parents, the father had a nice coat but again was not fluffy per se nor was the mothers so I can easily see how this could point out to the coat Kashi has. I hope this doesn't end this thread because I love the input and the pictures but thank you again everyone! Glad to be a part of this community!
  • I also feed Kirkland Nature's Domain. I probably never would have thought of this brand if it wasn't recommended to me by one of the best shiba breeders we have up here in Canada. It also gets good reviews on the dog food review websites. I give salmon oil, as well. There are times when Tess smells a little fishy, though, between the salmon kibble and the salmon oil :P

    Tess's coat isn't great, either. I mean, I like it. But it's not to standard. She's still really soft, and she's ten months old. So I'm wondering if this is her adult coat or if she will grow a rougher, fuller coat soon. She also does not have a lot of undercoat. She does have a full, curly tail, although it took her a while to get it.

    I'm not an expert, but I think your guy looks full shiba! I've met other shibas that look less shiba than him. And he's young, I think he'll change still. I'm pretty sure Tess's tail was still scrawny at five months. I wish we had more beach weather up here in Toronto, he looks like he's having so much fun :)
  • amtiamti
    Posts: 1066
    Your boy is handsome and he looks a little like my Taisho. ;) Since he's only five months old, he is still growing so his coat will change a little more as he matures. Some dogs just have shorter coats and your boy might just be one of them. Things you can do to improve the coat are not to brush so much with a slicker brush. I only brush when they are in the process of blowing their coat, and maybe twice a month at the most when they aren't shedding. Giving oil, as many mentioned is great. I give a variety of oils as our vet recommended daily dosages of both animal and vegetable oils. Having him on good food also helps, and making sure he is healthy and happy are also important.

    When Kaji was about 5 months old, his coat was very slick and short. He's now 9 months and finally got an undercoat so it is fluffier, but nothing like the show dogs. It is not very thick although his fur is very pretty and shiny as well as soft (the undercoat part). I'm hoping maturity will help but we also live central Texas so having a deep winter coat is most likely not going to happen. Taisho, my shorter haired boy was recently adopted and was left outdoors for about a year. His yard was mostly dirt with a carport for cover. He had a very thick undercoat, but his main hairs were very short. Since we've had him for almost three months, his fur color has changed (went from mostly red to getting black tips), he lost most of his undercoat (which needed to be out) and the fur around his hind quarters has grown longer. We are working on bettering his coat since it is so coarse and the collar we had on him broke off a lot of the hairs around his neck. I think all the dirt he was in was abrasive and broke off all the tips on his sides and hind areas so we had no idea he was a dirty sesame until recently. I think it will take about a year before we see his real coloring and coat, although I'm pretty sure it will remain one of the shorter coats. If you take your dog to the beach a lot, you may want to make sure to wash off all the sand because it could have the same abrasive qualities as the dirt did on Taisho.

    One other thing I do with my dogs is massage them. Instead of brushing them, I run my hands all around their bodies and they really like it. I work my hands down their spine and it helps fluff up the fur and loosen a lot of the shedding hairs. It's no where as efficient as a good brushing but Kaji dislikes brushing and this is an easy, fun way to give the boys an all body check and get rid of loose fur. I also think it helps distribute oils throughout their fur.

    @Tatonka, I didn't know about not brushing the tail. I always brush the tail, which is not that often. I get very few hairs from the tail, even when they are shedding a lot. When I had a sammy, her tail was gorgeous after a brushing... it would bounce with every walk... we loved it. My husband and I love that photo of Tatonka laying down... he looks like the Firefox browser, which is what we named our Kaji after!
    Post edited by amti at 2013-03-27 12:06:48
  • zandramezandrame
    Posts: 1106
    We are in San Diego and also feed Nature's Domain (Salmon), but Kouda has always been fluffy.

    He has a playmate who started out thin but has gotten fluffier with age. (I'll have to ask, but I believe they put him on Nature's Domain too.)

    3 months

    4 months

    5 months

    6 months
  • amtiamti
    Posts: 1066
    I went back and found some photos of Kaji around 5 months. His tail was not that fluffy then but became fluffier as he got a little older (he's 9 months old now). I think it is a combination of him going through the awkward teen years and losing his puppy coat that gave him a flat look and then his maturity and getting a winter/adult coat that helped fluff him up a bit.

    Millie and Kaji (around 5 months old here)

    Taisho and Kaji with my son (Kaji is in the harness and about 6 1/2 months old last Dec)

    Kaji around 7 months old

    And Kaji (9 months) and Taisho a few days ago. Taisho has blown his winter coat but Kaji has not. Kaji also does not have a thick undercoat like Taisho although his fur is longer. It might be because he's still a pup, but it might just be genetics.
    Post edited by amti at 2013-03-29 11:50:05
  • thanks @amti! great to see these pictures from everyone. maybe he will get fluffier and maybe not, i guess we'll see but i'm happy regardless. i'm going to take the advice on this thread and try to not brush as often but ensure his coat is clean and just to keep feeding him well and i think he'll be a happy camper.

    any other pictures are fun to see of how coats change over time. kaji's certainly changed in just a few months, at least his tail!
  • DianaBostonDianaBoston
    Posts: 254
    @amti, what a good idea about a "massage" instead of brushing. In the last several months, our girl has taken to NOT like brushing. She'll tolerate it for a few minutes and then turn snarly and snappy. However, she LOVES to be rubbed and massaged. Hopefully, that will get the loose hairs off of her and stimulate her skin. I do not know what we will do when it really starts to come off of her as it warms up. She used to love being brushed and then one day -- all of a sudden -- it was like a switch flipped. Maybe she'll like it again some day, who knows? And no amount of "association" with yummy treats and her brush (which she always loved) works.
  • Cody's tail is starting out a little on the thin side so it's encouraging to see how each puppy evolves in its own unique way.
    Here it is at almost 4 months.
    Tail photo image_zpslcfhx92d.jpeg
  • jaimeismejaimeisme
    Posts: 21
    My 5 moths old puppy has always have a tail that is not that curly. Its more just like a curve. I am wondering if some shibas are like that or she is just not a standard one. She also doesn't look as poofy as the other shibas I usually see on instagram lol. Just curious if anyone has a similar thing! haha
    So her tail is usually curved, but sometimes when she is walking or excited, then her tail will be straight, and when she is super relaxed as well. I have some photos of her tail lol




    What do you guys think! :)
    Post edited by jaimeisme at 2017-04-19 19:55:06
  • spacedogsspacedogs
    Posts: 361
    She's pretty young yet, her coat might change over the next year or two as she matures.

    About the tail - it's a sickle shape and it's perfectly perfect and within the standard. :)
  • LilikoiLilikoi
    Posts: 1272
    Not so easy to tell in pics but she almost looks more smooth coated rather than having the thick double coat. If you look under her top coat, do you see the light colored fluffy undercoat?

    Her tail looks like a sickle tail. :) how they carry their tails often changes depending on their mood. Like when relaxed or focused, Ozzy's will drop. When excited, it seems to curl extra tight lol. When nervous, it drops about halfway with the end curled.

    Here's a link with the (akc) breed standard:

    Here's a link to a pic of different types of shiba tails:
    Posts: 412
    I don't think your shiba will ever floof out or have the double coat....
  • Mochi920Mochi920
    Posts: 357
    I remember Mochi being really thin and not fluffy when she was around 4-5 months. Don't know if it's because she's gained weight or if it's her fur filling in but she's doubled in fluff since a month or two ago. More than likely her tail is a sickle tail if it's like that all the time. Mochi's tail depends on her mood but when she's occupied or excited, it's curled.

    Mochi at 4 months:
    photo 6_zpswtrgnqq2.jpg

    Mochi at about 5.5 months
    photo IMG_3928_zpsr8mgcz9v.jpg

    Mochi now (7 months)
    photo 0210FE74-0ABF-4A3E-8618-69295818EB34_zpsozsypiiy.jpg

    There isn't a huge difference between the last two pictures but she did get "fluffier" and I know she gained at least 3 lbs within that time frame.

    Edit: now that I compare it, it does look like Mochi got a little chubbier rather than getting fluffier fur. Idk, what do y'all think?
    Post edited by Mochi920 at 2017-04-19 22:13:48
  • jaimeismejaimeisme
    Posts: 21
    Thank you everyone!
    @spacedogs yea I was thinking she might change coat later. and she just lost her puppy fur
    @Lilikoi oh okay! thanks for the links! yes I can see some shorter white hairs under the long balck ones. I'm wondering if it is because she shed her puppy coat. but I do have a feeling she will not poof up like others. I guess we'll see!
  • oh man @Mochi920 you are sooooooooooooo cute!!!!! what a little fluffer and @jaimeisme your girl is a stunner!!! I love the colors :x :x
  • Mochi920Mochi920
    Posts: 357
    @ryu_ja_crispy hehehh thank you :')

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